Like many high-profile stand-up comedians, Gabriel Iglesias, aka Fluffy, gets the chance to travel the world and do his thing. From performing a hall full of Indians with a couple of Germans in the front row seats to being invited by the Prince of Saudi Arabia for a private comedy hour, he's gone everywhere. That also makes material for more comedy shows. He can talk and joke about everything he did and witnessed in those places for another great show.
For a person who takes the plane to travel, it wouldn't make sense for him to buy a lot of vehicles. But that doesn't apply to Iglesias. He's not setting up a car collection for driving at all. He's just a big fanatic of vehicles, especially Volkswagen buses, as everyone is well aware of. He's got other exquisite cars in his garage he likes to call The Fluffy Museum, as well.
Each one of those in the Volkswagen bus/car collection is customized.
Source: Gabriel Iglesias, Twitter
Here are the facts about his impressive garage and the story behind the vehicles in the collection. Brave yourselves.
Fluffy Needed Something to Spend His Money On, So He Started a $3 Million Worth of Volkswagen Bus and Car Collection Inspired by Jay Leno
As much as Gabriel likes to keep details about his girlfriend (possibly wife) and son a big secret, he never hides his enthusiasm when talking about cars. Sit with him and talk about cars and buses, he can draw you a complete map of each one of them. Promise you, you will not be bored.
When Business Insider covered his story of The Fluffy Museum, he shared a lot of details, like he does whenever he gets to talk about his garage. While he already had an incredible fascination with Volkswagen buses, it was a visit to fellow comedian Jay Leno's garage that actually inspired an idea of a whole collection of Volkswagen buses. Leno's words also triggered a response in him.
The 69-year-old has been a big Fluffy-fanatic for a long while. One day, he invited Iglesias on his car show, Jay Leno's Garage, in early 2015 to show his own $50 million worth impressive garage and mainly feature Fluffy's recent Volkswagen bus, the 21-Window 1966 Volkswagen Samba, on the show.
Watch: Gabriel Iglesias Talks about His '1966 Volkswagen Samba' and His First Car/Bus on 'Jay Leno's Garage'
In the Business Insider story, Iglesias rekindles the words from Leno that inspired his own car collection; fact check - Volkswagen bus collection. "I talked to Jay Leno, and Jay told me, he says, 'You know what?' He says, 'People are gonna tell you to invest your money certain ways.' He goes, 'But with me,' he goes, 'I like the cars, because, first of all, if they're classic, it is an investment, it's an investment you can enjoy, so you can drive them, and when you sell them, they'll be worth more.' "
Impressed with the car collection and with the fun he had driving around town with Leno, Fluffy knew what he wanted to do, right then and there. "You know what? Who says I can only have one bus? So I talked to my guys who helped me get the first bus, and I got a second one," he said in another interview. Similarly, out of jest, he says he desperately needed something to spend his money on since he didn't have a 'cocaine addiction'.
2015 was the year he embarked on his journey of collecting the most classic of Volkswagen buses and store them in his garage. While he says his collection is truly priceless, he said each of them is valued somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000. The garage's total value adds up to an estimated $3 million. And no, he's not planning to sell any of it.
Early Days — Before Really Hitting It Off in Comedy; First Driven Car, First Owned Car, etc.
This was before he even started to work for the cell phone company sales and left it to pursue his comedy ambitions and aspirations. In an interview with Autoblog in March 2015, he shared the story of his early vehicles. His mother had a Rambler, a Ford Maverick, and a Dodge Dart when he was a kid growing up.
The youngest of six drove his first car, a 1988 Ford Escort when he first learned to drive in a mall parking lot. It was his sister's car who invited him to learn. A friend of his lent him his automated Toyota Camry to take the DMV test, which he successfully passed.
Gabriel Iglesias' first car was rusted, but that was the first time he found his Volkswagen love.
In the late 1990s, when he was still working in the cell phone company, Fluffy bought his first vehicle, the 1968 Volkswagen Transporter (yes, a bus), for just $700, as it was in pretty bad shape. He was 17 at the time and was happy to be getting out and about at his whim. But that was also the one that the repo guy was looking for when he went broke, after leaving the phone sales work.
