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Terri Clark’s first long road trip with her Mercedes-Benz SUV came at a difficult time in her life.
Terri Clark’s first long road trip with her Mercedes-Benz SUV came at a difficult time in her life.

My Car: Terri Clark

Country singer loves long drives in her Mercedes SUV Add to ...

Terri Clark

Profession: Country singer-songwriter

Age: 44

Hometown: Born in Montreal; grew up in Medicine Hat, Alta.

The vehicle: 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL450

Notable achievements

  • First hit the charts in 1995 with Better Things to Do; other chart-topping hits followed such as Girls Lie Too, Northern Girl, I Just Wanna Be Mad, You’re Easy on the Eyes, When Boy Meets Girl, I Wanna Do It All, and Poor Poor Pitiful Me
  • Received the fan-voted Canadian Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year award seven times
  • Her latest album Classic was released in November, 2012

Upcoming

More Related to this Story

  • Appears June 15 at the 20th Annual Gravenhurst Car Show
  • Other upcoming tour dates include Bettendorf, Iowa, on June 21; Durant, Okla., on June 22; George, Wash., Aug. 2-3; and Camrose, Alta., Aug. 4
  • Ongoing fundraising initiatives to benefit charities such as World Vision, Red Cross, The Water Project

She’s the only Canadian female country artist to be inducted into the esteemed Grand Ole Opry.

Terri Clark has received dozens of awards – including three Junos and 18 Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) trophies. She’s sold more than five million albums and has toured extensively.

Her concert schedule is packed; her next stop is at the 20th Annual Gravenhurst Car Show. Clark is a car girl at heart; she loves the open road. Every year, Clark trades in her signature Stetson for a baseball cap to drive from her Nashville home to her cottage in Ontario. And she does it in a 2008 Mercedes-Benz GL450 SUV.

What sparked your interest in cars?

My dad’s a car guy. I think being around it from a young age; I don’t know if that kind of thing is genetic or not. He used to drag race in Montreal. He always had a car up on blocks.

I keep my cars meticulously clean. I don’t like dirt on them. I don’t like getting salt on them. I like everything to be clean and polished. And my dad is exactly the same way. I probably got it from him. … I’m more about watches, cars and sunglasses. I don’t buy shoes. I don’t buy handbags. I don’t buy clothes. Some women are into handbags and shoes; I like cars.

Why did you buy a Mercedes-Benz GL?

I was looking for a big SUV because I like to travel from Nashville up to my cottage in Ontario. I like to take stuff with me. I have dogs I take with me. I have a trailer.

My favourite car is the GL. I just feel like I’m driving down the road in a great, big huge tank. It’s got a lot of cargo space and I enjoy the way it drives. It feels like a luxury car and it’s a very comfortable ride – great stereo and all those things we look for when we’re driving long distances.

What don’t you like about it?

Because of the year, it’s not up-to-date with the iPod and the GPS – it doesn’t have the same features they have in a newer one.

What does a Mercedes GL say about you?

It’s big. It’s heavy. It guzzles gas. It’s shiny. It’s got a lot of horsepower when you put the pedal to the metal. It can really take off. You can pack a lot into it. Those are my personality traits! I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.

What was your first car?

It was a 1983 red Ford Escort. The carburetor was shot – it blew smoke all over the place. The second car I owned, which was even funnier, was a 1979 Cougar. It had white ripped leather seats, it guzzled gas, it was maroon, and it had a stripe down the side. It was blowing smoke, too.

After your first big hit, Better Things to Do, did you treat yourself to a new car?

I did. I bought a red ’95 Mustang GT. But I got to tell you one of my favourite cars I ever had was an ’86 Ford Bronco in grey and white with a standard stick shift on the floor. That was when I signed my record deal in ’93. I loved that thing. I wish I kept it. I think it would be a really cool vehicle to still have. I’m sure it’s still going strong somewhere.

What else have you owned?

I have owned so many cars and houses over the years – I can’t decide where I want to live.

I’ve owned a lot of cars; I like to changes things up a lot. I had a Lexus GS, a Mercedes C-Series sedan, a Lexus SC sport convertible in navy blue with a tan interior. I had that car about four years ago, but it was so impractical. So, I traded it for a Lexus sedan. But then I wanted something bigger so I traded it for the Mercedes GL and I haven’t looked back.

If I’m going to drive one car, it has to be a SUV. I’ve embraced the fact that I’m a SUV person.

What’s your best and worst driving story ever?

This is my best and worst story: I had just come out of a really brutal relationship and my mother had just passed away. I was going to my cottage in Ontario, which was my healing place, my happy place. I had packed the U-Haul trailer in Nashville. I was going on a voyage of independence on my own with my dog and I was going to drive to my cottage.

I stopped for the night because I ended up leaving later in the day. I remember getting up the next morning and I had five hours to go. It was Mother’s Day and my mother had just passed away April 4 and this was mid-May. This rainstorm started and this song came on the radio and I was bawling my eyes out, driving in a monsoon with my little dog and my car with my U-Haul trailer hooked to it. It was raining and I was crying and thinking about my mom.

Something about that trip changed me. It brought on a certain feeling of independence. I felt like I was doing the right thing – I did some crying and letting go. That road trip was very memorable for me in so many ways. ... It was like a new chapter coming about. It was the closing of a door and the opening of another, which was nice. My trip represented that movement of moving on and stepping out.

I don’t let the fact that I sing country music for a living and a few more people know who I am stop me from having normal feelings.

I like road trips. I don’t mind driving. I’ll drive from Nashville to my cottage in Ontario all by myself and it freaks everybody out. Everybody on the payroll freaks out! My poor tour manager escorts me to my hotel room from the bus when we’re on tour and then, when I tell him I’m going to drive 12 hours alone, I don’t think he knows what to make out of that!

What’s your dream car?

I always had this dream of getting a classic convertible – a ’67 or ’68 Camaro – some day I’m going to get one. Maybe for a landmark birthday I’ll treat myself to one.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

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