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  • Comedian Bill Engvall and his truck, van and.. Tesla? - Celebrity Drive

Comedian Bill Engvall and his truck, van and.. Tesla? - Celebrity Drive

K.S. Wang
Nov 8, 2013
Quick Stats: Bill Engvall, comedian
Daily Driver: 1977 VW van (Bill's rating: 7 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Midland, Texas, to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Car he learned to drive in: 1970s Ford pickup truck
First car bought: 1963 Ford Falcon
Everyman comedian Bill Engvall made his bones as part of the comedy world Blue Collar Comedy Tour, which included Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy and Ron White.
Currently, he's the fan favorite on this season's "Dancing With the Stars," which has introduced him to a larger audience. Despite lower scores than some of his competitors, his appeal and popularity -- he receives a lot of fan votes -- have kept him on the show.
His regular-guy philosophy is demonstrated by two of his daily drivers, cars that were once common but no longer are.
Whether he's recognized or not, driving around in his two cars sometimes elicits smiles from strangers. That includes his bright red 1950 Chevy pickup.
Photo 2/16   |   Bill Engvall Photo 01
"I bought it for $900 and it was just a piece of junk and I had it redone. It's like my baby now," Engvall says, giving it a perfect 10. "I love the fact that in the bed, he put cherry wood, and the chrome strips. He took out the straight six and put in a small-block 350 that's all chromed and it's just gorgeous. The pinstripe inside the hood is cherry red. It's just beautiful. My wife loves driving it almost as much as I do. She looks hot in it, she gets a lot more looks than I do."
A similar truck used as a stage prop on the Blue Collar tour in Denver was the inspiration for this truck.
It had been an old farm truck, originally a faded black, that had been sitting in a barn. "It was in Colorado. We have a ranch that we lease to cattle and my wife's father bought this truck at an estate auction. One day we were all up at the ranch and I said, 'What are you going to do with that truck?' He said, 'I don't know. You can have it if you want.' "
Engvall didn't want to just take it, so his father-in-law said, 'Then I'll sell it to you for $900. That's what I paid for it.' So I bought it and got in touch with this guy and he turned it into this beautiful little truck it is now."
It was weird because I was living in L.A. and I told (the restoration expert) where the truck was and he went and trailered it. I never met the guy. I never shook his hand, and about halfway through the process, I went, 'I just gave this guy a truck for free.' And then he called me and he said, 'OK, here's what I'm going to need.' And I went, 'Oh good, you're still working on it,'" Engvall says.
The man delivered it all the way from Colorado to California. "The guy trailered it out to Manhattan Beach and he said, 'Where do you want me to meet you, because I can't through these little skinny streets?' I said, 'Let's meet at the high school parking lot. So I drove up there and I had on shorts and flip-flops. He put this V-8 in it and I had these little flip-flops on and he said, 'Crank it up.' I turned it over and it just purred, and I hit the gas and the flip-flop got caught on the gas and it spun tires and gravel, and my wife went, 'Oh God, here we go,'" he says.
It was a long drive for someone to deliver the truck from Colorado and the guy didn't charge extra for it. But Engvall points out that this was 10 years ago, when the Blue Collar Tour was at its height of popularity. "I think he kind of recognized who I was, it was kind of like he wanted to meet me. So it was a win-win for me."
Photo 3/16   |   Bill Engvall 1977 Volkswagen Van
1977 Volkswagen van Rating: 7
Engvall loves driving his two-tone, 1977 Volkswagen van. This rare sight, with the gearshift on the floor, is what he drives on most days when he has errands like grocery shopping or going to the store.
"It was in the shop because in California they want me to smog check it. So I've had to have the gas tank pulled off and have these new knobs put in it. It's idiotic," he says. The van had always passed smog check until recently, when he says the state changed the criteria. "It was so they could make more money," he charges.
His wife's cars are a little fancier -- a 2007 Mercedes-Benz S600 and a 2008 Aston Martin Vantage. "When I got the van, I had the whole motor rebuilt for $800 and I took my wife's Mercedes in for its regular maintenance and to have the spark plugs replaced, it was $1,500," he says. "We have quite the array. So we cover the gamut. I love that car; it's like riding on a cloud."
He does drive her cars when they're going out. "It's so funny because that Aston Martin is just getting ready to turn 10,000 miles and it's a 2008. So it's pretty pristine. She calls it the beast," he says. "If we're going to go to a baseball game or out to dinner, we'll take the Mercedes, but for me running my little errands, it's the van and the truck."
The van is something Engvall always wanted. It was a gift from his wife for his 50th birthday. "My friend in high school had one. We just drove that thing till it died. There's just something about them that I love. They're not your friend on a long, slow hill or a long trip. If you get a long, slow hill, you're in the far right lane, because you're not going to keep up with traffic," he says.
"But just for in a beach town, it's great. People love it. That's another one that people go, 'Great van!'" he says. "I've got the curtains in the windows and it's totally a beach van. I have more fun driving that thing — there's not a bad day in the van."
He once had a three-week trip and left it parked at the airport. "When I was flying, I go, 'God, I hope this thing starts.' When I got back, it cranked right over," he says.
The hardest part about owning this old-school hippie van is getting parts for it. "It's getting harder and harder to get parts for it," he says. "I've got a guy that works on it who's great. He's an old hippie, which I love. He doesn't overcharge you for it. A lot of the parts you're going to get are used parts because they just don't make the new parts anymore. But it's a blast and it runs smooth. It's a good-riding little car. I'll take it to auditions and people go, 'Is that your van? Oh my God!' They're loving it."
Photo 4/16   |   Bill Engvall Tesla Model S
2013 Tesla Model S Rating: 10
Last weekend Engvall bought the new Tesla, and so far, he loves it. "I love the fact that it is completely electric and can still blow a lot of cars off the road," he says. "I love passing gas stations. But most of all I love the technology of the car. Everything is touch screen. You've got to dig that!"

