Kirkland Concours

  • Written by Tom Berg

kirkland_concoursI recently attended the KIRKLAND Concours de Elegance in of all places –TACOMA! This event has been held at Carrillon Point in Kirkland for the past nine years and now that we have a world class venue for such an event at the LeMay-Americas Car Museum in Tacoma, it has moved south but retained “Kirkland” in its name.

These concours events started in Europe in the 1800s as an event where the wealthy could show off their carriages and continue to this day as an event where the “one percenters” can show off their “investments.”

Unlike our local car shows where the car owners just show up, these vehicles were shown by invitation only. For some reason, they didn’t invite me to show any of my cars. Probably just as well since I doubt that I could ever even get my cars as clean as the ones that were showcased at this event. Many of these magnificent cars were locally owned but there were entrants from as far away as Pennsylvania (an Italian who keeps most of his cars in Rome brought 10 cars!). There were also some of our local vintage unlimited hydros such as the Slo-Mo IV and a nice assortment of vintage English motorcycles. The best of show winner was an extremely rare 1933 V-16 Marmon which is all the more interesting since it was a very expensive luxury car produced in the height of the depression. Of course Marmons and most of the other high end luxury cars went out of business in those years.

The cars shown ranged from early 1900’s horseless carriages to modern Lamborghinis, and they all looked brand new and to be fair, I must note that they all run, are mechanically sound and some of them even get driven now and then. Cleaning these cars after a drive would take longer than the drive! I was particularly amazed that anyone could design, let alone manufacture, such amazing vehicles 50 to 100 years ago and that today’s restorers can bring them back to their former glory (for just a few hundred thousand dollars). Often replacement parts have to be made from scratch since there are no parts available for most of these cars.  It’s not uncommon to spend a year or more of historical research just to find out how the car looked originally.

Since I was there I took the opportunity to tour the LeMay-Americas Car Museum. I am a member and had yet to check it out. One could easily spend several hours there. There  must be several hundred cars of all sorts on display on three floors and the ramps between the floors along with information on each of the cars and educational displays.  Even if you’re not a car aficionado, just the historical perspective of vehicles in the growth of our country should be enough reason to visit this great car museum. The displays will change periodically so repeat visits will be necessary.

Next stop for me:  Monroe swap meet on October 6 where I’ll be hanging out with my 65 Mustang in the car sales area hoping for a buyer when I’m not checking out the vendors looking for something I think I really need.  There won’t be any “Concours” cars there but  I’ll  be in my element having fun.

And last but not least, I was pulling into Big Foot Bagels as I do most mornings and was happily driving my 48 Studebaker convertible when I spotted in the parking lot my former 1954 Plymouth Belvedere hardtop which was easily identified, being a very rare model and in baby blue with a black top. I reluctantly sold it several years ago and it’s been one of those cars that I wished I hadn’t parted with.  The owner was right there so we talked about what I had always called “Mr. Belvedere.”

It was in great shape when I sold it: 54,000 miles, straight body, mechanically sound, all stock with one repaint. The current owner just bought it and stated the seller had done some engine and clutch work and that he now had a few mechanical items to address.  He is a Chrysler guy as well as very mechanically capable so I’m pleased to know that “Mr. Belvedere” will be living locally and well cared for.  All’s well that ends well.

Kid & Driver - 2012 Kia Soul

  • Written by Jackson Unruh & Julie Boselly


2012 KIA Soul



The Kia Soul is truly a great car, in my opinion. Even though it looks small, there is plenty of leg room in the back and front rows — enough to fit 4-5 six-foot adults in the car with adequate leg room. The engine will get you places on time with a 1.6 liter in-line 4 cylinder engine, and the CVT (continuously variable transmission) adding a little sportiness. It gets absolutely great gas mileage. The sound system is one of my favorite things: surround sound, speaker lights and a funky little speaker on top of the dashboard. The little screen on the dash is sort of helpful with the back-up camera and audio controls.

The controls altogether are easy to use. The trunk offers a decent amount of space, and the hatch helps a lot with accessibility. Parking must be a breeze with the overall size of the car. On the outside, this car looks pretty small. I mean, I have bicycle tires bigger than those. On the inside is where this car shines.

[Mom edit: The model we drove was 2.0L with CVVT which is Continuously Variable Valve Timing and I have no idea what that is].


My first thought when I heard I would be driving a Kia Soul was: “That will be fun, it’s the dancing-hamster-mobile.” I also assumed it was ideal for those under 25 but when I looked around at who drives them, it’s more my age (let’s say … older adults) and above. I definitely see this as a great commuter car where you crank up your favorite tunes and try to enjoy the slower pace on the highways. I am a huge fan of the stereo system and the “mood” lighting around the speakers was fun. Go for a test drive at night if you’re considering this one. Oh, how I would have loved this car cruising the roads in high school! I have a Spotify® (online music) mobile account and was able to enjoy my personal playlists through Bluetooth, i.e. no cables! The Soul had a back-up camera but no navigation system. I wasn’t a fan of the “moss” color car I had. Other options for color include Alien (bright green), Molten (red) and the black, white, silvers, etc. I saw one Soul on Vashon Island with graphics on the sides – it looked great!

