Quick Stats: Jonathan Adams, actor, Fox’s Last Man Standing
Daily Driver: 2017 BMW 230i Convertible (Jonathan’s rating: 8 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: See below
Favorite road trip: Chicago to Oregon
Car he learned to drive in: Nissan Sentra
First car bought: 1982 Dodge Colt Vista
Although Jonathan Adams claims he’s not a car guy, the Last Man Standing actor put a lot of thought into what his daily ride to the set would be before he chose a 2017 BMW 230i convertible.
“I like convertibles. I like having the wind blowing around me. I like feeling the sun on me occasionally. I just like the feeling of freedom from a convertible. Of all the convertibles I had looked at, it was the best that was not over 100 some thousand dollars,” Adams says with a laugh. “It was the best that was under 60 grand.”
Adams especially likes the BMW’s interior, though he’d prefer more power. “I love the leather and all that stuff. I love feeling pampered a little bit in my car,” he says. “It’s really interesting because it’s only got four cylinders, but it’s turbo, so it’s got really good pickup. [But] I’d like it to have a little bit more.”
One thing Adams especially loves is the convenience of Apple CarPlay. “It’s great. It integrates right with your phone. You step in the car, and it looks like your phone on the screen. Everything that you’re familiar with is right there,” he says. “And everything works. I prefer the navigation on the phone more than I do the one that BMW has on the car because it seems to be updated a little bit faster and have a better idea of where you are.”
There is one other small thing Adams dislikes about the convertible, though he also sees it as a positive.
“It’s a tight back seat, but that just discourages people from wanting to ride with you,” he says, laughing. “So that’s not a bad thing. I really dig it, [and] it’s super maneuverable. You have ultimate control. When I got it, I was not a BMW driver before that, and everybody was like, ‘Don’t become a BMW driver.’ I was like, ‘What does that mean?’ ‘Well, they’re pushy, they never signal, and they’re always zipping around.’ And I see why, because the car does whatever you ask it to do right away. It’s super responsive.”
Adams’ wife drives a 2019 Audi Q7, which Jonathan also drives on occasion. “She digs the Q7 a lot. I like driving it, too. It’s a mom mobile, but on steroids. It’s really, really nice. I love it,” he says. Adams is holding onto his old 2010 Toyota Prius, which he drove before he bought the BMW. “My daughters each have a Toyota, and the one who doesn’t drive yet, I’m keeping [the Prius] for her car. I like cars, I like to drive, but I’m not a big, big car guy. I work with Tim Allen and occasionally Jay Leno, so there’s no comparing the ‘car guyness’ to anyone else.”
Car he learned to drive in
Adams learned to drive as an adult, doing theater in Houston. The show was Fences, and the Alley Theatre gave him a rental Nissan Sentra to get there each night.
“I was 2 miles from the theater, and they’re like, ‘Well, you have a car so you can get back and forth.’ I said, ‘I don’t drive, but I’ll learn to drive.’ I went out and learned, and my first driver’s license was from Texas of all places, because that’s where I was for work.”
Adams had taken some driving lessons years earlier back in Pittsburgh, where he’s from. “I didn’t do all of the hours. That when I was 17 or 18 years old. I didn’t need a car for that whole time. Fast-forward, I’m 21 and I’m in Texas, and they said, ‘You can have a car.’ It’s weird,” he says, laughing. “A really strange story, because I already knew how to drive. Sort of. But I never took the test. It wasn’t a big thing for me to learn how to drive. On the East Coast, you don’t need to drive.”
He thinks the rental Nissan Sentra he drove to get to the show was probably a mid-1980s model. “It was a relatively inexpensive car. This was 1989, and you could rent older cars for cheap. I didn’t like it, but, hey, it was a car.”
First car bought
A few years later, Adams was still a theater actor, this time in Spring Green, Wisconsin, working for the American Players Theatre, when he bought a 1982 Dodge Colt Vista for $700.
“This was a 10-year-old car. It was a really bad car,” he recalls. “I needed a car, I went to a car dealership, it was in my budget, so I bought it. It was a horrible car. It had a hole in the gas tank, I later found out. It was just a beater.”
Adam learned what a carburetor was because the car often wouldn’t start. “I would open up the carburetor. I can’t remember now how I started the car, but occasionally I’d to do some mechanical crap make it go,” he says with a laugh. “I haven’t bought a used car since. I was like, ‘I’m not doing it,’ because I’m not a mechanical person. I’m not a car person; I don’t know what’s going on half the time. I take it to the dealer and say, ‘Do your business; bring it back.’”
Adams had been a theater actor for 13 years before he moved to Los Angeles in 2001, which is why his budget for his first car was so low. “I was a working theater actor, which means, to me a good year was $35,000,” he says. “Most years were a lot less than that. So, for me, that was a good amount of money.”
Favorite road trip
When Adams and his wife were first married, he got a job at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which was a really good gig for him at the time.
“It was 1997, we lived in Chicago, and we drove to Oregon in my wife’s car at the time (I didn’t have a car). It was a 1985 Honda Civic hatchback,” he says. “The Colt Vista died. I just left it at a mechanic one time. ‘Bye, you can have it.’ I literally walked away from that car.”
They drove in the manual-transmission Honda with their cat to Oregon. “It was one of the best trips ever. We had a really, really good time. It was just sweet. We stopped in a few towns; like Cheyenne, Wyoming, I clearly remember, and we stopped in Salt Lake City. It was around the Olympics. It was nice, it was beautiful, it had some of the best restaurants. Then we went to Reno, which was a mistake. It was seedy, it wasn’t my deal,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m sure some people love Reno, but it just wasn’t my thing.”
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They drove to Oregon and lived there for four or five years, until Adams started doing television. But he still has fond memories of that road trip.
“It was the scenery. It was spending time together. It just was one of those things, when you have a project with the person you love, you’re doing something together, you learn a lot about that person. And you learn how much you enjoy spending time with them. It was just good, beautiful bonding, a beautiful trip for us. We had a really, really good time, along with our cat,” he says.
He’s used to getting applause on the stage, but Adams got applause for a different reason once when he was driving his wife’s car. He was still getting acquainted with operating a manual transmission, when he was stopped on a hill in front of a café-bar-type restaurant in Milwaukee in the summertime.
— Last Man Standing (@LastManStanding) May 4, 2019
“I remember not being able to get it out of neutral and trying to get into first. I kept not getting it, and not getting it,” he says, laughing. “I was like, ‘Ah!’ And they were all watching me. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is horrible. Agh, I can’t get this thing to go!’ And then I finally got it moving, and all the patrons at the restaurant gave me a round of applause. I just waved and said, ‘Thank you.’”
Last Man Standing wraps up Season 7 on Fox tonight at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. central). For more information, follow Adams on Twitter @JonAdamsVO
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