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Vanilla Ice heats up opening night of Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach

It seems like every time you turn on the television lately, the image of a tall, thin, tattooed man in a baseball cap with a cherub on the front is on the screen. This entertainer/actor/cook/home designer, who is known worldwide as “Vanilla Ice,” is set to take to the stage on Thursday, April 10 at about 8:30 p.m. for the opening night gala of the twelfth annual Barrett Jackson Palm Beach at the South Florida Fairgrounds.

Ice, Ice, Baby?
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Vanilla Ice, and the rest of his team of Cadillac collectors, each sport the same tattoo.
AJ Sinclair

Before his afternoon sound check, Ice, whose real name is Rob Van Winkle, took a few minutes to sit down in the plush leather chairs of the cool down room on the outskirts of Yesteryear Village to share some of his love of the automobile with examiner.com.

What are you most looking forward to this weekend at Barrett-Jackson?

“Woman are shoe nuts, and I’m a car nut. I’m looking forward to seeing all the cool cars and hanging out with a lot of my local friends who are coming out; my buddies.

I collect old cars myself. Mostly old Cadillacs. I love the old cadillacs. I have the one from 48 hours where Nick Nolte punches Eddie Murphy. I’ve had it fuly restored, and have had it for 20 years. I started a car club called Cadillac Ninjas, and we all have the same tattoo we’re in to cars. We go to shows out in Abacoa, the one at Foster’s Grill on Southern Boulevard every Friday night, so I know where they are. If you want to go further, there’s some down south at the Tower Shoppes in Fort Lauderdale. I’m a local guy. We all go out and pull out our lawn chairs and talk about cars.

We always look forward to having Barrett-Jackson here. Every year I brag about it! We’re here to see all the cars, have a little fun, and provide a little entertainment. I’m bringing a little magic to the stage tonight with a little throwback with “Ice Ice Baby” and “Play that funky music,” have some fun and kickstart this thing in the right way. Give it some Palm Beach love!”

What was the make and model of your first car, and what is your dream car?

“I think I had a Camaro IROC Z. It didn’t work out because I rode motocross so I needed a pickup, so I got a Toyota 4x4 pickup that I jacked up.

Then I got a 5.0 Mustang which is the famous car that most people know. I wish I still had it. I’m going to recreate it one day, but I wish I had that car. I didn’t know it was going to be such a nostalgia piece.

I’m honored to be here. It’s going to be a fun show tonight. We’re going to have a good time, and it’s as simple as that, really.”

You should send Jordan Hembrough out to look for your 5.0 Mustang.

“The Toy Hunter! I need the Car Hunter. There is a Car Hunter, isn’t there? It’s on Velocity, right? I don’t care what shape my 5.0 is in, I’ll fix it right up. I just need the serial number! I wish I had it.”

Given your recent appearance on the Food Network, do you plan on working one of the food booths this weekend? If not, is there any advice you'd like to give the food vendors?

“That was the toughest challenge I ever had in my life. I don’t think you want advice from me on how to cook! Construction, yes. That’s my forte. I did learn a lot, but that doesn’t qualify me to give people advice, you know what I mean. I’m kind of lost without Guy Fieri by my side, but we did pull off some magic. However I am not a cook.”

So, no Vanilla Ice restaurant showing up in Palm Beach county?

“There might be something. I’m working with Guy Fieri right now, and we might do a show and then create a restaurant together. One of the locations is here in Palm Beach, or Las Vegas. I’m pulling for Palm Beach.

I think this is a great area, and there are great people here that give it a character of it’s own, and it’s even getting better. It’s not Fort Lauderdale or Miami. It’s not Jacksonville. It’s not Tampa. It’s not anywhere else. It’s it’s own, and a very unique place. Lots of character here, so it would be cool to have it here. I’d love it!”

Who is your favorite race driver?

“My favorite racecar driver of all time is Big Daddy Don Garlitts. I like drag racing, man.

For NASCAR, it would be Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is my favorite right now. He’s a good friend of mine. I love him. He’s an amazing person. He’s had some good highlights lately, I’ll tell you that!”

Given your love of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as showcased recently on Travel Channel's Toy Hunter, are you involved in any way in the upcoming film?

