He’s the host of the reality TV series, Canada’s Worst Driver, but Andrew Younghusband could also have been a contender on the show.
A self-proclaimed bad driver when he got his licence at 27, after six seasons of hosting the show and practising on the centre’s test course, he’s a pro driving his 1998 Mazda B400 pickup truck, which he bought in 2003.
“People watch the show and say, ‘Oh it’s easy for you because you’re a great driver.’ No, no. I am a great driver because of the show. I drove like a monkey when I got the gig!” he confesses.
“I learned to drive at 27. So when I was 29, I still drove like an 18-year-old.
“I’m also somebody that had never played in a vehicle. I’d never done a doughnut or a hand-brake turn in my life – I never screwed around in the parking lot in my life.
“Now I can drive like a stunt-movie scene, no problem. I’ve learned to do all kinds of stuff that was foreign to me.”
But getting to that point took time.
“I have the worst driving stories – it’s shameful and shocking. I bought a stick-shift Ford Ranger when I was living in Vancouver because I had a gig in Newfoundland and I was going to drive back home to Newfoundland.
“So I bought a truck, then I got my licence, and then within having my licence for 10 days I set off from Vancouver to St. John’s.
I was great on the highway and a ... terror everywhere else, in a stick shift no less. I was basically like one of the characters off the show,” says Younghusband, who also hosts Canada’s Worst Handyman on Discovery Channel.
The Ford Ranger came to a traumatic end. “I lost control on black ice driving with the pickup truck with the cab on and fully loaded moving. Single vehicle, 100 per cent my fault, went off the road in Nova Scotia about 100 miles out of Halifax and wrote the truck off. Only time in my life that I thought I’m going to die right now. But luckily I walked away.”
Younghusband confesses he doesn’t like driving or cars, for that matter. “I don’t care about driving – that’s the one thing people don’t know about me.
“Driving was never on my radar. I don’t like driving. I can do it. It’s an important skill and I’m glad I can drive. I love driving in Newfoundland, but I hate driving in Toronto. As a result I ride my bicycle more in Toronto than I do my truck.”
“Cars don’t interest me on any level. I would always take the money over a fancy or powerful car. If I won a Porsche in the lottery, I’d sell it immediately.”
But having a licence was key to getting a job. “Living without a licence is silly. … I used to work a lot as an actor and I was truly afraid that I was going to get a part that required a licence and then I’d lose the job. And as a result, shockingly enough I ended up getting a huge job because I had a licence that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
“When I got the first e-mail to audition for Canada’s Worst Driver I honestly thought it was one of my friends making fun of me. Yeah, yeah. Thanks – I’ve heard the jokes before. And then it turned out to be real,” he laughs.
The Mazda B400 has made a few cameo appearances on his show. “I drove with one woman in the pickup truck in the TV show and she refused to believe it was mine because it didn’t have air conditioning. You’re a television host, you have a Mercedes somewhere. Nope. This is my truck,” says 38-year-old actor and writer.
“The best feature on it is the cassette deck – are you kidding me? People go mad for it! They find it so retro when I put on the Black Sabbath tapes,” he laughs.
“I’d rather it had real back seats. It has a king cab, but you have to be 12 and sit sideways. It’s not a true king cab.”
Before that, he drove “the world’s smallest pickup truck” – a 1992 Nissan truck. “A four-cylinder pickup truck is an excellent thing. You can’t get them on this continent. For little poor people who want to move couches, a little two-seater, four-cylinder pickup truck is an excellent thing.
“It was the smallest engine in the world like a sparrow. I called it the sparrow because that vehicle was so cheap and cheesy it didn’t even have a name. It wasn’t even called the Nissan four-cylinder truck. It was called nothing. It had no tag name.”
“It was on its deathbed and I overloaded the back with composite and topsoil and it crumpled the chassis.” But he didn’t give up on it. He gave it to a friend, Byron, in Newfoundland.
“Byron went to the dump with a handsaw and cut the chassis out of a Chevy S10 and brought it back – it didn’t fit; he cut another chassis out of a different small pickup truck and fit it to the Nissan. He got it registered and drove it another couple of years. Now he uses it as a mini-tractor in one of his potato fields.”
For Younghusband, that’s the vehicle of his dreams. “I’d like to have my old Nissan four-cylinder truck back. I miss the sparrow. What a winner that was!”