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TG chats to OneRepublic star
“My first car was the biggest piece of sh** in America in the 1990s,” Ryan Tedder tells TG. Ryan Tedder, if you’ve been living in a cave for, hmm, most of the noughties, is the lead singer of the lightly successful American pop group OneRepublic, and one of the most successful songwriters in music history.
In fact, so successful is this man he was recently crowned the ‘undercover king of pop’. Turns out while he’s not larking around making music, he’s actually really into his cars. Just not his very first one, that is.
“Consumer Reports released an article in 2000, called the ‘top ten worst cars of the last decade’,” he tells us, wide-eyed. “Number one - go research it - was the Eagle Premier. Just terrible. I had to replace the transmission within the first 10 days of owning it,” he says, almost laughing.
The Premier was some Thing, too. Based on a Renault 25, it used either Renault or AMC engines and an Audi-sourced gearbox. It was even styled by none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro. Tedder’s not a fan of this, his first ever car. “Mine was a 1991 model, white on white. Easily the worst car I’ve ever driven. Piece. Of. Sh**.”
This has piqued Top Gear’s interest, because we want to know more about the car history of one of the most successful musicians in the world.
So the Eagle wasn’t your finest moment. What was?
It’s a toss up. My wife’s got a G-Wagen - the G55 - one of the best cars we’ve ever owned. But my car… it’s custom. I own an Icon FJ44, you guys know what it is, right?
We love Icons here at TG!
Good. Very few people know what it is. I went off-roading in it recently. Came across a pack of wild llamas and wild mountain goats up in the rockies. As you do.
Sounds exciting. Thankfully nothing went wrong up there. But has anything not gone to plan - any crashes to write home about?
The week I got married I totalled my wife’s car. It wasn’t my fault, but I was in LA and a driver just turned left and got me. I went airborne and just totalled her car. She had a Ford Explorer Sport.
Did you get injured?
I had burns on my chest because the airbag went off. I had to crawl out of the windshield. Funnily enough, when I went airborne I screamed out ‘Jesus’ [he actually screams out Jesus at this point], and slammed into the back of a Ford Probe in a parking lot. The guy sitting in the car? His name was Jesus. True story. I’m not making this sh** up. I screamed out Jesus, and ended up slamming into Jesus [he pronounces it ‘hey-soos’]. He was this Mexican guy.”
Oh dear. Is your licence clean?
I went the last seven years without getting a speeding ticket, and in the last few months I’ve gotten two. One was in LA, on the 101. I was in an SLS AMG and we’d just done a gig in Las Vegas and I just wanted to get home…
The second time I got pulled over in my Icon going uphill in Colorado not too long ago too.
What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven, then?
Well, my dad bought a Jaguar XJ12 in like, 1993, and we were driving on an unused stretch of road in Oklahoma when I was 13. He drove, I was a passenger, and he pushed it right up to the maximum speed.
Do you know what ‘understeer’ is?
Sh**t yes. Taking a turn and then the car just goes straight?
Correct. And oversteer?
[makes silly face] That’s the opposite man.
Quite right. And can you drift?
Yes. I’ve done that on a track - the Hockenheim Ring - for like 30 minutes straight, in an SLS AMG. My instructor was excellent, I think he was a DTM driver. I don’t think I can do it on a dry surface, but I can on a dirt surface.
You’re quite the wheels man, then. Ever got your hands dirty underneath the bonnet?
I’ve changed bits on various cars throughout the years. I changed the brakes on my mum’s Honda, I changed the fuel pump on my Icon FJ, and I’ve changed the oil on every single car I’ve owned, up until the last few years.
So what else is in your garage then?
Apart from the Icon and G-Wagen? I’ve also got a Land Rover Defender 110, and a 1956 Porsche.
Nice. Have you got your eye on anything now?
I want the G63 6x6. My wife won’t let me have one. But every day I’m being talked into the AMG GT. I’m trying to picture myself pulling up to a Starbucks and getting out of a GT, and not feeling weird. I’m not sure I’ve mentally escalated to the level I need to be at to do that.
But a G63 with the right paint, I can proudly pull out of. And roast almost any car on the road.
That’s very true. Thanks Ryan!
It’s been a pleasure.