When Sammy Hagar, now a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, released the hit song “I Can’t Drive 55” in 1984, it became an anthem of gearheads the world over, and it didn’t hurt that the music video showcased Hagar’s own Ferrari 512 Berlinetta Boxer. This at a time when the Italian marque was also starring in hit TV shows like Magnum P.I. and Miami Vice. Yet for “the Red Rocker,” who gained acclaim both on his own and as the lead singer for supergroup Van Halen (after David Lee Roth’s exit), Maranello’s high-performance cars became as much of a passion as his music.
Out of all the Prancing Horses that Hagar has corralled over the years, his absolute favorite is the 949 hp LaFerrari, a hybrid supercar he calls “the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” That’s certainly understandable. What’s not, at least initially, is the news that his 2015 example is crossing the block at Barrett-Jackson’s 2024 Scottsdale Auction, being held January 20 through 28.
“It’s the cornerstone of our Supercar Salon,” says Craig Jackson, Barrett-Jackson’s cofounder, regarding the LaFerrari. “What better car to have as the cornerstone than a one-off, and having Sammy there, his energy . . . it’s going to be spectacular.”
As for Hagar, he recently shared with Robb Report how car culture shaped his life early on, became his muse, and why it’s now time to part ways with the automotive love of his life.
When did your love of cars begin, and how?
When I was like three or four years old, back before seatbelts in the early 1950s, I would stand up in the backseat as my dad was driving and he would say, “what kind of car is that?” I’d say, “that’s a ‘52 Studebaker,” you know, I just was so in love with cars. When I got my first bicycle, I would ride it across town just to go to the car dealers, and all the sales guys knew me. I sat in the first Cobra at Don Muth Ford in Fontana [Calif.]. It was a 260 Cobra and I sat in the damn thing and fell in love. As soon as I got rich, I bought a Cobra.
So that love of cars was instilled by your father?
No, I had an uncle that used to race and had the last midget with a Ford 60 in it, the old flathead-Ford engine. I would watch my uncle Harry build cars all the time.
What was the first car that you owned?
A ’49 Chevy that had a floor shift in it. My stepfather bought it for me for $50. I drove that until it just fell apart, and then I got a ’57 DeSoto.
You grew up in California during what many consider the golden age of car culture. What influence did that have on your music?
I was really a drag-race guy, more than going around in circles or F1; I got into that stuff later. I wanted the fastest quarter-mile car. I would sneak into Fontana’s drag strip—never paid to get into the drags—and I went every Sunday. One of the first songs I ever wrote was “Bad Motor Scooter,” and it just keeps on going, “Trans Am,” “Turn Up the Music”—all were about being in cars, chasing girls. When I sing, I move my voice into what I call a “supersonic range” that sounds like a six-carburetor V-12 Ferrari at 4,800 rpm.
Speaking of Ferrari, when did the Prancing Horse begin to resonate as your definitive marque?
It was early on, in 1973. Montrose was on tour and we were in Detroit opening for J. Geils, and he was a big Ferrari guy. It was his hometown, and he pulled up to the hotel to give us a ride in his Ferrari and I heard that thing, I smelled it, I looked at that shift lever—look, I got goosebumps just talking about it. So, in 1976, I went to England to record a record at Abbey Road with my producer from Capitol Records, John Carter, and found a [Ferrari] 330 GT 2+2 with quad headlights, I mean the ugliest model on the planet, and it was $5,000. It was a right-hand drive in bluebird blue. At about 4,000 rpm, it would start screaming up to 6,800 rpm. I had never had that; with Corvettes in those days, at about 4,200 rpm you’re done. I drove that around forever, then bought a 308 GT, then a brand-new 512.
Is that the same Ferrari 512 in your “I Can’t Drive 55” video?
Yeah, I bought it, put it in the video, and actually wrote it off—Shh.
How many Ferraris do you estimate you’ve owned?
Nearly 40, all the ones I’ve wanted. I could have bought a GTO or others that now go for $40 million or $50 million, but if I would have, I probably would have sold it or traded it for another one—I’m always moving, and shaking, and grooving. I still have my Daytona, I still have my boxer, and my 400, which I got after my wife became pregnant and we needed a four-seater.
Do you have a holy-grail car that you either own now, or would like in your collection?
Well, I got the holy-grail car. I got the LaFerrari. It’s the most amazing machine with four wheels that I’ve ever driven. Between that and my airplane, a Challenger 300, those are it. I would sleep in a tent before I’d get rid of the airplane. It’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I don’t regret it for one second.
Describe how you feel in the LaFerrari.
I was in shock when I got behind the wheel. It’s so overpowered; the car can handle it, but it’s overpowered for me. That LaFerrari does things that I can’t even believe. Every time I take anyone for a ride, we just start laughing hysterically because we’re scared shitless. It’s so agile and so powerful, and it makes the most wonderful sound on the planet.
What’s the story behind the one-off color for it?
I didn’t like red on that car. I went to the factory and saw some being made. I saw ones in white, silver, black, and yellow—there were four in line that were being put together. And So, I was looking through their archives and there was a 1964 experimental car, a station-wagon-looking thing, and it was cream. I had never seen one car from Ferrari in that color, and never have since. So I went with that cream and black.
Why sell your obviously beloved LaFerrari?
It’s too much car for me. I’m getting older and my reflexes and eyesight are not the same, and that car is beyond me—I can’t use what it can do. I would never take it on a track, and I take my Daytona, 512, and even Ford GT on track. If I wrecked the LaFerrari, it would break my heart. It’s a double-edged sword for me. I sit there and look at the car all the time, but my wife doesn’t want to drive in it, and if she does, she has to leave her purse at home. It’s bittersweet. I’m probably going to break down and cry, and give it a final kiss on the lips.
Sammy Hagar’s 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari will cross the auction block on January 27, and you can register to bid here.
Click here for more photos of Sammy Hagar’s 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari.