Quick Stats: Tony Gonzalez, Fox Sports analyst and NFL all-time leader in receptions by a tight end
Daily Driver: 2013 Audi A8 (Tony’s rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: See below
Favorite road trip: Pacific Coast Highway
Car he learned to drive in: 1972 Volkswagen Beetle
First car bought: 1997 Lincoln Navigator
Some people like to buy new daily drivers every few years, but for former NFL tight end and current Fox Sports analyst Tony Gonzalez, his 2013 Audi A8 is where it’s at.
“It’s fast and fun and I love it,” he tells Motor Trend. “I’ve had it forever, and people are telling me, ‘Don’t you think you need a new car?’ I’m like, ‘I love this one so much.’ It’s so reliable, [and] I feel I’m sitting in a cockpit of a jet when I’m driving around in that thing. If I want a little burst of speed, I can pop it into Sport, and it seems like a race car. It’s too fast.”
Gonzalez rates the A8, which he calls the Big Momma, a perfect 10. “It’s got so much power, and it’s so big and comfortable,” he says. “I’m a big guy. I need something that can go really fast but then also something comfortable and big enough for my big butt to fit in, so it’s the perfect car.”
He got the idea for the A8 from former Falcons teammate Roddy White. “He got his all tricked out,” he says. “He put racing seats in there, the bucket seats in the back, and added on [big] rims. It’s just a beautiful car. I wanted to buy his car. He was like, ‘Hell no, I’m keeping this for a while!’ So that was the inspiration for me.”
Gonzalez also likes that the Audi is more environmentally friendly, thanks to the engine start/stop system, but points out that because the car takes higher-octane gas, it’s more expensive to fill up.
He also likes the control he gets out of the A8, especially compared to a powerful Shelby Mustang he once had, which was harder to control. With the Audi, however, “you stomp on the gas, you can feel it start getting lower, and it hugs the road.”
1966 Pontiac GTO
Gonzalez is a classic car guy and gives the Pontiac a 7 for handling. “It’s a 1966 car, so it’s not like it handles that well,” he says. “I had a mechanic put a little more air into the engine to make it go a little bit quicker, but it’s not that fast. If I’m just cruising on a Sunday with the top down, I give it a 10.”
Gonzalez’ father had a 1957 Chevy and a Pontiac GTO when he was growing up. “He always told me about these cars that were called ‘the Goat,’ and he would take us to the Pomona Classic Car Show,” he says. “I always loved how the Pontiac GTO looked, it’s just a mean muscle-looking car.”
The Pontiac GTO is perfect for Gonzalez because it’s big and comfortable, but it still turns heads. “With some friends of mine, we ride around in their Ferraris, and you get a lot of looks because that’s the only reason to get those cars,” he says. “I don’t care what anybody says: You don’t buy a Ferrari to drive around in the city. I get so many more thumbs-ups, when you pull up at a light and they see you sitting there in a ’66 Pontiac GTO convertible, and you hear the engine going. No matter where I’m at … I’m getting more looks than anybody else is getting in a Ferrari.”
Car He Learned to Drive In
Gonzalez learned to drive in his family’s four-speed manual 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, which they bought for $800. “It was burnt orange with rusted bumpers, and we had to throw blankets on it because the moths had eaten through the material on it, a wire seat,” he says. “It was the ugliest bug ever. My older brothers had it for a while and then they handed it down.”
His older brother Chris taught him in a parking lot. “I just sat there and burnt up the clutch all day, in a big old parking lot,” Gonzalez says. “In fact, I taught my sons a couple months ago. I went to the same parking lot where I learned how to drive a stick.”
The Volkswagen kept breaking down, and whenever he came to a stop sign or red light, it would shut off as he downshifted.
“I’d have to literally restart the car, like if the light was turning red and I’d downshift the car, it would shut off all of a sudden, and then [when] it turned green, I’d have to crank it again and start it back up as I’m going 30 mph and put it in neutral, so you don’t grind the gears and all that stuff. It was actually really good practice. I’m pretty good with gears now, going through them,” he says, laughing. “Sometimes I never knew whether or not it was going to start, and I would always have to pop the clutch. So I know how to pop the clutch. I’ve popped it numerous times.”
Once, Gonzalez was on a first date with a girl, and after they left the movies, he prayed for the Volkswagen to start. “Sure enough, the sucker doesn’t start, so I had her get in and I had her pop the clutch for me,” he says. “It was embarrassing. It was just one of those cars. It was $800, and it probably wasn’t worth more than $200, but it got me from point A to point B.”
Once his friend’s father fixed it, it never broke down again, but it ended up sounding like “the loudest car on earth,” he says. “My friends used to make fun of me. They’re like, ‘Here comes Tony!’ And they can hear me coming into the school. … It was a fun car.”
That was Gonzalez’ car for his junior and senior years of high school. When he went to Berkeley, he didn’t have a car for his first two years. His parents later bought him a Ford Explorer, which was a large car for the city streets.
First Car Bought
When Gonzalez was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs, he bought himself an emerald green 1997 Lincoln Navigator, and he immediately had an upgraded sound system installed. He had it shipped between Kansas City and his home in Los Angeles.
“I liked it because it was big and really comfortable inside, handled really well, was really pretty,” he says. “I was into SUVs for a long time. After that I went to another Lincoln Navigator, except I got a silver one, and then the first luxury car I bought was a BMW 740.”
For his second Navigator, Gonzalez went all out. “It was back when I was younger, and that’s when you cared about rims, so I had these huge tires on there,” he says. “People said I had the best-looking truck in L.A. I put the sound system in there, the interior was custom made, like ostrich skin.”
Favorite Road Trip
When he was single, Gonzalez had a custom van that he called the Sin Bin, which he used to travel to Los Angeles from Orange County.
“I had it all custom-made inside. It’s this big old van, but when you get inside it had a little bar, and it had a couch, and really comfortable first-class seats, ostrich skin seats, and a TV. I would hire a driver, and I would sit in the back, because it was 45 minutes to an hour to get up to L.A.,” he says.
He liked having his own personal limousine to shuttle him back and forth to L.A. as well as to Las Vegas, instead of flying. “We just had a good time, because I had cable TV in there, and we could pop in movies; the sound system was two big speakers,” he says. “It was like getting in the back of a big limousine, except it was my personal van.”
His favorite drive these days with his Pontiac GTO is Pacific Coast Highway with the top down. “I’m from Huntington Beach—in fact the place where I store it right now is in Huntington Beach, so I do a lot of that—we just drive up and down the coast,” he says.
If Gonzalez goes to brunch, he’ll choose to a restaurant on the beach for the occasion. “That’s where you get the most out of it,” he says. “You drop the top, and you’re cruising through PCH like they did back in 1966 when the car was made. That’s my favorite thing to do, if I’m going to get in the car and go driving for leisure, for fun, is to get on PCH with my ’66 GTO.”
Gonzalez and his wife, October, are ambassadors for the Huntington Beach charity Scholars’ Hope Foundation.
READ MORE CELEBRITY DRIVES HERE:
- Captain Wild Bill Wichrowski of Discovery’s ‘Deadliest Catch’
- Actor Ralph Macchio
- NASCAR’s Joey Logano
- Tarek El Moussa of HGTV’s ‘Flip or Flop’
- Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Thome of ‘MLB Tonight’
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