By on April 17, 2017

car-saviors-still

Automotive television has developed some extremely bad habits, the worst of which is creating false reality show-style drama among characters with no appreciable personalities. Build shows are the absolute worst for this, yet the agreed-upon recipe seems to be to force one-dimensional characters to argue with one another, intercut with B-roll footage of people working on a car. Rinse and repeat.

While shows like Top Gear and The Grand Tour manage to avoid this problem — by providing entertaining short films, product reviews, and humorous banter — most programs where the host touches a wrench becomes painful to watch within the first few minutes. There are, of course, mainstream exceptions. Mighty Car Mods and RoadKill are both project-oriented shows that remain enjoyable due the presenters’ enthusiasm, authenticity, and willingness to fail. However, neither of those examples exist on a major television network and persist as online-only affairs. And there isn’t really a build show on cable that anyone should consider on par with either.

However, there could be a contender when the Discovery Channel airs its first episode of Car Saviors tonight. 

Hosted by Hoonigan Industries chief brand officer Brian Scotto and stunt/race car driver Andrew Comrie-Picard, Car Saviors focuses on finding unloved vintage automobiles and resurrecting them to their former glory — or mutating them into something far more interesting. Whereas Scotto presses to make sure each project is as insane and hoon-friendly as possible, ACP attempts to ensure the end result doesn’t stray too far from the vehicle’s original spirit.

The show doesn’t do away with every automotive television trope; the opening sequence is straight out of every cable-based car show you’ve ever seen and the hosts are still placed at odds with one another due to their vastly different preferences. However, it doesn’t play as manufactured or overly intense. It’s two men who don’t entirely agree on how to handle the build enjoying themselves, not a pair of adult babies screaming at each other over some false premise or impossible deadline. They’ve managed to include the ticking clock element without making it seem like it’ll be the end of the world if they don’t deliver on time.

 

Having only previewed a single episode in which Scotto and ACP attempt to convert a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II into a Hemi-powered drifting machine, it’s too early to say if the show will progress further toward glory or dip into mediocrity. That might be down to the editors more than the hosts. Coming off as anything but loathsome and rigid on camera is already a feat in itself and both men should further ease into their roles in successive episodes. So far, they’ve done a fine job.

Another positive is that the show also attempts to briefly educate viewers on the background of the project car and explain why it’s so unloved by the community. However, it would be wonderful if they spent a few extra minutes on this in future installments. So many auto-focused shows don’t bother to teach the audience, well, anything. Based on the show’s social media, it would appear that an upcoming episode will involve the Chevrolet Corvair, and there are few automobiles better suited to be the subject of a brief history lesson. Placing that additional focus onto the vehicle would also serve to make it that much more meaningful when Scotto and ACP debate on how extensively they need to modify it.

Car Saviors is already vastly superior to the likes of Misfit Garage or Fast N’ Loud and, hopefully, Discovery will consider it as a replacement. It’s a cut above typical reality-show nonsense and, if it continues down its current path, should be well received by enthusiasts wanting more than just men in beards arguing when they should be having fun. The first episode airs tonight, April 17th, at 10 p.m. ET.

[Image: Discovery]

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41 Comments on “Discovery’s ‘Car Saviors’ Abandons Obnoxious Automotive Programing and Adopts Fun...”


  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    “Car Saviors focuses on finding unloved vintage automobiles and resurrecting them to their former glory”

    You’ve got my attention.

    “…or mutating them into something far more interesting.”

    Oh, so close.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I’m hoping they end up doing a few straight-up restorations. The show’s formula doesn’t seem too rigid yet (smart) and they could easily split the cars 50/50 on the hoon/resto projects.

    • 0 avatar

      If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch a couple “will it run” episodes from the guys at Cold War Motors on youtube.

      It’s a bunch of Canadians who like to haul 50s cars out of fields and make them run. Drive them around a bit then park them and do it again.

      And check out the pre-war car he’s building from scratch. It’s amazing.

      It’s the antidote to all the overhyped car shows. I love it, and hope they keep going.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    “to convert a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II into a Hemi-powered drifting machine”

    Sounds like a shocking waste of a vintage Rolls-Royce, and the incorrect engine to use.

