There's no doubt that Overhaulin' was one of the coolest car shows that was ever on television. The premise of the show was really simple yet incredibly cool. The show starred Chip Foose, one of the most respected names in car design. Foose had started working on cars when he was 7 years old before he started working for "Hot Rods by Boyd," owned by the legendary Boyd Coddington. After he and Boyd ended their relationship, TLC did a documentary on Chips design and the creation of a modified 2002 Ford Thunderbird called the "Speedbird." Soon after that, he became the host of Overhaulin'.
The show was awesome in its simplicity. A so-called victim that the show called "the mark" had a car that was nominated to be overhauled by his or her family and friends. The car was usually a cool antique. Then, the car was either supposedly "stolen," lost, or towed away by the police, which gave Chip Foose and his team of mechanics a week to modify and customize the car. And then, it would be returned to the owner, except, in theory, a million times cooler than before.
Here are 20 things you didn't know about the show:
Coddington was a legend in the industry and was the star of American Hot Rod. Foose worked with him for a number of years until things went sour. The rift between them was about money; Coddington had to file for bankruptcy, and Foose went out on his own and took a lot of the talented people who worked for Coddington. Foose later came out and said that Coddington pretty much stopped talking to him after that happened. Coddington passed away a few years ago but remains a legend in the auto world. That type of story is as old as time—an old pro takes a talented youngster under his wing; then, the old pro has some problems, and the talented youngster ends up striking out on his own, becoming even more successful than his mentor was. It's too bad that the two ended up having a rift between them, but none of that changes the fact that the two of them did amazing work together and that both of them seem like really cool guys.
We all know that reality shows aren't real, at least for the most part. Of course, all of them have at least some basis in reality—you know... like the cast of Real World actually did live together in a house. But that's about as far as that type of thing goes. Almost all reality shows are based on conflict, and a bunch of weird things happen that draw the viewer in. Overhaulin' was nothing like that at all. I mean, for sure, they would trick the mark and maybe stress that person out a little bit, but the whole point of the show was that Chip Foose actually wanted to do something really special for someone. The dude obviously totally loves cars and takes his craft really seriously, and he also seems like a really nice guy. Pretty much nobody has anything bad to say about him. This was one reality show that really was just about a dude making other people's cars a whole lot cooler, not just because of money either, as you know Foose would've done it all for free.
We just mentioned how a lot of reality shows simply aren't real and how a whole lot of things on them are made up. If you ever watched a show like The Hills, then you have a pretty good idea what I'm talking about. A couple of the main characters would be out at a fancy restaurant and would have a fight, and there would just happen to be a huge camera crew there. I mean, what a coincidence, right? Well, as much as there are a ton of different shows out there that are supposedly based on things that are supposed to be the actual reality but turned out to be fake, at least for the most part, Overhaulin' isn't one of them.
When they say that the crew had only 8 days to put together the car they were working on, they really had only 8 days.
These guys worked literally around the clock to get the job done. In fact, Chip Foose has been known to say that that was the only real regret he had about doing the show, as getting that custom work done in just 8 days wasn't easy at all!
When it comes to any sort of television show or any sort of business, for that matter, the bottom line is important, and Overhaulin' was no different. Paying Chip Foose and his staff of top mechanics didn't come cheap, so the show's producers had to figure out a way to cut some corners when it came to how much things cost, and getting discounted or free parts was one of the things they concentrated on.
Basically, they got a lot of free parts for a sort of loose sponsorship from a lot of companies.
Basically, the companies would either discount parts or give them for free to the show's producers, and in return, they'd either feature the companies' logo on the show or mention them in the credits. Is there anything wrong with this? Of course, there isn't; it's just a couple of businesses scratching each other's backs. But if you want to try to replicate what the show does and do some custom work yourself in your driveway, our bet is you're going to have to pay for your parts.
