Classic Car Corner - Scotland

  • Written by Tom Berg, Winderemere

Scotland Search: I was again urged by my dedicated readers to search afar for cool cars so off I went to Scotland in search of rare and unique vehicles. Since I had chosen to walk across the country mostly on paths and abandoned or rarely used roads my task was daunting.  

I hiked the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way stopping each day in small villages for the local pub and B&B, so only rarely saw any cars but was somehow successful in finding several unique ones. I first spotted a Morgan sport cars driving by but since they are still being made today and look the same as they did in the 50s I’m not sure of the vintage.  For the next six days I would see only the occasional Land Rover, Peugeot, Volvo or non-descript European cars I didn’t recognize. The country folk use alot of Land Rovers with canopies on the back. I never saw a pickup in my two weeks there.  It does rain in Scotland even more than here so I guess things must remain covered.

After a week I had hiked to Fort William, a good sized town and there were lots of cars to see. The only ones of interest were two Scimatars, one a convertible and the other a sharp looking hardtop. I had never heard of the Scimitar so when I got back I looked it up.

The Reliant car company started out in the 30s in England making mostly three-wheeled cars. They began making full size cars in the 50s and the Scimitar in the 60s and as many small car companies even though they made a good looking car they continued to struggle into the 90s when they finally folded.  There can’t be too many of these cars left and to see two in the same town was quite a coincidence.  

scotland bugattiAfter hiking a few more days along the Great Glen Way I arrived at Drumnadrochit (the home of the Loch Ness Monster) for the afternoon.   We didn’t see Nessie but parked in front of the local hotel was an early 30s Bugatti. I thought perhaps it was a modern reproduction because it was really nice looking for an 80-year-old car. I peeked at the front suspension which is very exposed in this type of car and saw that it had mechanical brakes, and since no one in his right mind would have mechanical brakes in a reproduction car I figured it must be the real thing. I was impressed. We then wandered out to the nearby castle and darned if I didn’t see another similar Bugatti. This one did have hydralic brakes so I wasn’t too sure of its vintage, but I felt it was probably an original car too.

This was not a big village and I had just seen TWO 80 -year-old Bugattis and the only ones I’ve ever seen here were in car shows.

To top things off, the next morning as I was walking out of town the two Bugattis drove out of town together convincing me that they were the real thing.

In Drumnadrochit I also noticed a great but odd looking car in a carport.  Scots normally just park in the open but this was a very nice looking car and I somehow recognized it as a Citroen.

If I had ever seen one before it must have been decades ago so I wondered if they had started making these again since it looked new. I cogitated this question until a few days later in another village I saw another one drive by and it looked new also?  As soon I got back home I looked up my mystery Citroen and found that they had made the French Citroen 2CV from 1948 to 1990.

It was designed much like the Volkswagon in Germany as a people’s car that almost anyone could afford.  Designed to be durable and economic it featured an air cooled 750cc opposed cylinder twin engine that got high mileage with low horsepower.  These cars were slated for production in 1939, but the war interrupted those plans so they finally were available in 1948. Soon thereafter there was a 5-year waiting list for one so used ones were actually more expensive than a new one.

scotland citroenDuring their 42-year production Citroen made almost 9 million of these cars and their derivatives but I read that there are just 3,382 left in the British Isles and I was lucky enough to see two of them. These are really cool cars but very rare in the states so if you ever see one around here it might just be me!
Stayed tuned readers because you never know where I may end up next in my search for the rare and beautiful cars of the world.

Classic Car Corner - June 24, 2013

  • Written by Tom Berg, Woodinville

car2Wow — Finally found the time to abandon the real estate business for a weekend and took in two great events.

First, I spent a Saturday at the 7th annual "Big Rock Car Show" held in conjunction with Duvall Days this year.

I’ve been to all seven and the weather and cars were terrific.

For a little car show (200 entries) the variety is amazing and included an army tank with a dozen other Army vehicles of all sorts.

This event is put on by Roger Jones, the manager of the Safeway, in whose parking lot we all converged.

