Car shows on TV have gained a lot of popularity in recent decades. However, despite being termed under the category of reality shows, they are often heavily scripted, and a lot of the drama that goes on in the show is fake and staged in advance.
Many of these shows often hire actors as mechanics and, at times, even tend to give you the wrong information about cars. Most of these car shows tend to use the same story structure every single episode, facing deadlines and major problems until we reach the end, where everything magically works out successfully.
Two Guys Garage – A Reality Show that is Real for the Wrong Reason
Starting the list is Two Guys Garage. The show features two hosts, Kevin Byrd and Willie B, who share their technical knowledge with viewers on tips about automobile repairs. The show is the oldest and longest-running reality TV Show on this list. The show first aired in 2001 and has 20 seasons to date.
‘Two Guys Garage’ practically claims to cover a systematic guide to everything to do with automobile repair, customizing parts, and restoring worn-out parts. The show is a reality show for the wrong reason, in the sense that it really feels like a very long commercial where the two hosts are more concerned with advertising the products they use.
Two Amateur Advertisers Selling Products
Viewers have widely criticized the show as two amateurs trying to advertise products while claiming to teach viewers how to repair or restore parts. The two hosts do not come off as genuine due to their overuse of stupid, unfunny jokes and their intense hand gestures and overhyped sales pitches.
Many viewers and customers of the show complain that the two hosts make it seem like they did a lot of work on the show, while in reality, it was far from that, and the work they did actually needed to be double-checked and done again. Moreover, they often indulge in petty things like pumping air and changing windshield wipers, which are common knowledge.
Unique Whips – Unique For The Wrong Reason
Unique Whips is another car show that first aired on the Speed Channel way back on February 8, 2005. Will Castro hosted the show, based in Long Island, New York. The auto shop featured on the show, Unique Autosports, specialized in carrying out custom jobs for famous celebrities.
As its name suggests, this show was unique, but not in the way the producers intended. The auto shop featured in this show had the unique distinction of ending up going broke. This made it even less trustworthy. The show focused on various customizations, like car stereos, interior work, custom paints, etc.
Celebrities in the Limelight Instead of Cars
The show did quite well, bringing celebrities like LeBron James, Pharrell Williams, Orlando Bloom, etc. This garnered the attention of viewers and helped a lot with the show’s success. However, it focused too much on celebrities and their high-end cars instead of focusing on the actual job of customizing cars.
The show featured many fancy cars, like Cadillacs, BMWs, Bentleys, etc. However, despite the expensive cars and impressive customizations featured on the show, it failed as a reality show on TV. The auto shop featured on the show eventually went broke in 2011, and the show host, Will Castro, moved on to a different business.
Overhaulin’ – The Washed-Up Format of the Show
Overhaulin’ is a popular TV car show starring Chip Foose. It originally ran for five seasons from 2004-2008 before returning in 2012 after a four-year break. The show claims to be real, but every viewer who has watched it can understand that the show is scripted from the beginning.
The show always follows the same format, beginning with a random person who has their car towed away by Foose and his team in public. Foose and his team then work tirelessly to overhaul the stolen car into a high-performance car, while the owner or victim is ‘seemingly’ unaware of its whereabouts.
Staged Emergencies and Miracle Saves
The team faces some ‘major issues’ or ‘emergencies’ in the process, all scripted. As the team tries to finish before the deadline, the tension sparks drama. However, by the end of the show, a ‘miracle save’ happens, and we get to see Foose presenting the modified car as a surprise to the owner.
The owner’s relatives financed the whole project, and despite the positive reactions of the car owners, not all owners are happy with the changes. There were many situations when the team handed back incomplete cars to the owners. Moreover, the owners give their permission for all major changes, so it’s not really much of a surprise for them, as you can see.
Trick my Truck – Only the Worthy are Chosen
Trick My Truck is another American TV car show in the ‘reality show’ category. It first aired on Country Music Television, or CMT, on February 3, 2006. The show ran for five seasons, with 59 episodes in total. The show contained several hosts, together known as the “Chrome Shop Mafia,” and had some elements of Pimp My Ride.
The TV Car Show usually follows the same format every episode. The “Chrome Shop Mafia” members would choose the ‘worthy’ drivers or truckers from a large pool of letters and calls from family and friends of the drivers. The hosts would then surprise the chosen driver and take their truck to the auto shop.