It's always cool to doing something nice for people who need it, and the show certainly did that at one point. Overhaulin' and CNN teamed up to trick out a famous Hummer the network had used in Iraq—“Warrior One," a vehicle they had used to transport network correspondents. After the vehicle had been modified, it went on tour to a bunch of military bases and hospitals. Eventually, it was put up for auction and went for 1.25 million bucks, which when you think of it, is totally crazy. So, who got the money? A charity called the "Fisher House Foundation," which helps out wounded soldiers by providing their families with housing while they receive major medical treatment. That's pretty cool. Who knew that modifying cars could help out wounded soldiers? One would think that there would be some dirt on Chip Foose out there, but nope—he just seems like a totally nice guy who just happens to be very talented with cars.
Now, don't get me wrong—if anyone showed up at my place and took my car away for 8 days and then brought it back and it was a hundred times cooler than it was before, I certainly wouldn't be mad about it, but I might be a little bummed out when I had to do my taxes the next year. You see, technically all of the people who had their cars totally tricked out on the show received a gift from it, which means they had to pay taxes on it. That might sound odd on the surface, but say you won 50 grand on The Price is Right, you know that you had to pay taxes on that, so why would it be any different when you win a whole lot of money on a show like Overhaulin'? It basically is the same scenario. So, when you see all of these people all excited that their car just got turned into something even more amazing than it already was, don't forget that even though you're driving a total beater, at least you don't have to pay taxes on it.
At one point, Chip Foose had a business arrangement with a company called "Unique Performance." The company got into trouble because it was taking money from people who wanted classic muscle cars but then ended up not delivering the vehicles.
Chip Foose told Car and Driver, "How did you know I was thinking of them? That was a nightmare. All I did was a drawing, and I was supposed to collect a royalty when he [Doug Hasty] sold or delivered a car. When he didn’t deliver cars, people came after me. I can say that just about everything I made on Overhaulin’ was spent there. Just protecting us. Legal bills."
No one ever thought that Foose was doing anything wrong in this situation, but people still came after him because he had money. This is a lesson for those who want to get into business with a company that might be shady. As the old saying goes, if it looks like it might be too good to be true, then it probably is.
Can you imagine all of the sob stories that producers hear when people write in and try to get their cars picked for Overhaulin' to work on? A lot of these people know folks who have old classic cars but who can't afford to really get them up to snuff and looking killer, so they turn to the producers of the show for help. What a nice story, right? Well, it kind of is because often, what happens is once the person gets the car back, he or she turns around and sells it. When you think about it, just the work itself that Overhaulin' put in is worth a lot of money, and then, when you top it off with the fact that the car became kind of famous because it was on the show, there's some actual money to be had. Sure, it kind of ruins the vibe of Cliff and his crew doing something really nice for people, but you remember what I already said about reality TV: none of it is all that real, and a lot of these people need cash more than a cool car.
Autorama, which takes place in Detroit, is a hot-rod and custom show, and one of the coolest parts of it is the prestigious Ridler Award, which the show gives annually to the best hot rod. Foose has won it a few times, and when asked which is a better award to win, America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) or the Ridler award, Foose told Car and Driver, "Boy, that’s getting political, isn’t it? The difficult thing with the AMBR award right now is that there’s no target on the wall about what you need to build. The way they’ve done the judging, your guess is as good as anybody’s about what you need to build. It’s not based on difficulty to build. It’s a choice now, not a judged trophy. As a builder, you’re thinking, 'We’ve got to push the envelope,' and that’s not what it’s about now." Obviously, Foose isn't just a television star; he also really knows his stuff and would be working on cars even if no one knew who he was.
S0metimes, the cars didn't come back perfect. A lot of times, people would need to have a little work done on their cars after they came back from being on Overhaulin'. Don't get me wrong—all of the major work was more than fine, but sometimes, there might be some scratches on the paint job or maybe a loose door handle or a problem with the suspension. The show always made it right, though, if someone went to them with a problem. This was never a big deal, and I'm not trying to make it out to be one, but it really does show once again the influence of Hollywood on what really is going on. The pressure is on Foose and his team to build something really impressive and flamboyant, something that the fans of the show would get really excited about, not to make sure all of the little details are correct. Do you think a fan is going to get totally excited about the fact that the oil cap was screwed on tightly? That isn't all that likely.