When Comedy Started Kicking In — Before Collecting Volkswagen Buses in 2015
After that, Gabe bought a gold 1985 Delta 88 and followed it up with a Regency 98 when he made enough money to buy one. When the comedy thing started to really bloom, he bought a Volkswagen Beetle Turbo with the intention of riding something more recent at the time. After taking it around town, he fell in love with it.
Such a small car was enough for the big guy in the early days.
Source: Gabriel Iglesias, Twitter
When the guy went from small-show comedian to a big-hitter with the deal in 2011 with Comedy Central, his car also went from such a small size to a giant monster in a Hummer H2. After more success with Comedy Central, he bought another Hummer the following year. At that point, he also sold his beloved Beetle. Both the Hummers didn't stay in his garage forever though.
Since Volkswagen was the first car he ever bought, he always wanted to have the bus back. He'd already bought back another 1968 Volkswagen Transporter, his first car, in 2007. And so, he bought that 1966 Volkswagen Samba featured in Jay Leno's show. And then, the collection begins.
From the Start of the Collection — He Freaked Out His Accountant When He Ordered Three Volkswagen Buses in a Row
So, we've reached the point when Fluffy's met Leno and his collection to get the inspiration to be known as the Volkswagen guy. The enthusiasm he had grew his collection within just a few months of early 2015.
Immediately after the 21-window bus, he bought 21-window 1967 Volkswagen Deluxe Bus. When he saw the super-rare 23-window 1956 Wolfsburg Edition online, he rang the seller up. Seeing his sudden flurry of buys within a month, his accountant was freaked out. He called Gabe and asked, "What the hell are you doing? You've never done this before I'm concerned." Fluffy replied, "Well, I've decided to become the aficionado of Volkswagen buses."
The first-red one is the 1956 Volkswagen Wolfsburg Edition.
Source: Anthony Nunez, Superfly Car Magazine
He got that one and one more after that, in such quick succession that he had 32 bus models in his garage by 2017. A look at his buying pattern gives out the fact that he goes for an as much older model as he could find. While he wanted an original 1950 VW bus, the closest he's come to reaching that goal was the 23-window 1952 Volkswagen Barndoor Bus. It's no disappointment either, it's also super-rare.
Don't Worry; We're Not Forgetting the Fish Tank Modification VW Buses and the Rarest Vehicles There
Right after he bought the three first buses, he got an offer from the TV show, 'Tanked'. The people from the show came to his building, and he told them that he was starting a Volkswagen bus collection. So they just offered him to make a fish tank with a modification to a Volkswagen bus. Now, he has two halves of a 1967 VW Bus for his fishes to call home.
What he said of the fish-buses, "Back in the day, there was nobody to say, 'Well, you know, all the parts need to be, they all need to match, on the numbers.' And in Brazil at the time, 'I'll take this piece from the 1972, add it to this 1958, and put on some 1962 this, and add a little bit of 1981 that.' And so, a lot of the buses, we call them Frankensteins."
The fishes get to live in a car-house!
Source: Conner Blake, Business Insider
While all of his cars and buses are either from Germany or the United States, these particular ones were made in Brazil. He also bought a double cab Volkswagen truck at the time, whose engine he describes as 'awesome'. "I know from the front it looks like one of the other buses, but this is not a 'bus', per se; it's actually a double-cab little truck. Back in the day, people did work, just like now, and they needed trucks. They didn't come this way, just so you know. Back then it was a working man's truck, so ain't no room for chrome. This is total aftermarket. It's pretty. And it's got an engine that'll freaking..."
Despite not getting a bus from 1950, he does have something to show from the year. He has three rare VW Beetle models, and one of them is the 1950 Volkswagen Bug Hoffman Edition — a car. It is one of only three left in the states. He jokes about having more paperwork to prove its rarity and his ownership than he does for most of his family members (he really does). He went to lengths to get it into his garage. The other Bugs were the 1956 and the 1958 VW Beetle models.
One of only three 1950 VW Beetle Huffman Edition in the States is in Gabriel Iglesias' car collection.
Source: Anthony Nunez, Superfly Car Magazine
Another rare piece is the 15-window 1963 Volkswagen Bus, which he likes to call Quinceañera, and bought in October 2017. He stresses the value of its existence, "Believe it or not, these are actually the rarest, because there are only 15 windows. But people always say, "Oh, I want the 21. I want the 21. I want the 21." 'Cause they're just, you know. But true collectors understand that these are super rare."
