Advance exclusive: Interview with Richard Griot of Griot’s Garage

We recently caught up with Griot’s Garage founder and industry icon Richard Griot—to get the real dirt on his favorite classic cars. 

Griot's GarageSomething special happens when two car guys get to talking. You can feel it in the air: you’re both nuts about classic cars, there’s no denying it, and then the conversation just starts flowing like you’ve known each other for years.

That’s exactly what happened when I had a chat recently with Richard Griot. Richard founded Griot’s Garage, a very successful car-care company, and he used some of the proceeds to do what any red-blooded car guy would do – put together a museum-quality classic car collection that’s got so many specimens now, he’s literally lost count. I knew we were going to hit it off as soon as I heard that part of the story, and sure enough, we had an enthusiastic conversation about cars that gave me plenty of material for 10 Classic Car Questions.

So here are the highlights, just the way I asked ‘em and he answered ‘em. By the way, when you’re done, do me a favor and go check out Richard’s products at Advance Auto Parts. He’s a good man, and speaking from experience, I can tell you his car-care solutions are top notch.

Alright, let’s get to it.

GG: What was your first car as a kid, and what were the best and worst things about it?

Richard Griot: 1953 M38A1 Jeep. Top Speed was 55 mph so I put an overdrive in it and it went 63 mph. It was so easy to work on. I ended up painting it myself and swapping the engine for a rebuilt one, as it burned a quart of oil every 100 miles!

GG: How many cars are in your collection now?

RG: I really don’t know. It’s a lot. I think if I ever started counting I’d feel as if I had a problem. It’s called self denial, so I’ve never really counted.

GG: I noticed a ‘60s Mustang in a video of your collection. Do you have any other vintage American muscle cars? Given their dynamic shortcomings, are you a fan of “resto-mods” that enhance braking and handling?

RG: They only have dynamic shortcomings if you over-drive them!  Having said that, I have a stock looking 1966 Chevelle with a 502 big block and upgraded suspension and disc brakes.  It really has increased the driving experience big time.  My kids still remember doing a bunch of burnouts in it, so I can’t sell that one.

GG: If you could only have one car for all occasions, what would it be, and why? What would the transmission be?

RG: The new Porsche Boxster with a manual transmission.  A perfect commuter car, trunks front and back, top folds back while you are driving it, a great track car and if you have a hot date she’s close enough to lean over and kiss…

GG: How do you feel about modern cabin technology like touch-screen systems and LCD displays? Love it, hate it, indifferent to it?

RG: Well, things are getting more and more complicated. However, I love all the technology that lets me be more efficient behind the wheel and safer as well.  Though I must say I take my eyes off the road more often now!

GG: If you could influence the way Driver’s Ed is taught in America, what would you change, if anything?

RG: I would put everyone on a race track and get scared sheet out of them and teach them that cars are dangerous unless you pay attention full time behind the wheel!

GG: Which country, if you can single one out, makes the cars you appreciate the most, and what are those special qualities?

RG: That’s like asking me to pick out my favorite child!  I love Italian style, German engineering, American in-your-face brute force, and Japanese attention to detail.

GG: You must know the classic-car market well. What’s a great value that comes to mind—a classic or future classic that’s currently underpriced?

RG: That would be like giving away my best kept secret!  Just buy something you love regardless of the market. Something that makes you smile every time you get in it.

GG: Say I’m considering a classic car, but I don’t know much about buying and caring for a vintage automobile. Is there any general advice you would give me based on your experience?

RG: Run away! They’ll tear your heart out, require way too much maintenance, and drive you to bankruptcy if you try to restore one. Having said that, a 1965-66 Mustang Fastback. Lots of parts, many to choose from, easy to run, and a great driving experience.

GG: Which of your car-care products are you most proud of, and why? Is there a magical product that you wish more people knew about?

RG: Speed Shine. Greatest product EVER to hit the market.

Bonus Question!

GG: What are you top 3 engines of all time, and why?

RG: First, the Small Block Chevy, still kicking after 57 plus years. Second, the Cosworth DFV F1 Engine — what can you say?  Won many world championships and is still going strong in vintage F1. And last but not least, any Ferrari V12…the sound is just wonderful.

GG: Richard, it was a pleasure, thanks so much for your time today.

RG: Thank you!

Editor’s note: Advance Auto Parts is proud to feature Griot’s Garage car care products. Buy online, pick up in store. Photos courtesy of Griot’s Garage.

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