There are two kinds of people: you either like prank shows or you hate them. One of the funniest things about the show, at least to some people, was how Overhaulin' tricked the marks. As anyone who's ever watched the show knows, part of the scene, at least in earlier seasons, was that the owner of the car, called "the mark," was told his car was stolen or misplaced or that the cops had towed it, which gives the crew time to work on the car.
While there always was a happy ending when the person got his or her car back and saw that everything was fine, sometimes, people really got mad.
Now, to me, this just makes the show more fun. Who doesn't like to see someone fall victim to a practical joke? Well, I guess all sorts of people are nicer than I am because the show stopped doing it because of negative feedback from fans. I guess the whole thing was kind of odd in a way, as Overhaulin' was a car show, not an episode of Punk'd. But I have to admit, I still liked it!
It might seem kind of odd, but all of the cars aren't worth more money when they're done even though you'd think they'd be. For example, I know someone who owns a 1968 Alfa Romeo Gran Sport Quattroruote. Only 92 of these were made. Even though the car was built in the '60s, it has a vibe of a car from the '20s or the 30s, which is what makes it so cool. One recently sold for close to 200,000 dollars. If, for example, this car was put on Overhaulin' and modified, it would probably be worth way less than it would've been before. This isn't the norm, of course, as most of the cars on the show were definitely made more valuable because of the work that Foose and his crew had done on the cars that they had customized. But collectible cars are a really funny thing; people like particular models because of certain things that are unique to them. In fact, that's exactly what makes them valuable.
Chip Foose is a car guy, not a television star. When it comes right down to it, he's really all about how cool the cars he works on are, and he wants to show them to as large an audience as possible. Sure, he's the star of the show, but someone has to be. To him, it's all about the cars. He's even talked about how the fame that he has doesn't allow him to hang with his son at car shows.
He told Car and Driver, "The biggest downfall about the success of Overhaulin’ is that I just can’t take my son and enjoy a car show. It’s not fun for him to stand there when everyone wants to take a picture or get an autograph, which I don’t mind doing. But it breaks my heart that some of my favorite memories with my dad are walking around shows and looking at all these different cars and talking about them. I’m sad that I don’t get to share those moments with my son and share the passion that we have for cars."
Whenever something becomes super popular, producers and executives try to figure out ways to make more money from it. Overhaulin' was no exception. Occasionally, they would mess with the format of the show and bring on celebrities who needed their cars hooked up.
Some of the celebrities on the show were Ian Ziering and Jason Priestly, Lance Armstrong, Tony Todd, and Amber Heard.
While some fans might've thought this whole thing was kind of cool, most didn't, and the whole concept kind of died away. People wanted to think of someone who truly loved their car getting hooked up, not someone who was rich and spoiled and trying to look cool like they were a celebrity or maybe even trying to advance their career by being on the show. I mean, Ian Ziering and Jason Priestly? Come on! The producers soon listened to the fans, and this segment went away from the show faster than Jason Priestly left the Peach Pit when his shift was over.
It probably goes without saying that Overhaulin' got a lot of submissions from people for their cars to be on the show. I mean, who wouldn't want something like that when you think about it? The stories all had some sort of hook to them. Maybe it was someone who had lost his or her job, or there was an illness in the family. Maybe they had a beautiful car and had lost their passion and were looking to get it back, or it could be that it was a car enthusiast with a gorgeous old car, the owner not having the skill to get the job done right. There's only one selection per show, though, so a lot of people didn't get on. The other thing about the show is that the person whom the producers chose had to be somewhat charismatic, as it was a television show after all, and ratings were the name of the game. Even if you have the saddest story in the whole world, you need to have the right car and the right personality to get on the show.
