BOTHELL — Hundreds of cars are stuck bumper-to-bumper in multiple lanes.
But this isn’t Seattle rush-hour traffic.
It all takes place atop one car.
What’s up with that?
It’s Dave Heykamp’s traveling roadshow. His dark blue GMC Envoy is hot-glued with Hot Wheels.
“I started four months ago. People say they like my art,” Heykamp, 59, said with pride. “Some use the word cool. Some say awesome. They use the thumbs up, too. They take selfies.”
The spread is a colorful mix of hot rods, classics, trucks, vans, tanks and tractors. There’s something for everybody in the glistening gridlock.
Little kids are the best admirers, adult males the worst offenders.
“It’s usually the grown-up men who test to see how strong they are. They want to tug to see how hard it is to pull it off,” he said. “Never the kids.”
Heykamp lost count of the exact number of cars on his mobile masterpiece, but puts it at about 700.
“I don’t do the math, I just do the job,” he said. “Want to lift the hood? It’s a workout.”
No kidding. It weighs a ton.
About 10 of the cars are diecasts he’s had for 40 years. The rest he bought new at Target and Fred Meyer, choosing every car with care.
“I like them all, or I wouldn’t have glued them on,” Heykamp said. “It’s already about a $1,700 investment.”
His wheeled wonder stands out in a parking lot.
“I get people coming in saying, ‘Did you see that car out there?’ It draws a crowd,” said Rissa Keene, manager of Teddy’s Bigger Burgers in Bothell. “People are in awe of it. It’s nice seeing people getting all excited about something.”
Heykamp goes to Teddy’s often for the pineapple milk shakes.
He also goes for the company.
Heykamp said he has felt lost since his wife, Ellen, died almost two long years ago.
“People find me an odd type of person,” he said. “I found someone who accepted me as I was.”
He and Ellen met at a fabrication shop doing assembly work. They were married for 30 years. Now he rooms with his cat, Velveeta.
He has a tattoo of the orange cat on his upper arm and an old Chevy on his forearm.
“My other hobby is getting tattoos,” he said.
Pimping his ride was an outlet for his time and the toy cars he started collecting.
“I was getting too many, so I decided to glue them on the car,” Heykamp said.
He wears gloves to avoid burns from the hot adhesive, but is that glue really strong enough for driving forces?
“Some people are afraid they’ll fly off and ding their window,” he said.
That certainly crossed my mind. I could envision wayward tiny cars flying through the air.
“Some think I should cover the entire thing,” he said. “But one, it’s a lot of work. Two, it’s so heavy I’m going to lose my transmission. This thing sits right on the shocks now.”
He wishes Ellen was alive to see his happy car.
They didn’t have any children. Instead, they had a bunch of cats. He had a cat etched on her tombstone.
He moved into a one-bedroom Bothell apartment after she died.
“No job, no money, I had to sell the house,” Heykamp said. “It’s a shame I had to do it.”
But there is a bright side.
“I don’t have grass to mow or a yard to take care of anymore,” he said. “I used to grow 150-pound pumpkins.”
What do you do with pumpkins that big?
“You get a hernia,” he said.
This guy has some witty one-liners.
“I got to try to have a sense of humor,” he said.
It masks the demons inside.
“I lie to people when I get lonely and depressed. People don’t really want to hear sad stuff. I lie to them and say ‘I’m a happy camper.’ I hold my arms out and say, ‘I’m a free man after 30 years.’ It’s really a depressing, lonely life.”
Heykamp tried going to bars.
“That’s bad news,” he said. “I’m too much of an odd person that it doesn’t really work out well, I end up playing pool by myself.”
Either that, or he’d get into trouble.
His late wife was his better half, he said.
“She was like my mouthpiece. She was the smart one and I’m not. I’m mildly disabled. Mentally. I was born that way. Brain damage at birth. They thought I might end up being somebody that needs assisted living the rest of my life. I said bull on that,” he said.
“I went to special ed classes. I can’t do regular classes because I don’t have the brain capacity. But you learn to live life and deal with it. I get insulted a lot. I slip up on words and all sorts of stuff. My wife was the intelligent one that could read and write and spell.”
He drives the Hot Wheels car to the cemetery to visit her grave, which will be his final destination someday.
“We’ll be buried together. One hole, one headstone. It saves money.”
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com