Quick Stats: Kim Coates, actor, FX's Sons of Anarchy
Daily Driver: 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu (Kim's rating: 9 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Sonoma, California
Car he learned to drive in: Rambler
First car bought: 1968 Ford Galaxie 500
Season six of "Sons of Anarchy" premiered to a series record audience of almost six million viewers earlier this month. Fans of the FX show, which airs on Tuesday nights, were obviously glad for more drama from the members of the fictitious Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club.
One of the club's most dangerous members is Tig Trager, played by actor Kim Coates. He can snap at any moment and act on his emotions with decisions that negatively affect the club. Tig was the Sergeant at Arms of the club's Charming, California, chapter for years, and everyone knows he has no problem getting his hands a little bit dirty.
Coates is charming, and that might be the only characteristic he has in common with his character, who is also demented. And when it comes to rides, like his character, Coates also loves his Harley-Davidson.
Coates also has a longtime appreciation for classic American musclecars and likes racing cars. He competed in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach's Pro/Celebrity race in 2011 and 2012. He took pole position in last year's race, ahead of big racing guy Adam Carolla.
Although he didn't win that race, we saw Coates' competitive, trash-talking spirit in action then. "You know, when you're with [host of the American "Top Gear"] Rutledge Wood, when you're hanging with that big doofus from Atlanta, you have to be on your a game!" he said in front of Wood, another former MT Celeb Drive, last year at the race.
"Thank God I never met him before -- I'll never see him after this weekend!" he continued ribbing. "I love that guy. I just met him. I knew of him, thank God I didn't see his face until this weekend, but yes," he said back then. "It's a pretty horrifying sight. He's a cutie though."
Coates has a 2012 Toyota Tacoma he is evaluating. "I sort of half own it and it's charcoal grey, and it's pumped to the nines. So I'm having a lot of fun being in that puppy. I can't really tell you why. I can't divulge that information. It's not really my truck, but sort of. That's all I can tell you," he says, laughing mysteriously.
He rates the truck a 10. "You know these trucks that are brand-new, there's nothing wrong with them. They're unbelievable."
It was brand-new compared to his beloved musclecar, the 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle, and his former daily driver, a VW Passat. He still gets upset about when he talks about the Passat getting totaled a few years ago, but credits the car for saving his life.
"It got totaled when some punk in L.A. dropped a 50-pound bag of cement and it literally saved my life. I'm not even kidding. I miss that car," he says. "It was 2 o'clock in the morning, I was coming home from work and I was on the 110 freeway and you have all those incredible overpasses by Dodger Stadium, there's a lot of gang activity. I was very, very lucky. It smashed my car, totaled my car. It missed me by two feet."
Coates says it hit the right corner of the passenger side of the car. "That car definitely saved my life for sure. So I do miss my Volkswagen. It freaked me out so bad, obviously. I actually thought I was shot, so I accelerated. I didn't panic at all, I was just freaked by what had happened and the 110 freeway is so skinny, you can't get on or off. It's really hard to."
So Coates floored the accelerator pedal, with all this wind blowing in because of the gaping hole on the right side. "I couldn't find my phone -- there was crap everywhere," he says. He later called the highway patrol and authorities came over the next day and told him that the suspects dropped bowling balls on cars as well and that perhaps it was gang activity. "It's an initiation thing. It was a real cowardly act for sure," he says. "But I was very lucky."
1966 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu
While Coates loves this car, it had been in the shop for quite a while, after a tree fell on it during a big windstorm. "Soup to nuts, two-speed Powerglide, 4:11 rear end, black interior, fawn exterior with the original mags, BF Goodrich tires, it's a 350 small-block. That's my car of absolute fun. It's super loud, super fast."
He says he rates it a 9 and not a 10 because he can't take it all the way to Vegas in the summer. "It's too hot. There's no air conditioning -- air conditioning is the windows rolled down. But as far as putzing around in it and showing it off to your buddies, it doesn't get any better than that."
2009 Nissan Altima
The Altima is his utilitarian car when he can't ride his bike. "It's my going-to-work car. And I don't talk about it much, but I do have a Harley-Davidson Wide Glide, standard fork. It's my little secret," he says. "I love my motorcycle, but I don't ride it that much. I've been riding bikes my whole life and it's my treat. When it's really hot out and I'm going to work, I'll take it on the 210 and cruise."
The Altima also serves another purpose. "I'm a big golfer when I can, so it's got to hold four bags of clubs and it's got a great trunk and it's very good on gas," he says. "I like it a lot. It's smooth. It's great."
Car he learned to drive in
Coates grew up in Saskatoon, which is in Saskatchewan, Canada. "My dad had a Rambler, but I came from the farm. I really learned how to drive motorcycles really early as a kid," Coates says. "I learned to drive beat-up cars on the farm when I was 10, 11, 12 years old. I was driving a combine when I was 16 and you're not supposed to be driving a combine when you're 16. I loved it. I love driving. I've been driving my whole life."
First car bought
Coates saved up money and bought his first car, a used 1968 Ford Galaxie 500, when he was in high school. "I had some money from working at Safeway, $2.07 an hour! And I saved some money and I think that car was $1100," he says. "It was nice though. I blew the engine away and got a new one put in."
The car also had an eight-track tape player, "so Benny and the Jets was always being echoed out," he says, rather excitedly, as he talks about Galaxie. "It drove my friends crazy but I loved it, I didn't care. I had it till grade 12. I had it three years, then bought a 1958 Chevy Impala, '[American] Graffiti' model - beautiful."
Even though he was in Canada, Coates grew up loving American classic cars. "I love musclecars. I used to love the '50s. Even though I was born in '58, I was wishing I was a teenager in '58. I loved the whole 'American Graffiti,'" he says. "I love the cigarettes, the white shirts, the girls, and the dances. I loved all those movies when I was in grade 9 and grade 10. Being a boy from the '60s and '70s, the '50s was a decade that was my favorite. So when I was driving cars, it was always the '50s when I was a young kid and then it was musclecars from then on. The Galaxie 500 was pretty fast.
"That's why I have a Chevelle today, because me and my buddy [actor] Bill Fichtner, who has a 1970 Roadrunner vitamin C orange, great shape, he and I get to pull those cars out when we're together and people just ogle, for sure."
Fichtner and Coates, who both competed in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race in 2011 and 2012, met when they were working on the 2001 movie "Black Hawk Down."
"We just like to drive them, so we'll go to Malibu, we'll go along PCH once in a while, back and forth," Coates says. "We just like to be in them. It's just a matter of how much time we have on our hands, which isn't a lot. We're both so busy filming, there's not a lot of time."
Favorite road trip
Coates says one of his favorite road trips was with Fichtner in Northern California a couple years ago on an invitation from the folks at Toyota, with Toyota National Motorsports manager Les Unger.
"We love Napa, Billy and me, and we got to go to Sonoma on a beautiful road trip, where we got to see the NASCAR race at the big track up there in Sonoma. We had a fabulous two and half days. It was awesome. It wasn't in these cars," he says, of their old musclecars. "We're too old to take a nice big road trip in those cars, I got kids and a wife."