Money

Why John Cena still drives the 1989 Jeep he bought with his first WWE paycheck

The WWE's John Cena has found success in his career as a professional wrestler and now as an actor. His new Universal movie, "Blockers," hits theaters nationwide on Friday. He's also had memorable roles in the Amy Schumer flick "Trainwreck" and in Hefty brand garbage bag commercials.

But when Cena's career was just beginning, he spent his first big paycheck on a personal passion — cars. Though that initial buy wasn't exactly a collector's item.

Cena, 40, says the first professional contract he signed with the WWE, in 2001, bought him a 1989 Jeep Wrangler that he still drives today.

"This baby is the first thing I bought when I got a little smoke for myself from the WWE," says Cena in a November episode of "John Cena: Auto Geek," a YouTube video series where the wrestler puts his vast auto collection on display.

"I signed a contract for myself way, way back when for peanuts. But, I felt like I needed to showcase my accomplishment, and I did with this baby right here," he adds, giving the Wrangler a love-tap.

It was "the first car I ever paid cash for without some money from the parents.... I bought it with 80,000 miles on it," Cena told Cars.com.

Cena has added some features to the car over the years — for example, he removed the roof and put on "beefy tires," a brush guard and metal guards over the lights, according to the video.

"Jeeps of any year bring good prices, because everyone loves a Jeep," says Cena, but he does not reveal how much he originally paid for his Wrangler. (Today, the website AutoTrader.com has several 1989 Wranglers for sale, priced from roughly $2,700 up to about $53,000.)

What's more, Cena told Motor Trend magazine that, when he bought the Jeep, he didn't actually know how to drive it. Cena said the car is "a five-speed vehicle, and I didn't know [how] to drive five-speed," referring to a manual transmission, "so I learned really fast."

John Cena
Getty Images | Desiree Navarro
John Cena

Of course, Cena's career has only gotten bigger and bigger over the past two decades. He is a 13-time WWE champion who currently ranks among the professional league's highest-paid stars. (Forbes' most recent estimation of his annual earnings is $8 million.) And Cena showed off his acting chops, starting with the 2006 movie "The Marine." Cena has also appeared in "Daddy's Home," and he lent his voice to the main character in the 2017 animated movie "Ferdinand," which grossed $293 million at the global box office.

From the looks of it, Cena has invested a fair amount of his career earnings in expanding his garage. In its 2009 profile of the wrestler and actor, Motor Trend highlighted more than 20 vehicles in Cena's collection at that time. The magazine even noted that Cena appears to have a fondness for American muscle cars, with his collection including a 2006 Ford GT and a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, as well as a 1971 AMC Hornet that the wrestler said he drove every day.

(Last year, auto giant Ford Motor actually sued Cena after the wrestler sold his 2017 Ford GT supercar. The auto company alleged that Cena flipped the car for a profit soon after buying it, which would have violated his purchase agreement for the nearly half-million dollar automobile.)

Meanwhile, Cena regularly posts videos of himself test-driving "the world's fastest supercars," from a Maserati to a McLaren, on his "Auto Geek" video series.

Of all of the cars in Cena's collection, though, he still says the 1989 Wrangler is his most rewarding auto purchase. "Dollar for dollar, this one has given me far and away the most joy," he says in his video. "And, this is one that I'll never get rid of."

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