Bear Grylls spent less than $2,000 on his first car, and he still drives it

Bear Grylls spent under $2,000 on his first car, and he still drives it

Bear Grylls sometimes drives a cab, but that's not a side-hustle for the British celebrity survival expert and host of reality television shows like NBC's "Running Wild," and "The Island" on Channel 4 in the U.K.

Grylls tells CNBC Make It that he still owns — and drives — the first car he ever bought: a London black cab.

Grylls says he bought the car while serving in the military (he served in the British army's special forces between 1994 and 1997) for £1,000, which would be a little more than $1,300 based on the current exchange rate.

The TV adventurer says he's had to "redo" the car, or fix it up, "about four times" over the past two decades, but he still uses it to drop his kids off at school from time to time. "We still drive around in it, do the school run sometimes with our boys in it," he says. Grylls and his wife, Shara Cannings Knight, have three sons.

And Grylls used to do a lot more than just drive the car. "I used to sleep in the back a lot," he says of the period when he first bought the car. "In fact it was the only place I slept in those days."

While serving in the army, Grylls tells CNBC Make It, he would regularly sleep in the back of the cab when he was traveling and away from the army barracks. "If I was traveling around, that's where I would sleep, in the back, and we'd go off climbing," he says. "I'm not the first person to have slept in the back of a van or car.

"That was my home, as well," he says. "I spent loads of nights in it."

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So, how did the survival expert make himself comfortable in the back of a cab? "I used to be able to put the seats down in the back," he says. "You know, the London cabs where they have flip-down seats? And I put a board and a mattress and it was like a double bed in the back of a cab, so it was good."

Of course, over the past couple of decades, Grylls has experienced enough success that he no longer has to worry about sleeping in the back of his car — though, he's certainly slept in weirder places on TV. He's even getting ready to open a 86,000-square-foot, $26 million adventure theme park in the U.K. later this year.

But Grylls says he's kept his first car for nostalgic reasons. "I still have it because it's an old friend, you know," he says. "And it's not worth anything in financial terms, but it's worth a lot to me and our boys love it."

And, for what it's worth, Grylls says he hardly ever gets mistaken for an active cab driver anymore. "We live right out in the middle of nowhere, so luckily it doesn't get flagged down," he says of his London black cab. "But when I used to have it in London, people always were jumping in the back and then realizing, when they saw my stuff everywhere, like 'Oh, sorry!'"

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC and CNBC.