Every Car Has A Story

Every Car Has a Story: ‘I don’t own cars. They own me.’

Blake Siebe takes a most unusual approach to car collecting

By Jonathan Sposato January 26, 2023

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This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Seattle Magazine.

There are two kinds of car collectors. The vast majority fit into a sort of “check box” mentality of acquiring cars anointed by others as collector worthy. In contrast, a rare category of car collectors, I might venture to say, are the true cognoscenti who discover vehicles that no one is yet appreciating. They relish in the weird, unusual and different. They notice the extraordinary in things the rest of us simply can’t see. Years in advance, they exhibit an elevated taste level that defies contemporary experts. 

NorthWest Auto Salon owner and internet entrepreneur Blake Siebe is one such collector. Boasting a large collection of consistently fascinating vehicles, Siebe seems to have a lock on cars representing some of the most highly inventive epochs in the auto industry. An ’80s-era Porsche 934/5, a ’60s Volkswagen Type 2 Bus and a ’90s race-worthy Audi Quattro are amongst his favorites. 

Photography by Grant Hindsley

Furthermore, he’s not afraid to mess things up a little, often in his own NorthWest Auto Salon shop where custom wraps, color work, unusual wheel refinishes and tire embellishments have all been pushed to artistic extremes. Despite criticism from purists in response to his sometimes-polarizing builds, Siebe innately understands the unique ways that any car can be restyled to reflect one’s individual preferences, and perhaps more important, to have humor. 

“That’s how you know you’ve found the right car,” Siebe says. “When you have all the ideas for what you’re going to do to it, before you’ve even bought it.” 

You can usually find Siebe at prestigious car shows, including Monterey Motorsports, SEMA, and, of course, our own Exotics at Redmond Town Center. 

 What inspired your interest in cars? My earliest memory is being a small child peering through the windows of my parents’ Mercedes 240D on long road trips headed to the coast. I would constantly look out the windows and identify cars during the day or even by their headlights or taillights at night. 

What’s the story behind your first car? My first car was a 1990 Audi 90 with a three-speed autotragic [a joke on automatic] transmission and front-wheel drive, which resulted from many landscaping jobs and automotive detailing that I did when I was 15 years old. That car was my version of a gateway drug [into cars] as I joined online discussion boards, which led to the slippery slope of modifying cars. I don’t own any cars. They own me.

Photography by Grant Hindsley

What’s your favorite car to drive and why? My 1969.5 Citroën DS21 Pallas. It is my favorite car to drive because of how I sink into the foam seats, like a familiar embrace combined with its unique handling characteristics of the vehicle at speed. The handling abilities are primarily due to its midengine front-wheel drive configuration and a narrower rear track width, which eliminates most all understeer and gives an exclusive drive feel. Driving the Citroën at the edge with the tires screaming for mercy is a sight to behold both as a passenger and by onlookers who have described the body roll as a “scalded cat” when going through the corners. 

It is my go-to rally car due to its reliability, proven history on long-distance road trips and quickness. It gets between 20 to 30 miles per gallon, allegedly goes over 120-plus miles per hour and has comfort, ingenuity and quirkiness. However, I have to hand it to the engineers who made a car capable of keeping up with or leading a pack of Porsches through the twisties. I don’t think those designers ever anticipated their cars being driven the way I drive mine, but at least my Citroën specialists love me! 

Photography by Grant Hindsley

 

What’s a feature from old cars that you wish modern cars had? Manual transmissions. For me, there is nothing more satisfying than rowing my own gears and having complete control over the vehicle with a manual transmission. Real cars don’t shift themselves. Think of all the different models of vehicles made by each manufacturer that are available today to purchase. A recent article stated there are now only less than 30 models of vehicles even offered in a manual transmission. Even then, less than 2% of new cars are stick. It should be required to know how to drive manual transmissions for your license, as it makes you a more attentive driver. 

If you could have any car throughout history, what would it be? It would have to be the 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Aerodynamic Coupe by Jonckheere, better known as the Rolls-Royce “Round Door,” currently part of the Petersen Automotive Museum private collection. It is a 1-of-1 vehicle with an exquisite history and is a car you simply cannot unsee. If you ever have the opportunity to go to the Petersen while in Los Angeles, it is a sight to behold. 

If you’re brand loyal, which do you prefer and why? I am brand agnostic, as almost every brand has its hero cars. I currently own vehicles from 12 different manufacturers ranging from 1956 to 2018. However, based on my track record, I have owned more Audis than any other brands over the years. I have always loved the sure-footedness of the Quattro’s all-wheel drive from Audi in the ’80s and ’90s, paired with the power capability and sound of the 20-valve, five-cylinder turbo (20VT) from the “unfair advantage” and group B rally days.

Photography by Grant Hindsley

Is there a classic car from a movie you wish you could drive? Either of the Ferrari 330 P3s as depicted in the recent movie “Ford v. Ferrari,” albeit those were replicas made for the film as there are less than five known in existence. If I were honored enough to drive a real one, I would do so spiritedly, however, without creating any of my own history with the car [by destroying it]. 

If you could introduce any feature to a car you own, what would it be? I have always wanted to buy a 1960s Amphicar 770, which is probably more a boat than a car, but with recent online auction results, I think that ship has sailed for me. If amphibious is a feature, that’s the one I would introduce, as I don’t think you could have more fun than a Citroën DS21 that’s no longer limited to land. Imagine the scene: windows down, blasting “Return to Innocence,” rocketing down a boat ramp at sunset followed by the eventual relief of buoyancy! 

For more about Siebe’s cars, visit www.northwestautosalon.com.

 

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