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 goldRush Rally manager Aimee Shackelford, and this month we are pleased to feature Ed Bolian!
Ed Bolian is perhaps best known for driving across the US and setting the Cannonball Run record back in 2013. He drove a 2004 Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG from the Red Ball Parking Garage in Manhattan to the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, CA in 28 hours and 50 minutes, the fastest cross-country drive ever recorded.
His book “For the Record” recounts the stories and lessons from his record-setting experience. Ed has repeated this trip many times since, and recently completed the Cannonball Memorial Run, raising money for a relief fund for the families of fallen police officers. He’ll be doing it again this April.
Ed is a lifelong enthusiast and has done everything from working at a car dealership to founding and operating his own exotic car rental company. Today, he runs VINwiki, a place where people can record and share the forgotten stories behind a car’s VIN number. You can hear many of these bizarre and exciting stories on VINwiki’s very popular YouTube channel, or check out Ed’s website for updates on his numerous vehicular escapades.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAMILY CAR GROWING UP?
My parents were not car enthusiasts, but I remember when my dad bought the 1995 Land Rover Discovery that would eventually become my car. He ordered it right after Land Rover came to the US, and it was through that car that I learned about the car marketplace. That’s what started my interest in how and why cars change value as time goes on, an obsession that endures today.
WORST THING YOU’VE EVER DRIVEN?
The Audi 4000S Quattro that we were going to take on the 2904 cross country rally gave up the ghost two weeks before embarking. So I don’t know that it’s the worst thing I’ve ever driven, but I ended up buying a 1995 Cadillac Brougham Limousine off Craigslist from a washed-up rockstar. It smelled disgusting, like it was full of the worst mildew that you knew was shortening your life every time you ran it. We spent way too much money and time to make it just safe enough to make it across the country mostly okay.
IF YOU COULD OWN JUST ONE CAR FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
The car that I enjoy owning the most and consider to be the most timeless is my manual Lamborghini LP 640. I just love that car. It’s the one that I sort of cartwheeled into getting for free, and it’s the car that best encapsulates what VINwiki is all about. It’s also simple enough mechanically (even though it’s a V12 Lamborghini) that it’s going to work 40 or 50 years from now.
FAVORITE ROAD TRIP?
Red Ball to Portofino. It’s hard for me to beat my Cannonball Run record.
WHAT’S IN YOUR NETFLIX QUEUE RIGHT NOW?
Mostly reruns of your typical car guy movies. For TV, I’m finally enjoying the Grand Tour now, but I generally watch Billions, Suits, and The Blacklist.
YOU’RE DIRECTING FAST & FURIOUS 9, WHAT’S THE HERO CAR?
I’ve always had this fantasy of combining my favorite franchises together. I’d love to see the Fast & Furious cast on a Cannonball, where they happen to run through the jurisdiction of the Super Troopers. At that point the car wouldn’t matter so much, but I hope they’d take a Mercedes CL55 AMG.
WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST ANIMAL TO RIDE IF IT WERE SCALED UP TO THE SIZE OF A HORSE?
My pet snake Sunny the Lamboa. She’s an albino Red Tail Boa Constrictor. She almost came along on the last cross-country rally, but the Limo didn’t lend itself to a veterinary transport.
WHAT ACTIVITY ARE YOU EXCITED TO BE ABLE TO DO WHEN SELF-DRIVERS ARRIVE?
I look forward to very little about self-driving cars. I do look forward to the conversation with my grandkids when they hear that I drove across the country, at a time when they’ll be able to push a button in a car and go. And they can hear that it actually mattered or was impressive to anyone. So I’d just try to tell people about how much fun it was to actually drive an automobile.
WHAT’S YOUR MARIO KART CHARACTER?
Bowser. But it’s been a long time since I played.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN THE BIOPIC OF YOUR LIFE? AND WHAT IS IT CALLED?
I actually got approached by various people to produce a movie after I set the record. Since I’m tall and goofy, they mentioned Adam Driver, Vince Vaughn, and John Krasinski. Obviously none of them got very far or had great scripts. It’d be called “For the Record,” just like my book.
IF YOU HAD AN ICE CREAM TRUCK, WHAT SONG WOULD YOU PLAY FROM THE SPEAKER?
I think I’d go with a Transcontinental Medevac truck that would just play the Cannonball theme song. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.
WHAT IS THE VERY LAST CAR YOU RENTED?
One thing that is wrong with daily driving a Lamborghini is that you can’t actually carry anything around. So the last thing I had to rent was one of those $20-an-hour trucks at Home Depot. I was amazed at the number of questions they can ask you before letting you drive it across town.