Classic Car Corner - June 25, 2012

  • Written by Tom Berg

carsCar show season is here.  If you enjoy seeing great cars of all vintages, then now is the time. You could attend two or three car shows each weekend if you wanted. There were three cars shows locally on Father’s Day weekend. To find out about local car shows go to for a complete listing of all the shows in the Pacific Northwest.

Each year I buy their “Northwest Car Events Calendar” at the first show of the year and circle all the events that interest me but for you techies it’s all online. My son even made fun of me because I still use TV Guide but I like to hold information in my hand.

My first show of the year was the Big Rock Classic Car and Cycle show. A wide range of vehicles showed up in the Safeway parking lot from the 1920’s to the present.

Hot rods, customs, race cars, vintage cars and trucks, Scooby Doo’s Mystery machine (complete with Scooby Doo himself) and even a tank! The tank and the Mystery Machine were big hits with the kids (including many of us big kids).

The show provided about 25 awards in various categories including “most original” which happened to be awarded to me for my 1938 Ford pickup. The weather was marginal and it even rained a couple of times.  Convertible tops went up and each time the rain quit, many car owners (not me) were seen drying their cars off.

The quality and variety of cars at this show is amazing and Roger, the Safeway manager and car nut, puts on a great show.

As a local, I’m there every year rain or shine.

On Father’s Day my son and I each drove one of my vehicles to the show at Bothell Village.

It’s a small show but lots of fun and a great place to meet fellow car guys. Again the variety of vehicles was interesting including a Rolls Royce and a Cadillac from the early 30s. They sure made some big luxury cars back then even though we were in the midst of the Great Depression.  No awards given out at this show, just a good time for all. I again drove my 38 Ford pickup and my son for the first time drove my 48 Studebaker convertible. We lucked out and left the top down all day. My son had never driven a column shift manual or one with overdrive so he seemed to enjoy the experience.  As an added bonus to our day, my 38 quit on the way home. It has a bad coil or condenser that cuts out when warm. It’ll be back on the road next week.   That’s part of the vintage car ownership experience and a good reason to have AAA.   The tow truck driver said he often has cars to tow after car shows.

Update on Tom’s cars:  The 31 Model A in my ad last month is actually my car and is for sale. The ad was a little confusing to some.  I recently bought a 1947 M5 mostly green (for now) Studebaker pickup with lots of power. As soon as the front disc brakes are installed ,watch for me around town. Right now it takes off real fast but slows down real slow.  That leaves me with just one car not running right now and when I get it going you are sure to hear me coming (no mufflers).

On July 5 (the start of summer weather), I look forward to seeing all you car guys (and gals) as you cruise past (or stop by) my office at Windermere. I have a streetside office with a big window so I don’t miss much.

Classic Car Corner - March 26, 2012

  • Written by Tom Berg

To begin, I’m happy to have my Willys back.  The guys over at R & G Auto Body did a great job on my world’s first SUV. They refurbished my recycled hood that I found in Oregon to look like new, repaired the damage on my roof and repainted the roof and entire front end.  No. They didn’t pay me for mentioning  them  (maybe they should have!), but I like dealing with local, experienced professionals.

I had an opportunity to visit my friend Greg here in Woodinville recently, between the snow and rain, and since the sun was actually out, he had several of his cars out sunbathing on the driveway.  Greg is like many “car guys” I know who have a full garage, can’t bear to part with any of his classic cars and so can’t actually buy more cars.  This is a sad but all too common predicament for those of us who enjoy classic cars. It’s not a good idea to park them where they aren’t fully protected as I recently learned with my Willys at a cost of $2,500!  I’m currently looking at building more car storage at my house and maybe even parting with a car or two.  I have been able to help several “car guys” recently sell their homes and move to a place where they could build the shop they’ve always wanted (and buy more cars)  and I hope to cover that process in the future.

