It was in Northern California, where Fieri learned to drive at age 13, while washing his family's car -- the 1968 Ford Camper Special with its automatic tranny. "My deal with my dad was, when I washed the truck, if I could drive it out in the field, it would help dry it off. So I'd wash the truck, drive it down the road to the field, and drive it around in circles to get the water off of it."
Although he got his driver's license at 16, he didn't have much time to use it before going to France as an exchange student, where he was bitten by the food bug.
"That's where I really kind of tripped out on the whole thing. I thought, 'Wait a second, this all tastes so incredible, but it's only French fries and steak,'" he said. But French cars were another issue. "I wasn't impressed with the French cars. All the kids in my high school had Peugeots. I said, 'Somebody show me a lifted truck, would they?' C'mon!"
When Fieri came back to the States at age 17, he bought his first car. He talks about it with all the zeal of a first love.
"I bought the most cherry, sweet, 67,000-mile 1978 280Z," he says. "Oh! My pride and joy, loved this car. Stacked it into a telephone pole a year later, fell asleep at the wheel, broke the telephone pole, totaled the car. Fortunately, I didn't die. No drinking and driving. I just fell asleep coming home from my girlfriend's house and destroyed the car."
He didn't buy a new car until he was 21. It was a 1991 Chevy Z71 half-ton four-wheel-drive pickup, which he kept until he opened his first restaurant, Johnny Garlic's. After that, he bought the cars he currently owns.
Most of the vehicles in Fieri's arsenal are either black or yellow. Only wife Lori's 2004 Cadillac Escalade is white. "She didn't want black or yellow. She wasn't going to play the game," he laughs.
"I'm a car junkie," he admits. "The sad thing about it is I have more cars than I have time to drive. But I carry nice pictures of them and tell myself about them a lot."
He has a fully restored 1971 Yellow Chevy Chevelle Super Sport, with a big-block 454 V-8. Then there's the 2004 black GMC Sierra three-quarter-ton diesel pickup (one of his two daily drivers). "It's a monster, enormous," he beams. Fieri's other daily driver is a 2007 Yellow Corvette C6. "I couldn't have the Targa top with the Z06, so I had to decide, 'What do I want, 400 horsepower or 500 horsepower?'"
Further down his current car collection is his black street-legal drag 1968 Pontiac Firebird, a pro street dragster with a full cage. Another car with a full roll-cage in Fieri's arsenal is a yellow 1976 CJ-5, which has a six-point cage. And he has a black 1996 Impala Super Sport.