DRIVERS is a series highlighting influential individuals in the HYPEBEAST sphere and their passion towards all things automotive. The approach is simple: what is car culture to you, and why do you have a passion for it? Each contributor is given a chance to shine light on their personal vehicle or vehicles, and asked to remark on how they are driving culture forward, both metaphorically and literally.
For our latest edition of DRIVERS, we’re excited to reveal a secret stemming all the way from Smallville, Kansas and while it is foreign, it’s only from Germany, not Krypton.
Meet Erik Valdez, actor for the CW drama show Superman & Lois. The Superman origin series, which premiered its second season on January 11, tells the alternate universe story of Clark Kent, his wife Lois and their two sons, all of which are made aware of their father’s abilities and duties as the Last Son of Krypton. The series essentially ditches the Kal-el stories we’ve all become familiar with; his upbringing on the farm, being raised by his Earth parents, discovering his abilities, moonlighting at the Daily Bugle, etc. For Superman & Lois, the premise is more focused on ‘what if’ scenarios, keeping him and Lois in Smallville, raising his family and dealing with very-earthly problems – finances, their children’s adolescence – all while still confronting intergalactic and domestic enemies, constant attacks, and even a Kryptonian evil half brother and an alternate Lex Luthor looming over the series.
Within the characters is Valdez, who plays Kyle Cushing, husband to Clark’s childhood crush Lana Lang. As the series progresses, Kyle begins to show Kryptonian-like powers as well, while maintaining his position as the town’s fire chief as well as the father to Sarah and Sophie Cushing, friends to the Kent twins, Jordan and Jonathan.
Beyond S&L, Valdez’s resume of acting positions goes far, having prominent parts in TV shows such as USA’s Graceland, long-running drama General Hospital, episodes in New Girl, the revamped 90210 and more. But as his career advances, opportunities have arisen for Valdez to cater to a personal passion and obsession of his – sports cars. Enter the GT3 Clubsport.
In the 996 generation, Porsche introduced its track-focused halo vehicle for the very first time – the GT3 – which has now become the most sought after vehicle in Porsche’s illustrious line up. Valdez’s personal vehicle is a 2000 edition, which is not only rare in its own right – 996.1 generation GT3s were never imported into the US – but also adopts the Clubsport package, making the GT3 as lightweight and track-prepped as possible. Thanks to the Great White North’s 15-year importation rule – and the fact that Superman & Lois‘ version of Smallville is actually a production set in Canada – Valdez is able to have one of the rarest GT3s you can buy, own and, most importantly, drive.
Check out Erik Valdez’s rare 996.1 GT3 Clubsport in our latest DRIVERS feature and in case you missed it, we last highlighted Tokyo Drive Car Club’s L.A. Kenta and his classic Porsche Carrera 993.
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Make, model, year of your car?
2000 Porsche 911 GT3 Clubsport.
When did you acquire it?
I’ve known about the car for a little over a year as it was in a private collection, and the previous owner didn’t want to sell. A few months ago however, he hit me up and let me know he might be willing to part with it. Had to jump on it!
What made you choose this car specifically?
In short; it’s special. The 996.1 GT3 is the very first GT3 Porsche ever made. There were somewhere in the neighborhood of 1860 of these produced, with only about 300 optioned with the Clubsport package. Of those ~300, only a handful were painted in Biarritz White making this car a bit of a unicorn. Aside from that, the 996.1 GT3 was never sold in North America. This car was delivered to Japan, where it spent most of its life before being imported to Canada. While all my buddies back in the states have to wait 25 yrs from the production date of a car like this to legally import it to the US, living up in Canada while filming allows me to take advantage of their more lenient 15 yr. import rule for grey market cars… fun times!
Some people love to argue that it being the first water-cooled 911 makes it less pure, or that the headlights look like runny eggs, or that the build quality of the 996 is inferior to its predecessors… I personally think that’s a bunch of BS. Is it the prettiest 911 ever made? The fastest? Perhaps not, but I’d argue that the 996, and specifically the GT3, was one of the most important steps in the evolution of the 911, and indeed Porsche as whole. While all of these antidotes make for great conversation at a gas station, cars & coffee etc, and factor into why I chose this car, the most important reason to choose any car in my opinion is the spark.
Sure it’s nice to have something good to look at that other people admire, but if the sounds it makes, the sensation you get behind the wheel, and the urge to stare at it through the window of a restaurant while you eat lunch don’t add up to a quickened pulse and a smile, what’s the point? There’s definitely a spark with this one.
What is the main purpose for this car for you?
Enjoyment. I wasn’t always in a position to have multiple cars so back in the day, I bought and then modified my cars to suit my needs and meet my wants. My first car was an ’85 Bronco II that my Grandpa left me when he died. I threw a set of wheels and tires on it, had a couple of cheap subwoofers and an amp, and called it a day.