With Roger’s and Safeway’s efforts, this event has raised over $30,000 for the Prostate Cancer Awareness fund.

I took my freshly painted and ready-to-go 1947 "Coles Service" John Deere green Studebaker pickup and darned if I wasn’t the only one who had to be towed away at the end of the day. 

car1I had recently had a starter problem that I thought — and foolishly hoped — had been resolved but apparently not so.

The starter refused to do anything and this truck being an automatic couldn’t be pushed to start, so once again AAA came to my rescue and we hauled it off to Mike’s Repair for a new starter.

I think Mike is going to name one of his work bays after me. It’s actually not too unusual for tow trucks to get some business out of car shows.

Speaking of pickups, the best pickup award went to our local hero Greg Fazzio for his stunning 1950 Ford.

The best in show award went to an unbelievable 1938 "Sharknose" Graham convertible that simply defies description. You’ve gotta see it to believe it.

Another amazing vehicle was a 1935 Ford "conglomeration" that won the "not in my driveway" award. This car too was beyond description but in a very different way than the Graham. It must have had parts from 50 different cars all cut up and patched together, along with a trailer to match. 

Even though I had to tow my entry home, the Big Rock show continues to be my local favorite and I’ll be back next year hopefully with a vehicle that will start.

On Sunday, I was up again too early and off to the Lucky Collector Car Auction held at the Lemay Family Collection in Spanaway.

It’s beautiful location at the old Marymount School. They were auctioning off 20 or so old tractors from as early as 1917, most in need of some restoration.

Some seemed to me to be prime prospects for "yard art." Much of the rest were trucks from pickups to tow trucks to buses to fire trucks.

A spectacular 1941 Ford fire truck with all the equipment on it went for only $6,000. That was a hard one for me to pass up.

I also managed to resist a couple of old Studebaker trucks, a nice 47 Dodge flatbed with a really cool hand-operated dump box.

One that really was tempting was a 62 black T-bird convertible witih only 40 some thousand miles. It ended up being a no sale but most of the vehicles were no reserve. The weather was again great and my real estate car even made it there and back — no problem.

Well, it sure is fun talking to people that are passionate for the things I enjoy and writing this little blurb once a month gives me a great excuse to get out and chat with folks I might not get to meet otherwise. So if you are one of those people, just call me.

P.S: I would really  like to write an article on a local "barn find."

For those of you not hip to today’s car lingo: That would be a vintage vehicle that has been stored and ignored for a looong time. You can always contact me at my penthouse office next to the Woodinville 7-11.

Classic Car Corner - Fenders and Fins

  • Written by Tom Berg, Windermere Woodinville

Fenders and Fins?? What does that mean? Well, your intrepid reporter dropped his busy real estate business for a few minutes and ventured forth recently to find out. It happens to be an amazing body shop (as in auto body not human body) right here in the industrial Real Estate Capital of the Greater Seattle area. Except for investigative explorations of the cars of Cuba, Hawaii and soon Scotland I prefer to write about people and events in and around Woodinville.

I stopped in recently to see Jon Carson, the owner, about detailing the engine compartment on my 62 Corvette.  In the lobby I ran into the man who now owns Mr. Belvedere, my former 1954 Plymouth Belvedere.  He loves that car as much as I did, but we never really own cars, we are just their caretakers for a time.

It seems that Jon and I know alot of the same car people.   Anyway, Jon proceded to give me a tour of his facility.   The first half of his shop is mostly cars that are waiting for parts or waiting for their owners to come up with more $. The other half is mostly cars that are being worked on, from cars in a million pieces to ones that are almost finished. There’re even a few cars outside including an early 60’s Lincoln with RWO parts awaiting its turn.

Jon has been in the body and fender business for 34 years. He was running a large shop in Seattle dealing with lots of employees, customers and insurance companies and 10 years ago scaled back to establish this shop specializing in restorations of vintage vehicles, a few hot rods and even a few newer cars.

fenders_and_finsHe can do anything from an engine cleanup like mine to a frame off restoration and he lives in Woodinville just minutes from his shop. One can easily tell he’s really enjoying this business.

