Quick Stats: Jason Maxiell, Detroit Pistons forward
Daily Driver: 2009 Ford F-450 (Jason's rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: See below
Favorite road trip: Dallas to Detroit
Car he learned to drive in: 1990 Chevrolet Blazer
First car bought: 2002 GMC Denali
Enthusiasts often see their cars as an outward reflection of themselves. Detroit Pistons power forward Jason Maxiell is no different, with his burly 2009 Ford F-450 Harley-Davidson edition.
"It's big, strong; up here in Detroit, it just drives through the snow," he says of Ford's first F-450 Harley-Davidson model, which they call the Big Hog Daddy. "It reminds me of me. It's big and non-stoppable."
Of course, the brute 6.4L turbodiesel V-8 engine ain't bad, either. "The power behind it; the sound the diesels have," Maxiell adds. "I can drive 17 hours and not be uncomfortable. I can stretch my legs out all the way. For someone that's 6'7," it's very comfortable."
Maxiell, who gives his F-450 an enthusiastic perfect score of 10, comes from a family that loves their pickup trucks. When he bought the F-450 this summer, he had it delivered to a Fourth of July family gathering in Little Rock, Arkansas, to show off the new ride.
"They said I have option to ship it to Dallas or Little Rock, and my whole family was out there. We all had pickup trucks, so I decided to bring it out there with family," he says.
Favorite road trip
After Little Rock, Maxiell drove the F-450 to Dallas, where he and his wife, Brandi, had their August wedding. Two years ago he shaved his head to match hers, when she battled ovarian cancer and it was the only time he put some of his cars in storage, to focus on the task at hand. After their recent honeymoon, which included a trip to Africa with NBA Cares (the league's social responsibility initiative), they drove the F-450 back to Detroit.
"We had too many wedding gifts, so we decided to rent a trailer and just drive up," Maxiell says. "We both like the road, so it was easy for us."
They enjoyed the scenery, driving 17 hours. They took I-75 north and I-40 through Memphis, stopping overnight in Indianapolis. Maxiell feels the F-450 is a great good road trip car, especially for someone his height.
"It's just a nice, smooth ride," he says. "It's very comfortable; you can stretch your legs out pretty easily."
Maxiell's Car Collection
It's apropos that Maxiell landed in the Motor City when was drafted by the Pistons in 2005, since he is a staunch supporter of U.S. carmakers.
Maxiell's appreciation of classic American cars was passed down from his grandfather. "He taught me how to read everything about the engine, because it was about the sound, if it sounds different, something's going on, he knew what particular part it was," Maxiell says. "So it was pretty deep. I was shocked that he knew everything about it and I tried to learn as much as I could."
Now Maxiell is meticulous with his cars. Since he can't drive them all, he starts them up. He happened to be running his Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme outside for half an hour during the interview.
When asked why he loves older American cars so much, Maxiell replies, "The strength of the body, the muscle with the engine, and the sleek look of them. I like the long, long cars, especially with the Caprice. I like the long heavy tank cars."
1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Maxiell bought the Cutlass Supreme five years ago off eBay for $7,000 knowing it would be his show car. While he hasn't gone through the focused process of entering his cars into awards shows yet, he did enter it in his local DUB Show this year and in the Chicago DUB Show last year.
"I know it's a musclecar. I love speed, so it turned me on," he says. "I first saw one about 10 years ago and I got hooked ever since."
All his cars are winners. "That's most definitely a 10. My guy that I have in Detroit named Nua has his own shop, restored it for me, painted it and everything," Maxiell says. "I'm hands-on with the Camaro, but the show car, I let him pretty much handle that one."
Since he played for the University of Cincinnati (he's second on the Cincinnati career chart for blocked shots with 252), Maxiell likes the red and black and color scheme. "I have the Cincinnati mats with the Cincinnati on the headrest," he says proudly.
1989 Chevrolet Camaro
The Camaro is the only car Maxiell works on and it's the one he often drives to practice. "That's particularly all speed. I have a sound system in it, but I can't even hear it over the muffler. That's how fast it is," he says. "It's very, very, very, very fast."
Maxiell changed the radiator, alternator, and the battery a few times, and put new tires and an exhaust on the Camaro on his own. "I have my Caprice in Dallas and the Cutlass is a show car that I wanted to be done professionally, but I said the Camaro would be something I wanted to put my hands on it and get dirty with."
Maxiell joins 30,000 of his fellow musclecar enthusiasts at the annual Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, an event he tries not to miss.
