Quick Stats: Barry Williams actor/musician
Daily Driver: 2012 Ford F-150 (Barry’s rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: See below
Favorite road trip: Route 66
Car he learned to drive in: Tractor and 1957 pickup truck
First car bought: 1970 VW Squareback wagon
When he’s not busy working on projects like HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation, and being known as part of one of TV’s most iconic families, Barry Williams is relaxing in nature with the help of his 2012 Ford F-150.
“I love this car. It’s a 10, it does everything I want it do, and it’s smooth,” Williams tells MotorTrend. “I moved to the Ozark Mountains, so I wanted something that had four-wheel capability and could tow vehicles like my boat, as well as the camping gear and that outdoor lifestyle. Hence the pickup truck.”
There are a lot of things that made Williams choose the F-150. “I like the side step, getting into it, the tailgate has a little ladder on it with a handle. That’s nice and makes things easier. It carries all my music equipment including amplifiers, guitars, speakers, and sound system that I need for traveling, as well as my toys, like the kayak or surfboard. … It’s a truck, but it drives kind of like a car.”
When Williams talks about surfing now, it’s no longer in Santa Monica and Malibu beaches, where he grew up riding waves, but rather in the Ozarks. “I live on a lake, and I surf behind the boat. And the thing with a boat wake, it’s like the never-ending wave,” he says, adding there isn’t anything he dislikes about the F-150. “I’m very, very happy with it. I had it for a few years. It runs great, so I’m happy.”
Williams recently sold a 1986 Ferrari 328 that he had for about 10 years to buy his boat. It was a gift to himself after he turned 50, and when he sold it he felt he’d had it for the perfect amount of time. “I use the boat more than the Ferrari,” he says, with a laugh. “I did think that the Ferrari was a lot of fun on the mountain roads here. That was the dream sports car for me. Growing up, that was the car that I looked at and liked from the time it came out. I had a chance to get one, and I did. It’s very low, and it’s a little challenging to get in and out of.”
A Very Brady Renovation photos courtesy HGTV.
2016 Lexus RX 350
Williams also has a Lexus he likes for its smooth ride, but there’s a caveat. “I don’t think the gas mileage is as good as it should be,” he says. “There are a lot of things to like about it—it’s very, very comfortable, it’s a luxury SUV, but I don’t see using it off-road at all. For that, I can use the Ford. [The Lexus is] a comfortable five-seat car.”
Car he learned to drive in
As a kid, Williams worked on a ranch, where the owner taught him how to drive a tractor. “It was a tractor that I drove at the horse stables where I was working. I was 11 then, so that would have been ’65, and that was a tractor that was used to tow aircraft,” he says. “So it towed the hay around and the oats.”
A year or two later, Williams was already an actor, and his older brother taught him to drive with a pickup truck on the streets on the west side of Los Angeles, where he grew up. “I think it was a 1957 pickup truck, column shift. But I remember even then it was an old car. I remember he was pretty patient, because I was having trouble seeing over the steering wheel. We had to use a pillow, which made it hard to reach the pedals. But he was pretty good-natured about it and pretty patient,” he says with a laugh.
Although Williams doesn’t recall the make of the truck, he remembers they would often go out on dirt roads and large parking lots for their lessons. It was natural for Williams to drive any vehicle at such a young age, and he got his motorcycle license and learner’s permit as soon as he could.
“I was into go-karts, and I had minibikes, and I was riding a motorcycle at 15, I rode on the street,” he says. “I was very anxious to become independent as soon as possible, and driving a car was second only to having my own television series.”
When it came time to take the driver’s test, William took it on the first day he could, with his father driving him to the exam. The production crew at The Brady Bunch also knew he had an important test that day.
“I was so anxious to get my license that the Brady production company at Paramount actually built my shooting schedule around letting me off in the afternoon so that I could get my driver’s license on my birthday,” Williams says.
First car bought
Williams had been saving up from working as an actor on shows before The Brady Bunch, and he also worked paper routes, so he had money to buy his first car promptly after he got his license at 16.
He chose a wagon, although it wasn’t like the Bradys’ wagon. “I bought a VW Squareback, a wagon. I think it was only one model,” he says of the 1970 VW wagon.
He chose it solely so he could go surfing. “It’s very small, but it’s got a four-cylinder, it’s manual, it’s like a lawn mower in that thing, as far as power,” he says. “But it had space to throw wet suit and gear and towels in the back. It’s like a small SUV, but not a station wagon like the Brady station wagon or a woody. It’s like a squared-off Bug, but I could put my rack on it and put my surfboards on there, and I was independent. I could go surfing whenever I wanted.”
While he was busy being Greg Brady on-screen, off the set, he was busy driving the Volkswagen to beaches around Santa Monica and Malibu. When the show wrapped early, Williams was at the beach, or if he had a late call time, he would go surfing early.
