The Truth About Cars » Discovery Channel The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 22:58:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Discovery Channel Video Review: Lords of the Car Hoards Build Dreams, Jay Leno Drives His Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:00:48 +0000

We don’t typically do a lot of television coverage around here. You’ll have to go to some other car enthusiast site to find out the latest thing that Jeremy Clarkson has said to ensure that folks spell his name correctly. Still, I’m willing to bet that most of our readers do watch television and if they do they are likely to gravitate to programs that have some automotive content. There’s a new car build show, that you might want to check out. Now, to begin with, I’m not naive about the nature of “unscripted” “reality” shows on tv. I’ve personally witnessed producers of Hardcore Pawn feed lines to folks in Les Gold’s parking lot. Still, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this game it’s that people are more interested in people than they are about cars. Would Shelby cars be as interesting without the personality of that overall wearing chicken farmer from Texas? People watch reality shows because the people are real people, not professional actors, even if the premise and settings are a bit staged.

Lords of the Car Hoards is a mashup of many reality tv show themes: treasure hunters,  bargain hunters, wheeler dealers, car builds, hoarders, makeovers, and a few more that you’ll spot if you watch it. The tv industry is even more faddish than car design. You can connect the dots between Extreme Makeovers, Pimp My Ride, Tatoo Nightmares, and Bar Rescue just as you can between shows like American Pickers and Corky Coker’s Backroads Gold. LOTCH manages to hit notes common with so many popular subgenres of reality shows that I can almost imagine the “elevator pitch” the producers gave the network.

Here’s the premise, retired professional WWE wrestler Chuck Palumbo and custom car builder Rick Dore have started a new business building custom cars, called Slam. Dore has had an accomplished career as a custom builder, winning awards and building cars for rock stars. He’s not adverse to publicity himself and his co-star is just transitioning into a different part of the entertainment business, so there are some egos involved. Their supposed business model is that they identify hoarders whose “collections” are automotive in nature. They go through the hoard, assessing the contents for their value as either potential projects to be flipped for a quick profit or to be parted out to make more revenue. They then present the hoarder with a business proposition. In exchange for hauling away the salable cars and the debris, and keeping any profit, Palumbo and Dore will make the hoarder the car of their dreams.

Now drama is a major reason why people watch television in the first place and there’s ample opportunity for that. Will there be any cars worth salvaging? Will the hoarder let them clean it up (from personal experience trying to clean a hoarder’s home I can tell that’s a big question)? Will the two partners agree on the deal and on the build? Will they turn a profit or will they (spoiler alert) do a surprise build of a second car for the hoarder’s girlfriend who persuaded him to clean up the mess?

To car guys, the show has some appeal. Enthusiasts have a love hate relationship with car hoarders. On on hand, they’ve saved some restoreable cars from the crusher but their reluctance to part with their possessions can be frustrating as we watch those possessions deteriorate, exposed to the elements. So it’s nice to see hoarded cars put into the hands of people who will do something with them beyond piling them in a yard. The build part of the show is also not a waste of time for an enthusiast. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of BS on many car build shows, but Dore is, as mentioned, an award winning builder, and I haven’t noticed any egregious bovine excrement yet. As with Extreme Makeovers, there’s a change-someone’s-life angle to LOTCH. That people thing I mentioned a few paragraphs back. There’s also a little bit of amateur psychology involved. The builders asked one hoarder what was behind his obsession and it turned out that he had experienced both the tragedy of his first wife and child being killed in a car accident and a son from his second marriage paralyzed in another incident. To seal that deal, Dore and Palumbo offered to not only build up the Deuce Coupe of dad’s dreams, they restored the son’s ’59 Chevy Impala, fitting it with special controls so he could drive again.

Yeah, like most reality shows on cable tv, it’s a bit cheesy, with Palumbo and Dore’s tv personas being a little contrived. Still, it’s entertaining, as mentioned there’s not too much automotive BS, and it manages to mix all those known ingredients into an original cocktail. Now, if I could only find a tv show that’ll restore my Elan.

Speaking of restoring Lotus Elans and tv shows, someone who definitely has a collection, not a hoard, of cars, Jay Leno, has finally finished his restomodded Lotus 26R factory lightweight Elan. McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray encouraged Leno to get an Elan and he ended up buying two, a very nice 1969 model and an earlier 1966 factory lightweight 26R. The R stands for racing. The aluminum Lotus Twin Cam head may have been designed by Jaguar engine designer Harry Mundy, but the block had more plebeian origins, being pretty much standard production cast iron Ford “Kent” blocks, as you’d find in a 1600cc Cortina or Escort. For his 26R Leno had an aluminum block cast, and behind the engine mounted a Quaife sequential six-speed (“that goes bing, bing, bing”, according to Leno). Master fabricator Jim Hall made many other upgrades, including reinforcing the backbone frame and fabbing the dry sump system for the engine. Leno’s so happy with the results that he’s compared the car to his Bugattis. I had the opportunity to speak with Leno about the Elan project and you could hear his excitement over the telephone. Now that the project is done and the car has been driven a bit and fettled, Jay’s released a long form video on the project. You can watch the funnyman grin as the shifter goes bing bing bing. The 18 month build was documented in a series of videos here.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Discovery’s Fast N’ Loud, Where Cars Meet Reality TV Thu, 25 Apr 2013 17:17:34 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

Time was, the only time you could see cool cars on TV, outside of reruns of the Rockford Files and Starsky and Hutch, was on Saturday Mornings on The Nashville Network. Those programs, aimed at shade tree mechanics and the average do-it-yourselfer, were about as interesting as a high school auto shop class’ instructional videos. Things have definitely changed and today, thanks to hundreds of cable channels and the advent of Reality TV, car related programming is easy to find. The problem is that Reality TV is character driven and you have to endure colorful personalities in order to see the cars.