Promoting the Trucker Image
The hosts on the show actually had good intentions of promoting the trucker image, which is usually bad. The show tried to integrate the personal lives of the truckers when carrying out the makeovers in hopes of sharing their stories with the viewers. This often led to many insane things being carried out on the trucks.
Despite the positive message the show tried to portray, the real mechanical work carried out on the trucks was often not given enough visibility. This method of portraying the show undercuts the crew’s technical effort into making the trucks, which is, ironically, what a TV car show should be portraying.
American Hot Rod – The Hot Rod Master-Builder
American Hot Rod is a ‘reality TV car show featuring renowned car designer Boyd Coddington as the show’s host. The show originally aired from 2004 to 2007 on two channels – The Learning Channel and Discovery Channel. The show took place at Boyd’s Wheel and Car Shop in La Habra, California.
Boyd Coddington actually had a good reputation as a hot rod builder. Hot Rods are old classic cars, or sometimes modern cars that have undergone changes and modifications with larger engines focusing on better performance. However, Boyd had many issues with his attitude and treating his staff members on the show.
Lack of Chemistry Among the Crew
The show had a great lack of chemistry among its crew members, mostly due to the high-pressure environment they worked in under Coddington. The show often had a lot of fights and arguments erupting among the staff members or with Boyd. This often became a trademark of the show, as it seemed like the staff members could never work together.
The show ended abruptly when Boyd Coddington died in February of 2008 due to health complications from surgery. However, the show was already showing signs of failing despite some of the jobs portrayed in the show, which were excellent jobs. The show had a terribly high staff turnover rate, as crewmembers left in search of a more relaxed environment.
Street Customs – Name Alterations and Jumping Networks
‘Street Customs’ is a reality TV car show featuring the auto shop, ‘West Coast Customs.’ The show starred Ryan Friedlinghaus as the host and first aired on TLC and Discovery Channel for three seasons from 2007 to 2009. The reality show, based in Burbank, California, was quite popular among TV viewers.
The show constantly changed names and network channels. The show’s original name, ‘Street Customs,’ was renamed ‘Inside West Coast Customs’ after three seasons of airing and moved to Discovery HD Theater/Velocity. After three seasons, the producers later decided to drop the ‘Inside’ to just ‘West Coast Customs’ and changed to Fox Sports before eventually adding it again in the seventh season and moving to Motor Trend.
Ryan Friedlinghaus’ Career Over the Years
Ryan started his work on another popular but fake TV car show, ‘Pimp My Ride,’ where he featured his crazy car custom jobs on cars brought in by Xzibit, the show’s host. He later got his own show, performing car custom jobs for famous celebrities like Will.I.Am, Mark Wahlberg, and Shaquille O’Neal, etc. However, a lot of the work done on the show proved false.
Ryan Friedlinghaus garnered a seedy reputation due to his terrible temper, which caused many overturning employees. The show also faced many backlashes from customers regarding the quality of the custom work done on the cars. Some former employees admitted that the cars needed extra work behind the cameras to make the cars fit for riding on roads.
Fastest Car – The Concept of the Show
As the name suggests, the show is about speed and performance, involving high-speed car races in every episode. The show is a Netflix original series, which premiered on April 6, 2018, and lasted for two seasons, with only 15 episodes in total. Fastest Car is the first global automotive series that belongs to Netflix.
The show had quite an exciting concept, wherein each episode, drivers of modified ‘sleeper’ cars would go up against stock exotic supercars with top performance in a quarter-mile drag race. The show featured many stylish and expensive supercars from top brands like Lamborghini, Ford, McLaren, Ferrari, Tesla, etc.
The Show had Several Flaws
Despite the great concept presented by the show, there were many flaws hidden in the show. To start, some of the so-called ‘sleeper’ cars featured in the show already had a very high performance with top speeds and hardly needed modifications. Moreover, some of the ‘supercars’ on the show weren’t exactly top models known for their speed.
The biggest mistake the show made was perhaps representing the wrong type of car culture. The hosts on the show promoted the false idea that ‘supercar’ owners are all jerks and deserve to lose against the ‘sleeper’ owners. So, despite the exciting car races, the show failed as a TV car show as it represented a false car culture.
Diesel Brothers – All for the Love of America and Diesel Trucks
Diesel Brothers is another TV car show falling under the category of the least trustworthy car shows on TV. The show first aired in 2016 and has six seasons. The show, based in Utah, has two hosts, Heavy D and Diesel Dave. Despite what the name of the show suggests, the duo are not actually brothers.