Gabriel Iglesias presents the Quinceañera, 15-window 1963 VW bus.
Source: Conner Blake, Business Insider
Then there's the 1967 Volkswagen Westfalia Camper. He bought it from a guy in Germany who bought it from another in Southern California, making a roundabout to the same area. It was plain white at first, which he found boring and thus had it recolored to look the way it is now.
He's Not Tied to Volkswagen Only — A '1979 Trans-Am Depot Bandit Edition' Was Signed by Burt Reynolds Himself
While the comedian adores his old VW models and Bugs, he has love for all cars in general; especially those in the speed extremities. "You know, I'm pretty extreme. I like really, really fast, or really, really slow." He already had a whole bunch of other car brands in his garage by March 2015.
Probably the most eye-catching vehicle in his entire collection is the 1979 Trans-Am Depot Bandit Edition. It was originally a Camaro. The car was made famous by the 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit that starred Burt Reynolds. He sent the black Camaro over to his friends at Trans Am Depot in Florida, and it was modified into what it is now. The bigger thing is, Burt's signed on it himself.
The 1979 Trans-Am Depot Bandit Edition, nothing short of amazing.
Source: Gabriel Iglesias
After Reynolds passed away in September 2018, the value of the car went through the roof, but Iglesias considered it priceless. Due to the fact, he's afraid to even drive it anywhere for the fear that he might scratch it even in the slightest of places. "I am so scared to drive this car. Unfortunately, as soon as Burt Reynolds passed away, the value of this thing went through the roof, and, yeah, if I scuff it at Starbucks, I'm gonna cry."
Before the Camaro-turned Bandit, the one car that he probably would've never let go is the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8. It was customized with Lamborghini doors just for the comedian. At that point, if he needed to give away every car but one, the Chrysler would be the one remaining. He absolutely loves it, "That one's a 10 all the way. The things they did to that car - you can hear it from two blocks away. It rumbles. The windows are tinted. It's a smooth car; it just picks up. I'll go to 60 in about 3 seconds. It's insane. It's got so much power. It was already a fast car and they did stuff to the exhaust. It's definitely a beast."
The Chrysler 300 SRT8 takes center stage with the 2013 Ford Flex, the Tesla Model S, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Demon and the Trans-Am.
Source: Gabriel Iglesias
Other cars in his collection include a 2013 Audi A8, a Tesla, and a BMW i8 was also being looked for by him but never bought. He'd also planned to buy a 2013 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Demon which he did and customized its color for a lighter shade. He also bought a Charger Hellcat in 2017, which was initially red but recolored to matte green under his request. The 2013 Ford Flex has his name, 'FLUFFY', on the hood of the car, instead of the original badge, 'FLEX'.
How Does He Handle the Huge Car Collection with Cars Bound to Get Rusty When Not Used?
There are a lot of those cars that he'll never drive. But he does like to give at least some attention to each of them so that they know he cares for them. Also, he keeps the cars that he loves. If he doesn't, they don't stay in his garage, but it seems difficult for him to let go of any one of them.
In order to keep his 'metal babies' in shape, he works closely with a team of experts to restore his new & the old ones and keep them in proper running order. Each one of those old ones has been painstakingly restored to make it look like he just bought it and hauled it in.
The buses in Fluffy's car collection will always look like it was bought yesterday.
Of course, he also re-customizes his vehicles from time to time, if he doesn't like the look. The 1966 Samba started off as pistachio green and later was updated to be almost like the Iron Man colors because it's his favorite character. Some others were even retrofitted with beefed-up engines too.
What Happens to the Fluffy Museum When There Is No More Fluffy?
The Fluffy Museum is designed to resemble the famous Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, but he does have his own choices of artwork and Fluffy pieces in it, the merchandise. As you know, he has no intention of selling the museum or any of its pieces. One day, when he is gone, it would still be a museum, but just for the City of Long Beach.
Iglesias will be a Volkswagen legend.
Photo by: Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG
"No, I have no intention of selling, but at the end of the day, as soon as I'm gone, and when I mean gone, this is gonna be turned into a museum for the city of Long Beach."
With so many cars under his collection, it's impossible to keep track of all of them. While we've tried to include every one of them, there are bound to be many missing. This will be updated later as we make some more findings. Till then, stay tuned and keep being connected to celeb$fortune for more Fortune Focus and other Celebrity Net Worth related content.