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September 20, 2009

News & Features

All-star cars: Take your team spirit to the streets with a well-decorated ride

Special to NWautos

Husky car

Bob Atwell drives his 1970 "Bad to the Bone" Cadillac to every home Husky game. (Monica Fischer)

If you're a Seattle sports fan, then there's a good chance that your vehicle is wearing a bumper sticker, decal, flag or antenna ball.

To a certain class of local folks, however, that level of devotion is, well, minor league. Because there's one major thing that distinguishes the truly fanatic from the bandwagon-rider: paint. Slap on stickers till the cows come home, but everyone knows that when the tide turns and the team's record sinks below .500, those babies are coming off. But paint? That's permanent. That's love.

Seahawks car

Sue Farley's PT Cruiser salutes the Seahawks. (Monica Fischer)

Sue Farley gets it. When the season-ticket holder and Seahawks fan "since the beginning of time" bought her silver 2009 PT Cruiser, she immediately had it outfitted with pinstripes, Hawks logos and a small Snoopy wearing a No. 12 Seahawks jersey. The bookkeeper from Puyallup even has a personalized license plate: HAWKETT.

Farley's PT Cruiser is her daily driver, but when it comes to fan vehicles, many are brought out only on that most special of occasions: game day. On a recent partly sunny Saturday afternoon, hundreds of fans gathered in the parking lot outside Husky Stadium to tailgate before UW faced LSU in the season-opening football game.

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Home plates

Husky flags and decals were stuck to nearly every vehicle, and many had UW license plates to boot. But it was the painted cars, trucks, RVs, trailers and ambulances (yes, ambulances) that marked the truly faithful. And king among them was Bob Atwell's 1970 "Bad to the Bone" Cadillac.

A retired teacher, coach and athletic director, Atwell bought the car 17 years ago. "We wanted to ride to the games comfortably and in style," he says. The "land yacht" features piles of bones, the old-school Husky logo and scores from the team's winning bowl games. Atwell drives the Caddy from Olympia to every home game and even chauffeured his daughter in it on her wedding day.

Several hibachis to the southwest, 1996 alum Brad Gagne and his friends gathered around their purple-and-gold-painted Argosy trailer. The stunning trailer, painted by local artist Jeff Jacobson, is a rolling proclamation of Dawg devotion. Used solely for tailgating, the 40-year-old trailer has cost the group about $6,000.

Even if you don't have thousands of dollars to shell out for an extra vehicle or custom paint job, there are numerous affordable ways to pledge allegiance to your favorite team via your vehicle, like an alumni license plate or logo mud flaps. In the end, being a fan isn't really about showing off -- it's about showing the love.

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