The show presents the two hosts as fans of large diesel-powered trucks. Together with their crew, the duo works on restoring the large trucks, fine-tuning their performance and their overall looks and design. Despite the hosts bragging about their love for America, the show had scandalous accusations of ironically using cheap foreign parts.
An Out-of-Control Fire
The show is scripted and heavily edited; during one episode, the show producers faked a truck catching fire. The truck had originally caught fire off-camera, but the producers and crewmembers staged another accident while the cameras were rolling, as though it happened spontaneously. The fire, however, went out of control and caused other damages.
The Diesel Brothers had a sponsorship agreement with Patriot Tires, an American-based company. The company proudly boasted about carrying out all company activities in the US, including designing, testing, and manufacturing products. However, the tires from the company were actually made in Taiwan with rubber imported from Malaysia and Thailand.
Fast N’ Loud – Fake Discoveries and Deadlines
Fast N’ Loud is one of the most popular and successful car shows on this list, which eventually made the show’s star, Richard Rawlings, a millionaire. The show features Rawlings and his crew, based in Dallas, Texas, working in the ‘Gas Monkey Garage,’ where they flip old and run-down cars and sell them for a profit.
Many of the things presented on the show are sham. In one episode, the show producers claimed to have discovered two prototype Firebirds, an absolute lie, as you can guess. Moreover, the show had fake deadlines created to endorse the idea of the crew being under pressure and barely making it on time for each episode.
Hidden Crew Members and Manipulated Tasks
The show always presented a small team of staff with the main host, battling to meet deadlines, but a larger crew of staff was hidden from the cameras in real life. The show was also responsible for manipulating tasks to make them seem longer or shorter than they really are.
Fast N’ Loud has clearly won the distinction of being one of the most popular car shows on TV. However, popularity doesn’t simply translate to trustworthiness. The show had many scripted moments to create drama, and the interactions with customers were fake, as some of the cars on the show were never sold despite being presented otherwise.
Misfit Garage – Rivalries and Feuds Between the Two Garage Members
Misfit Garage is a spin-off of the famous show Fast N’ Loud. The entire show is anything but real. The show is run by four guys, including Tom Smith and Jordan Butler, who were supposedly fired from Richard Rawlings’ Gas Monkey Garage. The show ran for six seasons after premiering on October 13, 2014.
Misfit Garage takes place in a shop called Fired Up Garage, only a few miles from Rawlings’ garage. The show presents the Gas Monkey Garage as rivals and constantly shows the members insulting one another. Rawlings is the main target of the insults and is depicted as the ‘bad guy’ who constantly undermines the guys at Fired Up Garage.
Faking up a Storyline
The storyline involving rivalry and the relationship depicted on the show with ex-boss Rawlings are all fake. Despite the insults and conflicts, Rawlings is the real owner of both garages and produces both shows. This brings up the question of whether Rawlings really fired Smith and Butler or staged it to set up the new show.
The show is definitely a hit, but many of the jobs were obviously fake and set up. A prime example of this was creating a modified motorcycle for the new Jurassic World movie. In addition, the producers scripted and staged the whole show, easily making it one of the least trustworthy car shows on TV.
Street Outlaws – Glorifies the Wrong Type of Car Culture
Street Outlaws is a reality car show that shouldn’t even exist in the first place, as the entire show is all about illegal street racing. Despite this, however, the TV Car Show ran for 13 long seasons after it first premiered on June 10, 2013, on the Discovery Channel.
Street Outlaws has been accused of glorifying a wrong type of car culture, and rightfully so, despite its popularity among viewers. Street racing is illegal and very risky as it causes many major accidents in real life, especially in the US.
Real Consequences and Edited Scenes
There have been reports about how authorities have threatened racers with losing their licenses after appearing on the show. Also, many scenes involving the races are heavily edited to heighten the actual events that go on while shooting the show.
The real pressing issue with the show is that it gives a false preview of what actually takes place when street races are organized. In reality, people should avoid street races as they are dangerous and illegal, but the show promotes them as something fun and exciting.
Caffeine and Octane – What Goes on in the TV Show?
Caffeine and Octane is a TV show based on a major auto meet event of the same name. The event takes place in Atlanta monthly and brings together fans from all over the country. People come from different places to check out cars and sometimes buy them or arrange swap deals.
The Caffeine and Octane TV Show claims to tell the story of the numerous car enthusiasts that come to the Caffeine and Octane auto meet without any fake drama. The TV show itself is quite popular and reached 250 million viewers worldwide in 5 seasons, first airing in February 2017.
