Coming off the heels of making a documentary with legendary customizer Jesse James, Thom Beers—the creator of Monster Garage—had a strange dream. “I dreamt of a Mustang turning into a lawnmower,” Beers shared, as per a YouTube video uploaded by Thom TV.
This humorous fantasy is what sparked the concept for the hit show. “I honestly thought he smoked something when he explained it to me,” Jesse joked, trying to hold back laughter. Little did they know that the idea behind the show would go on to be a huge success and that the Mustang lawnmower would actually come to life in the first season.
The show centered around various teams taking on custom builds that only a maniac could think up. If they managed to pull it off in the end, Jesse awarded them with a set of Mac Tools and CDs.
Accomplishing the build was often a breeze, other times they had to slap on last-minute changes that deviated from the original vision just to get it out the door on time. With only five days to transform conventional vehicles into something monstrous, the clock was always ticking. If they didn’t manage to do it, which only happened on rare occasions, then Jesse would have the pleasure of destroying it.
The show had last minute changes throughout, but there were ones Jesse didn’t seem to have much peace of mind over. Whether it instilled a lack of confidence in the vehicle’s integrity or just ended up being something different from what they had originally planned, these last-minute decisions just didn't sit right with Jesse James during the airing of Monster Garage.
20 Grim Ripper – Season 1, Episode 7
In this episode, the team sought to convert a 1973 Cadillac hearse into a “Grim Ripper." The episode featured the usual stanzas with the team even using a butane torch to cook burritos for lunch. That’s exactly when Jesse first started showing concern for what little time remained. Instead of executing the original plan, which envisioned the retractable auger bit springing out, Jesse decided to put it in a fixed position.
Even though the car came alive briefly, their last hydraulic belt broke and the build ultimately got axed. Jesse must’ve regretted sacrificing the drill section since he came up with the idea until they revisited the build in season 2 to make the Gravedigger Hearse (pictured here).
19 Firetruck Brewery – Season 3, Episode 6
“After 48 episodes of making cars go crazy,” said the Monster Garage’s host Big Schwag, "We’re finally doing something that makes sense.” A firetruck that could make beer sounded like the ideal project for Jesse and the shop. With a brewing vat attached to the car, the team realized the smokestack needed a top.
“I guess I could make a little hat for the top of that smokestack,” said Jesse, who got to work on a beautifully crafted copper topper for the firetruck's chimney. Jesse ended up needing to make a stop at his West Coast Choppers shop to shape the copper to his liking. “It looks pretty like, 'what the hell?’-looking,” Jesse said, expressing a tinge of regret.
18 Ford Model A Hot Rod – Season 3, Episode 16
Jesse worked with a team in the Bronx to convert a 1929 Ford Model A into a hot rod. When Jesse rolled in one day, he found the team’s conflict was palpable. While he worked on some headers, one of the crew members brought in a Vertex Magneto distributer last minute to help power the motor.
Later on though, when Jesse attempted to get the engine going, the car wouldn’t start. One of them checked it out and proclaimed that the Magneto had died. “Why does that not surprise me?” Jesse said. It was a last minute decision Jesse and the rest of the team probably wish they could take back.
17 Ford Bronco Rock Crawler – Season 1, Episode 20
This poor Bronco aspiring to be a rock climber went through numerous eleventh-hour fixes. When they got the engine running, it started to leak. On top of that, the thermostat housing broke in half. The part only cost $6, but they didn’t have the time to go buy one, so they swapped it from another Bronco someone else owned. When they get the motor going again, coolant still leaked out.
That’s when Jesse stepped in and used what looked like a simple tourniquet to mend it. “OK, let’s go,” Jesse said, sounding nervous about time. It was a necessary last-minute fix, but one he probably regretted. Not to mention the Oldsmobile they ended up wrecking with the Bronco.
16 Ford School Bus Pontoon Boat – Season 1, Episode 8
What usually happens on the first day of a Monster Garage episode is planning the build. Sometimes though many of their ideas get abandoned when they’re confronted with actually making it in the shop. Jesse and another builder, Jim, struggled to see eye to eye on a project that transformed a Ford school bus into a pontoon boat. After the team had trouble with the pontoons actually folding out, Jesse wanted to come up with a plan B.
However, Jim fought to keep his original winch device in play. While the plan ultimately worked in the end, the pontoons themselves fold out rather clumsily, perhaps making Jesse wish they had exercised another option.