Back to Greg: Classic car buyers often purchase cars like the ones they had (or wanted) in high school or ones that their fathers, uncles or grandfathers had.  In Greg’s case, his father had a 1950 Ford half-ton pickup, so when he happened to find one locally he just had to buy it even though it meant selling a very nice 1949 stock Chevy pickup to make room.  Prices were very close but this Ford is a step up when it comes to driving.  It has a modern 302 cubic inch Ford V-8, with an automatic transmission, modern rear end and front end, new interior and a heater, plus it looks great.  Vehicles like this one that look vintage on the outside but have modern drive trains and suspensions are commonly called resto-mods and are very desirable to today’s collectors since they are comfortable and easy to drive.  The previous owner found this truck deteriorating in a field in Cheney, Wash., and did almost all of the labor on the restoration, spending much more on parts than Greg paid and even took it on an 8,000-mile break-in trip around the country but unfortunately had to sell it for health reasons.  Greg can drive this truck down the freeway at 70 all day long just as if he were driving a modern pickup.  The exact vehicle you want in this condition doesn’t often become available so Greg was very lucky to purchase it and when I check back with him in 20 years, I’d be willing to bet he’ll still have this great pickup.

Greg has five cars in his 4-car garage (he also has to park his wife’s car in there!).  To squeeze them in, he parks the 1967 MG he’s had for 23 years all the way in and perpendicular to the others so he has to move two other cars just to get the MG out of the garage.  It pretty much stays in the garage all winter.  Greg also has  1983 Porsche Targa that looks and drives like new with just 45,000 miles.  Lastly he has a 1923 bucket- T that you just can’t miss as he drives through town.  It’s bright yellow with no top, no hood, no fenders and lots of chrome.  Keep an eye out for one of Greg’s cars here in town or at the local car shows.  Like myself, he believes in driving his cars, so watch for my big red Diamond-T pickup in Saturdays All Fools’ Day Parade.

In closing, I would like to invite any of my readers with classic cars that they would like to show off to invite me over to see what they’ve got and discuss classic cars.  Just call Windermere in Woodinville and ask for Tom.

Classic Car Corner - Feb. 20, 2012

  • Written by Tom Berg

On Friday I went to the Russo and Steele Auction in Scottsdale where they had over 700 cars. Photo by Tom Berg
In search of news for this month’s column it was necessary for me to attend the Scottsdale car auctions in January. Unfortunately, I missed the entire “Seattle Blizzard of o-twelve” and was stuck in sunny, warm, dry Scottsdale Arizona for a week. What I won’t do for a car story.


I got there early for some tourist activities (I even finally learned how to use a GPS) and on Tuesday went to the first day of the world famous Barrett-Jackson classic car auction.

What an amazing production! Fifteen-hundred cars, huge tents, lots of car nuts and vendors galore.

I could buy an 8-foot brass bear for my yard, a signed and framed Doors’ guitar (for $28,000), an elk hunting trip and of course tons of car stuff.

To evenget near the auction stage would require a $500 bidder pass, so I viewed the action from afar.

Since I had actually promised myself I would buy no cars, I was safer without the bidder pass.

It would take six days to sell all the cars for a total of $92 million, 32 percent more than last year, with a top sale of $2.9 million for a 1948 Tucker.

In all, 270,000 people attended the auction, a 16 percent increase from last year.

All but a very few of the high-end cars were sold at no reserve which could be a real let-down for the seller but fun for the audience and of course profitable for the auction house.

Barrett-Jackson is an event that any car guy (or gal) should see but it was a little much for this small town reporter.

On Wednesday, I went back to Barrett-Jackson for a while and even found several hundred cars that I had missed the first time. I had been invited to attend a private showing of the Bonhams Auction at a fancy hotel in the area later that day.

They were apparently under the impression that I was a high roller since I had signed up as a bidder at a previous auction in Tacoma.

Everyone at this private showing had on sport coats and slacks (except me of course) and the venue was very fancy with free food, free drinks and waiters with trays of hors d’oeuvres.

I even met people from Seattle, Anacortes and Portland.

There were less than 100 cars to be sold but they were exceptional.

The full color catalogue was an inch thick. I was definitely over my head there, but as I said — the food and drinks were free.

The next day I returned to the Bonhams Auction and it was much more laid back than Barrett- Jackson with only a hundred or so in the audience.

I watched a bidder next to me pay over a half a million for a 1930 Rolls Royce once owned by Marlene Dietrich.

He was wearing jeans and suspenders and looked as though he had just bought a used pickup for his farm!

Thursday morning I was off to the Gooding Auction in downtown Scottsdale where attendees were greeted with free bloody marys — nothing like a little alcohol to stimulate the bidders.