Far from the Reality of the Event
A TV show based on the event sounds like a great and successful idea, but the way the producers have shot the show doesn’t do justice. The entire show feels like a low-quality replica of other top shows like The Grand Tour and Top Gear. As a result, the show misses the essence of just how much fun the auto meets actually are.
The show has four main hosts who, on paper, seem like a great ensemble. The group includes world champion motorcycle drag racer Rickey Gadson, automotive historian Skip Smith, custom builder Bryan Fuller, and Youtuber David Patterson. Unfortunately, despite their success off the show, their performances as show hosts are poor, and their relationships seem too fake.
The Issue with the Narrow Focus of the Show
Graveyard Carz is a popular car show on TV created by and starring Mark Worman. The show takes place in Springfield, Oregon, and follows the typical makeover series of a garage. The show has been running for quite a long time and is in production for its 15th season on the Motortrend channel.
The main purpose of the show is to restore late 1960’s/early 1970s Mopar muscle cars. In fact, the motto of the Graveyard Carz auto shop is “Mopar or no car.” The “Ghouls” would track down long-abandoned cars and restore them, but this narrow focus of restoring only one type of car became an issue.
Scripted Moments and Dubious Findings
The comedic elements of the show are scripted, and this becomes obvious over time. The show has been on for 15 seasons. By now, viewers should realize that the chances of finding abandoned Mopars at random are highly unlikely and a dubious attempt to entertain people, making the show gradually artificial.
The show initially took almost a year to shoot one season. It should come as a shock to viewers that now it only takes around 100 days to produce one season of the show. This is further proof that the show is heavily scripted and planned to the very last detail to avoid any foreseeable circumstances that could crop up.
Desert Car Kings – The General Format of the Show
Desert Car Kings is a car show on TV, which first aired on January 26, 2011, and lasted only one season. The show features the McClure family and their workers, with Jason McClure and his father, Ron McClure, as the main characters. The McClure family runs the Desert Valley Auto Parts in Phoenix, Arizona.
The show was shot and recorded in Arizona, and it claims to restore cars found in Arizona. The McClure family and their workers from the auto shop hunt down cars that are often in rough shape and condition. The team then set out to restore the cars in a swift amount of time.
Restoring but not Really Restoring
The problem with the restorations presented on the show is that they are not actually restorations but simply replacements of parts. The crew does not alter or modify the manufactured car parts; instead, they simply add some new parts like wheels, car décor, and a fresh coat of paint.
The show has had many mixed responses from critics and has gained only an average rating overall. Some critics have gone on to call it superficial, and this car show definitely makes the cut as one of the least trustworthy car shows on TV, especially after it failed to air a second season.
Counting Cars – The Show’s Absurd Format
Counting Cars is one of those car shows far from being a reality show. Despite the scripted events and the numerous edits and retakes that take place before airing, producers still consider it a reality show. The show stars Danny Koker and has been a hit, but it also faced a lot of heavy criticism from critics and viewers.
The show follows a very absurd and comical format where two guys with tattoos, wearing bandanas, cruise around the neighborhood looking for cars on the street. Sometimes, the guys take a step further and approach random people with a proposition to customize their cars. All this drama is hard to take in as reality.
Danny’s Questionable Car Knowledge
Danny Koker first appeared as a car expert on ‘Pawn Stars and later got his own car show where his garage handled all kinds of car customization work. Despite allegedly being a car expert, Danny makes many mistakes regarding facts about cars and their history, which has prompted producers to fact-check his statements before airing the show.
The show has a lot of manufactured drama and has various issues stemming from Coker’s outspoken views. The show gained a lot of scandal for firing workers under questionable situations as well. Some of the customers have given bad reviews about Danny’s garage conditions, stating that we get to see only a fine-tuned version of it on TV.
Wrench’d – Justin’s Doubtful Car Expertise
Wrench’d is the latest show on the list, having first premiered only in May of 2018 on the Velocity channel. The show takes place in a small town in Illinois, where Justin Nichols runs an auto shop, leading a team of highly qualified professionals. However, viewers have heavily criticized the show, giving it a bad reputation.
On the show, Justin, the main host and self-proclaimed ‘visionary in his field,’ talks and acts like a real car expert. However, many other people from the same field have termed him fake, and, despite his creative passion, he messes up on numerous occasions and looks like he is unaware of the things happening around him.
The Show is Heavily Scripted, Like Many Other Car Shows
Despite being the newest reality car show, everyone who has viewed the show has a general idea of how the show will end up. It doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre and follows the same scripted format that many car shows have tried and tested in the past.