“I love it and all that. It’s fun and cool. I would be honored to do a song for it or something like that but you never know. I have been contacted, but nothing is in writing so I have no idea if it’s going to evolve into anything or not, but if it does it would be an honor.

I love them, you know. I have the tattoo here, and am a huge ninja turtle fan. If nothing pans out, I’ll still be there, front row, watching the movie and enjoying the heck out of it!”

What advice would you give a first time bidder in the Barrett-Jackson auction?

“Don’t be afraid to overbid, because a lot of these cars are so unique and rare that you might not come across it ever again. If you’re putting a collection together, you might be sad that you missed out on one of these opportunities.

There are some cars that, without a doubt, are great investments, and we all know that, and they aren’t making any more of them, so the sooner you grab one of those cars, even if you pay a little more for it now, it’s going to catch up to itself and go above and beyond.

They only made like 1500 Cadillacs in 1964, so that was a very rare year. I think the most valuable year is the ‘59s, with the big fins, and then he ‘64 because it was the last year of the fin, and the last year of the side by side headlights. They went up and down in 1965, so the value changes. It’s amazing how many different details there are of a Cadillac that affect the value. Then they started introducing plastic, so the value really dropped because the plastic wasn’t as good as it is today. A lot of the pieces would get brittle and fall apart.

If you know your years and you’re a true car collector, don’t afraid to overbid on that special, unique car because they ain’t making anymore of them!”

Are there any cars coming across the block this weekend that you can't live without?

“I’ve seen a few that have caught my eye. You never know.

I’m looking specifically for Cadillacs, but I’m picky on them. Really picky, so it takes something impressive on them to get me or perhaps one of the rare, valuable years at the right price. I’m always looking for Cadillacs. Cadillac Ninjas, you know. If it’s not for me, I’ll look for some other clients I have of mine.

I don’t do it for money, I just do it for fun. I’m always looking out there for those Cadillacs, because those things will always go up in value, especially the ‘60s series.”

Who is your favorite television personality involved with the auction?

“The guy with the sunglasses; Steve Davis. Always wearing the glasses. Cool guy. I saw him the last time I was here, and he was really nice. He caught my heart a little bit.

He had a charity thing that he was doing last time I was here and they raised a lot of money on this one car for a children’s foundation. I do a big charity here, as you know, downtown so I have a special place in my heart for people who can lend and hand and help these people out.

We can all make a difference, and that’s why I like Steve.”

Are there any cars in your current collection that might be headed for the auction block at Barrett-Jackson anytime soon?

“Oh no. I don’t sell them I only buy them.

I don’t sell any of my cars. I want those cars that are so unique that they are a part of my collection. If you ever see one of my cars like the 5.0 come through here, I’ll be all over that! No,

I don’t sell cars, I just like to buy them. I don’t even really drive them too much. I just pull them out, wax them up a little bit, and put them right back in. One day I’m going to have a museum. That’s one of my goals.”

Have you ever been to John Staluppi’s Cars of Dreams?

“I’ve heard about this. Can I go see his cars? Everybody’s been telling me about this for 10 years. I wanna see it. I here he has some awesome cars!”

For those of you who enjoy a good show, excellent food, and cold drinks, tickets are still available for the opening night gala of Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach, with a single ticket at $62.50, and $125 for an invitation that admits two. Tickets are also still available for the world’s greatest collector car auction at the South Florida Fairgrounds box office and through the Barrett-Jackson website, with Adult tickets costing $15, Senior, Military, Student (with ID) $10, and Child (6-12 yrs) $7 on Friday and Sunday. Saturday, tickets are $20 per Adult, Senior, Military, Student (with ID) $18, and Child (6-12 yrs) $10. If you're interested in attending each of the three days, you can save some serious dough with a 3-Day Pass, with Adult tickets for $40, Senior, Military, Student (with ID) $30, and Child (6-12 yrs) $20.

The festivities continue all weekend long, with gates opening at 8:00 a.m on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The displays continue throughout the day, with ride and drives from Ford and GM available from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. throughout the entire event. The auction closes at 9:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

With only four stops on the current Barrett-Jackson tour, South Floridians have a rare opportunity to see some of the most amazing cars ever designed sell to the highest bidder. Will you be one of the lucky few?