By EVAN MCMULLEN
SPECIAL TO THE P-I
Editor’s note: A Seattle buyer and seller at the world’s largest group of collector car auctions in Arizona this year both came away with good stories to tell.
In the Pacific Northwest, the names Siegfried Linke and Mercedes-Benz are just about synonymous: For nearly 50 years, the German-born Linke has been servicing, judging, preserving, restoring, buying, selling and in the process of just plain “being” about the prestigious and historical marque. As a regular participant at Scottsdale, Ariz., Linke is one of a few recognized world experts who add credibility to the event and contribute to Seattle’s growing stature in the national and international collector car community.
Linke was classically trained at the Mercedes factory in Stuttgart. But Stuttgart’s loss would be Seattle’s gain. In 1963, he wrote to his sister in Seattle to ask if there was a job at the local Mercedes-Benz dealership. Phil Smart Mercedes-Benz tendered Linke an offer on the spot.
Linke came to New York by ship from Bremerhaven at age 22. He started west, not in a Benz but on a bicycle. He rode the entire way to Seattle in less than four weeks. “I wasn’t in a hurry,” he says. “There was a little bad weather.”
After two years with the dealership, Linke launched his own shop. He is one of the sharpest mechanics that this city has ever known. Renowned for his skill and in the early days for his no-nonsense, hard-nosed temperament, he was the owner and operator of European Motors in downtown Seattle for nearly 30 years until he sold it to fellow countryman Uwe Odenwald in 1992.
Linke has been an active member of car clubs and a Concours judge locally and at prestigious Pebble Beach for 25 years. He has attended the Arizona auctions just as long. This year was no exception. Lulled into a romantic dream by an exceptional 1947 Buick Roadmaster Sedanette, Linke bought the 30,000-mile original car at Silver’s Auction in Fort McDowell. “For me, original is even better than restored,” he said. The sign of a true enthusiast.
The Roadmaster joins Linke’s distinguished collection of 10 Mercedeses, including a 1957 300 SL Gullwing and a 1937 540K Special Roadster, which he has been restoring for several years. He also has a 1957 Lincoln Continental Mark II.
Linke supports Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center through his involvement in the Kirkland Concours and the Sovren Historic 4th of July races. He is never far from an old car — or from a friend who needs help sorting one out.
COLLECTOR CAR EVENTS
Evan McMullen is proprietor of Cosmopolitan Motors in Seattle.