    #LS

  • avatar
    Caboose

    If they can put a 996 engine, IMS bearing and all, into that hypothetical Corvair, they’ll have me. If they’re a third as good as MCM and RoadKIll, I’m in.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    “Car Saviors focuses on finding unloved vintage automobiles and resurrecting them to their former glory”

    Sounds like what Wheeler Dealers used to be. But they’ve changed enough (thanks to being taken over by Discovery USA) that Edd has decided to part ways.

    • 0 avatar
      RedRocket

      From the later description of episode #1 being a conversion of a Roller into a Hemi-powered driftmobile, maybe not so much. I’ll give it a pass.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Really? Did not know that. I tended to rather like Wheeler Dealer because they *usually* dealt with cars that were at least somewhat obtainable by the average bloke. I got tired of other shows that worked on vehicles that were made of unobtainium. Maybe Edd just got tired of being the working stiff while Mike got the glory. Either way, sad to see Edd go. The show won’t be the same without him (or Velocity’s interference).

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        It was really noticeable last season that they cut back on the wrenching part for filler. You could see all the work they skipped over on some of the cars when they wouldn’t have done that before.

        And don’t let Mike play with tools, that’s not his thing.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaMaximaCulpa

      Wheeler dealers was great back in the day. Watching Edd wrench on a 205 Gti was super informative and like reading 50 random pages out of the Hanes manual. Now the US network – like almost any good show from abroad- has managed to mangle it beyond recognition.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        There seems to be an assumption that what brought a good foreign show to their attention won’t work for the audience *that is watching it* enough to bring it to their attention.

        Discovery did the same thing to James Burke’s Connections3. 1 and 2 was fabulous and 3 was a random mess.

      • 0 avatar
        TheDoctorIsOut

        Some things seem quintessentially British with no real translation to ‘Murican, three network attempts to crosspollinate “Fawlty Towers” to the States proved that many years ago. Last season’s U.S. episodes felt completely off kilter from start to finish with the bizarre Humvee episode in the middle completely off on another tangent that just seemed like it came from a different program altogether. I tune in mainly for Edd with Hustlin’ Mike as comic relief and keep the episode moving, not the other way around..

        • 0 avatar
          RedRocket

          WD has been sliding for the last 2 or 3 seasons, with the most recent one being by far the worst. It became more of a custom car build show than a fix/repair/restore show, which was a mistake. As part of that they seemed to feel the need to add in more scripted drama and conflict. The most bizarre was the 1916 Cadillac, apparently the last Edd episode, where they spent over $100K, didn’t show much actual work, and didn’t get it finished. Edd apparently has wanted out for a while and finally had enough with relocating to California. If you can find some of the early shows, they are worth watching.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I’m sincerely hoping that this program breaks the mold for Discovery’s car-culture programing. It looks like it might but, as stated in the article, I’ve only watched the one episode.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      “…that Edd has decided to part ways.”

      I have a feeling that I’ll give up on WD – Edd was the star.

      I agree heartily with everything in this article EXCEPT turning a classic RR into a drifter.

      To me, a “drift car” is the automotive equivalent of a grinding wheel designed to destroy thousands of dollars worth of tires per hour.

      Kind of like the old cartoons that showed entire tree trunks sent into a lathe that reduced them to single toothpicks – drop one into the box – bring another tree.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “But they’ve changed enough (thanks to being taken over by Discovery USA) that Edd has decided to part ways.”

      Dammit! This has long been one of my favorite automotive shows, especially the UK episodes. I thought it was great seeing cars that we didn’t get over here or that I hadn’t heard of and seeing them restored. I learned a lot watching Edd work. TBH, I was a little put off by what happened when they moved it to the US. Instead of focusing on restoring cars they spent a lot more time and effort converting cars into something else, and the entire premise changed. It went from “let’s buy, restore, and re-sell an interesting car on a shoe-string budget” to “let’s buy a car and fix it up and then convert it into something that it was never designed to be and then try to find someone who wants to buy it.” At first I was excited to have them coming here, because I felt like there were a lot of cool US cars that they could work on but it’s really jumped the shark.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    “…more than just men in beards arguing.”

    Don’t forget wearing the hat backwards. For God’s sake, you are a grown man, turn your damn hat around! I don’t know why but that irks the hell out of me.

