Quick Stats: Tarek El Moussa, HGTV’s Flip or Flop
Daily Driver: 2014 GMC Sierra Denali (Tarek’s rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Orange County to Mammoth, CA
Car he learned to drive in: 1994 Toyota 4Runner
First car bought: 1985 Buick Park Avenue
Tarek El Moussa, star of HGTV’s Flip or Flop, has an eclectic garage—but his favorite ride isn’t his Lamborghini as you might expect.
“My daily driver is my lifted white GMC Denali truck. It has a big engine,” he says. “I like trucks because they’re good with storage. It’s lifted so I can go off-roading, and the inside—it’s really nice, nice dash, big screen. I like all the technology, it’s just a really, really beautiful truck.”
El Moussa does go off-roading in it when he can, and rates it a perfect 10: “It’s the longest I’ve owned a car,” he says, with a laugh. “I drive that a lot.”
2017 Jeep Wrangler
Rating: 20 for coolness, 7 for drivability
More recently, El Moussa bought what he says is a “crazy” 2017 Jeep Wrangler he wasn’t even looking to buy. While he was looking at new Lamborghinis at a local car dealership, he saw the Jeep and ended up buying it.
“[It was] completely taken apart and then completely rebuilt and looked like a Transformer,” he says. “The Jeep Wrangler is absolutely the coolest Jeep you’ll see on the road, big 38-inch tires. It’s not the easiest to drive, because the tires are so big, it kind of throws you all over your lane. So it’s more difficult to use that as a longer daily driver.”
He rates it a 20 for coolness, but for functionality and drivability he gives it a 7. “I get as many looks in that thing as I do my Lambourghini,” he says.
2011 Lamborghini Gallardo
“I just love everything about it,” he says about his Gallardo. “The only thing that’s lacking is the updated technology, which is why I’m buying the new one.”
“I love driving the Lamborghini, it’s super, super fast. I’m probably going to get the Aventador or the Huracan,” he says. “I do like Ferraris, I was in Canada last April racing Ferraris, which was the coolest experience ever. I love racing everything—motorcycles, dirt bikes, trucks, cars.”
2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
“What I’m in right now, which I use multiple days per week when I go to set, is a Sprinter that was completely modified to be a Sprinter executive limo,” he says.
He’s come to rely on the Sprinter, especially when shooting his HGTV show. “I have two 50-inch screen TVs, I have a full bar, I have a surround sound system, refrigerator, all this cool stuff. [With a driver in the front], I just hang out in the back like I am right now. I have captain’s chairs, five iPads, it’s like the coolest thing ever. I love this thing,” he says.
The customized van comes in handy when he’s out on the town with friends. “I go on dates, or whatever I’m going to do, I get a driver, so I have to worry about driving or Uber, and it’s just really, really great.
Car he learned to drive in
Growing up in Buena Park, California, El Moussa learned to drive in a 1994 Toyota 4Runner. “I got my permit on the day I turned 15 and I got my license on the day I turned 16. I’ve always loved driving. I took my test in the city of Downey in the middle of traffic, and thank god I passed,” he says, with a laugh.
First car bought
El Moussa’s parent’s bought him a Toyota T100 truck for high school, which he had to sell when he was going into real estate at 19.
“I downgraded and bought a 1985 Buick Park Avenue, because I just got into real estate and I needed more of a professional car, so I paid five grand and that was my real estate car,” he says.
At the time it was the best he could afford for a proper real estate car. “It was good for clients. My truck was a lifted black truck, so that definitely wasn’t the best real estate car,” he points out.
One day, while driving a client in Anaheim, the car did something that surprised both of them. “The car’s 16 years old and I’m at a red light, and then all of a sudden all these little black balls came flying out of the AC vent, and the car started vibrating,” El Moussa says. It was really weird.”
El Moussa only had the Buick for two and a half years, after which he bought a brand new 2004 Cadillac Escalade, his first splurge car. “I was building my company, I was making good money,” he says. “And then my first high end high end car, I bought a Bentley Continental GT Speed, that was a really fun car.”
Favorite road trip
El Moussa’s favorite road trip memories are the ones from Orange County to Mammoth with his mom on a trip that took about four and a half hours. “I would always go with my mom to Mammoth. It was just something we always did because I was snowboarding,” he says. “[I have] a lot of fond memories of driving as a kid, and there’s one specific restaurant that we always would stop at on the way there, so it was just a ride that I grew up with.”
He recalls one trip that was particularly memorable. “As I was driving to Mammoth, my mom fell asleep and I was driving 110 mph and she woke up,” he says, laughing. “She goes, ‘What are you doing?’”
HGTV’s “Flip or Flop” Season 7
The hit show Flip or Flop returns on HGTV at the end of May. El Moussa says the crew is working hard on season 7, saying he thinks it’ll be the best season yet.
With his strong work ethic, he kept working on the show even when he was battling cancer. “It’s been a fight, coming from nothing, getting to where I am, losing everything, starting over. And when I was faced with cancer,” he says, he determined that “the best thing I could do for my family is stay positive, love my family, [and] keep working. I mean, it was horrific, I was sick on set, and had migraines and went through it.”
He’s since become a spokesman for Movember, and also works with the Lazarex Cancer Foundation.
“The only positive is that I’ve been able to create awareness … and I’ve gotten messages from people letting me know they found out they had cancer because of reading my story,” he says.