I watched yet another car restoration show called ‘Classic Car Rescue’ and had a chilling déjà vu moment that I had seen this show before-many times under many different titles.


The trouble with car guy shows is that the people who make these shows do not understand car guys.


The producers of these programs have car guy shows confused with soap operas and want to inject artificial conflict into a car restoration or resto-mod project.




We at MSCC have been approached by three separate film production companies since 2009 and every one of them were looking for an angle on the old car culture that was more theater and less car project. The common denominator for all of them was a complete lack of knowledge about the car guy culture.


The film companies wanted to spin a car tale that had been artificially pumped with complications and could provide a solution within a one hour program. The tradesmen in each show would be spoon-fed a script and try to overcome obstacles and in-fighting while facing down a tight project completion deadline. They would also be forced to act when their strong suit was wrenching on cars and the results would be predictably horrific.


Where have we seen this script before? Simple answer: in every car show since Boyd Coddington starred in ‘American Hot Rod’ with a band of not-so-merry shop guys led by some guy named Dwayne or Dwight or something.


We listened to the pitch of the film companies and found the same script in every pitch. They wanted to clone a bad idea and make more car guy shows just like ‘American Hot Rod’, an idea similar to building a fleet of Titanics.


Almost all of the production people involved in these projects were women who freely admitted that they had little or no interest in cars. The only guy that interviewed us was a film studies graduate who knew as much about cars as we knew about film studies, so we attempted to explain the car guy culture to him.


Our entire experience with the TV companies firmly convinced us that TV has completely missed the mark on car restoration shows. Car guys laugh at the TV version of a car project process and fast forward through the rants of the designated cranky idiot in the shows.


A legitimate TV car show would give a clear look at the actual challenges found in the restoration or resto-mod. The show would not throw a ridiculous conflict, unrealistic deadlines or buffoonish Type A cartoon character into the mix.


The show would also use real restoration costs that would reflect the real expenses involved in a project that is done by professionals. The programs tend to low ball the costs, plus the contrived and very tight deadlines stand firmly in the way of a quality restoration because there is simply not enough time to do a good job. That much is obvious to any car guy who tunes into the shows.




We look forward to our next conversation with a TV show production company because we want to listen to their pitch and then explain how their tired approach to car guy shows will not make the grade with real car guys.


Jim Sutherland

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