    I would like to see more “fun” put into these type of shows and less drama. The episode where RoadKill cut up that Corvette to improve power/weight ratio was a classic. More shows like that and less $$$$ builds.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    My interest is piqued; why is a Silver Shadow II unloved? I’ve always really liked one, and if money and space ever permits, I’d love to have one kicking around for pimping around town, going to fancy dinners and events and the like. In fact, rather have a Silver Shadow than almost any new luxury car on sale today.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      Rolls ended up building a lot of Silver Shadows so it lacks the exclusivity of other models. It wasn’t exactly cheap but it was more accessible, had a long run, and Average Joes frequently ended up buying them second hand. Where the original Shadow was actually pretty revolutionary, the Shadow II didn’t change much (except for the interior). It also part shares with a lot of less exotic/fancy automakers — its GM400 Turbo Hydra-Matic being the most obvious example. So it has this stigma of being the “poor man’s” Rolls-Royce. Although, the Camargue seems to receive a lot more outright hatred.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I can’t help but watch Counting Cars sometimes.

    I can deal with the contrived nonsense, but I hate it when they steal Dad’s old car, pimp it with flames and a small block 350, then present it to him as an awesome surprise. If someone did that “for” me, I’d be so upset they didn’t make it factory original.

  • avatar
    ciscokidinsf

    I liked it better when it was called ‘Pimp My Ride’

    Seriously, Hulu or Netflix should call Xzibit and just do more episodes. Xzibit is not too busy these days I assume.

  • avatar

    Two Words: Project Binky

    https://www.youtube.com/user/badobsessionmsport

    • 0 avatar
      fiasco

      With Rex Hamilton as Abraham Lincoln!!!

      Co-host Andrew Comrie-Picard is a super-friendly rally guy, which more than offsets him being an entertainment attorney (or is that barrister since he’s Canadian?). ;) I hope he can make the magic happen and get a program out there with good appeal to both the gear-head audience and the rest of the world. GO ACP!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      cammark

      B.O.M. and Project Binky are by far the most enjoyable of all build “shows” for me. On one hand there is a long wait between episodes- 3 months on average, but on the other hand i think the anticipation of the next episode creates that much more excitement when it does go live. Also the dry British humour, the project concept, the down-to-earth but effective build methods all combine to create something unique and worthy of enthusiasm.

      Their influence also played a part in my recent purchase of an electric tea kettle…

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    Wheeler Dealers in other words, or at least what it used to be before being taken over by an American network and told to tone down the mechanicals – and losing Edd over it.

    Used to be about restoring an everyday classic, Edd working with knowledge and enthusiasm.
    Occasionally they would modify the car instead – the Jimny and VW Transporter episodes spring to mind.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    Please, just please, no more GD muscle cars. I’d be interested if they said “we’re not going to show, modify, drive, or mention any American V8 coupe built from 1960 to 1975 for one season”.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    As described others, the guys sitting and debating sound/video systems and wheel/tire combos, along with the age 12 arguments is one of the things that got me to cancel the TV completely. I gave up on the ‘rebuild the car’, with a car somewhere in the background while the nonsense continues up front before that.
    I did get some enjoyment over the shows that had a sense of humor. Monster Garage and Pimp My Ride occasionally did it. The school bus turned catapult package delivery, VW Golf into snowmobile, Mustang convert into lawn mower, and 60’s VW bus with modern sound/video systems, bar, and pivoting outside stop sign repainted to read “CHILL” (for those behind on an uphill).
    Roller drift car? Seems like another show where if I tried to watch…(cue snoring noise).

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Far better to go into my back yard and pick up my tools than watch ” adult babies ” having hissy fits over nothing .
    .
    I even get to enjoy the results of my labors too .
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    chris724

    I admit I did like Fast ‘n’ Loud for a while, but Aaron leaving the show has turned me against him. And then the recent thing vs. Street Outlaws made me hate those guys too. Fail all around.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    I roll my eyes when I see the operating-room clean ‘busy’ shops on the tv shows.
    With floors that perfect, not much has been done in the shops we see.

    • 0 avatar
      Shortest Circuit

      You’d be surprised how willing a bunch of tattooed, beanie-wearing grease monkeys are to clean the shop when there is no actual work and you ask them to clock out.

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