Driver’s Talk – August 8, 2019
Guest: Alan Taylor of “The Drive” radio show and Entrepreneur Magazine
When one of the top high-performance brands in automotive history announces it’s
throwing a multi-million-dollar event to launch its brand in the world’s largest auto
market you pay attention – a LOT of attention.
To host a world-class celebration in China, start with a huge opening event at the “The
Bird’s Nest” National Stadium in Beijing, home of the 2008 Olympic opening
ceremonies, complete with a full orchestra, dance troop and chorus ensemble. Throw in
a monster stage, Chinese pop legend Kris Wu, British megastar Jason Statham and
stunt driver Tanner Foust – plus a multi-million-dollar light and fireworks show and over
24,000 paying ticket holders – and you have all the makings for an epic event. And that
was only day one of the media tour.
The moment Drivers Talk heard that our colleague Alan Taylor, of “The Drive” radio
show and Entrepreneur magazine, was invited to this party, we tapped him to cover it
for us. Alan is a rare type of auto journalist in this day and age – he gets the facts,
accepts nothing at face value, and really knows cars. So, what was the world’s biggest
and most expensive brand launch event all about?
That’s right, the American supercar designer and manufacturer, racing driver and allaround automotive legend Steve Saleen is bringing his unique brand of American highperformance vehicle engineering and design to China, a country that has ranked as the
world’s top automotive market for nearly a decade.
While the first night of Alan’s media tour was impressive, it was followed by a walkthrough of Saleen’s brand new state-of-the-art automotive manufacturing facility and a
VIP preview of the brand’s ultra-high-end retail store in Shanghai – all proving to the
(Drivers Talk – Alan Taylor)
– 2 –
attending international press that Saleen’s business in China is the real deal, and that
big things are about to happen for the company.
Though Steve Saleen doesn’t always get a fair share of credit for his innovative vehicle
design and engineering skills in the United Sates, the man, his designs and his amazing
products are greatly respected worldwide. Saleen will now be the face of automotive
culture in China – and he’s the perfect man for the job.
Once Alan touched down at LAX, we invited him to the Drivers Talk studio to share his
experience. We’ve known Alan Taylor for a lot of years, and we’ve never seen or heard
the man short of words until now. Once he caught his breath, Alan shared what he
referred to as “the most amazing and impressive automotive experience of his career”
and that’s really saying something, because Alan Taylor has traveled worldwide to
attend hundreds of new vehicle launches and automotive press events over the years.
What follows is our interview with Alan and frankly, what he shared even took us by
Rick Titus: 00:05 Thank you so much for joining us. I’m Rick Titus and
this is Drivers Talk coming to you from our new
studios right here in Southern California. As you can
probably tell by the backdrop, joining me in studio of
course Jay Dalton, a 52-year friend and of course on
the switchboard over there making us look and sound
much better than we are, is Spencer Krick.
Between Jay and I, if you’re watching this on
YouTube, you are seeing a special friend of ours, I’ve
known Alan a long time. And that of course is Alan
Taylor from “The Drive” radio show and from
Entrepreneur magazine. And even though we both
worked at Motor Trend, I’m pretty impressed you’re an
|Alan Taylor:||00:43||You know, I’ve always been an entrepreneur and that
is enabled me to have the cars of my dreams. So, the
two go well together.
Alan, I got to ask you, you go to China, you’re over
there for an event that a lot of people would be
(Drivers Talk – Alan Taylor)
– 3 –
surprised about. Talk to me about that. You get there,
what’s it all about and what’s happening?
Alan Taylor: 00:56 They had this brand unveiling at the Bird’s Nest where
they held the Beijing Olympics in 2008
Rick Titus: 01:06 But this whole thing that Steve [Saleen] has now
become such a big deal in China. Talk to me about
what this was all about.
Alan Taylor: 01:11 We kind of have to back up a little bit and look at
Steve Saleen and what he has done. Out of all of this
comes a true racer and then you see a guy who’s
really an amazing visionary and engineer and
designer. Then the S7 is born and I was there at
Pebble Beach when it was shown and we were all
like, “wow,” but people think that might’ve been a
‘parts bin’ car. Yeah. Every piece of the car that could
have been taken off a shelf, they decided, “no, we got
to have the best, the lightest, the strongest.”