Car he learned to drive in Engvall learned to drive in his dad's old standard 1970s Ford truck, with the gearshift on the floor. He learned when he was in junior high school, when they lived on a farm in Winslow, Arizona. "We lived in town, but we had a farm and that's where I learned how to drive, out in the pastures because it was safe. You couldn't run into anything," he says.
"I would help dad with the hay and I would drive the truck down there, but I wanted a minibike really bad. My birthday was coming up and my dad said, 'You take care of the truck, drive it safe, and we'll look at a minibike.'"
One day his mom called him in for lunch and their trailer was up on a hill, so he parked the truck to go in to have lunch. "All of a sudden, we heard this horrible crash. I had left the truck in neutral and no emergency brake on, and it crashed through my mother's garden. I thought, 'Well, the minibike's gone!' he says. "I eventually got the minibike and loved that, a Honda 50."
Engvall's dad also had a station wagon and a 1967 Ford Mustang. "We always had standard cars except for our station wagon. But we didn't get to drive that one because that was his baby," he says of the Mustang. "My sister's got it now, the little turd. Somehow she finagled it."
First car bought Engvall was a lifeguard his sophomore year in high school, and he saved enough money to buy his first car. It was a 1963 Ford Falcon, with the three-on-the-tree shifter. He bought it for $100 and sold it for $100 his senior year to buy a Mercury Capri.
"That was my first high school car, which I loved because the passenger seat was broken, so when my girlfriend and I would go park, if I leaned over to give her a kiss, the seat would all the way flat," he says, letting out a big laugh. "Nothing was worse than my Falcon. It looked like a cloud sitting there, it burned so much oil."
He liked the fact that he could easily work on the car himself. "You and your buddies could look at the manual and go, 'OK, there's that part, we need to replace that.' Nowadays, you need a computer degree to work on these cars. I couldn't replace the clutch, but to change the spark plugs or to tune it up, we used to do that because that's what we'd do on the weekends."

