Quick Stats: Gary Owen, comedian and actor
Daily Driver: 2011 Chevy Suburban (Gary's rating: 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: See below
Favorite road trip: San Diego to Las Vegas
Car he learned to drive in: late 1980s Pontiac Grand Am
First car bought: 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Comedian Gary Owen never intended to be a supporter of the domestic auto industry, but all of the Cincinnati native's cars have been GMs and as a result, he's come a fan of the Bowtie brand.
Take his recent splurge car, a reward for all his hard work. He's a regular on Tyler Perry's "House of Payne" on TBS, and in addition to his own frequent standup dates, he's a headliner in the Shaquille O'Neal All-Star Comedy Jam. Owen could have bought any sports car he desired, but the Bengals fan opted for a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro. "It's orange, and that's my game-day car," he says proudly.
Owen rates it a 9, one point short of a perfect 10, because it's a bit too compact for a tall guy, and he's almost 6'3.'' "If I was 5'7" it would be a 10," he says. "It's a little tight sometimes, but the pickup is crazy in it! You'd be going 90 and don't realize it. I look down and see that I'm going 85 and it seems like I'm going 30 miles an hour."
He is proud to show off his new Camaro in Celebrity Drive, and asked some of his buddies on the Bengals defense to pose with him for the photo. "I'm a huge Cincinnati Bengals fan and I go to all the games when I'm in town and I'm lucky enough, being a comedian, you get to know athletes," Owen says. "The pictures were taken outside the football stadium and I wanted to make sure we got that with Cincinnati in the background."
The Camaro also is a thrill for Owen's 10-year-old son, who often asks his dad to pick him up from school in the car. "My son likes it because he thinks it's like a Transformer. He wanted me to get yellow like Bumblebee. I said, 'This is my Cincinnati car! The Bengals are not yellow!' The first few times he sat in it, I think he kept waiting for something to happen," he laughs. "He's looking around, like, "Hmm, I wonder if the Transformers are real.'"
Gary with Cincinatti Bengals OLB Thomas Howard (53), MLB Rey Maulauga (58), and DE Carlos
Owen has had a GMC or Chevy for the last 10 years. "It's pretty much been a Denali or Tahoe Suburban," he says. Owen gives his 2011 Chevrolet Suburban an 8.5 rating, because of gas prices and the amount of gas it takes. "Sometimes parking can get a little tricky. It's a little big," he says. "Those are minor complaints, if you're going to complain about a car. If you get an SUV you pretty much know you're going to pay a little more on gas, so it shouldn't shock you."
It's been a great family car. "When you've got kids that are preteens, the best thing about it is the DVD player without question, and the fact that it can play the DVDs and I can still listen to music, because you put in the headphones," Owen says. "Because we live in Ohio, we drive to Florida every other summer, so it's a lifesaver then."
Although he's based in Ohio now, Owen moved to Los Angeles for eight years to get his career going, and back then his idea of a dream car was the GMC Denali. "I was hanging out with guys that had money and nice cars, and I didn't have one yet. I drove a Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, and when I drove the Denali I thought it was the smoothest ride," he says. "I was always like, 'When I start making money in this business, I'm going to get a Denali!' As comedians, or a lot of entertainers are, either you're broke or you're really making some decent money." Funny thing was, it was only when he moved back to Ohio in 2004 that he bought the Denali.
A year before they moved back to Ohio, Owen's wife surprised him with a Ford Excursion. "I said, 'This doesn't even fit in the parking garages!'" he says. "That's the car we had when I moved back to Ohio, so we drove that back to Ohio. Six months later I turned it in and got my first Denali and I went from that Denali to another Denali and now I'm on the Suburban. I've got kids and we're playing sports and needed something bigger. When the kids get a little older I'll probably go back down to the Denali again."
It wasn't his goal to buy American, "but in the back of your mind, when you do buy American, you're like, 'Oh that was cool, I bought an American car,' when it's all said and done."
Car he learned to drive in
Owen didn't get a chance to learn to drive until he was in the Navy. "I grew up in a trailer park right outside of Cincinnati. We had one car and there were six kids, two parents," he says.
Owen talks about growing up in a trailer park in his stand-up act. "There was no chance for me to drive growing up. What was I going to drive? So I was 17 when I joined the military and 19 when I got my license."
A friend taught him to drive off base in Washington, D.C. "He was a little country dude from Missouri, we used to go out at 2 in the morning and he had a late 1980s Pontiac Grand Am and we were in the ghet-to of D.C.!" he exclaims. "Bobby Roller -- I'll never forget his name as long as I live. I can just imagine people would see these two little white dudes drive around this ghetto in D.C. and I didn't know what I was doing."
During one of the lessons, they got pulled over by the cops. "The light turned green and I was going to make a left and I thought you gunned it, so I gunned it and made the left," he says. "I didn't know you had to wait for the oncoming traffic to come and then when it opens up, make a left."
At that moment, the cops pulled them over. "He was like, 'I just saw what you did,'" Owen says. "My friend said, 'I'm teaching him how to drive.' And he let us go. He actually laughed about it."