The little VW wagon had a bit of an issue on the commute from the studio to the west side, though. “It was underpowered enough that I couldn’t hold a speed going south on the San Diego Freeway from the valley toward LAX … I had to keep downshifting. That got to be frustrating,” he says.
Although a wagon wasn’t exactly a flashy ride for a TV star, Williams got attention when he’d drive it. “I probably got more looks being in The Brady Bunch than I did for the car,” he says. “An average night of television in those days was two to three times the viewership the number-one show in the country gets now, so it was a big deal, and by the time I got my driver’s license I was already 16. The show was doing quite well.”
Favorite road trip
“I’m a total Route 66 guy. Even in California, I lived on Route 66. The place I lived before I moved to Branson was right at the foot of Route 66 where it ends at the ocean,” he says. “But now I use that route all the time to go through the country to do floats. I take the 150 out to float rivers, for camping.”
His Zen moment in nature is taking kayak trips at least once during the summer around the Ozark Mountains. To him, it’s a peaceful and sacred time, so he doesn’t bring devices or take photos. It’s just a moment to be with nature.
“There’s beautiful, beautiful rivers all over these mountains in this area in Missouri and Arkansas, especially, which is where I do most of the floating,” he says.
Williams takes a kayak and sometimes floats downstream for 10 to 15 miles of the river. “It’s very relaxing, it’s very, very beautiful, and birds and wildlife and fish, and you jump in and swim,” he says. “Many are spring-fed, they’re cool when it’s hot outside, and it’s a favorite trip for me and for my family.”
Even though he’s far from the part of Route 66 that’s in Santa Monica, Williams still loves the part of Route 66 that’s near his home now, which is an hour south of Springfield, Missouri. It’s known as “The Birthplace of Route 66.”
“Route 66, being the classic road that it is, they have these little diners, and little places to stop for gas, and little places to stop for dining, and all kinds of little pull-offs if you want to learn the history of what it is. And there’s always a lot of tourists at these places that are finding out about the country and what made it famous,” he says.
For Williams, Route 66 also symbolizes something deeper than just the fun tourist stops. “I think what it represents is the whole roadway of our country and its development, and it also was very widely used not just for travel across country, but for the adventures that people would have along the way,” he says. “It’s definitely nostalgic. It’s not always the best paved, the smoothest, or the widest, it can’t go the fastest, but it’s definitely road trip time. That’s where I get my kicks.”
Barry Williams and the Traveliers
Speaking of that famous song, Williams performs a version of it as part of his musical trio The Traveliers, which includes his wife Tina.
“[There’s] a lead electric and acoustic guitar, and my wife is also one of the lead singers; all three of us sing. I get my name in front because I’m a Brady,” he says. “We have a very eclectic range of music that we sing—many familiar songs that people can sing along with, some original songs. All the songs are originally arranged. ‘Route 66’ is one of our favorites, and it does celebrate what we’re talking about. So by the time we get finished with our set, people are singing and dancing. My wife is a professional hula dancer, she teaches hula dancing to the men.”
But Williams’ fans always want to connect to their childhood memories and the TV show they grew up watching. “I keep it Brady friendly, I teach everybody how to do the choreography to ‘Sunshine Day.’ So you get a little luau, a disco, and a rock and roll show going on,” he says.
Although fans know that Williams sings, many don’t know he plays guitar and that his trio also writes some original songs like “Take Me Back. “
HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation finale Sept. 30
HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation, which ends Monday, has been a ratings hit and has brought the Bradys front and center again. It’s also allowed fans to be able to see the home, which was once just used for the exterior shot, recreated with the rooms as they looked on TV.
“It’s been great fun. I’ve enjoyed working on and creating the Brady house, where it didn’t even exist, based on a photograph of the outside,” Williams says. “It was great hanging with all my Brady mates.”
Although the loss of the older cast members was felt, it was special that the rest of the cast could reunite for this HGTV show.
“I actually had been at the house by coincidence in the ’80s after we finished filming. It didn’t resemble at all the set, so recreating it as a functional and practical, operational home, it was something I would never expect to see, and it was loaded with memories and nostalgia and even the presence of Robert Reed and Florence Henderson and Ann B. Davis,” he says. “I was really glad that all six Brady brothers and sisters were able to collectively get together and work on it. We worked on it for over a year.”
Williams and “The Brady Bunch” on MeTV
Another thing that keeps Williams busy has been his role as spokesman for MeTV, which airs The Brady Bunch.
“I have all kinds of fun things to do around that. I travel to the local stations and talk about it, I sing what is now their theme song and did the video for it. It’s just a very enjoyable endorsement to a network that I really believe in,” he says. “They bring together all the classic TV shows. MeTV is classic television done right.”
Fans can also see Williams on the “Cruisin’ Back to the ’70s” cruise March 28 to April 4. For information on where to see Williams and the Traveliers, as well as his appearances, visit barrywilliamsofficial.com