5 Minutes With Barry Meguiar
The Meguiar family has been in the car business even before there really was a car business. The company – started by Frank Meguiar Jr. back in 1901 by selling furniture polish that was eventually used on horseless carriages and then automobiles – is now nearly synonymous with car culture, and so is the man currently behind the company, Frank’s grandson, Barry Meguiar.
“I have always been so enamored with our [car care] products and had always dreamed the company could be a lot bigger than it was,” Meguiar said. “I think about 10 percent of the world’s population has a ‘car crazy’ gene. That’s their world, and that’s my world. I’ve been part of it all my life.”
It’s not just Meguiar’s name that is familiar to car enthusiasts. His face is also well-known, thanks to the 20 seasons he spent as the host of the “Car Crazy” TV show. He’s also frequently seen in the middle of the action at car shows and events, promoting both his company’s car care products and the love of cars.
“That’s a big part of my life,” he said. “I like the car, but I like the car guys even better. I don’t run from the crowds, I run to them. People sometimes ask me if I get tired of going to car shows— never! I love the whole experience. It’s my life and what I am.”
We chatted with Meguiar about the other “car guys” who inspire him, what’s left to do on his bucket list, and whether or not we’ll ever see him back doing “Car Crazy!”
Goodguys Gazette: Was there ever a time you considered not going into the family business?
Barry Meguiar: No, never…except when I was around five or six. I became enamored with a trashcan, and the garbage man! I watched him handle the big trashcans and told [my parents] I wanted to do that! Obviously, that didn’t happen because starting in grade school, I was working for [Meguiar’s] in the summertime. We had 12 employees at the time, and when each one would go on vacation, I would fill their position on the production line. In high school, I would come in and write up all the orders, and by college I was the one-man accounting department.
GG: Who would you say has had the biggest influence on your career?
Meguiar: There’s only one person – Jesus Christ. I have lived my life to honor Him and I have honored Him in all things I do. I have lived Proverbs 35, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart.’ I have followed that, and throughout my life I have looked at that scripture…when you trust Him, He directs your step. The Bible teaches you to do things the honest, straightforward way. I would have gone broke and would be gone if it wasn’t for Him. He’s given me an incredible wife and a family business and a life beyond my wildest dreams.
There have been a few people who I idolized growing up and was lucky to become friends with later on who have had a lot of influence on me as well. Bob Petersen — I read his first magazines in ’48 and he became a great friend. Carroll Shelby, George Barris, Blackie [Gejeian], Isky, Gene Winfield, Wally Parks, Alex Xydias, Linda Vaughn, they’re all great people, and they were all my heroes and had a lot of influence on me growing up.
Of course, my grandad as well. I’ve always kept his passion for doing things right and doing it the best. I’ve tried to follow his lead. He honored God with his life and I’ve done the same.
GG: What do you love most about what you do?
Meguiar: I love being part of the car hobby and getting to be around such great people. The car hobby is the greatest fraternity in the world. Car guys are more generous, honest and caring as a group than any hobby [group] in the world. You can be in South Korea, Eastern Europe – wherever – and if you’re in an old car and you break down, within five minutes another car guy will probably stop and help you. It’s global and consistent. Even if they can’t speak English, you know what they’re saying when they’re talking about their car. It’s a special hobby.
GG: What is your dream car?
Meguiar: An AC Cobra! They’re insanely expensive, but it’s just so iconic. I love Carroll Shelby so much, too. The whole look of the car, the history of it, the sound of it. If I could have one car given to me, it would be that one.
GG: You have attended so many car-related events. Are there any events on your bucket list you still need to check off?
Meguiar: I’ve done almost every car event imaginable but I haven’t done the London Brighton Run. It’s the oldest ‘car guy’ event in the world and the first race was won by a Duryea, an American car. I have a 1901 Duryea and I got it because that’s the year my granddad started the business. I have this dream of taking it to England for that event. I’d get to be in front because the car is so old and a Duryea. That’s the last bucket list item.
GG: What excites you about the car hobby right now?
Meguiar: I’m excited about the explosion and interest in hot rods globally. The hot rod is the greatest ambassador for America we have. The sound of a V8 is patently American. Everyone loves it, not just us! I did a TV show in Tokyo and there were 2,000 cars there, all with American flags and people in red, white and blue clothing. The fervor for American cars in Scandinavia is massive. There’s one event in Sweden that has 200,000 American cars! I’m excited that it’s exploding to all countries, and that it represents America well.
GG: Do you think we’ll ever see the return of your Car Crazy TV show? Are there any more TV shows in your future?
Meguiar: I did the show for 18 years and it was hard work but I loved it. I got to show car guys what other car guys all over the world looked like, and I saw things I never would have seen otherwise. But it took 10 months out of my year to create the concepts, pick locations, put it together, shoot it, travel, edit. And that really kept me from going to car shows. I’m invited to car shows all the time but [doing the show] was pulling me away from the hobby. I’m back enjoying that, and I’m having such a blast doing that and being with more people on a personal level. I don’t plan on the show again. I did it, and I think I did it well and we had some fun, but it’s a different time now.
GG: You’re so busy. Do you ever plan to retire, or at least slow down?
Meguiar: I have read the Bible cover to cover and I haven’t found one scripture that mentions retiring! If I retired, what would I do to have more fun than I’m having now? My wife and I are both in great health and we have great energy. We love our lives, and we’re having the time of our lives now! I feel like my whole life has been the prelude and now I’m just getting started! We’re not going to stop and will keep going as long as the Lord allows.