NOVEMBER 12, 2013 RESTORATION GARAGE-MORE OF THE SAME OLD, SAME OLD TV CAR SHOW

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I’m like every car guy on the planet because I’ll watch every gear-head show on TV just to see old iron.

 

Most of them are a big disappointment because they tend to swerve into the world of a grease-stained soap opera and away from a real car show.

 

 

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Car guys will put up with the manufactured drama because any look at televised classic iron is worth the pain of choreographed, “made for TV” conflict.

 

I took a special interest in Restoration Garage because the producers called me back in 2009 to help them out. They wanted some contacts in the old car hobby because they had no background in this world. Since then, two TV other production companies have approached us about more reality car shows.

 

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MyStarCollectorCar was brand new back in 2009 so my instincts were to cooperate fully with these television people and help them with the show. I phoned a few people and told them to expect a call from these guys.

 

That’s where it began to unravel.

 

They did phone about six of my contacts, conducted interviews with them and then quit returning calls. The TV guys left me to field the brunt of the questions and that was a big problem because they also quit returning my calls so I had nothing to tell the hapless victims of this fact-finding mission.

 

Despite the lack of communication from the TV people, I was still curious about their show. Unfortunately, it was a clone of every other bad “docu-drama” (their term, not mine).

 

 

They decided to base everything around one restoration shop. The first show was a mixed bag of stories with about six different plot lines. They showed a Bullet Bird Ford Thunderbird on a lift that had apparently gone through a $150,000 restoration yet it had one of the grimiest undercarriages I’ve ever seen.

 

Car guys notice this stuff.

 

There was another guy who wanted to build a replica of “The Car” out of a ’69 Lincoln. He was on a serious budget so the shop told him he was going to be short at least 40K on the project. The shop decided to be good guys and told this man that they could shave thousands off the estimate if he “took the car apart himself”.

 

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Car projects aren’t that simple. You can basically strip a car in two days so how that translated into huge savings is beyond me when the real work is in the custom sheet metal. The car showed up briefly in the season and then disappeared after what was clearly a reality check about the price.

 

That’s the real “reality” about car projects-there are no simple, cost-efficient solutions. Stripping a car doesn’t cut the cost in half.

 

This is a high-end shop so they clearly know what they’re doing but they had to add some drama to the plot so they manufacture these scenarios where the clock ticks away and a deadline looms.

 

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They had an engine that clearly had a timing problem but the customer was going to be there in a few hours so they had to solve the problem. The hot-shot mechanic said “two weeks to diagnose” but a kid in a Grade 11 automotive class could have fixed it in minutes.

 

 

This show could have been so much better. The shop does great work but it’s owned by one of the most pompous buffoons I’ve ever seen. Most car guys are grounded, blue-collar guys who get their hands dirty on a project. Apparently, this guy’s role is to attend high-end auctions and bid on exotic, Pebble Beach quality museum pieces with his buddy.

 

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Trust me, you won’t see a rat rod in this guy’s garage.

 

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This isn’t a bitter “why didn’t they pick me?” diatribe because I really wanted this show to reflect the reality of the car hobby. I didn’t want to get heavily involved in a TV car show-I just wanted to see a good TV car show.

 

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The preliminary discussions indicated that this show would actually tell a genuine “story behind the car“. Instead, it told a pref-fab TV story with wooden actors/auto-techs in a shop owned by one of the most arrogant guys I’ve ever seen in a car show. That’s why I was so disappointed with how much they missed the mark in real car guy world.

 

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Worse yet, I aimed these TV people at some real car guys back in 2009…my sincere apologies.

 

Jerry Sutherland

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