The host of several car-related TV shows shares what he likes best about his new home in Laguna Beach.
By Sharon Stello
Ant Anstead has worked as a police officer (with commendations for acts of bravery) and semiprofessional soccer player—and is also a published author and artist with his sculptures found in collections around the world—but is perhaps best known for the car-related TV shows that he hosts including “Celebrity IOU: Joyride” and “Radford Returns,” both on Discovery+.
Originally from England, he moved to the United States five years ago to take over as host of Discovery Channel’s “Wheeler Dealers,” one of the longest-running car shows on TV. Anstead has since moved on to other projects, which keep him plenty busy.
He also moved to Laguna Beach amid his divorce in 2020 and bought a house in town last year, after previously living in Newport Beach. “I was always drawn to Laguna, as it had a more mellow, low-key vibe,” he says. “… It became a safe haven for me at a time when such a private portion of my life was being played out publicly in the media. It’s something special that Laguna has a cool, close community feel and, because of that, it was easy to build a home here.”
The father of three kids—Amelie, 18; Archie, 15; and Hudson, 2—he’s also actively involved in the Laguna Beach Parents Club. “I love being a father,” he shares. “It’s the one thing that brings me the greatest joy.”
Anstead also feels lucky that his work is something he’s so passionate about: automobiles. “Cars are art. It’s as simple as that,” he says. “Yes, they act as a mode of transport and humanity now relies upon them, but to make something move and work and function is one thing. To make it also beautiful is another. And I challenge anyone to stand in front of a beautiful classic car and not be inspired.”
While Anstead has also hosted travel documentaries for the BBC and home shows, cars are his main focus. He has even written books on the history of police cars, how to build a car and a guide for parents raising kids who love cars; a fourth book is also in the works.
In any free time, he still plays soccer in the SoCal Premier league and looks forward to tapping into his artistic side.
“I love waking up one morning and deciding ‘today is a creative day’ and making something,” he says. “I also love metal. So making things from steel is a happy place for me. I have some cool plans for my Laguna home and want to do the work myself, so I get to scratch the artistic itch again soon.”
What do you like about living in Laguna?
Ant Anstead: I grew up in small, rural village communities in England. My childhood was about relationships with my neighbors, where front doors were always open and welcoming. As local kids, we played together. Laguna has that same feel, but add the nicer weather—it was always raining in the U.K.—and the beach. … I also love the way it still feels old-school. I spend most of my days in flip-flops and people that pass you in the street actually say, “Hello.”
Can you tell us about your latest show, “Radford Returns”?
AA: “Radford Returns” is a show I wrote myself. While I was launching my supercar company, Radford, I pitched that Discovery’s cameras follow us along for the journey. It’s the story of a small team of passionate people who take an iconic 1940s British car brand—Radford—and relaunch it today. It came with so much pressure as Radford has an epic history, having built some famous cars. Every member of the Beatles owned a Radford among many other celebrities. In the 1960s, a Radford was the car to be seen in. As Radford returns with us as the custodians, we partner with Lotus to build their last-ever petrol-powered car—also a ton of pressure. The whole process was captured and is on Discovery+ right now.
What’s your favorite car of all time?
AA: I have to say it’s probably a Series 1 Land Rover—specifically a 1948 car when it all started. It’s truly one of the only classless cars on the planet: You could be a plumber or the Queen of England and drive a Series 1. Plus it was made at a post-war time where people wanted reliable, simply engineered workhorses that even used leftover materials from the war. It was genius and still inspires today.
What are some of your favorite restaurants in Laguna?
AA: Hands down, my favorite fine dining restaurant is Selanne Steak [Tavern]. … Also, the ramen place—[Gu Ramen]—on PCH is solid and Lumberyard is my go-to. I am pretty sure they may name a table after me there or they are … just fed up of seeing me so much. … I first lived right in the town and Lumberyard became my kitchen, as I would always walk there.
You’re also an ambassador for Harrison’s Fund in the U.K., which works to raise awareness about Duchenne muscular dystrophy?
AA: Alex Smith, the founder of Harrison’s Fund, is a close friend and his son, Harrison, is the same age as my son, Archie. The difference between our boys is one simple gene—a gene that means Harrison will likely die in his 20s. … Duchenne is more common than people know and there is a real chance we can make an impact. A cure is unlikely but a chance to live a full life is certain due to advances in medicine. And we are on track to do just that.