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tv imgp1048We have touched on the topic of car reality shows many times over the years because most of them are disappointing at best, and a horribly irritating nightmare at worst.

Most shows chart their creative direction from the same wafer-thin playbook, the one with zero imagination and even less instruction for car guy viewers.

TV people are clearly not car people, otherwise they would spend more time on the build and less time on the superfluous BS they call a “docu-soap”.

tv imgp1031We have talked with numerous TV producers over the years about show ideas after they approached us about car show concepts.

The one constant is these TV people have zero experience in the car hobby-and even less interest in cars. Cars are simply a topic to them, no different than commercial fishing or chef shows. The more we talked to them, the less respect we had for them in terms of the car hobby.

We have talked to TV producers with theater art backgrounds instead of mechanical backgrounds and wondered how in hell can these clowns even remotely understand the car culture any more than car guys can understand modern ballet dance?

The truth is they can’t and we can’t-it is that simple. We are left to wonder what could have been if they only understood the subject matter as it applies to the car hobby.

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So let’s examine what they do not understand about the car hobby and what makes us hate their TV shows. We hate the idea of a tight deadline on a car guy show because a tight deadline is just as much fiction as a hot witch named Samantha for car guys.

The deadlines cooked up by TV are not even close to realistic unless the shop has an army of the best fabrication and mechanical guys in the known universe who are also willing to work 24/7.


Even then, it would still be unrealistic to expect quality work within the tight deadlines put forth on TV car shows.

Quality body work takes abundant quantities of talent and patience in the pursuit of excellence.

There are no shortcuts, unless the talent and patience are replaced with quick-drying bondo to get things done in a hurry. That is the way it works in the real world, so the TV deadlines are an insult to every car guy who knows what it really takes to do a good job.

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We also hate the idea of a horrific circus act on a car show. Most of the characters on the shows are trained to be tradesmen, not actors. TV turns these guys into cartoon characters and takes them well outside their field of expertise.

It is an hour-long train wreck where shop guys play to the cameras and forget why car guys watch the show: to watch a difficult build and learn along the way. We learn little about cars and learn substantially more than we want to know about the shop guys. At best it is irritating-at worst it is horrifying.


They are painfully unfunny, appear to lack every element of social graces, and seem to care very little about the project at hand- other than the project’s ability to make them whine on cue in front of a TV camera.

We are forced to learn about the group dynamics and conclude these buffoons appear to hate each other as much as we hate their TV show, and that is a lot of hate.

We can blame the TV people for these fiascos, but the car guys are willing participants in TV’s vision of the car hobby and they like it. Sure it’s their 15 minutes of fame, but it comes at a high price because they have lost the respect of every car guy in the world.


Maybe that is a small price to pay for their new-found fame but they should know this fact: most of us record the program so we can fast-forward through the bad parts of the car TV shows. And we can usually cover an hour long show in less than 10 minutes.

A giant fast-forward edit cuts down on how much we hate the typical TV version of car shows.

Jim Sutherland

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