The first Reality Show that really grabbed my attention was American Chopper. I know it’s not about cars but, when you think about, it wasn’t really about bikes, either. American Chopper was about fathers and sons, and how working class men pass along their work ethic and values to their children – at least for the first few seasons. After that it was about how money and fame corrupt and about how families and relationships can self destruct as father and son compete with one another for time in the limelight. Watching American Chopper for the first few years was like spending time in the garage with my own dad, learning a lot about being a man while getting yelled at for being stupid, unskilled and lazy. Watching American Chopper as the show churned through its final episodes, and as the entire Teutul family descended into chaos and mutual hatred, was painful. If the events depicted in the show happened in real life, the Teutels should be ashamed of themselves. If those events happened because of clever editing, the production company should be ashamed. Either way, because I felt something of a personal kinship with those characters, it felt personal.

Since then I have sought out lighter Reality fare and now I have a new guilty pleasure, the Discovery Channel’s “Fast N’ Loud.” The shows premise is simple. Basically, two guys with a small shop shuck-and-live their way around Texas looking for old cars that they can fix quick and the sell for a big profit. This is a subject I personally know a lot about, after all I did help to kill the American Muscle Car and, truth be told, the show strikes me as being fairly true to life.

If Fast N’ Loud was a typical reality car show, our greasy looking heroes Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman, would buy a piece of junk and then, in the name of drama, inflict some crazy-short deadline upon themselves which they would then meet with seconds to spare. Then, they would sell their crazy creation to a corporate customer for about a bazillion dollars. Although I wonder about the Ford Bronco, which had seats upholstered in a red and black plaid pattern suspiciously close to the halter tops the well endowed waitresses at a certain restaurant were wearing at the end of the show, that sort of thing doesn’t generally happen here. More often than not, Richard buys a piece of junk, drags it back to the shop where Aaron picks apart all the problems. Sometimes the answer is to throw a lot of money at a project and hope it pays off while other times the answer is to roll the hulk out front, put a for sale sign on it and hope to pass the trouble along to some other sucker with more time and resources to throw into it. Seems about right to me.

Then comes the cars. In American Chopper Paul Teutul thought like an artist and he always seemed to be more concerned about creating his artistic vision than he was about creating a reliably running bike. In Fast N’ Loud, master mechanic Aaron Kaufman spends a great deal of time on actual engineering and he often states that his primary concern is safety. Sure, some of the cars that emerge from the shop are show boats, but for the most part the cars end up as fairly mild customs that sell for less than stratospheric amounts of cash. I like that.

Lastly, let’s talk about the main characters Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman. On the surface they seem like prototypical Reality TV chumps complete with abundant tats, crazy skull rings, various piercings and no fashion sense. Personality wise, however, they differ from the usual fare and, again, they come off as likable and especially genuine.

Richard Rawlings is the front man and I know his type intimately, I grew up around them. Fast N’ Loud’s Gas Monkey Garage is his business and like many successful small businessmen who sell to the public, he has an effusive, outgoing, larger-than-life personality. He is engaging and smart but not afraid to be silly in order to bridge the gap between himself and the customer. He does what it takes to get the sale and he knows that getting noticed is at least as important as offering a quality product. He mixes with the rich and famous one minute, talks to 70 year old Texas farmers the next and he finds something in common with each of them. That’s how sales works and if he was any different, and any less genuine, he would be out of business in a month.

Aaron Kaufman is the master mechanic and he oversees Gas Monkey Garage’s staff as they work on the various cars that Richard brings back to the shop. Thanks to his shaggy beard and slicked back hairstyle, I first expected Aaron Kaufman to be another larger than life reality show figure with a pretend bad-boy attitude. The personality that has emerged over the course of the show, however, is a quiet, thoughtful and genuinely likeable. Aaron Kaufman comes off like a guy who knows how to repair cars and who thinks that doing a good job is critical. Often there is, albeit mild, conflict between Aaron and Richard over the rising cost of this or that project as Aaron seeks to ensure the job gets done right while Richard seeks to control costs. Again, this is a compromise that all small businessmen make on a daily basis and it lends credibility to what we see on TV.

Now into its second season, I believe that Fast N’ Loud is on its way to being another huge Reality TV hit for the Discovery Channel. I earnestly hope that Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufmann can keep their egos under control as their fame and fortunes increase. It would be a shame to see these two very likable guys turn into raging jerks. I know that some part of reality TV will always be scripted, but as long as the set-ups are interesting cars and not silly interpersonal drama they can count me among their regular viewers. The world needs more fun, silly shows that can draw attention to the car hobby. This is a good one – check your local listings for the time and channel and sit through an episode, you might find yourself surprised at just how much fun you’ll have.

Thomas M Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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