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While it looks like an oriiginal 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, Rick Springfield’s car has been extensively modified.
While it looks like an oriiginal 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, Rick Springfield’s car has been extensively modified.

My Car: Rick Springfield

Why Rick Springfield's driving skills are legendary (and not in a good way) Add to ...

Rick Springfield

Profession: Singer, songwriter, actor

Age: 63

Hometown: South Wentworthville, New South Wales, Australia

The car: Modified 1963 Corvette Sting Ray

Notable achievements

Received a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance in 1982 for Jessie’s Girl; nominated for three other Grammys in 1983-1984; had two Top 10 albums, Working Class Dog (1981) and Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet (1982); his latest album, Songs For The End Of The World , was released in November, 2012

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  • Plays nearly 100 live concerts a year; his next gig is at Fallsview Casino Resort, April 5-6, in Niagara Falls, Ont.
  • Returns as Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital in April for the show’s 50th anniversary with son, actor Liam Springthorpe

He soared to the top of the music charts with the hit single Jessie’s Girl in 1981. Smash hits followed – such as Don’t Talk To Strangers, I’ve Done Everything For You, and Love Somebody.

Rick Springfield has had 17 Top 40 hits and sold 25 million albums. The Grammy award-winning musician also rose to fame on screen playing Dr. Noah Drake on TV’s General Hospital.

At 63, Springfield is still going strong – he’s featured in two documentaries, Sound City and An Affair Of The Heart, has a new album called Songs For The End Of The World , and a hectic concert schedule with a Canadian stop at Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ont., in April.

Springfield craves the spotlight on stage, on set, and on the road. That’s why he drives a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray, which he bought a few years ago.

Why did you buy the Sting Ray?

It was one of my favourite cars.

I had one in the ’80s. It was an original, but it was a real pain in the butt to drive all of the time because it’s an old car. Once you get used to the luxury of the new cars, it’s tough to drive in L.A. traffic.

I wanted something I could drive, so this guy built this car for me, and it’s amazing. It drives great. It’s very fast, comfortable, and it’s built for my size because I’m 6-foot-2. I had a bit of trouble fitting into the original one.

What modifications were done?

It’s retro-modified. It’s old, but it’s got some new stuff on it.

Basically, it looks like the original one, but it has been widened a bit at the back. It has a new engine, a new drivetrain. It’s got a back-up camera. It’s got everything you want today, but it still looks like the original.

What does a vintage Corvette say about you?

It says I’m a pretty shitty driver. Unfortunately, driving is not my strong point.

It’s in the shop right now because I drove into somebody. I had to get a whole new front end. It was a real drag. I’m not the best driver in the world.

Actually my wife met somebody at a party who said, ‘Oh! Your husband rear-ended me!’ My shitty driving is well known.

The ’63 is notorious for not being able to see out the back and see other cars around you. So I got another cool thing – a 24/7 back-up camera that’s on the whole time while I’m driving. It gives you almost a 240-degree view of the back end, so it’s great.

But you still hit somebody?

Yeah. I know. There was no camera on the front. How stupid am I?

That’ll be your next modification, right?

Yeah. And big foam bumpers.

Are you a gearhead – do you know anything about the engine?

I’m not much of a gearhead, but I know it’s an L3.

I’m more of an artistic lover. I love the art of the car. Some guy actually pulled up alongside me and said, ‘That thing is art on wheels!’ I agree.

Cars all look the same to me now. They’ve got the cookie-cutter going on and they rarely look different. In the ’50s and ’60s, every car was a major work of art. I loved that.

What do you think of the new Corvette Stingray?

It’s cool. I think they’re great cars.

It’s just the time and the era – the ’63 really turns heads when you drive it down the street. Greg Thurmond did a lot of work for me – he actually made the quarter panels. That widened the back end about an inch-and-a-half on each side, which really makes a giant difference in the stance of the car. You can put bigger tires on it.

When I see the original one now compared to mine, it’s a completely different design. But it’s a very ’60s design. He gave it a slightly gnarlier stance and it looks great.

What was your first car?

A Ford Fiesta. I loved that car. It was $4,000.

I actually learned to drive really late in life. I was 25, which is why I’m probably such a lousy driver. I walked into a store and the car had a $4,000 sticker on it and I said, ‘I’ll take it.’

They acted all nervous because it was one of those cars that they drag people in with – they advertise a $4,000 car and then they sell it to a family member. I happened to walk in before the ad was going into the paper the next day and they had to sell it to me, which was awesome.

I also bought it two years before to the day that my father died, so it was a pretty meaningful car to me. And I started dating my girlfriend, who became my wife. I started driving to General Hospital with it and I recorded Jessie’s Girl while I was driving it. It was the start of a lot of things for me.

When you hit it big with Jessie’s Girl – did you dump the Fiesta for a flashier car?

No, I didn’t. I’m not that kind of guy.

It wasn’t a primary thought, but I eventually did get a ’49 Buick Roadmaster because I love the old American cars. … It left me at 3 o’clock in the morning too many times at recording studios so I had to get a modern car.

What’s the modern car?

I actually had a 1993 Lexus that I loved because it had 250,000 miles on it and it never left me anywhere.

My dad was very loyal to cars and so am I. We used to name our cars – it became a … family member. About a week ago, some guy just slammed right into the back of my Lexus and they’re writing it off so I’m really bummed about that because I loved that car.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

Follow on Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

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