Classic Car Corner - Hawaii Calls

  • Written by Tom Berg, Windermere Woodinville

58_rambler2HAWAII CALLS: My sterling report of my trip to Cuba in search of classic cars in December prompted many of my dedicated readers to urge me to check out the cars of Hawaii. Even though my real estate business is quite busy right now I dropped everything and flew off  to “the Big Island” for 10 days to do some research on their classic cars. I figured that since the weather was nice all the time I would be able to see and report on lots of classic cars. The first classic car I saw was parked in Hawaii, a little town on the far north side of the island. It was a classic 1958 rambler wagon in the stunning pink and black two tone with whitewalls and even hubcaps. A real beaut that no one had ever seen the need to do anything to but drive.

It looked like it was still in regular use and today would be called a “survivor.”

At the golf course a real nice mid-30’s Ford pickup with a flatbed drove by and I also saw a stunning, enormous, red 59 Cadillac hardtop with all  the windows down driving by one day.  That was just about it for classic cars on the Big Island.  I’m sure there are some but don’t really know where they were.

I did strike out on cars but I did see and hear a lot of really nice motorcycles. It appears that wearing a helmet must be ILLEGAL in Hawaii since no one wears them. If you’re wearing flimsy shoes, shorts and a T-shirt I guess there’s no need to protect your head either.

In my car quest I also felt it necessary to play quite a bit of golf so I would be in the vicinity of people who have a lot of money. I learned that they rarely even show up to their multi-million-dollar vacation homes so if they have any cool cars they are apparently hidden away in their garages. I have more classic cars at my house than I saw the whole time I was in Hawaii. Car show and car swap meet season is rapidly approaching so I will be looking forward to  reporting about the local car scene until June when I’m off to Scotland to see what I can find there.

Classic Car Corner - Vettes

  • Written by Tom Berg, Windermere Woodinville

vettte_A Tale of Two Vettes:   I own a 1962 Corvette and my friend Mack owns a 1963 Corvette and both are convertibles.  They are just 1 year apart but actually are a generation or two apart.

My 62 is known as a C-1 generation Corvette  which covers the 1953 through 1962 models which were designed and manufactured with World War II technology and only came as convertibles.

Mack’s 63 is known as a C-2 generation Corvette (Stingray), was produced between 1963 and 1967 and has all the modern conveniences as of 1963, including  hidden headlights,  and  was also available in a split window, fastback coupe.

He actually has power windows and a modern suspension and options such as power steering, power disc brakes and even air conditioning which were then available.

Whereas my 62 had none of those options even available. In the day, they would road race the 62s but with the suspension of a 1953 Chevy truck I’m not sure how they kept them on the track.  My car has a trunk which is good for golf clubs or real estate open house signs and Mack’s has no trunk at all in the 63. There’s just a little room to stuff small items behind the seat.

My 62 Corvette is what’s known as a matching numbers car meaning it has all the same exact parts that it was made with in August of 1961 which includes the first year 327 engine with 250 horsepower (which really seems like plenty to me),  4-speed manual transmission, non posi-traction rear end and a stock body,  red interior and  Ermine White paint.

Mack’s 1962 is what’s known as a Resto-mod. It would look stock to most non-Corvette people but has a modified body including flared wheel wells to cover the wide tires, 1966 hood, 1969 side scoops, 1965 seats and a 1980’s 454 engine with about 500 horsepower.  That’s pretty powerful for a car that probably only weighs about 200 pounds more than mine!!  Mack picked up this Vette from a friend and the body modifications and engine swap were already done so he had the car prepped and painted in a beautiful Cadillac “Diamond Pearl”  which was a great choice and redid the interior.

My Vette looks refrigerator white next to his.   With the big tires and heavier engine, Mack’s next step is to have power steering installed by our buddy Marty Phillips, the Corvette guru at Phillips Auto in Totem Lake so he can actually steer the car in a parking lot.  I just have a big steering wheel and steering by “armstrong.”

Considering that these two cars are the same make and just one year apart, it’s amazing just how different they are.

But each car is a great car in its own way and Mack and I are very happy to be their caretakers for a while.