"Pretty much the whole state comes out to this one long street called Woodward and drive their old school cars up and down the street and that's what we do - all day long," Maxiell says, exuberantly enunciating the last three words. "Yeah, just drive around and do our bar hopping."
1973 Chevrolet Caprice
Maxiell bought the Caprice two years ago, another eBay purchase. "All my older cars I bought off eBay. Just knowing there's something that's semi-already got things installed in it and somewhat stylish. I just take over the rest."
The Caprice is a seasonal car for Maxiell. He doesn't drive it as much because he keeps it back in his hometown of Dallas. "The only time I drive it is in the summer time. That's what I do love about it, is that it's comfortable and I can drive it down in Dallas in the summer time."
2007 Cadillac Escalade EXT
"What I like about it is the horsepower," Maxiell says. "I love the color of it -- the pearl outside with the tan interior, that's very classy. With the wood grain steering wheel, it's very classy."
After Maxiell joined the NBA, he bought his mom a black 2004 Escalade EXT and he bought himself one to match hers. "That's what she wanted," he says. "We like the pickup look, me and my whole family. I don't know why, but we're a pickup family."
The only drawback for the Pistons forward is the Escalade's interior. "The cons, I'd say the inside is kind of tight, you can't fit too many tall guys," Maxiell says. "My teammates, only two of us can fit there. Myself and a passenger and we're both 6'7" and above."
2002 GMC Denali
It was a tough decision, but Maxiell recently sold his beloved Denali, which was the first car he bought. The Denali is one of Maxiell's favorite SUVs and held great meaning for him because he bought it junior year in college, when he had a hunch he would make it into the NBA. He was later chosen by the Pistons in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft.
"I had my teammates in there, just running around," he says of his memories in the Denali. "I got a chance to add some things to it -- TVs, two speakers in the back. That was the car I drove every day when I first got to the NBA."
Luckily, Maxiell knows it's in good hands. "I sold it because I wanted to let somebody else to have the opportunity to have a car that I had many memories in. Also my wife said I have too many cars, you got to get rid of it," he chuckles. "Just knowing I put a lot of hard work into that car, it was nice to see it go to someone I knew who would appreciate it. Other than that it was a great, great truck, I loved it."
Car he learned to drive in
Maxiell was born in Chicago and before he moved to Dallas when he was 11, his grandfather taught him how to drive on a 1990 Chevrolet Blazer.
"Growing up with my grandfather, he always was working on the truck all the time and he always kept a Cadillac in the garage," he recounts. "It always looked clean, always kept up to date, no scratches, so I just wanted to follow in his footsteps. I want to preserve my classic cars and also keep up the car I do drive every day."
When he moved to Dallas, Maxiell loved driving, even though he was still below driving age. "Sometimes I snuck out and drove my mom's car. If she found out, she would kill me," he says, with a slight chuckle. "She never found out."
Detroit and GM
Maxiell has always been loyal to U.S. automakers. But since he now lives and works in the Motor City as a member of the Pistons, he especially feels the need to support his local automotive industry.
"Growing up, all we had was GM vehicles and you want to keep the factories open and keep people having jobs to build American cars," he says.
At 6'7" and 260 pounds, Maxiell has just one small request for automakers. "They really don't favor the big guy, big fellows," he says. "I'd like to see more of a bigger inside on cars, especially Cadillacs. I love Cadillacs. I plan on my next older car to be a '91 Fleetwood, so if GM could make a car that's big inside like that, that'd be great. I agree with the fuel economy, save gas. But in between, like a bigger car with a bigger interior, it would be great."
Maxiell doesn't feel cars cater to tall guys. "I'm used to the older Cadillacs that was huge and long inside and heavy."
The last Celeb Drive with boxing legend Joe Frazier comes up in conversation, because Frazier is very much a Cadillac guy. "Yeah, the older I get that's where I'm going to be headed also," Maxiell says. "Growing up, that's all my grandfather had was a Chevy and Cadillac. So that's something I feel that Cadillac represents -- class and just being a very elegant car."
The Detroit Pistons' upcoming home games include: Nov. 15 vs. Dallas, Nov. 25 vs. Cleveland, Nov. 27 vs. LA Clippers, Nov. 29 vs. Atlanta, Dec. 4 vs. Milwaukee, Dec. 6 vs. Washington, Dec. 10 vs. Denver, Dec. 12 vs. Golden State. For more information visit www.nba.com/pistons.