There aren't many reality car shows out there that actually depict the reality of being in a car shop. To start it off, they will need some interesting characters. There are some shows that use those who already work in the featured shop, but there are also shows where they hire more "colorful" characters to add to the concept.
Then there are the dialogues, monologues, deadlines, and whatever else happens during an episode. Most, if not all of this is scripted on most shows today. There are even cases where something that was actually interesting happened off camera and they re-enacted it to put it in the show.
Those sound effects you hear in the background? Yeah, those are fake as well. Reality garage shows dub in sound effects of grinders, mallets banging, and office telephones ringing. There are even times when the fake background sounds aren't close to being correct for what a shop would sound like.
Do we even have to mention the drama? Real mechanics are technical-minded and practical problem solvers, not actors. There is no emotion that's easier to portray than anger. Everyone's been angry, everyone knows how to act angry, so the producers have decreed that their shows be larded with petty squabbles, stupid intrigues, and artificial deadlines.
Almost every show has the same tired structure repeated every episode. And always with the same overriding conceit; "Help! Our deadline is coming up. What are we gonna do? Will we make it?" Yes, you will. You always do!
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15 Counting Cars
Calling Counting Cars a reality show is a bit of an exaggeration as most of what we're shown has been scripted, staged, re-enacted, and edited before it gets aired. Or in other words: It's mostly fake.
The entire premise of a couple of guys with tattoos and bandanas driving slowly around neighborhoods looking for cars, or coming up next to nice cars on the road, telling the owner he's a car guy who wants to talk is just too silly. All the deals seen on the show have been settled beforehand, and what we're shown is scripted. Danny is supposedly a car expert, but these days, all his statements are fact-checked before being shown on TV as he's been wrong so many times.
14 Pimp My Ride
Yo dawg! Pretty much every aspect of this show was fake. In fact, the only thing that would make it any faker would be if they hired actors to pretend they owned the cars.
There were instances where the MTV crew would deliberately make a car look worse before filming. Some of the customizations on the cars would be removed once the cameras were turned off - apparently for safety reasons. Other parts would be swapped for something more "user-friendly", such as big rims being replaced with smaller ones when the car was delivered. One guy who had his car pimped on the show was told by Big Dane to be more enthusiastic about the result... so even the reactions were fake.
Anyone who's ever watched half an episode of Chopper knows that the show ended up being more about the family feuds than building bikes. The producers on the show absolutely loved the fact that Junior and Senior were always fighting and screaming at each other, as it would lead to better ratings.
Paul Sr. claims, the producers would cut scenes to make him look like the perpetual bad guy. While he does admit that he did wrong some of the time, not all was as it seemed. There's more fakery though. Money woes and “fame” is why Senior has decided to return to the Discovery show and fake repairing a relationship with his son in order to get his financial situation back in order.
12 Dallas Car Sharks
According to the members of several car forums and groups, this show is one of the worst, if not the worst of all the automotive shows out there. There is absolutely nothing real about it. Even their personalities are just an act!
The viewer doesn't get to see when they actually re-sell the car. Instead, they say something like "I can sell this for $X-amount and make tons off of it" - no proof is ever shown and the prices belong in some fantasy land. But wait, there's more! Cars have been known to be made to look worse so it would seem like a bargain, and in one episode the car was actually swapped out for an entirely different model by the time it was done.
11 Texas Car Wars
Texas Cars Wars aired in 2012, it featured Austin-area body shops that bought used cars, fixed them up and flipped them for a profit. Except none of it was real. The show’s first – and only – season featured eight episodes. Two years after the show was introduced, four people sued the production company, saying they never got paid.
The four people were identified on the show as working for the body shops, but that wasn’t the case. The lawsuit described them as “talent” for the show, not employed by the body shops. So the workers were fake, the cars seen in the salvage yards were brought in for the show, the auctions were fake and the cars were pre-purchased... there was no reality left in this reality show.
10 Graveyard Carz
The first few seasons of the show took more than a year to produce, but once they figured it out, they got it down to just around 100 days to produce a season. How? By planning out every last detail, leaving very little room for error and last second guest appearances. In other words; it's mostly scripted.
Instead of a show about car restoration, what we're actually getting is a product promo for a tool used for the restoration. However, we don't get to see them use it very much - probably due to time constraints with it taking so much time trying to sell us one.
Then there are about 15 minutes of the owner yelling and tooting his own horn before the inevitable team-building activity. Fake!
9 Fantom Works
Fantom Works is one of those shows that claims nothing is scripted. Ok, if that's the truth, then the owner is just a bad person and none of the people on the show should go anywhere near a car. Every car they work on turns into "worse condition than we initially thought". One would think an experienced shop would check things properly, or at least learn from previous mistakes?
