1. Cars That Rock – TV Choice Magazine Interview with Elaine Penn… : Apr 29th, 2014


      His distinctive voice has helped make rockers AC/DC one of the best-selling bands of all time. But away from the music, lead singer Brian Johnson has another passion – cars. He has a growing  collection of automobiles and regularly races some of them. In his new six-part series, Cars That Rock With Brian Johnson, the 66-year-old analyses, discusses and delves into the history of iconic cars before driving them…


      The first car that you focus on in the series is the Mini…
      And the producers thought it was a ludicrous choice at first. I could pick six fabulous cars from the last 100 years. Iconic cars, that was the idea. And I was worried because I went to the production company with the list of cars and they said, ‘The Mini?’ And I said yes, because it was built by one man — Alec Issigonis —  who was a genius. It’s a four-seat car that’s great on petrol, easy to drive and cheap. It was the cool thing to be seen in. All the movie stars had one, and so did your dad and the guy down the street. And look at the room in here [as Brian points out the space inside the Mini we’re sitting inside]. There’s even a parcel shelf — somewhere to put all your stuff. This is the actual Mini I used in the show and I bought it. I’ve had so much fun in it.

      And you also get to drive one of the cars from The Italian Job movie, starring Michael Caine…
      David Morton in Newcastle is a young architect with a wife and two children. He’s painstakingly rebuilt these cars that he remortgaged his house to buy, and he’s got the uniforms that they used in the film and their helmets with the wire mesh on. There’s a packet of cigarettes sitting on the dashboard, it’s signed by Michael Caine and he very nicely asked me to sign one of the cars and they are the original cars. When I said that people would pay a fortune for these three cars, and that I could see the bidding starting at £250,000, he just turned to his wife and it was just a special moment when they said no.

      Tell me about some of the other cars in the series…
      I picked Rolls Royce, for obvious reasons. It always was, and still is, one of the finest vehicles on the road.
      I also picked Bentley and Lamborghini. There’s an amazing story behind Lamborghini. It was started in the Fifties by Ferruccio Lamborghini, who built tractors. He had a Ferrari and the clutch was awful, so he took one from one of his tractors and he stuck it in the Ferrari and it worked perfectly. So he went down the road to where Ferrari was and asked to see Enzo Ferrari to tell him that his clutch makes his cars much better. Enzo Ferrari said, ‘Get that tractor maker out of my building now!’ Ferruccio Lamborghini was furious, so he built his own car.

      You also look at Bugatti?
      Ettore Bugatti was an artist. They were an Italian family who lived in France. His father and grandfather were artists. His brother was called Rembrandt and still, to this day, if you can buy a Rembrandt Bugatti statue, it’ll cost you millions. Ettore was an artist purely but he loved motor cars. And he turned that art into the most beautiful vehicles ever produced by man. They’re just stunning. A Bugatti Royale would set you back, well even if you had £25m you wouldn’t even get close to owning one. There were only six built.

      It sounds as though you really enjoyed all the research?
      The history of all these men is just so wonderful. They were larger than life. In Bentley’s case he was a very quiet man who was just loved by everybody. So it was a joy to find more and more things out about these guys. Ferdinand Porsche was drinking pals with Hitler. Hitler loved him and his son. They were given the highest award known to anyone. The French imprisoned the two of them after the War for two years. This guy had a hand in building German bombers, German guns and tanks. The guy was a genius and it’s strange that, not that long ago, there was a poll to find out the greatest engineer of the last 100 years and he won it. And that was voted for by his peers. So it was a wonderful journey for me to find out all these things and learn more.

      What was the most interesting thing you discovered?
      Usually Rolls Royce engines are built in Germany, while the cars and bodies are built in England and they bring the engines over. But when I was at Bentley, I found out that Crewe build more 12 cylinder engines than the rest of the world put together. And I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself for not knowing that. Rolls Royce would be finished if it hadn’t been for the Germans. So would Bentley, so would Lamborghini, so would Bugatti, so would Mini, they’re owned by BMW now. I tried to say that a lot of people think that the Germans are a dispassionate bunch of people, that they haven’t got the romance about cars that the English and the Italians have when they make a car. But that’s so wrong, because they really have.

      Which cars were you most excited about getting behind the wheel of?
      Tim Birkin’s Bentley, the Bentley Blower No 1, in which he broke the Brookland’s lap record in 1931. Tiny Tim Birkin was a legend. He was the Elvis Presley of his time. All racing drivers were. They were all rich young men from London and it wasn’t so much about driving skill, it was pure bravado. I mean, five or six of these guys died a month.

      You certainly found some brilliant stories…
      I loved to tell them because I know that in other car shows, people just want to know how fast they can go. I wear a cotton shirt. I don’t know how it works, I just wear the thing. I like to race cars, but I’ve got a team around me. I’ll tell them what’s not working. I used to fix my own cars but now there’s just not time. In racing, you’ve got to be sharp and smart. You can’t be working on your car all night like the old days. So it’s pretty cool.

      How often do you race?
      As many times as I can. But this year we’ll be in the studio so there may be a bit of a gap. Every time you stop racing and you come back, everybody else is sharp and you’re just a bloody newcomer again. You’ve got to get used to the car, the track, and remember your braking points. So it’s tough. People who do it every week are red hot and fast!

      Did your interest in cars begin when you were a kid?
      Absolutely. I got interested in cars because where I lived, in Dunston, there weren’t any. Nobody had any money for cars in the early Fifties.

      So when did you get your first car?
      When I was 17 my dad bought me an old Ford Popular. He paid £50, which was all the money he had. And I’ll never forget that. He didn’t have a car, but he bought me one. It was special. I’ll never forget the number plate either — PBB 96. For all its faults, it was freedom. I got in my car and I didn’t have to stop at a bus stop. Take the L plates off. Lots of fun.

      How many do you own now?
      I think about 16 or 17. Five of them are race cars. The rest are just for my fun and pleasure and joy. I don’t like car collections that are too big. It becomes more like a mausoleum. They just sit there forever and I don’t like that. I like to use them, absuse them. Just knock the snot out of them.

      Do you ever sell them?
      I hate selling things that I like. I just cannot do it. I’m terrible. I keep them forever. Unless it’s like the family mule. Once it’s four years old, you get a new one. And that’s it. But in general, if it’s something special I feel it’s mine. It’s personal.

      Are you itching to buy a new car?
      I am and I’m not. I’m always looking, but I’m running out of garage space. I’ve just bought a small factory shop thing so I can stick the overflow in. Just mental. But I know that if somebody within the next couple of months says to me, ‘Look at this,’ I’ll go, ‘Ooh gawd, that’s beautiful. How much?’

      How does the adrenalin of racing compare to performing on stage?
      It’s pretty much the same. You know 100,000 people cheering, is the same to me. Well, it’s a bit more personal and more wonderful, but taking V8 engines or V6s on the starting grid and getting ready, and the flag drops and you take off… Well, it’s unbelievable. It’s so exciting. It’s loud, it’s noisy, it’s showbiz, it’s all the same s***. It’s rock n roll, me darling.

      Quest, Thursday

      Elaine Penn

      Original Source: http://www.tvchoicemagazine.co.uk/interviewextra/brian-johnson-cars-rock-brian-johnson?page=full