The car that saved Gina Grad’s life? A Corolla, of course.
Gina is a co-host and news director of The Adam Carolla Show podcast. Though spelled slightly differently, it still an apparent stroke of serendipity that ACS would become her new home. She’s also the co-host of Andy and Gina In the Morning on LA’s KSWD-FM, 100.3TheSound.
The Toyota Corolla incident takes place about a decade ago, Gina tells us. Although based in LA, she’s back home in Kansas for a wedding (third time being a bridesmaid). She’s riding her 2000 Corolla on the open highway, on her way to The Plaza (fancy!) in downtown Kansas City. In the backseat: her beautiful Vera Wang bridesmaid dress.
Here comes trouble: a car sidles up on her right – way too intimately — almost slamming into her. Gina reacts quickly, reflexively jerking her steering wheel to the left. As a result, she hits the median. The car rolls – twice. Yep, Gina does a double flip. And she lives to tell the tale.
She explains, “I am a terrified person in general, but for whatever reason, I felt super calm, somehow safe. I felt myself saying, ‘You’re okay.’ It felt like it was happening in slow motion. Thank God, the car landed right-side up.”
The unintended stunt draws a crowd, including, Gina notices, a “super-hot medic.” (This is, after all, Kansas, where they grow them easy on the peepers.) “My first thought is ‘I don’t have insurance,’” Gina says, “and my second thought is, ‘I’m not going to be able to make it to this wedding.’”
At the hospital, the doctors gather around her, baffled. They wonder how this survivor survives. They tell her, “You should be very, very hurt.” Yep, Gina is Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, but with better hair. She isn’t totally in one piece, though. If you look closely, there’s a tiny scratch on her chest where some glass hit her. With a shot of ibuprofen, the doctors send her on her way to the wedding.
“The only thing that was not destroyed in the car was me and the dress,” she says. “Everything else was like Godzilla put his hand down and smashed it. The Vera Wang dress should have been ripped to shreds, but it was perfect.”
Third time being a bridesmaid is clearly the charm. “I hobbled down the aisle that night, and was in the wedding,” she says. “I remember the rabbi saying a prayer for me and letting the entire congregation know that I was single.”
No Viking funeral for the ol’ Corolla, although it’s clearly a hero for navigating Gina through harm’s way. Her mom gets to identify the car, or what’s left of it. “It absolutely shook her to her core,” Gina says. “I can’t imagine the feeling of my mom thinking, ‘My child was in this.’ She’s a saint for doing that.”
Astoundingly, this was not Gina’s first nightmare with a hard pull to the left. As a teenager in Kansas, she and mom buy a used car from a shady dealership. “A friend of a friend of a friend,” Gina recalls. “I could smell a rat the second we walked in.”
The used car: a 1988 Nissan Sentra, cobalt blue with a Pepto-Bismol-pink racing stripe. Gina says, “If you gave a kindergartner a crayon and asked him, ‘what do you think your car would look like?’ This is what you would get: a boxy, children’s drawing idea of a car.”
The test drive takes place on another Kansas open highway. Gina lets go of the steering wheel for a millisecond – the car pulls so hard to the left that it almost slams into the median. “I got scared and I looked at the salesman,” Gina says. “With a little flop sweat and a little stutter, he said, ‘Oh, it’s supposed to do that. If it pulls to the right, it will pull you into traffic.’ I’m just a teenager, but I know that doesn’t make sense. I also don’t question authority because I’m a young girl.”
She buys the car – reluctantly – and it works fine, for a bit. Then, after a short honeymoon, it begins its stalling and heartbreaking and disappointing, but you already anticipated that part.
What Gina’s driving now: a Subaru Crosstrek, through a sweet endorsement deal with her terrestrial radio station, 100.3TheSound.
“It’s – by far – the best car I’ve ever owned,” she says. “From what I’ve experienced, this is my favorite car.”
We continue to flip for Gina on a daily basis. Fortunately for her and the rest of us, her life on the road is now on the straight and narrow, free of any unexpected pulls to the left.
For decades, the 1968 Mustang GT 390 that was used in the film’s iconic car chase scene was assumed to have been scrapped shortly after production due to the enormous wear and tear inflicted on the Fastbook during the shoot.
Instead, a partner of body shop owner Ralph Garcia Jr. found the dilapidated car at a scrapyard in Baja California – painted white over its famous Highland Green Metallic paint and in rough shape. Garcia Jr., who specializes in building replicas of “Eleanor” from other cult car movie classic, Gone in 60 Seconds, initially bought the car with an “Eleanor” project in mind and was shipped to a shop Garcia Jr. owns in Mexicali. When Garcia Jr.’s partner Googled the VIN number, they knew they had made an important discovery.
Soon after the find, renowned Ford expert Kevin Marti paid a visit to the car and was able to authenticate it as the missing Mustang.
Two Mustang GT 390s were used in the making of Bullitt. One (VIN 8R02S125559) was pampered and used in low-action scenes – mostly when McQueen’s titular character, Frank Bullitt, was driving around his neighborhood in picturesque San Francisco. That Mustang has enjoyed three owners since the shoot, and has remained in the same family anonymously for some time now (despite McQueen’s attempt to purchase the car).
This other Mustang (VIN 8R02S125558) was seen flying down San Francisco’s Taylor Street, chasing a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T in what is perhaps the greatest car chase scene in movie history. Despite modified suspension, shocks, and pickup points, the vehicle took an absolute pummeling during the filming and was long-assumed to have been sold for scrap. Instead, it appears the car was actually driven for some time after.
