Cars are local realtor’s passion

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Tom Berg and his bright yellow Studebaker. He likes to drive it when the weather’s good because it’s a convertible. Photo by Deborah Stone.
Those who know Tom Berg often delight in playing a guessing game with themselves as to which car the local man will drive on any given day.

Berg, a real estate broker in the Woodinville Windermere office and longtime area resident, is a car collector. He’s passionate about his hobby and jumps at the chance to talk about it if asked.

"I started seriously collecting about ten or twelve years ago," explains Berg. "I’ve always liked cars, ever since I was a teen. But, whereas the other guys liked driving muscle cars, I found it fun to drive the old ones. Part of that was due to the fact that I didn’t have a lot of money back then and I couldn’t afford the muscle cars. I would get the old ones and paint them and make them look good."

Berg remembers his first vehicle, a 1951 Ford, and adds, "I was sixteen and I needed a dependable vehicle because I lived in the sticks in Kent. I was pretty proud of that car and drove it everywhere."

The local man’s collection currently stands at six and includes a 1947 Ford pick-up, a ’62 Corvette, ’59 Willys Wagon, ’48 Diamond T 1-Ton pick-up, ’48 Studebaker convertible, ’31 Model A pick-up, and his most recent acquisition – a 1928 Model A hot rod.

"The hot rod I just got is great," says Berg. "The guy who owned it put airplane insignia on it to honor his uncle who was a bomber pilot in the war."

If asked to choose his favorite car, Berg responds like a proud father of a big family: "I like all of them because they’re totally different. Each is unique in its own way."

He then laughs and adds, "My favorite is usually the one I’m driving at the moment!"

Unlike some collectors who keep their prized vehicles out of public sight, Berg takes pleasure in driving his cars.

For him, the fun is in taking them for a spin around the area. He meets lots of people in the process, who often approach him wanting to talk cars.

"I get a lot of comments from complete strangers," he notes. "They come up to me and admire the cars or ask questions about them, or share their own car stories with me."

Berg reads up on cars and does extensive research before purchasing one in order to know the value of them.

Basically, he buys only those vehicles that are in good shape and considered "nice drivers," as he’s not interested in doing much work on them. "I’m not a mechanic," he explains. "I’ll putter around and do some cosmetic stuff such as spray paint the floors, put in doormats or fix door handles, but I’m not like those guys who work on one car for years."

Berg views his cars as works of art. He adds, "I can put my money in the bank where it’ll make no interest to speak of or I can have a cool car to look at and drive. I choose the latter."

On occasion, the local man has taken his cars to the Duvall Big Rock Car Show. But, he emphasizes that he’s not into having them judged and evaluated professionally.

"It’s just for fun," he remarks. "Though I did win Best Grandpa’s Truck for my Diamond T one year!"

Finding the cars is a bit of a treasure hunt for Berg. He looks on eBay and CraigsList and keeps his eyes and ears open.

Some take conscientious effort; others he stumbles upon accidentally. The one that usually gets the most attention is the Studebaker. He says, "It’s bright yellow and I like to drive it when the weather’s good because it’s a convertible. It definitely makes a statement and I’ll park it right in front of the Windermere offices in Woodinville where everyone sees it as they drive by on the main drag."

Berg has sold a few of his collector’s items in the past in order to make room for new purchases.

He notes that you need plenty of space to house a collection.

Currently, he has several garages on his property, but he admits to being one short now and adds, "I’m going to have to build another one to accommodate the hot rod I just bought."

And like a true collector, Berg is always looking ahead at his next acquisition.

When pressed, he contributes, "I’ve been looking at the old Land Rovers, from the ’50s or ’60s. They’re kind of cool."

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