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Classic Car Corner - July 30, 2012

  • Written by Tom Berg

The Stolen Camaro.   Vintage cars can be good family fun and provide a lifetime of enjoyment along with some great stories.  My friend Bill has just such a story in connection with his 1969 Camaro.  This is a highly sought after model and after much searching in the summer of 1999 he found one that he and his son could re-build as a father-son project.   It needed a lot of work so they tore into it right away.  It had a new engine but they pulled it to replace the automatic transmission with a Muncie 4-speed.  They pulled the seats to re-upholster them and found that the front floor plan needed to be cut out and replaced, as well as the trunk floor pan. They then also changed the rear end to a posi-traction 3:37 gear ratio and added a Flowmaster exhaust system.

BILLS1Bill didn’t have experience in body repairs or paint, so he called in a body and fender man we’ll call Rob (I chose that name on purpose) who happened to owe him some money to take care of the body and paint work.   In September of 2001 the car was hauled to Rob’s shop for all the finish work. On Friday April 5 2002, the car was almost ready and Bill and Jeff checked it out at the fenced-in shop and were told it would be ready in 3 or 4 days.  The next morning Bill got a call from Rob informing him that the car had been stolen!!!  It was immediately discovered that neither party had insurance on Bill and Jeff’s Camaro. The police were called in and the investigation began. Soon after, the police told Bill that Rob’s story just didn’t smell right and that they would keep checking it out. On Tuesday, Bill called Rob and told him he would sue him for $20,000 plus attorney fees and court costs and that he knew Rob owned a building that could be liened. Amazingly at 9:30 that night Rob called Bill and informed him that he had found the car!!! He claimed to have spent the day handing out flyers and asking people if they knew anything about the Camaro and had talked to an unnamed source outside of a parts store who told him where the car was and also where any missing parts would be.  Rob claimed that the man would not talk to police and ran off. Rob called the police and indeed the Camaro was located in an abandoned barn but many of the parts were missing.  After the police investigated and fingerprinted it, Rob hauled it back to Bill’s house.

BILLS2The next day, Bill went looking for the missing parts where the “informant” had said they would be.  He couldn’t find them but shortly thereafter Rob did find them at a nearby building and as he approached the building two men locked up and fled in two vehicles.   The police were called and when they got there Bill was asked to describe his missing parts. The officers looked into the building, decided the parts matched and went for a search warrant. After searching the interior of the building, Bill was informed he couldn’t get his parts right then since there was also a meth lab there that needed disinfecting.  Apparently the meth business and stolen car parts are compatible enterprises.  Bill was able to go back the next day and as he picked up his stolen parts others were there doing the same.  By Saturday Bill had all of his parts back at his house—surely an exciting seven days.

As long as the car was in pieces, Bill did some extra work on the front end, frame, etc. It took him six months to get it back together and then it had to go to the body and paint shop (a different one of course) to be finished.  Bill’s had this beautiful 1969 Camaro in one piece now for over 10 years and he’ll never forget the experience he and his son had with it. You can bet that this car and its story will be with Bill and Jeff for a VERY long time.

Update:  Last year I helped Bill buy a home in the Woodinville area and he has just completed his new shop and will have the Camaro safe and sound at home any day now.

Kid & Driver - 2013 Kia Sorento EX AWD

  • Written by Jackson Unruh & Julie Boselly

kidndriver

 

2013 KIA SORENTO EX AWD

KIA_Sorento

KID

The KIA Sorento is a very nice car. The first thing I noticed were the dual sunroofs (Panoramic Sunroof). That is nice if you are in the second row. There was also a third row of seats but they were a bit of a hassle to put up. The cargo net gets in the way. The doors have that old-fashioned thunk when you close them. The version we got, the EX AWD, was jam-packed with options.

DRIVER

Three rows of seats = I can haul all sorts of kids around. Well, yes, I could fit a lot of kids but I don’t think a lot of adults or kids + their stuff. The optional third row was very difficult to get to unless you were agile like a 7 year old. Expect young children to just dive over the second row after day one. There also is not a lot of leg room or cargo space once you put up the third row. I really enjoyed driving this SUV. It picked up quickly when pulling out in traffic. The Sorento did not feel incredibly big, although the kids might tell you I wasn’t great at parking it. I appreciate the newer vehicles and the tech packages they have available. Automatic Bluetooth connection to my phone is a favorite along with USB/auxiliary input jacks. In my real life, I drive a car that requires store-bought technology. The sound is very different!

Starting at: $23,150. EX Base price: $29,650. As tested: $36,090

Standard Features:

• 276-hp, 3.5L DOHC CVVT V-6 Engine

• 6-Speed Automatic Transmission

• Up to 18 city/24 hwy mpg

• Power folding outside mirrors

• Navigation System

• Satellite radio

• Side/Curtain Airbags 1st/2nd row

Kid & Driver - 2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

  • Written by Jackson Unruh & Julie Boselly

kidndriver

It has been a year since I last test-drove a car for a review. This year I am doing it a little differently. My son, Jackson, age 11, was introduced to cars by his Grandma, Carol Edwards, “On the Road with Carol & Rex,” as soon as he could walk. I pretend to know a few things about vehicles but he knows more than many adults. Jackson will supplement my “mom” review by adding a few of his thoughts about each car we take on the road.

2012 Honda Odyssey Touring Elite

Honda_Odyssey

KID

The Honda Odyssey is a great minivan altogether. The first thing I can think of that is great about it is the electronic system. The navigation is very similar to the GPS in the Honda Pilot. The steering wheel looks like it may have more buttons than the entire dashboard in my opinion. Another cool thing is the movie screen in the second row. It is twice as big as the normal screen you would find in a Toyota Sienna. Then we move on to the trunk. The third row can fold into the back to make a flat surface. There is also a compartment underneath the carpet in the second row of seats that I haven’t explored yet. There are a lot more things included in the van, but I will have to let you find them yourself.

DRIVER

I have always said I will never buy a minivan. They are extremely practical but if I had my choice, I would be in a sports car every day. After a week in the well-equipped Honda Odyssey (15 beverage holders, geesh!), I decided practicality works for this time in my life. With ample room to haul my two children, a couple of their friends, plus the “stuff” we all have, I was a happy mom. If you measure every vehicle by a Costco trip: SUPER EASY!

The Odyssey was taken on a road trip to Vancouver, B.C., for a few days. It was incredibly comfortable and fuel efficient. I filled up before leaving Woodinville on a Thursday, drove to Vancouver and surrounding areas, south to Seattle and never filled up until Monday morning when I was back in Woodinville again. Then, it was just $65. The only part of the high-capacity-vehicle I wasn’t fond of was the rear end. It looked like someone snapped on a piece that didn’t belong.

Base Price: $43,675 Compared to the EX model: $28,375

Standard Features:

• 248-hp, 3.5-Liter, SOHC i-VTEC® V-6 Engine

• Automatic transmission  • Up to 19 cty/28 hwy mpg

• Navigation System • Bluetooth • iPod input

• Satellite radio • Side/Curtain Airbags • Third row seats

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 upfrontimages.com 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.