Music and automobiles have always been a natural fit. The proof is in the songs: Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55," Metallica's "Fuel," Billie Jo Spears' "'57 Chevrolet," the Beach Boys' "Little Deuce Coupe," Prince's "Little Red Corvette," and the Beatles' "Drive My Car," among many other auto-inspired classics. But some artists carry their love for cars into everyday life, whether it's collecting them, racing them, fixing them, or using them as a relaxing leisure activity.
Cases in point, Bruce Springsteen loves vintage cars; Chickenfoot bassist Michael Anthony attends the Barrett-Jackson Auction, an annual classic car show in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and guitar legend Jeff Beck builds his own hot rods. Some trade their prized cars in for a good cause as evidenced by Sheryl Crow, who auctioned her 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster in 2011 to help rebuild the tornado-ravaged city of Joplin, Mo.
"Cars are a hobby and a stress reliever for me," says Lamb Of God guitarist Mark Morton. "Tinkering with them and racing them takes my mind off of any conflicts or anxieties I may have. I love racing! I don't get to do it as much as I'd like to because of our touring and recording schedules, but I get to the track when I can."
Morton's race car is a 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass, while his street car is an all original 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass with 76,000 miles on it that is "kind of taken apart," though he "hopes to have it on the road in the next year or two."
Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen not only recalls his first car, which he bought for just 10 pounds, but how he always wanted an Aston Martin. He was transfixed by the DB4 featured in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger and in 2006 finally bought a convertible DB9.
"Mine doesn't have an ejector seat," jokes Collen. "I don't drive it much. I'm more of a weekend boy. I've had it for almost six years, and I haven't even hit 20,000 miles yet."
Collen has owned various cars over the years, including Porsches, Jaguars and a Mercedes-Benz, but he loves his Aston Martin. "You don't realize how great the car is until you actually test it a little bit," he says. "Driving Highway 1 up to Big Sur showed how great the car was. You could hit it to the floor and it wouldn't squeak or do anything."
Attika 7 frontman Evan Seinfeld loves his motorcycles and cars. He currently rides a 2006 Harley-Davidson Street Bob that has been customized "club-style" and also owns his dream car, a 2002 Ferrari 360 Modena. Seinfeld has owned many others cars, including a 1970 Dodge Charger R/T, a 1968 Cadillac Eldorado and a 1928 Ford Model A sedan, but he doesn't believe in keeping a garage full of cars. Seinfeld likes to buy them, fix them up, drive them, and then sell them.
"I'm that guy who, whatever I'm driving, [likes to] paint it black, lower it down and try to make it look evil," exclaims Seinfeld. "My cars look like Darth Vader rolling."
Seinfeld acquired his first Harley-Davidson motorcycle when he was a struggling musician back in the '80s, and says he drew attention to his ride at events because, even though it was the cheapest one, "it was all blacked out and looked evil."
Reel Big Fish bassist Derek Gibbs is the opposite of Seinfeld. He doesn't plan on parting with the three he owns currently, a 1964 Plymouth Fury, a 1968 Ford Bronco and a 1986 Mustang SVO. The Plymouth was his first acquisition, and once he put some miles on it, he deemed it as a long-term investment that he wanted to keep in good shape.
"Now that I've been in Reel Big Fish, things are sitting a lot longer because we tour so much," says Gibbs. "I'll get back from a two-month trip, and something won't start or the brakes go. Old cars are constant attention whores. It seems like you've always got to be doing something, and now that I have three of them, it's a never-ending battle."
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While singer/songwriter Matthew Sweet was not a big car aficionado as a teen, he saw some '60s cars in high school that he liked, and his dream car became a Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda. While recording his Altered Beast album in 1993, a friend of producer/engineer Richard Dashut sold Sweet a purple metallic 1970 Dodge Challenger, a vehicle similar to the Hemi 'Cuda.
"Having a muscle car like that was very overwhelming at first because I just didn't know what all went into it," admits Sweet. "I had to do quite a bit of work on the car to get it reliable enough to drive around much. But I was in love with that and used it for the cover of Altered Beast and eventually in the video for the song 'The Ugly Truth.'"
Sweet drove his Challenger for many years and put a lot of money and work into it. "It was a real killer with big headers on it that were really loud," he says. "But over the years, I felt guilty about the spewing out of exhaust." He sold the car after about 15 years of ownership and now drives a green-conscious Nissan Leaf, which ironically has the same low mileage as the Challenger did. But Sweet thinks his dream of owning another Hemi 'Cuda is not beyond hope.
"If someone made electric versions of them that looked just like them, that would be awesome."
(Bryan Reesman is a New York-based freelance writer.)
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