Quick Stats: Ricky Whittle, actor
Daily Driver: 2006 Range Rover (Ricky's rating: 8 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Favorite road trip: England to Scotland
Car he learned to drive in: 1980s Peugeot 205
First car bought: 2006 Dodge Ram
British actor Ricky Whittle has only been in America for a year and a half, but he's already become a regular on VH1's "Single Ladies." He was also cast with Keri Russell, Jane Seymour, and Bret McKenzie in "Austenland," which played to sold-out crowds at last month's Sundance Film Festival.
One of the only bummers for Whittle about leaving the U.K. was having to sell his dream car, a 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo. Whittle loves to talk fondly about the cars he's owned. And in this case, he's had quite a few loves. Whittle's many automotive flings are rooted in his belief in living with no regrets and only regretting what you don't do.
He absolutely loves living in sunny southern California, and for now his daily driver is a 2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged, which he calls a "stopgap" until he can figure what he wants to acquire later. He rates it an 8 out of 10.
"When it works, it's definitely an 8. When it doesn't work, it's a pain in the bum and I seem to have a few problems with it at the moment," Whittle says. "It's like a dog chasing its tail. When one thing goes wrong, I fix that, and something else goes wrong, and I end up fixing that. But once it's all fine and everything's running well, it's a comfortable ride. It's supercharged. It's very fast."
Whittle says in Los Angeles it's better to have an SUV because of the many unpredictable potholes in streets. "The roads are so bad, so you're feeling all the bumps if you're in a sports car. I know if I was in my previous sports cars, I'd have probably rimmed my car a lot, damaged the alloys or maybe got flat tires because of low-profile tires. It's probably good to have a 4X4 in this city. There's some crazy drivers here," he says with a laugh.
When British friends visit, they ask Whittle what it's like to drive in L.A. "I say, 'Stay sharp.' So I feel a little bit safer in a bigger car."
And like many in this car-choked city, Whittle prefers to drive, even when he can walk to the store around the corner. "I refuse to walk to it. I'm terrible. They say that no one walks in L.A. and it's definitely true and I'm embracing that."
He chose the Range Rover after trying a few different cars. "I was going to go old school and go for a classic. I'm a big fan of old, classic American musclecars like a Shelby GT or the '69 Dodge Charger, cars that inspired me through my childhood," he says. "They used to get me real excited when I was a kid. To own one and actually be able to drive them in America is a little of a dream. They've just got a different sound, a different look. They really are meaty and aggressive cars compared to the U.K."
2010 Chevrolet Corvette
When he got to America, he likened the process of choosing cars to Goldilocks and the Three Bears. "I came here and thought, 'I want an American car.' I'm just a big kid; I get excited. That's probably the one thing in life that I get really excited about is cars," he says.
Although he didn't lease an old musclecar, he did try a 2010 Corvette. He says there was limited visibility and it wasn't a good fit for a man over 6 feet tall.
"For a tall person it's a really bad car. When you're looking for signposts and things, you have to duck because the windscreen is just not large enough. It's too low," he says. "You've got to look underneath the roof. Looking around, there a lot of blind spots, and the bottom kept scuffing on ramps and curves. I really didn't like it."
He kept the 'Vette for a month. "There was a delay in the accelerator, which was very frustrating," he says. "I didn't want to step foot in that again. I really didn't like it."
Before the 'Vette, Whittle tried the Hummer H2. "I thought what symbolizes America more than the Mustang, the Hummer, Harley-Davidson," he says. "And I settled for the Hummer."
He had that for a few months until he moved to an apartment where the parking space was too small. "I liked it. It just didn't fit in the garage and then I found out they weren't making them anymore. I thought I might have problems sourcing parts when things go wrong, so I thought the better of it and searched for another car and got an American classic Corvette," he says. "The Hummer was too big for the garage, the Corvette was too low -- it kept scuffing on the ramps. So I've settled for baby bear, the Range Rover. It was just right."
Whittle thought it best on his finances to lease the cars since he didn't know what he wanted to drive.
2006 Lamborghini Gallardo
While he's settled on the Range Rover for now, it's definitely not his 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo. He had to sell that car after owning it for four years. "It was probably the toughest thing I ever had to do," he says. "I thought about shipping her over -- and I speak of her as a lady because I'm that passionate about my little baby girl. It would have ended up costing me $20,000 to transport it to the States and I would have to get it specified to American standards. So it worked out best to just sell it back in the U.K. I didn't lose too much on that because I sold it to a soccer player and soccer players are known for paying over the odds because they don't care. I found a very gullible soccer player who was happy to pay over the odds."
British fans of Whittle have seen his Lamborghini in the BBC TV series "Candy Cabs," in which he played a soccer star and producers let him drive his own car on camera.
"I think they were trying to get me to drive me a Mercedes and I said a footballer wouldn't drive that unless I had a family, and my character didn't have family. He was a single man and single soccer players are definitely flamboyant and like their sports cars," he says. "So it ended up on screen on the BBC. It had quite a lot of screen time, almost as much as me."
He's thinking about buying another one. "Ideally I'm probably going to buy another Lamborghini because that really was the best drive I've ever had," he says.
Growing up in England, Whittle was influenced by American movies and television and that is where his car fantasies came from.
"Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted the Lamborghini from 'Cannonball Run,' do you remember, with Burt Reynolds?" he says. "I was hoping the two girls in the Lycra jumpsuits were going to come with the Lamborghini. But I used to love the Lamborghini from those films. I was in awe of it. I used to have posters all over my room. I remember 'Rain Man' with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman with all the Lamborghinis being lifted off the tanker. I was obsessed with this car. Absolutely obsessed with this car. It was my dream and to finally drive one and own one was incredible."
"I saw it on MTV and P. Diddy driving it and I didn't have a clue what it was," he recalls. "I was like, 'What is that? That looks amazing!'" So after researching it, he bought one.
"It was impractical. I couldn't keep that car because there's no space to put anything in," he says. "So if I needed to go anywhere, my luggage would have to go in the spare seat and if I had company, the luggage would have to go on the person's lap. When you're thinking the Lamborghini has way more trunk space, you know the Prowler must have no space at all."
While the Prowler was great fun to drive, he only kept it for seven months. "I'm very spontaneous," he says, with a chuckle.
"I always believe that if you like something, go for it. You only live once; you only regret the things you don't do. They end up being great stories. There's no such thing as mistakes, only lessons. As long as we learn from our so-called mistakes, then we're fine. And I learned these weren't the cars for me," he says. "I learned that maybe I will go through a Lamborghini again, but it has to be practical. It has to be right, and right now the Range Rover is the right car for me in L.A. It's got space for friends and family when they come and visit and it can store a lot of stuff and it's comfortable."
People used to call his Prowler the Batmobile because it was black with black tinted windows. "It's just a strange car, especially in the U.K. I like unique cars that people don't have."