Welcome to this month’s edition of Ask a Gearhead, our Q&A series with enthusiasts and influencers in the automotive space. Last month we spoke with Jalopnik Reviews Editor Andrew P. Collins, and this month we are pleased to feature Art Cervantes!
Art Cervantes is one part of the emerging force of enthusiast culture known as Driving While Awesome. He is a Santa Cruz native who was born and raised in the gearhead life, and has probably owned your favorite car at some point (he’s owned over 60 cars through the years). Art has a special place in his heart for everything Japanese and is always down for a good conversation about anything mechanical.
Driving While Awesome (DWA) is a group of self-proclaimed experts in automotive opinion who live and breathe the enthusiast lifestyle. DWA started as a 24 Hours of Lemons team (at the second-ever Lemons race) and has since evolved into a entertainment and events organization with a special place in the enthusiast community. The wildly popular Driving While Awesome Podcast airs twice weekly, and a recent episode featured the guys’ escapades in a 1985 Chrysler LeBaron found on Turo!
DWA organizes a whole mess of car meets and events, of which Radwood is the crowning jewel. Radwood celebrates the awesomeness of the ’80s and ’90s automotive lifestyle by blending the finest cars of the era and period-correct dress into one rad show. Turo was at the last Radwood, but if you missed it, you can register for the next one on June 24 in South San Francisco.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAMILY CAR GROWING UP?
My dad owned an auto body and detail shop, so we had a lot of cars growing up. The first car I ever drove was my dad’s 1977 Datsun 280Z 2+2, which he special ordered new and loved very much. But the one I remember the most was my mom’s 1992 Chevy Suburban.
WHAT’S THE WORST THING YOU’VE EVER DRIVEN?
2015 Chevrolet Captiva. It was absolutely horrendous, such a terrible car. It’s a cheap crossover thing that’s basically only a rental company fleet car. The suspension was harsh, the transmission was awful, it looked terrible, and the whole thing just felt cheaply built. And it was a total kick in the face, because I was stuck with it as an Enterprise loaner after our BMW i3 had been broken into. I drove it for about a week but I was so upset with it that I actually traded it in for a Camry.
IF YOU COULD OWN JUST ONE CAR FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Porsche 959. It’s a special car that I can take anywhere in comfort, it’s super fast, and relatively understated. And it has rear seats, which are small but they’d be for my daughter. I’d probably get an ‘S’ and I’d have it in white with white wheels — for me, 959s have to be white.
FAVORITE ROAD TRIP?
My all-time favorite road trip that I’ll never forget was in high school, I was allowed to take my mom’s Suburban on a road trip by myself to visit colleges that I applied to in California. I drove south on 1 and crossed over to visit SLO, then I went down to Santa Barbara where I loaded up the Suburban with hot Italian exchange students that I met just walking around there. I brought them down for the weekend to visit UCLA and UCSD, and we just hung out and had a blast. So that trip had beaches, parties, girls, and epic coastal roads, and I’ll never top the freedom of it.
WHAT’S IN YOUR NETFLIX QUEUE RIGHT NOW?
My wife and I are both big fans of Westworld, so we’re excited about that right now. And I watch Game of Thrones and Ozark.
YOU’RE DIRECTING FAST & FURIOUS 9, WHAT’S THE HERO CAR?
Renault R5 Turbo. It’s European and it’s got motorsport heritage that would be good for the series. I’m thinking of something like a Pikes Peak setup with crazy aero pieces, flashy pink and white livery, and all the NOS.
WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST ANIMAL TO RIDE IF IT WERE SCALED UP TO THE SIZE OF A HORSE?
I’m kind of an adrenaline junky so I’m going to say a Greyhound. They’re nimble and super fast, and I just imagine being hunkered down over it and flying through sh*t, barely hanging on.
WHAT ACTIVITY ARE YOU EXCITED TO BE ABLE TO DO IN A CAR WHEN SELF DRIVERS ARRIVE?
I think you could just take the road trip concept, but remove the driver so he or she could hang out with the rest of the crew. Imagine a group of friends in a cube-like self-driver going down the highway with tunes bumping… just having a good time.
WHAT’S YOUR MARIO KART CHARACTER?
Toad for sure. When you think about performance, Toad just feels like the lightest, quickest one. Plus I like the look of his mushroom head and everything.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN THE BIOPIC OF YOUR LIFE? AND WHAT IS IT CALLED?
Before I had this beard, some people used to say I look like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. So he’d play me, and it would be called “LongTail.” Our podcast audience will get that one.
IF YOU HAD AN ICE CREAM TRUCK, WHAT SONG WOULD YOU PLAY FROM THE SPEAKER?
“Boyz-n-the-Hood” by Eazy-E. The song would even work perfectly as an ice cream truck jingle — go listen to it and you’ll see. For the vehicle, how about a convertible ‘64 Impala with dry ice so I could sell ice cream out of the trunk.
WHAT IS THE VERY LAST CAR YOU RENTED?
The last car I rented was a 1985 Chrysler Lebaron rented through Turo. It was a lovely amalgamation of K-car parts, “restored” and painted a nice powder metallic blue. It had various ridiculous additions and of course the wood siding. We drove it all around LA and attended a couple automotive events, and it got as many looks as all the exotic supercars we were around. My buddy Lane wrote all about it.