Quick Stats: Bill Wu Discovery Channel's "One Car Too Far"
Daily Driver: 2006 Hummer H1 Alpha (Bill's rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Continental Divide
Car he learned to drive in: Mazda 323
First car bought: 1988 BMW E30 M3
It doesn't take long to find out why Bill Wu, a San Diego native and former chiropractor, was chosen to be on the new Discovery Channel show "One Car Too Far." He's a gear head, a character, and he's found a way to realize his dream on a fulltime basis.
Wu's car guy credentials are extensive. He's participated in the Gumball 3000 and the Bullrun -- and competed in Speed Channel's Bill Goldberg-hosted show of the same name, winning in his Lamborghini Murcielago. At this year's Bullrun, Wu drove a mock Border Patrol van dressed as Kim Jong Il, coaxing hundreds of cows from a pasture to him with the sound of a cow mooing over the van's PA system.
"I'm all about shock factor, I don't like to do anything anybody else has done," Wu says. "I think outside the box and I like to do things that people say, 'What the heck?' I like getting a reaction out of people."
On "One Car Too Far," Wu and this sensibility get paired up with former British Special Operation Forces soldier Gary Humphrey. The two are sent to remote locations in Chile. The show began its five-episode run on August 19.
Wu retired from his day job and now works on this dream job, to the envy of many car enthusiasts. "By trade I'm a chiropractor. My parents wanted me have something to fall back on," he says. "My passion was cars. I've always loved cars. Up until 2006, I invested in real estate and other things. I was fortunate enough to be able to put that to the side and really focus on my passion."
2006 Hummer H1 Alpha [NOTE TO EDITOR: WE HAVE PIC OF THIS]
Wu has 10 cars, five of which are Hummers. He rotates driving different cars so the batteries don't die. "It's good for all the seals and gaskets because if you let them sit, the seals rot and oil leaks, so it's better to keep your cars driven than just sitting," he says, with a laugh.
The Hummer H1 Alpha is Wu's favorite car in the garage. "The perfect car in the whole collection is this Hummer H1 Alpha because when Armageddon hits, when the sh-t hits the fan, that's the car I'm going to get into that will get me out of anywhere," he says. "It has two fuel tanks in it. When everybody's stuck in traffic, I'll be able to go on the side and drive over everything."
Wu says this is the most famous off-road vehicle. "2006 is the last year they made Hummer H1s, so now they're considered a collector's item," Wu says. "Most people who have car collections have some type of off-road vehicle and the most famous off road vehicle of all time has to be the Hummer H1 and the most badass H1 is the Alpha and they only made the Hummer H1 Alpha in 2006."
He says the car is timeless. "They're holding their value, a six year old car is costing more than MSRP," he says. "I'm very, very frugal about money, so how often can you drive a car that won't depreciate? You can bring that thing to a car show even though it's six years old and still be the talk of the show."
It's also the car he takes to Costco. "I go to Costco quite a bit. I use it to load up my big boxes and the gazillion rolls of toilet paper and baby wipes that I buy at one time," he laughs.
2007 Dodge Charger
Wu turned this into a "police car" for rallies, car events, and parades. He says it's one of the craziest cars he owns. "I went to Texas and bought a Dept. of Public Safety police car, a 2007 Dodge Charger Hemi," he says. "Through sponsors, I was able to put $60,000 into it to make it into an anti-police police car."
The car has everything a police car has and Wu added night-vision. Also, with a push of a button, a cloud of smoke comes out of the back, so drivers behind him can't see.
"It's these little antics that we do. We don't do it to hurt other drivers, it's just for ourselves. We added a supercharger on it, a fuel cell," he says. "All sorts of crazy stuff."
He doesn't drive this much around the streets of San Diego because he says it's "overkill." "I get pulled over a lot because the police are curious. It's a police car," he says. "But it's matte black and matte white, so it looks different."
Wu drove this in last year's Bullrun Rally from Los Angeles to Miami. "I'm such a crazy person, I've done a rally across the United States a bunch of times and I've driven different police cars across the country three times. One time I got pulled over 15 times and I gave 15 different excuses to why I had that car, it was pretty funny."
2005 Lamborghini Murcielago
This camouflaged Murcielago is the one in which Wu and his brother Allen won Speed Channel's "Bullrun" in 2010. Like the Charger, its outfitted with all sorts of gadgets like fuel cells, a fire suppression system, radar jammers, PA system, and sirens.
"If I'm in traffic, I turn everything on, all these lights start flashing, it starts making weird noises and people move over and let me go by. I've been car rallying across the country for a long time. When I was 16, I had this low rider pickup truck and I figured out how to turn my car alarm on when I was driving. When I was doing that at night, along with flashing my high beams, people knew there was a car behind them with sirens, so they automatically pulled over. I've been doing that since I was 16," he laughs.
But now he has a real police siren in the car and he installed fuel cells because on the show they couldn't speed. "We had to go 55 miles an hour, and with an extra 13 gallons, I was able to get an extra 550 miles per tank," he says. "So I never had to pull over and get gas, while other people had to pull over and get gas. We saved 10-15 minutes of driving."