Splurge car The first car Engvall spent a lot of money on was a 2000 Range Rover for $85,000. "I remember texting my manager, 'Thanks, I just bought the most expensive car I ever bought in my life,'" he says. "The Blue Collar (Tour) just got kicking and we were making money hand over fist. We have two kids and a house in Park City, so it was a great car for us and we ended up leaving it up there. I eventually just sold it."
He kept the SUV for 10 years. "We drove the hell out of that thing," he says. "I like to hang on to cars. I'm not one of these guys that goes flipping cars all the time. If I find a car I like, I stick with it."
And Engvall plans to keep his two daily drivers for a while. "The only one I could see maybe getting rid at some point would be the van," he says. "If it just gets to be too difficult with smog checking and finding parts for it. You have to get them from junkyards."

Photo 5/16   |   Bill Engvall 1970 Ford Pickup Truck 02
Favorite road trip "My favorite road trip ever is when my wife and I took an RV around the country. We just had the best time," he says. It was 28 years ago. They were newlyweds and her dad had an old Winnebago he let them drive. They started in Midland, Texas and drove through New Mexico and down to Carlsbad Caverns.
"We had a blast because it was just me and her," he says. "At one point the exhaust came loose from the manifold. We were driving through the mountains and I guarantee there are still deer in that area that will not go back there because it was so loud."
Engvall says it was the loudest thing he's ever heard in his life. "We finally found a place to park it and we had to hitchhike into town. I had to buy two nuts so I could put the exhaust back up on the manifold. I was surprised I knew how to do that," he says. "I don't think anybody was more surprised than my wife."
They've done a couple of RV trips since then, including one with the kids where they went to Mount Rushmore, through South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, and back to Los Angeles.
"We took the dogs and the kids and we had the best time. That was in a newer RV though. It had the dual tires on the back and one of the tires on the inside went flat. So we had to pull up and I had one bar of cell service on my phone. I called AAA and they said it'll be an hour and a half till we can get there," he says.
"So we're sitting in the middle of the Utah desert, on the side of the road. We pulled out our lawn chairs and we're drinking wine and people were waving at us, like this is where we chose to stop," he laughs.
They had planned to leave Los Angeles on a Friday morning, but the rented RV's engine wouldn't shut off. When they took the key out, it would still run. They didn't leave until 5 p.m. during rush hour traffic.
"We were going to take the Grand Canyon train out of Williams, Arizona, to the Grand Canyon for my son's birthday," he says. "So my wife and I drove through the night, because we had to be at that train at 7 a.m. So the kids slept in the back and my wife and I drove from L.A. to Williams. Got into the campground at 5, got an hour's sleep and we had to get up and get ready to go on the train."
It was a two-hour train ride and Engvall thought he would sleep on the train. "I forgot that we set up this thing for my son on the train where these cowboys come riding up on horses and they'd rob the train. I literally laid my head back and was just starting to doze off and all of a sudden I hear this, (mimicking an old cowboy's rural accent) 'I hear it's some hombre's birthday today,'" he says. "I'm like, 'Oh my God, that's right, we set this up.'"
He laughs, "So they gave him a train whistle and they played 'She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain' and he was blowing the train whistle. We thought, 'This is the trip from hell. But we had big laughs and had a great time on it."

Photo 6/16   |   Bill Engvall Comedy Act 02
Other projects In addition to "Dancing With The Stars," Engvall is also in the animated comedy "Bounty Hunters," along with his Blue Collar buddies Foxworthy and Larry the Cable guy.
Engvall is also always on tour. "Doing the tour and enjoying life," he says. He'll be doing standup in Saskatchewan on Nov. 22 and in Nebraska the next day. Please visit www.billengvall.com for more information.
Photo 7/16   |   Bill Engvall Comedy Act 03

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