Life in cars

Tan­ner Foust Ral­ly­cross racer, stunt driver and for­mer TG USA host talks us through his car his­tory

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS -

When I was 9 to 13, I lived up in Scot­land. We had a 1977 VW bus and an early Eight­ies Fi­esta. My mom was a teacher at a mil­i­tary base. It was an 18-mile drive, but part of it was on pri­vate land, so she would let me drive that sec­tion start­ing from around 10.

The bus was a per­fect learn­ing car as you can sit on the edge of the seat and the ped­als go straight down into the floor, so even I could reach. When you put it in gear, it was a long stick, it would al­ways go back to where it started from, so you could never cheat to see which gear you were in. I moved back to the States when I was 13. All my sib­lings got their li­cence and I had to wait three bru­tal years – the long­est of my life.

The car that I learned in was a 1985 white Honda Civic in the boxy era. It was man­ual, it did slide around pretty good, it was fun to flick through the cor­ners. So I took the test in that car. We were mov­ing from Cal­i­for­nia to Vir­ginia the day af­ter my 16th birth­day, so I had gone through the whole Cal­i­for­nia train­ing, which is six months of sim­u­la­tor train­ing and six months of driver in­struc­tion, which school pro­vided. It’s not like how it is now where ev­ery­one has a pri­vate in­struc­tor – it was the wood­shop teacher. He had three fin­gers on one hand and two on the other, and he had no fear at all.

So, then the pres­sure was on be­cause we were all leav­ing the next day. If you failed your driver test you’d have to wait two weeks to take it again, so I would’ve had to start all over in Vir­ginia, which would’ve been a dis­as­ter. I stud­ied the hell out of that and ended up get­ting a li­cence and moved to Vir­ginia, where the roads are epic.

It was con­ve­nient for me to drive to school, so we got a car that I could use: a 1983 Honda Civic Wagon. S*** brown. It was the slow­est car I had. I had to turn the air­con off to take off away from traf­fic lights. I ended up hav­ing, to date, the big­gest crash I’ve had on the street in that car. I rolled it seven times when I was 18. It was a fast­back when we were done with it. The roads in Vir­ginia are roller­coaster roads; they are epic, but un­for­giv­ing.

I got a job teach­ing ice driv­ing so had to spend ev­ery day side­ways in the win­ters. The very first new car that I pur­chased was the first Mit­subishi Evo that came to the US, the Evo 8. I loved that car – it was the great­est moun­tain car in the snow, I used it on the ice track... such a fun car.

I ended up sell­ing that Evo to a friend who turned it into a drift car, who later sold it to Mat­tel to build into a stunt car in the Hot Wheels loop stunt, and I drove it in that loop. It was a great story, but it seemed too co­in­ci­den­tal: like, this was the first car I ever bought new and maybe I was go­ing to die in it? But we sur­vived.

For TopGear we shot a show in Utah where my car was a 991 Porsche GT3. I fell in love with that car; it’s just an in­cred­i­ble ma­chine. I’d al­ways been a Porsche fan. The car that turned me into a car guy was my dad’s old 912E, which I now own. So I found a GT3 and I bought that, and it’s some­thing that’s just for the sake of how it sounds and feels and drives, not for the in­vest­ment. It’s just some­thing I re­ally look for­ward to driv­ing.

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