Eddie Van Halen, founder and lead guitarist of the seminal rock band Van Halen, has died from cancer at age 65. While he was well-known for his virtuoso guitar playing, Van Halen was also an avid car collector. He owned many classic models.
In fact, one of Van Halen’s first major car purchases, a Lamborghini Miura, can be heard revving in the background of the band’s hit song “Panama.”
Other cars that Van Halen had in his collection included a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, and two Audi R8s — a V-8 and a V-10. Both were supercharged and fitted with custom exhaust systems. He also owned a 1947 Dodge flatbed for slow rides. Van Halen also owned a number of Ferraris over the years, many of which he claimed to have wrecked.
In a 2016 interview with Car and Driver, Van Halen discussed his lifelong love affair with classic cars and racers. He compared driving them to playing guitar live in front of massive crowds.
“The adrenaline rush is similar. You’re always pushing the edge, on stage live and driving on a track. But improvising at the drop of a hat is the biggest thing. There are no do-overs. If you spin out, you spin out. If you mess up live, you smile your way through it or improvise quick, just like if there’s an accident in front of you or somebody’s trying to pass you,” said Van Halen.
Eddie the Speed Demon
Van Halen even bragged about getting out of speeding tickets throughout his life during the interview.
“I’m doing about 90, 95 in a 65 zone and I get pulled over and the guy writes me up for a ticket. The last thing I need is a speeding ticket for that much over the limit. But I get home and I get a letter from my office. The patrol guy who gave me the ticket, his captain voided it. He said, ‘You don’t give Eddie Van Halen a ticket,’ and I had a letter to prove it. The letter came straight from the captain,” he explained.
Sadly, Eddie Van Halen passed away on October 6 from complications due to cancer. In 2012, Guitar World Magazine ranked him number one on its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” The rock band Van Halen has sold more than 55 million albums since its self-titled debut was released in 1978. In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.