Welcome to this month’s edition of Ask a Gearhead, our Q&A series with enthusiasts and influencers in the automotive space. Here, we talk to journalists, personalities, and gearheads to bring you varying perspectives on driving and life. Each month features a different face but the same set of questions. Last month we spoke with Porsche racer Patrick Long, and this month we are pleased to feature Sean Lee!
Sean is the colorful and passionate founder of the Purist Group, a collection of enthusiasts brought together by a shared interest in cars and motorcycles. He is a force in the gearhead community in Los Angeles and beyond, organizing meets and shows that reliably bring in the most exciting and rare machines out there. You will not find a more energetic expert on all things cars than Sean.
The Purist Group focuses on helping one another and building community through charity events and volunteer-based service. In addition to frequent charitable community events, they host annual events like their back-to-school drive, downtown Los Angeles blanket drive, and year-end toy drive. Turo shares the Purist Group’s passion for cars and community, and we are happy to support Sean and the work he does.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAMILY CAR GROWING UP?
When I was a kid in Taiwan, we had a Datsun 510. I came to the US when I was 14, and then my mom had a Volvo 240 DL. I loved that car. It was great.
WORST THING YOU’VE EVER DRIVEN?
Yugo. I actually drove the Yugo for a long time, it was horrible. I ran away from home when I was 17, and had nothing to drive. The Yugo was cheap. I bought a really used one for a couple hundred bucks. It doesn’t turn and when you’re merging into traffic, it doesn’t accelerate. It was interesting. It was also a death trap.
IF YOU COULD OWN JUST ONE CAR FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Probably a Skyline R34. Which I have one of.
FAVORITE ROAD TRIP? (DESTINATION, JOURNEY, OR ROAD TO DRIVE)
From Los Angeles to Utah. Probably through the Antelope Canyons. There’s a location near there, by the Arizona-Utah border, called Page. Page, Arizona is right by the edge of the Grand Canyon, and it has the kind of views that make you reconsider your perspective on life. There’s great twisties through the canyons, and then you come out onto huge straightaways. It’s a pretty amazing place.
YOU’RE DIRECTING FAST & FURIOUS 9, WHAT’S THE HERO CAR?
One of my favorites right now is the Aston Martin Vulcan. Naturally-aspirated V12, they don’t really make those anymore. Sounds bitchin’, looks bitchin’, nobody ever messes with that.
WHAT WOULD BE THE BEST ANIMAL TO RIDE IF IT WERE SCALED UP TO THE SIZE OF A HORSE?
I’d love to ride an Ostrich. Their eggs taste delicious too.
IS IT ACCEPTABLE TO WEAR FLIP FLOPS WHILE DRIVING? WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED DRIVING FOOTWEAR?
No I don’t like to wear flip flops when I drive. The preferred footwear right now is by a brand called Hunziker. They make all kinds of driving shoes, pretty badass.
WHAT DO YOU KEEP IN YOUR CAR AT ALL TIMES?
I go on a lot of long drives, so I always carry a water bottle with me. And a charger for the phone. And of course, music from Initial D.
WHAT’S YOUR MARIO KART CHARACTER?
Luigi. I like the color green, so I use Luigi.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN THE BIOPIC OF YOUR LIFE? AND WHAT IS IT CALLED?
JJ Lin would play me. He’s one of the most famous singers in Asia, and a good friend of mine. The movie would have to be called The Purist.
IF YOU HAD AN ICE CREAM TRUCK, WHAT SONG WOULD YOU PLAY FROM THE SPEAKER?
I love Frank Sinatra, so any Sinatra music. He’s my idol — dance background, legendary performances, legendary songs.
SINGLE LAST CAR YOU RENTED, ON ANY PLATFORM?
I rented a Ford Fiesta in Mexico for a vacation. The car was actually pretty darn good. In Mexico all the cars are stick shift. On the day I had to go to the airport, a tire went flat. Finding a place to patch up the tire was very difficult. That was a fun experience.