Washington Visit

From Our May 2005 Newsletter

February Trip to Seattle

February 20, 2005

I was talking to Gary Ramstad of the VSA club in Puget Sound in mid February and he asked me if I were planning to attend the February 20 open house at Xray Auto in Seattle. Normally the thought of traveling anywhere in February is not appealing, but this year the weather was more like May, with blue skies and sunshine, so I decided to go. I did have an ulterior motive in the form of an 1800ES to look at on the way down, so I left a day early. The car inspection took me to Whidbey Island and I spent a contented morning crawling over and under the ES in the bright sunshine. That left me with enough time to visit Phil and Marsha Singher at their new home near Freeland in the south-east part of the Island. Phil writes great Volvo related articles for the Volvo Club of America newsletter and a portion of his B20 engine article was in our January 2005 newsletter.

Phil and Marsha moved from Vancouver Washington last year from small accommodation without garage space into a beautiful big house with a super size kitchen for Marsha and a 3 bay shop for Phil. With a shop to play in, Phil has put his mechanical skills to good use doing service work on local Volvos and building performance B18/20 engines for customers. In the garage was a shiny red engine block waiting for a “John Parker” head. Once assembled the engine should provide 155 hp of propulsion for the customer's exceptionally nice 122S. Sounded like a lot of power to me but Phil described it as a moderate street performance engine. I guess that is moderate compared to the B20 engine in his own 1800S which was recently dynamometer tested at an impressive 165 corrected SAE hp to the rear wheels which translates to about 195 hp at the engine flywheel. If you are interested in an engine contact him via email at editor {{at}} vclassics.com.

The next stop was Xray Auto. The shop is at 2639 W. Market Street in North West Seattle (206-789-5455). There was a PV painted on their garage door and that was definitely a hint. The company card advertises service and restoration for Vintage Volvos and it isn’t kidding. Not a 240 to be seen. There were 10 cars in the shop, of which 6 were a mix of 444/544/445s as well as a 120 wagon and sedan, an 1800ES and 1800S. I can relate to this shop. The 2 story interior walls are lined with 544 and 120 body panels and a mezzanine carries shelves of parts for pre-1975 Volvos.

I introduced myself to the owner, Matt Pollitz, and I was a bit surprised at his relative youth. He has been driving old Volvos since his teens and when he moved to Seattle he noticed the large number of pre-75 Volvos still on the road. He says there are 5 or 6 other Volvos shops in Seattle, but none of them like working on the old cars and it has provided him the niche market of vintage Volvo repair.
It was like old home week for me, seeing all my US Volvo friends. Gary Ramstad and Gail Ritchie had a table set up for their Puget Sound VSA memberships and generously let me put out some VCBC newsletters and membership forms. Steve Hutchens was there handing out the brochures for his PV Fest event in July. This was definitely the right place to advertise. Besides the 6 PVs in the shop there were seven more outside as well as lots more 120s and 1800s. What always amazes me is the complete lack of rust on these Washington cars, and the majority were not show cars. I think my 72-142E was the rustiest car there, and it is in excellent condition by Canadian standards.

An interesting sidelight of the trip was the number of times I was asked about VCBC club member Rhys Kent and his SU carburettor rebuilding business in Victoria. Both Phil Singher and Matt Pollitz have their carbs rebuilt by Rhys and are very happy with the reasonable cost and excellent quality. You can find Rhys’ advertisement in our classified section under Island Automotion. It is nice to see his company earning such a positive reputation.

If you get a chance participate in some of the Washington events. The people are great and I am sure you will enjoy yourself.