Many of the jobs done on the show have received heavy criticism from viewers because of the way the crew work. In one episode of the show, the team customized a Mustang and had trouble getting the car to start. It all seemed like none of the so-called ‘highly qualified professionals’ had an idea of what was happening.
Pimp My Ride – Excessive Focus on Outer Appearance
Pimp My Ride is the car show that started the whole genre of car shows featuring customization. The show ran on MTV and featured X to the Z Xzibit as the host. The show was quite successful and managed to bring in many celebrities, but everything about it was fake.
The producers selected the cars to be modified on the show, and often, the camera crew intentionally made cars look worse than they really were before shooting. Moreover, the show emphasized more focus on the outer appearance of the cars rather than the car’s performance, like adding LED screens, flashy paint jobs, and music systems, etc.
Just for the Cameras
There were many instances when the crews removed some of the customizations added to the cars for safety reasons. Sometimes, the crew would replace parts like big wheel rims with smaller sizes for something more ‘user-friendly’ or to cut costs. All these changes happened behind cameras.
All the cars modified in the show underwent crazy modifications, which were quite expensive. The cars’ owners later faced problems with the expenses as their insurance rates skyrocketed due to the modifications. Moreover, maintenance was an issue, and the owners couldn’t resell the cars because of the changes. Thus, the customization work actually did more harm to the owners than good.
Texas Car Wars – A Group of Actors
Texas Car Wars was just a sad joke of a reality car show airing on TV. The entire show was fully scripted, and many of the workers, including the stars of the show, were all just actors. The show ran only for one season in 2012, with a mere eight episodes, and is one of the worst car shows ever made.
The show featured four Austin-area body shops, each run by four mechanics, who were really actors with no previous experience in the field. The four body shops competed against each other at auctions and junkyards as they tried to get their hands on the best-used cars to restore and flip them for a good profit.
Everything was Fake and Scripted
Everything on the show turned out to be fake, from the mechanics to the auctioned cars. In fact, all the auctions were staged, and the cars were all purchased in advance. Moreover, the show focused more on the drama and feud between the body shops instead of the actual restorations.
In 2014, two years after the show first aired, some former employees of the show sued the reality show and filed a lawsuit against it. The lawsuit stated that several show employees were never paid, and it revealed that they were merely actors and not employees of the body shops.
American Chopper – The Feuds Take the Limelight
This reality show starred the father and son duo of Paul Teutul and his son, Junior. The duo and their crew manufactured classic California-style choppers in New York City. This show was an excellent program for classic bike lovers as the early seasons gave a nice display of the varied number of classic bikes.
However, in the later seasons, the American Chopper show soon became a family-fueled drama focusing on the hot-blooded relationship between Paul and his son Junior. The duo had constant fights and arguments resulting in the violent destruction of objects, and their fights took more importance than the bikes on the show.
More Fights, More Ratings
Despite the constant screaming, feuds, and internet memes arising from an image of the arguments, the duo had a good relationship, and the producers actually staged the fights to increase ratings. Paul Senior claimed after some years that the producers went out of their way to present him as the bad guy, even cutting scenes and reenacting them.
The producers depicted Junior as fired from the shop. This gave them the chance to spice up the storyline, as the show now became a competition between the father and son with their own crews who restore bikes. However, the duo reunited in 2018 for a new series that focused on family drama instead of the bikes.
Garage Rehab – Old Formula with a New Twist
Garage Rehab aired in 2017 and has two seasons. The show stars Richard Rawlings, who is sort of a popular celebrity in the car show genre, having already starred in two shows. In the show, Richard Rawlings visits various garages around the country struggling with business in the hope of saving them.
The show follows the old formula of modifying and flipping cars, but it presents a new twist: Rawlings invests a large sum of money into the garages. Rawlings invested about $100,000 to remodel the garages and get some new equipment.
Investments Come from a Different Pocket
The ‘investments’ made by Rawlings on the show are not from his own pocket. They come from his promotional deals, and the businesses he visits are generally in good condition and far from bankruptcy. Thus, all these things make the TV Car Show difficult to trust, especially with Rawlings’ reputation for fake reality shows.
Most people who have watched Rawlings’ old shows know that manufacturing fake dramas and deadlines is his trademark on the shows. The crew members’ short deadlines and drama create tensions and entertain viewers more than the actual restoration work. Moreover, sparks and tensions between the members bring in more viewers and higher ratings.