The prices they quote are ridiculous, and if it's really not scripted there sure are a lot of clueless owners out there, and Dan's know-it-all, everything-I-do-is-perfect attitude is laughable after seeing some of the finished products. Alternatively, there's some fake stuff going on here and whoever is writing the script doesn't know much about cars.
8 West Coast Customs
WCC has been involved in a lot of fake stuff over the years. They first became famous for modifying cars brought in by X-to-the-Z Xzibit on Pimp My Ride - a show where it turned out everything was fake.
Then, along with Will.I.Am, they were involved in a staged "theft" of the star’s $700k Delorean. Will came out and found his car was missing, but it was miraculously "found" by WCC and soon after was featured on the show. And there's one tiny little detail that never seems to get highlighted on the show... The cars are often not road-worthy upon delivery - several former employees have mentioned faulty mechanics and cars needing a lot of work after the cameras are turned off.
7 Misfit Garage
The show focuses on the guys who run a shop called Fired Up Garage, and some of those characters have been fired from Richard Rawlings' Gas Monkey Garage. So there needs to be a feud between the two shops, and Rawlings is depicted as the bad guy. In reality, he's their landlord and also the producer of the show.
The main characters make between $17,000 and $25,000 per episode, which is way more than they seem to profit from the builds they do on the show. So the garage isn't their main income. There has also been lots of stuff that's been faked just to have some kind of storyline. In fact, pretty much everything that happens on the show has been scripted.
Everyone knows the staged theft of the vehicles at the beginning of each show is, well, staged. But there are more faked scenarios on Chip Foose's Overhaulin' show.
There's a reason why the presenters are always jazzed with every development or "major" hidden issues they encounter... it's to make it seem like everything done on the show is a constant battle against the clock and to increase the drama. Not all the owners were happy with the modifications done to their car, and a lot of the times the cars weren't really finished when they were handed back to the owner.
In addition, all major alterations on the cars are done with the owner's permission, so it's not always the big surprise they show on TV.
5 Monster Garage
Jesse James' Monster Garage was a huge hit, but part of what made it a huge hit was the fact that parts of the show were faked and scripted. There just isn't much entertainment value in a show featuring a team of guys performing some mechanical work - at least not until the end when the project was completed and it was time to see if all the hard work paid off.
In order to make it more interesting, the producers would sprinkle some TV-magic on it and add a little extra drama - like the time a window shattered from being sandblasted.
The audience needs to be entertained, and a bit of added fake drama to a reality show goes a long way.
4 Diesel Brothers
The content of every episode is scripted and carefully prepared. In one episode, a truck burned during production - but it wasn't caught on camera. The production team thought it was awesome and had the idea to reproduce the accident, but this time with the cameras carefully placed and recording - then the fake fire got out of control, making it a bit more exciting than they planned.
The Diesel Brothers pride themselves on being from America and reached an agreement with Patriot Tires, a company that is proud to say that they conduct the designing, the testing, the marketing, and the quality assurance processes of their products in the United States. But... the tires are made in Taiwan and use rubber from Malaysia and Thailand.
3 Fast N Loud
Everyone has heard of Richard Rawlings' Fast n Loud and the Gas Monkey Garage by now, and people seem to either love the show or hate it with a burning passion. No matter which camp you belong to, you should know a lot of what they show is fake.
They claimed they'd found two Firebirds that were prototypes, which wasn't true at all.
Sometimes they use fake deadlines to make it seem like they're running out of time, other times they change the problems and make it seem trivial and easy to fix. The interactions with customers are fake, some of the cars they claim to have sold are still in their possession... But seeing how many people watch the show, we guess it's ok?!
2 Top Gear
While the lap times set by the Stig and the bromance between Matt LeBlanc and Chris Harris might be real, there's a lot of fakery going on when producing an episode of Top Gear. This really isn't something new, it was the same with the previous trio that hosted the show.
Instead of going into details of every fake thing they've done over the course of 26 seasons, let's just say that the show is scripted, and even when you know that, it's done so beautifully and in such an entertaining manner, that it doesn't even matter. What happened in Argentina was real though.
1 The Grand Tour
Seeing as these are the same guys that turned Top Gear into the most famous car show on the planet, it shouldn't come as a surprise that The Grand Tour is basically just more of the same... but with a much bigger budget.
One would have to be both blind and insane to believe this show was real and unscripted, but just like Top Gear, most of it is extremely well executed. While some of the fans of the hosting trio think their new show has taken things too far, it also allows them to do more of the fun stuff. We don't mind this scripted reality at all.
Sources: IMDB, The News Wheel, e-Celebrity Facts