Can you imagine having to do a major customization on a vehicle and having only 8 days to do it? For that matter, can you imagine having any major job to do and having only 8 days to do it? Even if it seems like the job would take only 8 days or less, the pressure has to be pretty crazy. What if something goes wrong? Foose told Car and Driver, "I really enjoyed doing that for people. And it’s more fun to do it for people who could never imagine having something like this in their life.The first five years that we filmed, we did every one of those cars in eight days or less. We did 29 cars in nine months. That was me not sleeping for an average of 24 days a month. It was a complete burnout by the end of the third season. Then, we were off for four years. When they asked me if I wanted to come back and do the show again, I said I’d love to. But give me three weeks per car. What would I do differently? I’d never agree to the eight days or less."
Some of the mechanics and crew who worked on the show had to work a lot to get the car done in the required 8 days. Some of them worked up to 150 hours in a week and only got a couple hours sleep a night. Foose wasn't a slave driver, though. He worked right alongside all of these people, and all have said they enjoyed working for Chip, as he's the type of guy who's really enthusiastic. And even though he's the boss, he's right beside them getting his hands dirty. You can tell Foose likes his free time now as he tells Car and Driver, "That’s the great thing about this job. My day is different every single day. I may stay home—I have a studio at home. Last night, I was in the shop until one in the morning fabricating on Wes Rydell’s ’39 Cadillac that we’re building. It’s going to be very stately. It will look like an original Cadillac until you look underneath." It sounds like Chip is enjoying himself now, and he deserves it.
"Gas Monkey Garage" sure is a cool name, but it seems that other than that, they could use a little bit of help in the marketing area. Gas Monkey Garage is run by a guy named "Richard Rawlings." You might've heard of him. He and his group were featured on Overhaulin', but things didn't work out, mostly because of a bad marketing scheme.
A marketing firm they had hired spent tons of time spamming car forums promoting the episode that Gas Monkey would appear in and then put together a promo video that pretty much everyone in the hot-rod industry hated.
Because of that, the Overhaulin’ episodes they appeared in got pulled off the air. This is one of those things that's hard for a lot of businesses to understand—when you get a big opportunity, it's really tempting to go big on it, but you still have to be smart and not make a fool of yourself and mess up the opportunity that you were given. Gas Monkey Garage learned a hard lesson, but now, Rawlings is super successful and has his own show, Fast N' Loud.
You can't make everyone in this world happy. No matter how talented or how genuine an artist you are, when it comes to cars, no matter how hard you work and how much you want to please someone, there are always going to be people who just won't be satisfied with the job that you do. One owner said that he had told the crew that his car shouldn't have been driven on the highway, but they did it anyway, and the car overheated. He also said they had gotten water in his engine by the way they had used a power washer and that the car had developed an inefficient nitrous system and had contained no backup lights or a gear indicator. No one's perfect, not even Chip Foose, and you have to figure that there were going to be some mistakes made here and there. With that said, there's no denying that Foose has one of the best reputations in the industry and that he and his crew members and mechanics did a great job on just about every single one of the cars on Overhaulin'.
Overhaulin' has sadly been off the air for a while now. So, what's next for Chip Foose? Well, he's obviously one of the most hardworking and talented people in the industry, and he still isn't that old, so we should all expect him to keep working on cars for a long time to come, which is something that's awesome for the rest of us. He told Car and Driver in an interview, "I don’t care what the underneath is as long as I get to be creative and build something no one has ever seen before. What has really been on my mind a lot is that I want to build a Duesenberg. I would love to find a chassis and design and build my own body. That’s how they used to build them back in the ’20s and the ’30s." I don't know about you, but I'd love to see what Foose does with a Duesenberg. Overhaulin' might be done as a show, but Foose is still around, and as long as that's true, he'll still be customizing some really cool cars.
Sources: caranddriver.com; Screenrant.com