Then there was a ’91 Toyota pickup truck; painted bright tangerine, modified some bucket seats out of a CRX to fit, wrapped them in purple tweed with five-point racing harnesses, and lowered way more than it needed to be. Between school and my jobs at the golf course & delivering pizzas, I’d take it to car shows and race it at SCCA auto crosses (won my division in my region that season in this truck).
There were another 50+ cars along the way including an old ’64 Chevy truck, a ’95 MR2 Turbo, a ’00 S2000, a few old Mercedes, BMWs, and Porsches, to name a few. The budget may have increased over the years, but they were all selected with the same purpose in mind.
What has been done with this car? Where has it gone?
Considering we’re in the middle of winter here in Vancouver now, it doesn’t get driven a ton at the moment. I’ll take it out on nice days here and there and drive it to set occasionally, but come spring time, it’ll see some more love. I might have to wait until we go on hiatus between seasons of Superman & Lois to track it, but best believe it will get some exercise.
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Any details? Modifications? Changes?
This car, at the moment, remains stock. I do have a set of BBS E88s stuck on a shipping container somewhere, but that and maybe an exhaust will likely be the only thing I’ll modify on this car. As part of the Clubsport package, the GT3 received two kill switches (one interior and one exterior), a fire extinguisher, a full roll cage, Recaro race seats, racing harnesses (currently removed), a lightweight, single mass flywheel, and some minor weight savings (sound deadening material removal, etc) directly from Porsche. Safe to say they handled all the mods for me.
What is a car to you: aspirational achievement, functional tool, stress-reliever, etc?
Cars to me are multifaceted. They are feats of engineering, packaged in the form of functional art. Depending on the situation and the car, they can serve as practical transportation or the start of an adventure. Over the years, I’ve laughed, cried, sang, gone through breakups, closed business deals, and overall, done more in my cars than almost anywhere else. They’ve literally provided a place to sleep when I was broke, in an ’04 Mini Cooper S no less; served as a form of therapy/stress relief on spirited drives through canyons; and on the racing side, taken me around circle tracks, Daytona Speedway, and through the deserts of Baja.
What was your dream car growing up?
I’ve had a number of dream cars, this GT3 being one of them, but my grail car has always been a Ferrari F40. Thus far, it’s rate of appreciation has outpaced my paychecks, but I’m working on that!
What have you owned before? What would you like to have?
I love everything from old hot rods and muscle cars, to trucks, sports cars, and everything in between. While I’ve yet to own a bona fide supercar, years of hard work and dedication have finally put me in a position to start entertaining the idea of grabbing something from that category. The interesting thing however, is how I’ve approached car buying/collecting as I’ve aged.
As a kid, the aspirational cars were typically the newest, hottest ones out, and while I still love watching the evolution of the automobile, I’m not really after the newest Ferrari, Porsche, or Lamborghini. That’s not to say I don’t want them, but considering my bank account has a few less zeros than that Musk guy, there’s a practical approach to what I choose now.
We’re currently in a weird place in the automotive world with supply chain issues and subsequent shortages driving the market, but few exceptions aside, new cars will almost always be depreciating assets. Older cars like my GT3 for example, no longer fall into that category. In most cases, if you’re willing to forgo the newest tech, you can have a lot of fun in something that’s reached the bottom of the depreciation curve and in some cases, is actually gaining in value.
I’m not saying one should sell off their stock portfolio or cash out their crypto and start investing in old cars necessarily. For me however, if I’m going to scratch the itch of car addiction anyway, why not park my money in something that will, at the very least, hold value? And maybe this is my boomer side talking, but there’s also the added bonus of driving something much more raw, visceral, and soulful than anything being made today.
“Over the years, I’ve laughed, cried, sang, gone through breakups, closed business deals, and overall, done more in my cars than almost anywhere else.”
What is the future of the automotive industry? Car culture?
I think we’re in the middle of an amazing time in car culture and the automotive industry as a whole. At the risk of contradicting myself and my statement regarding analog and soulful cars (different experience, not better or worse), the advancement in technology over the past couple of decades in the car world is astounding and something we should all embrace. Never in my life did I think you’d be able to walk into a dealership and pick up an ~800 hp family sedan. Now, you can get that in supercharged V8 – thanks to Dodge – or [in an] all electric form.
There are trucks like my Raptor that are ridiculously capable off road, but still reliable enough to run errands and transport my wife, dog, and kid in safely and comfortably. You want a fully electric car with a 400+ mile range? Done. A street legal ports car, that’s capable of turning laps quicker than full blown race cars 10 years ago? We have those too. You need a family hauler that will seat five+ all their gear and do 0-60 in under four seconds? Cool…twin-turbo V8 wagon or all electric SUV? There’s literally something for everyone.
Do I think the future generation of car people will have the same passion as the former or current? It may look a little different, but if my three-and-a-half yr. old son, Enzo, asking me to “give the Raptor more throttle so we can go sideways” in the snow on the way to school this morning is any indication, I believe it will live on.