Full disclosure here—I want to be an impartial judge on this show but Jim and I were going by the White Post Auto Museum in Tappen, BC a few years ago and something caught my attention.
I saw an old Ford grafted on a post beside a pretty solid car crop; it drew me in like a moth to a light so we stopped in to get some pictures for the Fallen Stars section (a former feature on the MyStarCollectorCar pages).
It didn’t go well when we went into the museum to get permission to take pictures.
A guy in a ponytail (I’m pretty sure it was Mike—the lead guy in the show) cranked up a tinny sound system; put some Beach Boys on; fired up a disco ball from the 70s for ambience and stuck his hand out for ten bucks before Jim and I could take any photos. (***since then I found out Mike doesn’t own the museum.)
He couldn’t see the logic when I told him I never pay for admission to events because you don’t charge people from the press when they give you so much more back in publicity. For him, it was all about the ten bucks even after I told him he’d get massive exposure in Canadian car guy world—I can get into every major car show or auction in North America with a press pass…except for the White Post Auto Museum.
Needless to say, there was no mention of the museum in the Fallen Stars piece. I even tried to cut out the scenery behind the cars so there were no visual location clues for readers.
Rust Valley Restorers is a typical TV car show so there are the usual subplots and manipulations of the story board for viewers. Basically Mike is getting older so he realizes he has to thin his herd of old iron but the people who produce this show have a wafer-thin perception of the hobby, so it’s not going to expand your knowledge. Mike’s a fairly charismatic guy in his own way so he’s built for TV, and that was clearly a factor in Rust Valley Restorers; but it has serious limitations.
The worst car guy TV shows focus on plot over process and sadly, Rust Valley Restorers falls into that trap. The name’s even wrong because it’s set in a very dry part of BC where you can find solid, non-rusty vintage iron easier than you can find a 7-11 gas station.
It looks like the producers want to dumb this show down for the masses but real car guys tune in to see complicated rust repair and nasty engine rebuilds. Rust Valley eliminates the learning curve by slicing months of hard, technical work out of the plot. You’ll see a rusty Mustang and five minutes later it has brand new paint—no explanation expected or forthcoming. They manipulate the plot more in Rust Valley than every political ad ever written.
There are other many things amiss in this show. The first show featured a Dart Swinger and they wanted to restore it to factory correct but it clearly has a 318 under a hood with 340 emblems so the next owner is going to end up in six fistfights every time he opens the hood at a Mopar show.
Those are the kind of things that matter to car guys—not the shotgun blast of plots the producers use to sell this show to non-car people. Let’s face it—you’re probably not going to watch this show with your bride even though it has contrived sentimental moments.
There are many genuine sentimental stories in the real world of old iron. I know because I’ve done hundreds of interviews with real people but in every case it’s real sentiment—not fake TV sentiment.
I’m sure that’s what bugs me most about Rust Valley Restorers so I guess it wasn’t the ten bucks admission after all.
By: Jerry Sutherland
Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.
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