Under the white paint were several other layers that implied its post-Bullitt use. A good chunk of the original modifications have been thankfully preserved, such as the strut tower reinforcements and the holes drilled into the trunk to allow for a generator to power movie lights.
The vehicle has unfortunately already been repainted back to its original color, despite Marti’s advice to leave the car as-is for collector appeal. However, Sanchez Jr. plans to fully restore the vehicle just in time for Bullitt’s 50th Anniversary next year, and then possibly an auction block where it could fetch up to around one million dollars.
Now, to find that James Dean Porsche 550 Spyder..
This weekend, many prominent cars, iconic racers, collectors, and enthusiasts will be visiting Amelia Island for a variety of automotive-related shows, several auctions and other special events that make up the Amelia Island Concours Weekend. Here is a small preview of what one can expect on the small Floridian island:
The 24 Hour War Film Screening
One of the first activities begins on the evening of Thursday, March 9 when the Amelia Motoring Film Exhibition kicks off at the Amelia Community Theatre at 6pm. As part of the three-film event, Chassy Media will be presenting The 24 Hour War. Tickets are $20 for those interested in attending the event and seeing The 24 Hour War the way it was intended – on the big screen!
Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance
(Photo Credit: Rashba.com)
Probably the closest rival to Pebble Beach, CA’s legendary Concours, the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance attracts some of the world’s greatest cars and iconic people who were closely associated with them. Adam will be entering two of his vehicles in the show itself.
In addition, Adam will be a featured judge of the Nissan/Datsun entries and will host a seminar on Friday featuring some of the most prominent people that contributed to the success of Japanese auto manufacturers in the US racing scene (John Morton, Tommy Kendall, and Sam Posey to name a few).
RM Sotheby’s Sports Car Auction
Since 1999, RM Sotheby’s has been the official auction house of the Amelia Island Concours D’ Elegance and features some of the most desirable cars that enthusiasts love to collect. Last year’s combined sales from the event were in excess of $38M, and this year the auction is bigger than ever before. Extended from one day to two days and featuring more than 150 cars, this RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction is set to be their most successful to date – especially when they have cars like these up for sale:
2005 Ford GT
(Photo Credit: RM Sotheby’s)
If you weren’t lucky enough to preorder one of the all-new Ford GTs, here’s your chance to buy the next best thing. One of two early millennium Ford GTs to be auctioned off by RM Sotheby’s this weekend, these Ford GTs honor the styling of the original GT40 (perhaps more than its latest counterpart).
This particular GT features a striking red with white racing stripes and has only 2,453 original miles on the odometer. If you’re looking for a pure Ford GT driving experience complete with a V8 and manual transmission, it’d be hard to look past this lot.
“It’s a great car to drive, very comfortable and easy to drive too,” says Alexander Weaver, Car Specialist at RM Sotheby’s. “I could drive one of these cars everyday if it had a back up camera.”
1969 Tasca-Ford Mustang Boss 302 Trans Am “Metuchen Special”
(Photo Credit: RM Sotheby’s)
This Boss 302 Trans Am is a legendary model that participated in a golden era of Trans-Am, and driven by Dean Gregson in nine races from 1969 to 1972. The car has recently been restored to its original 1969 livery and features all its original sheet metal.
“I could not believe how easy it is to throw one of these around the track,” says Weaver. “They handle amazing, the driver input is so easy, and they feel light and very nimble which is not something you expect out of a big, American Mustang like that.”
1970 Nissan Fairlady Z 432
(Photo Credit: RM Sotheby’s)
One of only 420 built exclusively for the Japanese market and with many not surviving, this rare Fairlady Z 432 features four valves per cylinder, three carbs, and twin overhead camshafts (wow!).
“The engine revs so high,”says Weaver. “It just keeps reving and revving. It’s super fun. Probably the most expensive 240Z you can ever find (the car is estimated at $150k-$200k) – but also the best you’ll ever find.”
Imported to the United States in 2013, this car at auction presents a rare opportunity to own an amazing piece of Japanese auto history. Don’t be surprised if even Adam jumps in on the bidding of this beauty.
Speaking of Adam and the RM Sotheby’s Auction, Adam has two vehicles from his collection that’ll be under the hammer this Saturday:
1965 Lamborghini 350 GT by Touring
(Photo Credit: RM Sotheby’s)
The Lamborghini 350GT marks the debut of the Italian manufacturer’s production cars and are exceptionally rare with only 120 having been built.
A vehicle that Adam has owned for many years, this 350GT is pleasantly unrestored and original while also well maintained and regularly driven. This 350GT was even lent out to James Franco for his Gucci commercial that the charismatic young star directed and acted in.
“This is a car that people would be very proud to show in a preservation class,” says Weaver. “But also a car that is ready to be driven and used.”
1969 Lamborghini Islero 400GT
(Photo Credit: RM Sotheby’s)
In typical Lamborghini tradition, the Islero was named after the bull that killed Manuel Rodriquez in 1947 and features its original 4-liter 320bhp V-12 engine with six Weber carbs.
Like the 350GT, this Islero owned by Adam is mostly original and unrestored but very well maintained. The car even features an original well-preserved pigskin leather interior – a special-order from the original owner.
“Great looks, extremely rare production numbers,” adds Weaver. “I think the Islero has been a very underrated car for a long time now.”
The RM Sotheby’s Auction at Amelia Island takes place Friday at 5pm with the Orin Smith Collection, and Saturday beginning at 11am. If you’re unable to make it to the event in person, you can watch both days of auctions online for free at their website.
When all is said and done, the 2017 Amelia Island Concours weekend looks to be an incredible experience for the automotive enthusiast. We look forward to hearing from Adam about his experience when he gets back!