Seen in Seattle

Seattle,with approximately three quarters of a million inhabitants, is not big by American standards but it is the largest city in Washington state and one of the fastest growing cities in America. Surrounded by vast forests it is easy to see why the early European settlers made logging its number one industry. Seattle was also a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush in the nineteenth century, and much money was made equipping those early prospectors. In the first half of the twentieth century, it became home to the Boeing Aircraft Company. Founded by Bill Boeing in 1916, it is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It was here that Starbucks opened their first coffee shop and Tom Hanks suffered a bout of insomnia.

In more recent times, it has become a centre for software, internet and biotechnology companies with household names including Microsoft and Amazon who have their offices in the city. Bill Gates lives here. Jimi Hendrix was born in the city (and not a lot of people know that!)  If you ever visit, do take in the iconic Space Needle built for the 1962 World’s Fair which dominates the city scape. Vaughn will be able to fill you in on the construction details.

Enough of the travelogue, let’s get into what this piece is about. Yes, it’s cars! Seattle has an abundance of them and, occasionally, you do catch sight of something interesting cruising the streets, whether on a special outing or just being used to go from A to B. So, read on and I’ll share with you some of those which I caught on camera.

Starting with one of my favourites – a Cadillac Eldorado Convertible of around 1976 vintage seen here outside the Space Needle. Sporting a V8 with a staggering 8.7 litre displacement, it barely made 200 horse power and was the last of the line of true Caddy Convertibles. And it was front wheel drive!

During one stay we visited Whalers Cove by Lake Washington in the region of Bellevue, an expensive and upmarket area of Seattle. It was the during day previous to this that I had purchased a copy of “Collectible Automobile” not only because it is an excellent American classic car magazine but also because it contained a spread on Cadillac Eldorados 1967 – 1970. Of the vehicles featured it was a ’69 model in the rare Firemist Mauve which I particularly liked. You can imagine my surprise when walking down to the lake shore I glimpsed the front end of a similar car parked in the residents’ car park area. I had to go in and take some shots and it was then that its owner, a Mr Jon Abood, came out to greet me and talk enthusiastically about his pride and joy. And yes, you’ve guessed it, this was the very one featured in the magazine that I’d bought the day earlier! Small world.

Incredibly, this was not the only classic in the ‘hood. Only a few yards away – they still use imperial units in the States – sat a Lincoln Continental, I guess a Mk IV from around 1970. Frank Cannon drove a Mk V in the mid ’70s TV series. You could land a helicopter on the bonnet, it’s so vast. What’s not to like? But, there’s more! Parked on the roadside close by we came across a Chrysler 300 needing a little love. This ’68 Primrose 2-door Hard Top housed a 440 cubic inch V8 (there’s those imperial units again; 7.2 litres to you and me). I’d love to clean that one up.

If you ever get to Seattle, you must take the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Situated in the Puget Sound Basin, this small, genteel region hosts some interesting metal including a Mercury Cougar convertible from around 1973 and a mid-’80s Lincoln Town Car, both daily drivers. The latter was the first American car to employ a 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission and, later on, the first to use an overhead cam V8. Matthew McConaughy used one in the movie “The Lincoln Lawyer”. Catch up with this film; there’s a great twist at the end. The island is home to the Bainbridge Vodka and Gin Distillery, which we always visit just to see the Chevy 3100 Pick Up truck – my favourite of all the forties/fifties Pick Ups.

But the car I always make a pilgrimage to see is permanently under a car cover. Unfortunately, I lost the photograph I took when it was for sale a little while ago. I still think I should make an offer. I’ll leave you to guess what it is.

Nobody does muscle like Detroit and it would be impolite not to include an example here. I caught this one on camera during a visit to Snoqualmie. Located to the East of Seattle, it has a great waterfall…and some nice cars. The car you see is Chevrolet’s entry into the muscle car market. It is a 1967 Chevelle SS 396 (I think), the SS moniker standing for Super Sport. This 325hp 2-Door Hard Top was, I believe, based on the mid-sized Malibu and offered only during the ’66 and ’67 model years in this body style. A beaut! And, what was parked next to it? A gorgeous Jaguar XJ6 X358 which was quickly replaced by a more interesting Series III XJ6 in pristine condition.

Staying with the feline theme, and back in Whalers’ Cove (again), we spied an immaculate XJ-S V12. A  Vanden Plas X300 or X308 was seen on the outer ring road and to round off, we spotted a new black F Type convertible outside Macy’s.

There were a few other Brits to note, however: a green MGB Roadster (very nice), a Frog-eyed Sprite, similarly coloured but sadly not in the same condition, and an MG TF actually seen in Vancouver Island but I wanted to keep the MG thing going.

The most unusual depository for old UK cars that I saw was in the crowded yard of British European Ltd in Aurora Avenue N. The photo was taken from a speeding public bus – they don’t waste time over there. A blue Mark X and a Triumph TR4(?) are clearly visible though.

I will leave you with two or three old motors being used as daily transport and let you guess the make and model – no prizes though.

Neil Shanley