Celebrity Car: Kenny Wayne Shepherd - East Valley Tribune: Business

Celebrity Car: Kenny Wayne Shepherd

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Posted: Friday, June 8, 2007 12:00 am | Updated: 6:47 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Celebrity status came early in life for Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The Shreveport, La., native and precociously gifted guitar player signed his first record deal while still in high school. By his late teens, Shepherd’s scorching bluesrock style made him a six-string superstar with millions of records sold to date. As Shepherd’s career accelerated, he was able to use that success to satisfy the car craving he had since, well, forever.

Celebrity status came early in life for Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

The Shreveport, La., native and precociously gifted guitar player signed his first record deal while still in high school. By his late teens, Shepherd’s scorching bluesrock style made him a six-string superstar with millions of records sold to date.

As Shepherd’s career accelerated, he was able to use that success to satisfy the car craving he had since, well, forever.

“I loved cars even as a kid,” says Shepherd, now 30. “Everywhere I went, my pockets would always be filled with Hot Wheels.”

His earliest rides were a pair of Chevy Blazers, but that was before the musclecar bug bit.

“It wasn’t until I walked into a classic-car dealership once . . . and I was hooked. It’s like I went from Hot Wheels to the real deal.”

But before Shepherd completely fell for musclecars, he first had a fling with luxury cars.

“When I first started buying cars, I got into Mercedes and I owned a whole slew of them for about nine years. The last one I had was an SL 500. Then I traded that in for a BMW.”

Today, for Celebrity Car’s visit, his stable is now dominated by Detroit iron with the black BMW along for the ride. In fact, the latest addition to his stable — a 2007 Dodge Charger R/T — was a Christmas gift for his new bride, Hannah, the only daughter of actor Mel Gibson.

“I put the big, red bow on the hood and everything.”

Shepherd says that he wanted to get her the SRT8 version, “But she really likes white cars and they don’t offer the SRT8 in white.”

It became the second Charger in his garage. The other is a custom-built 1969 dubbed the “Xtreme Lee,” which resembles a certain iconic car from a certain late-1970s, early-1980s TV show. The Lee boasts a big, fuel-injected V8 that churns out 585 horses. There’s nothing subtle about this car, which is obvious from its Corvette Flame Orange paint and over-the-top airbrushing.

A 1970 Plymouth Duster, which at the time of the photo shoot was undergoing a rebuild, rounds out his Chrysler power trio. “So many people have jumped on board for the Duster and I’m really excited about it,” Shepherd says. “(Designer) Chip Foose is doing the wheels and a custom-painted hood treatment, and Mopar Performance came up with a 406-inch (motor) that they’re putting in it.”

But Shepherd isn’t all Chrysler all the time, as his 1950 Ford Business Coupe hotrod proves.

“I’m not really biased towards any one car brand, but I’m really a Mopar (Chrysler) guy at heart. I like hotrods, but I’m just passionate about the musclecar thing right now. So I’m thinking about selling the Ford and getting another musclecar. I’m a big fan of the oldschool Dodge Challengers.”

He’s also a fan of the new-school Challenger, too, and predicts that that will be his next new car once Chrysler puts it into production.

His Harley V-Rod motorcycle shows that Shepherd likes twowheel toys as well. “It’s the 100th anniversary V-Rod, but it’s been highly modified. I had a custom air box put on and a custom paint job done. We also put on Performance Machine five-spoke aftermarket wheels, custom handle bars, and a Rhinehart chrome swing-arm exhaust system to make it sound like a real Harley.”

As with his other vehicles, the Harley isn’t just a Hollywood prop. “I’ve done the trip twice from Los Angeles to Laughlin, Nevada, for a big biker rally there. And me and my father-in-law (Mel Gibson) and a bunch of people rode all the way from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe for a rally up there. So that thing has definitely got a lot of miles on it.”

Same with his cars. “I’m a big advocate of if you own it drive it. I don’t see the point of having something that goes down the road if you are just going to park it and stare at it.”

He also isn’t the type to just write a check and wait for a flatbed truck to roll up to his hillside home, outside of L.A, with a custom car on board.

“I’m involved in building all of my custom cars, from the design on. With the Duster, I knew something wasn’t right. So I went down to my buddy’s shop and he and I tore the engine completely apart . . . and I’m going to rebuild it all myself.

“I’ve always been very mechanically inclined, Shepherd continues.

“When I was a kid, if anything broke at our house I’d take it completely apart, figure out what was wrong with it, and put it back together again. I’m also very inclined towards doing things with my hands. I think a lot of it has to do with having good hand-to-eye coordination. But I also have to be a little more careful than most people because I can’t bust too many knuckles . . . I still have to be able to play guitar.”

Celebrity Car is produced by Wheelbase Communications in conjunction with quarterly publication Celebrity Car Magazine (celebritycarmagazine.com) and the duPont Registry (dupontregistry.com).

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