KIA SOUL: Starts at $14,400; $20,350 as driven • MPG 26 city/34 hwy • 6 speed automatic transmission w/Active Eco System • 60/40 split folding rear seats.

Classic Car Corner - September 3, 2012

  • Written by Tom Berg

I was recently able to attend the 35th annual LeMay Family Collection Car Show in south Tacoma.

Harold LeMay was a successful “garbage man” from Tacoma who once had the world’s largest car collection of over 3,000 cars. When he ran out of storage room he would just buy another building to put them in. It’s rumored that there are still some unopened buildings full of his cars in the Tacoma area. He was not  too selective and would buy almost anything so his collection is extremely diverse. You name it and it’s probably in the collection, from a turbine powered hot rod to a driveable stilleto shoe!

In the late 80’s Harold bought the Marymount Academy from The Sisters of St.Dominic and promised to preserve the buildings and grounds and grant the Sisters access as long as they wanted.  Everyone I’ve ever talked to said Harold was a nice guy.

Harold passed away in 2000 and left over 600 of his cars to what is now known as America’s Car Museum and they have built a $65 million exhibition area next to the Tacoma Dome on land donated by the City of Tacoma  where they have exhibition space, gift shops, restoration shops, lecture hall, galleries, a banquet room and a cafe.  Truly a world class venue.

The Lemay family puts on their annual show at Marymount which is a beautiful site. There are mature trees, lots of grass, some great vintage brick buildings full of cars and two newer buildings also full of cars, some stacked on “shelves” three high.

It’s a laid-back affair and anyone with a vintage car can park right on site on the grass. I parked between a 60’s Bentley and a pristine 1930 Packard 12 cylinder convertible that was headed for a 1,000 mile trip.  My little 62 vette looked odd between those two luxury cars. On the lawn were model A’s, hot rods, cars that needed work, modified cars of all sorts and my favorites, the 50’s and 60’s cars that looked like they just rolled off the showroom floor.  The LeMays have about 500 of their 2,000 vehicles displayed on-site also so it was a classic car guys heaven.

There was also a car auction with some of the LeMays’ family vehicles. Most were in need of lots of repairs, some were just parts cars and some rusted hulks that had no use that I could think of. They also auctioned off some vehicles from the estate of a collector, some of which had potential.

I just missed out on a 53 Dodge Texaco fuel delivery truck with all the stuff still intact.  I shoulda bid one more time!!!  Of course, often when I win a bid I think “I shoulda bid one less time.”

Next year on the last Friday of August I suggest you plan to attend the 36th annual LeMay Family Collection car show at Marymount.

Kid & Driver - 2013 HYUNDAI AZERA

  • Written by Jackson Unruh & Julie Boselly





The Hyundai Azera is a great car for road trips and commuting. It’s luxurious with as many options as you would ever need. It’s very spacious, has heated rear seats, panoramic glass roof, window shades for the rear passengers and a great navigation system. The ride is really smooth; you barely feel a bump in the road. Overall it is pure luxury. This is one of my personal favorites of the cars we have had. The Azera is still not Hyundai’s most expensive car (mom insert: He’s hoping we get to try out the Equus). Commuters will enjoy the gas mileage, the ability of the navigation system to find detour routes and the horsepower.



What did you do this summer? I fell in love with a car. I know it sounds silly but it is possible. The Hyundai Azera has completely won me over. I will definitely have a hard time not comparing all future cars to this one. It’s very comfortable, a smooth-ride, tech-packed and a head-turner.

I had the pleasure of driving this car on our family vacation to Oregon. I drove just over 930 miles in 10 days: Portland, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Manzanita, Mt. Hood, Estacada and the long way home! Can you tell I wanted to drive? 70 mph in this car feels like 35. It was a constant battle to adhere to the speed limit with 293 horsepower and 3.3L V6 engine.

The Azera is not necessarily ideal for a family with more than two  small children and a lot of booster/car seats. I squeezed my daughter and two nieces in the back seat on one of the hottest days of the year in Portland. That was not enjoyable. Otherwise, I have zero complaints!

Sometimes it’s hard to describe how the technology features in one car are better than in others. The Azera has a lot of the same features other cars have: navigation, blue-tooth, heated seats, back up camera, power seats. Hyundai just stepped this up a few notches by also including: rear heated seats, front cooling seats, adjustable driver seat cushion extension (for those of you with longer legs!), power rear sunshade, and manual rear side-window sunshades. The rear sunshade automatically goes down when you put the car in reverse. At night, soft blue interior lighting comes on to illuminate the many features. Hyundai also offers Blue Link: Hyundai's innovative telematics solution that combines safety, service and infotainment into a complete package. It works to both help simplify Hyundai owners' lives and reduce distracted driving.

The trunk of the Azera fit luggage for three of us, with room to spare. You will even notice thought to detail in the trunk with the support arms retracting into covered holes. This allows you to truly fill the trunk without worrying items will get squished once you close it. I really didn’t put anything in the main part of the car except for snacks and books for the kids.

The only issue my children had: Who gets to plug in their music playlist! Surprisingly mom won most of the time.

• Starting at $32,000 • 20/29 City/Hwy • Class-leading fuel efficiency • Best-in-class interior volume

For more information go to:

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.