They only had just over 100 cars but they were spectacular. In my hour or two there, I saw a couple cars go for $700,000, a couple for a million, one for $2.2 million and one for $4.62 million (an alloy body Mercedes Gullwing).

This auction was also laid back with only a couple hundred attendees, many of whom were not bidders.

I did see Wayne Carini (of Chasing Cars fame) sell his 39 Ford Woodie with vintage canoe on top and managed to stand behind him while he was getting filmed so watch for me on TV. Bonhams sold 118 cars for $39 million, yes an average of $330,000!

Later that day I drove out to Fort McDowell for the Silver Auction at the casino there.

They had over 400 cars that were nice but definitely lower end (my end?).

Most of their cars had reserves, so each car took longer and many didn’t reach their reserve.

I looked at all the cars and headed to the casino where I did manage to throw away some of my hard earned cash.

On Friday I went to the Russo and Steele auction in Scottsdale where they had over 700 cars. I looked all of them over and watched the action for a while.

They have an auction in the round so the audience surrounds the car being auctioned so this one was fun to watch but by now I had seen about 3,000 classic cars and was ready to hit the links for four rounds in three days.

I never did see any rain although the natives there wear parkas and extra clothing if it’s under 75 degrees while I’m in shorts and a short sleeved shirt.

I had a great time on this research trip and might just try it again next year. From what I saw, the collector car market appears to be coming out of the great recession and I sure hope this is a positive indicator for the rest of us.

On a sad note I must tell you that my beautiful 59 Willys wagon that I wrote about last month was damaged when I was gone.

WARNING: Do not store anything of value under one of those cheap carports.

My friends at Woodinville’s R & G Auto Body will make my Willys better than before, but I would rather have spent that money on something else.

Classic Car Corner

  • Written by Tom Berg

WillyClassic cars and trucks are abundant in the Woodinville area. Most are well hidden and don’t get driven much so I will endeavor to familiarize the reader with our local classics and their owners.

In this episode I would like to discuss one of my vehicles. This beauty is a 1959 Willys Wagon. I searched for over a year for this one and finally located it in Pullman, Washington.

I don’t buy cars sight unseen (tried this once with poor results) so I had a car aficionado friend of mine check it out when he was in Cougarville.

He looked it over and gave it thumbs up so I negotiated a price over the phone, rented a truck one way and headed to Pullman, a place I would never go but for a vintage vehicle.

In my negotiations I agreed to pay the last $500 of the purchase price if I was able to make it back to Woodinville the same day. After all, this car is over 50 years old and not designed for freeway speeds.

My trip back was an adventure. This vehicle is basically an under-powered, low geared unaerodynamic box and I was driving onto a strong Eastern Washington wind with the gas pedal on the floor. I was occasionally able to get to 60 MPH. You would think you could get from Pullman to Ellensburg (about 170 miles) on a tank of gas but alas not in this rig – I ran out of gas in sight of the Ellensburg off-ramp. Luckily I had the classic “jeep can” and was able to get it started and to the nearest gas station. I did make it home that day very tired and sent the seller his $500.

Willys began making cars and trucks in 1908 and was actually the second largest producer of cars in the United States (Ford was the largest) from 1912 to 1918. They had various successes and failures up to World War II when they made 360,000 Jeeps for the war.

Willys started producing the Wagon in 1946 and added 4-wheel drive in 1949 to produce the world’s first Sport Utility Vehicle.

They produced this vehicle with very few changes up to 1965 for a total of 300,000 wagons. With that many you might think they would be easy to find but most met with an unkind fate. They were used on farms, used for hunting, were known for rusting out in wetter climates like ours and many were customized with big engines so a stock Willys Wagon is hard to find.

My Willys is all stock (except for the Pontiac hubcaps – Willys made no hubcaps for their trucks) and runs great.

It was originally from Colorado then Eastern Washington so is rust free. Everything works so I can drive it rain or shine, day or night.

I do try to avoid bad weather, nights and freeways and I don’t go “four wheeling” in the woods.

Keep on the lookout for this great Willys or some of my other vintage vehicles at the curbside parking spot in front of Windermere in Woodinville. You could even come in and we can talk cars.

Please check out further issues of this great paper when I will discuss someone else’s Classic Car.