Alan Taylor: 01:42 And so I became much more attracted to Steve and
his capabilities at that time.
Rick Titus: 01:48 That’s a Saleen engine. Oh yeah. And a lot of people
don’t know that. No, they think it’s a 351 Ford, right?
No, it’s an American.
Alan Taylor: 01:55 I believed that myself for a decade I had heard that till
you find out the truth
Rick Titus: 02:00 And then you find out about the Saleen 1. That’s a
Saleen engine, right? So that car is Saleen front to
back, top to bottom, and it’s [Steve’s] baby.
Alan Taylor: 02:06 I don’t think there would be a modern day GT if it
wasn’t for Steve Saleen. He came out with the S7,
Ford watched that and they said, “Go get that guy.
Let’s work with him.”
Rick Titus: 02:16 People don’t realize he was the engineering services,
that were consulted on the [Ford GT] project.
Alan Taylor: 02:21 The stories that get told a lot, a lot of times are told by
guys and people that think they know what they’re
doing and talking about, but really haven’t dug deep
enough to know the truth.
(Drivers Talk – Alan Taylor)
– 4 –
Alan Taylor: 02:30 If you scratch below the surface of this story, I think it
will expand your knowledge of the Ford GT to a
degree that you probably, if you’re a real car guy,
should know the truth. The reality is that he’s a world
thinker and that’s what he’s done over in China.
Rick Titus: 02:46 Apparently this whole event that you went to was
about launching that brand, right?
Alan Taylor: 02:51 And so now here we are, we’re in China. This was like
the Superbowl halftime show on steroids and I think
there 25,000 or more people that paid to be there,
they paid, bought tickets to come and see them. How
often does that happen? You launch a brand, a car
brand, and people are paying to be a part of it.
There’s not much of a car culture there. So, Steve
Saleen and the “Fast and Furious” world — that is car
culture being born in China and his partner Charlie
[Charles Wang], really was brilliant, when he tapped
into Steve Saleen here in America to launch this
brand in China.
Alan Taylor: 03:27 But it was an amazing event. They had, you know,
Hollywood stars there. They had the big pop idol from
China. Jason Statham, who’s a worldwide star, you
might say, is a Saleen fan and a voice for the brand.
Then they showed, you know, of course here comes
the S7 and they talked about (obviously all in
Chinese) there’s the car and then here comes an
Rick Titus: 03:51 Wait, what? Yes, no stop.
Alan Taylor: 03:53 Right, so what’s what I’m saying here they are, they’re
launching a brand, a car brand like Ford Motor
Company or General Motors, Saleen in China and it’s
going to be making its own vehicles, not knock-offs.
Steve Saleen-designed, engineered right down to
designing and building the motors, the bodies. I went
to the factory, a factory that is, in essence the size of
the Las Vegas Convention Center, two and a half
million square feet, all these gigantic robots, they
were in there.
Alan Taylor: 04:26 It was like a mechanical ballet with the robots going
back and forth and they were all ghosting what they
will be doing. He has gone through everything it takes
(Drivers Talk – Alan Taylor)
– 5 –
to build cars and build them at a world class facility. I’ll
tell you who I liken him to is Steve Jobs. He’s the
Steve Jobs of the car world.
Rick Titus: 04:42 He’s a little nicer guy than that.
Alan Taylor: 04:44 Uh, I think he probably, but I think behind the scenes,
I mean, Steve Jobs was the guy that had his hands
into everything and Steve Saleen has also got his
hands in everything. And if you just hang out with him
for a little bit, you’ll see that.
Rick Titus: 04:58 Well, there it is. Our time with Alan Taylor. We always
appreciate getting together. Thank you finally. You’re
on Drivers Talk.
Alan Taylor: 05:02 I’ll tell you, what — Rick, Jay, I’ve always wanted to be
on this show with you guys. It only took a decade.
Rick Titus: 05:07 So I can account 10 years from now, I’ll be on your
Alan Taylor: 05:09 You’re up next.
Rick Titus: 05:10 All right, that’s it folks. We’ll be right back.