A Pleasant Surprise

TL;DR: Western Washington state is a great place to visit for people who like cars.

By the amount of work that greeted me this morning, taking a vacation all last week might not have been smart. It was still worth it, for all the usual reasons. However, one unexpected surprise was all the great cars I got to see. I had lived in Seattle for a couple of summers, over 15 years ago. It was a wonderful place then, and still is. Maybe I missed it in the 90s, but it was surprising to see so many cool, interesting, jalop, and just plain great cars there. I don't have many car pictures from this trip, just the one in this post. I was the only driver on the rental contract (keep that rate low), and I don't do cell phones while I'm driving. While not driving, I was more in to enjoying family and not being at work.

We flew in/out of SeaTac, which is an airport I like for many reasons. We rented from Thrifty (family vacation, lowest rate wins), and their "intermediate size" was a 2014 VW Jetta in nice shape, which did very well for our needs. As soon as we were on the road to head around the Sound to the Olympic Peninsula, great cars just kept appearing. Several 60s stingrays. A restored pre-war pickup of some sort. Early Toyota pickups and FJs in great shape. A nice new 911 turbo. A 50s Chevy gasser (For Sale!) in Port Townsend. But lots of 30+-year-old rides in unrestored and perfectly good running shape, too. For someone who appreciates cars, the Puget Sound area is amazing. For all the rain and salt water, I don't know how all the metal survives; but, it does. At a very busy (and tasty) fish market, we circled in to the adjacent boat yard to find a parking spot. This daily driver 4-door Peugeot (the plates were current) was in the mix.


In Seattle, it was a grab bag of exotics around the Aquarium, which is a great stop in its own right. There were various Italian and German models and a Viper (nice sound in urban canyons), and then oddities in the City Of Neighborhoods. Quite a Saab following there. A drop-top Alfa Spyder a block from Greenlake, faded but red just the same. Old 911s and 912s, several gorgeous 928s, more 944s than you could keep track of. A restored 70s Chevy camper van with perfect red paint and riding on slot mags. A Willy's jeep with all it's Army markings and olive drab coat from the era of Glenn Miller, an empty .50 cal mount, and the added, albeit a little tasteless, flair of an unattended and fake (I hope) grenade in the back at Ballard locks.

The ferry boats are still a good deal, and great entertainment. While waiting for the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry, we had a delay in boarding after the boat came in. Everyone's getting a bit impatient, including the stereotype parked in front of me. An Acura 2-door with a fart-can muffler, stanced, worn out tires, faded/peeling paint, dented body, and a saggy-pantsed driver with a sideways DG cap and a bassin' stereo. Apparently people still do that. It was fine, though. While waiting, he got out to pull a 4-pot cylinder head out of his trunk to examine with his passenger. Not my cup of tea, but they were enjoying cars and having some fun. I can't really argue against that. Eventually, a flatbed tow truck shows up, drives on to the ferry, and drags off a late model extended cab F-150. The driver was sitting in it, probably for his own safety, as one of the drivers of the dozen-plus cars the truck had trapped yelled to us: "He lost his keys!". He was officially That Guy.

I'm not sure why all those great cars and trucks are there. Maybe, if you're used to salt water and boats, it just seems easy to keep an old car in good order. Or maybe the dark/wet combo in the winter makes for productive garage time. I really have no idea, but it sure was fun to re-visit. All in all, it was a great trip, made just a touch better with some great cars. Next project car purchase, I'm going to be sure my Craigslist searching highlights western Washington. A good old-car market that would allow me to combine a project purchase with a family visit would be a nice two-fer. Re-entry in Boulder today? A perfect-condition VW Syncro Westy, full of mountain bikes and camping gear loading up with beer at our local grocery store. Guess we have our own slice of car life here, too.

Share This Story