The Murcielago turns heads when he drives it around San Diego. "People drop their jaw. I'm probably the only person with a camouflaged Lamborghini. I've taken it 60 miles off road in the 'Bullrun' show."
This supercar has been across the country several times and along both coasts. Wu considers this his good luck charm because it's brought about many opportunities.
"Seven years ago the Lamborghini was the coolest car and people were like, 'Who's this younger guy, with a beautiful girlfriend who's blonde blue eyed?' She's rallying with me across the United States," he says. "I wasn't really working. A lot of these guys had to stay at their 9 to 5 jobs. I owned my own business and was able to take time off, so I was able to do these events and bring that car out there and have fun."
The Lamborghini is a perfect 10 because it draws attention, he says. "I was 30 years old and I'm cruising around this Lamborghini doing rallies, just trashing it. No one was doing it with these cars. People who had Lamborghinis were older and they didn't want to put the miles and weren't really interested in doing these cross country rallies."
The car is purple and the camouflage is a wrap. "It's the only purple Lamborghini in the United States. They made three of them. One's in Japan and another is in the UK," he says.
1988 BMW E30 M3
"It was my first real supercar, it was an E30 M3 and I put an LS6 Corvette engine in there with a 6-speed transmission, with 450 hp, and stock was 190 hp," he says.
It's a perfect 10 on his "funability" scale. "All my cars I'd rate a 10, but it's on a different scale, like dependability, attention."
Wu calls this M3 a "sleeper." "It's so small and people don't realize how fast that thing is," Wu says. "It sounds like a giant muscle car, but it's a tiny European four-cylinder, so it's really fun. You can drift with it. It's considered a classic, the first M3."
Photo by Javier Araneda
Other cars Wu owns are: a 2006 Predator Hummer H1 Search and Rescue Alpha Wagon, Shelby Terlingua, 2006 Hummer H1 K12 Wagon, 2006 Hummer H1 Alpha Custom Show Truck with Trailer, 2000 Hummer H1 Slantback, 2008 COP 4X4 Custom Jeep Wrangler, 2000 Hummer H1 HMC4 Slantback.
There are a lot of off-roading vehicles in his garage because Wu loves to go to Moab each year. "Moab has the best off-roading," he says. "It's the most incredible thing, it's really extreme. It really tests your vehicle, and it's the first time I ever broke down and every time I go there, I break down."
Car he learned to drive in
Wu grew up in Portland, Oregon, where he learned to drive a friend's parent's older model red manual Mazda 323 hatchback at age 14.
"When you're 15 you get a permit, but my friends always drove when we were 13 and 14. We'd practice driving in the parking lot."
His parents later gave him their maroon 1986 Toyota minivan to drive to high school. "I put these big 15 inch speakers in it and it rattled it so loud," he says.
He only had the minivan for six months. "It just wasn't me. I was able to load all my friends in it and that was cool," he says. "I finally drove by a bunch of car dealerships and saw this little black low rider truck and I had to have it." They let him trade the minivan for a 1988 Mitsubishi D50, which he promptly customized.
"It was a two door mini truck, but I made it into an SUV. I cut out the back wall so it had the access from the front of the truck to the bed of the truck and I added rear seats and a canopy in the back and a big stereo system," he says.
"I lowered it, put big wheels on it, painted it and made it look real cool. I borrowed a sawzall," he adds. "I saw my friends do this and I thought I could do it too. So I took out my rear window and the rear fire wall, and I also cut the bed of the truck." Wu won his first rally in this car back in 1992.
First car bought
Sophomore year in college, Wu bought a 1988 BMW E30 M3 in 1994. "I've owned hundreds of cars, I've had about five of those," he says. "All the way through school I was wheeling and dealing. I'd buy a motorcycle and sell it for more money. I was an entrepreneur, always looking for things to buy and sell. That's how I made my way through school and how I am today."
Favorite road trip
"One of the most scenic roads that I've ever driven was the Continental Divide, we started up in Canada," Wu says. "It was really, really pretty. We did it in the Bullrun. We got third place."
The Hummer H2 he drove gave him a range of 1,400 miles without having to refuel. "We had a 100-something gallon fuel cell," he says. "All these people were in these cars that would go 150-200 mph, but we were maintaining 100 mph the whole way and we never had to stop."
He wrapped that Hummer H2 like a P-40 Warhawk plane. "We were going pretty fast through Arizona when there was traffic, we were on the shoulder driving through and being jackasses," he says. "We had police scanners and we heard they were at the exit ahead of us about to pull us over, so we took the exit and there was an Indian reservation one or two miles down the road. This was in Arizona off I-10 and we drove into the corn field."
They took the wrap off and the Hummer turned from green to black. "When we got back on the road, the police was right on our butt and we can hear them calling it in, 'Are you guys still looking for a green Hummer?' They said, 'Yes.' Ours was black, so they let us go, it was just hilarious. We've just done a lot of crazy things."
Discovery Channel's "One Car Too Far" Sundays 9 p.m.
On the episode of "One Car Too Far" that airs on Sunday, August 26, Wu and Humphrey have to problem solve their way out of the frozen peak of a volcano. The two must navigate over dangerous crevasses, ice fields, and razor sharp ice slopes -- all in freezing temperatures.