The World According to Arnold
Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger knows what he wants—and usually gets it.
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Summer 96
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The Hummer resolved a long-standing frustration for Schwarzenegger. He had been looking for a distinctive, rugged, four-wheel-drive vehicle, but he says he "hated the direction the market was going--all those cars that looked more like family cars, station wagons--rounder, almost streamlined, more luxurious; all the colors were very pleasant, pleasing to the eye." He wanted something ballsy. After seeing the military HumVee, he decided it was "so ugly, it was beautiful." He flew several times to the South Bend, Indiana, headquarters of AM General, the HumVee manufacturer, to try to persuade company officials that there would be a civilian market for the car and that they should seek Pentagon approval to sell to that market. They resisted at first, he says, but he was able to lease one, modify it at his own expense and show them how appealing it could be to non-military users.
When the Hummer finally went into civilian production, Schwarzenegger was invited back to Indiana to accept the first one off the line. Now there are now more than 3,000 Hummers on the road, at prices ranging up to $80,000 apiece. He has four of them.
The one waiting for him today at Van Nuys Airport is jungle green and outfitted with various personalized features that he points out to me as excitedly as a teenager with his first car. He takes special note of the two bench seats installed for his three children. One "kid seat" is in the back, between two adult seats; the other is outside, behind the rear window, facing backwards, on a modified flatbed. "They love it," he says.
Then he climbs into the Hummer, unlit cigar in hand, and heads off to Warner Brothers. It's been a little more than three hours since we took off for Vegas. We've been gone from L.A. for the equivalent of a long lunch hour.
As Schwarzenegger says just before we land, "That's my idea of aperfect business trip."
David Shaw, the Pulitzer Prize-winning media critic for the Los Angeles Times, is the author of The Pleasure Police: How Bluenose Busybodies and Lily-Livered Alarmists Are Taking All the Fun Out of Life, published this month by Doubleday.
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