15 Toyota Celica “Hellica” Jet Car – Season 2, Episode 14
Monster Garage actually made a jet car that ended up working, but it took a lot of headaches to get there. As they closed in on making their Toyota Celica into an aptly named “Hellica,” Jesse had to do some last minute tinkering on the afterburner when it wasn't lighting. That forced him to cut the afterburner to fix it. As if that wasn’t enough, when Jesse took it out for a spin, the back half got scorched.
They went to work to look for the issue and found that welding wire shavings had been the culprit behind fuel loss. Not only did it create more work after they had wrapped the project but was avoidable as Jesse had warned.
14 Ford Mustang Switchblade – Season 1, Episode 4
As detailed in the intro earlier, this episode finally brought the dream of a Mustang lawnmower to life. The project wasn’t without its challenges though. The plastic skateboard wheels that would roll the front wedge into place seized up and started to smoke. They had to make custom steel wheels instead. Furthermore, the original plan of making panels that fold-out of the door with wheel-driven rotary blades went out the window.
Instead, Jesse had to resort to using blades on the doors that were strictly ornamental and didn’t actually cut grass. They even made an exhaust system at the last minute just to “save face.” The last minute touches on this ride were likely regrettable.
13 Sling Ray – Season 1, Episode 24
The team had the task of turning a 1973 Corvette Sting Ray into a mean slinger that could off-road. Jesse again showcased his otherworldly skills in putting together some headers that stuck straight up. It was one of the last things to go in. When the crew started to set them in place though, they realized something was up.
“Hey Jesse, I hate to be the one to tell you this but I think the flanges are on upside down.” Jesse couldn’t believe it at first and had to laugh it off before making some last minute fixes. Even the best fabricators make mistakes sometimes
12 1954 Chevy Custom – Season 2, Episode 18
What made this episode great was not just the 1954 Chevy Custom, but the group of seniors making up the team that got to work on it. The build went smoothly for the most part, with a few body parts needing some ironing out with a blowtorch. Jesse jumped in at one point to trim the rear end so that the entire body would fit into place on the chassis.
One comment from Jesse, however, suggested that his last-minute work on it wasn’t up to his tastes. “You could do the backs way flipped” Jesse said. “Fenders flare, 60s style...” That led a fellow builder to flip Jesse’s welding helmet down over his face. “Come on!” Jesse replied, indicating his lament.
11 Chevy Suburban Wedding Chapel – Season 1, Episode 16
Despite the premise behind this episode being about a mobile wedding chapel that brings people together in holy matrimony, the project itself only created rifts. Jesse shook things up either because he felt he needed to or just couldn’t take the conflict any longer. Taking out his rage the only way he knows how, Jesse went to work.
In what Jesse dubbed the “fourth quarter” of the project, he made a fire in the shop, spray painted the car door, smashed a cake and hammered away at the car's decorative hood ornament. “This is Monster Garage,” he said. “Not Monster arts and crafts.” While it cooled him down, he may have regretted going so far when the dust settled.
10 Mini Cooper Snowmobile – Season 1, Episode 15
The Mini Cooper turned Snowmobile wasn’t just a humorous Monster Garage creation, but one that Jesse employing humorous fixes. One instance late in the game forced Jesse to find a quick fix for the shaking track assembly underneath the car. “I’m just using the old hillbilly method of if it doesn’t work, just keep adding more metal till it does,” said Jesse.
The real challenge came at the end of the episode when the Cooper came to a complete stop during its public demonstration. The motor wasn’t powering a track. Jesse wasn’t happy. So the team got to work and somehow made it happen around midnight.
9 Cadillac Fleetwood Dragster – Season 3, Episode 1
The premiere of season 3 saw Jesse and the team turn a Cadillac Fleetwood into a dragster. Where they encountered problems was when they tested out the engine. What they forgot to fix earlier was the braking system.
This last-minute fix had to be lamentable for Jesse and the team, who spent a considerable time in the last stretch getting the brakes right. “That would totally suck to have to blow this up because the brakes don’t work,” Jesse said. They eventually got the brakes working, but with the team under such pressure to win the tools, it may not have been the best way to fix it with so little time left.
8 Logsplitter – Season 3, Episode 20
The Zimmer was a unique looking ride that Jesse and the team had to make into a tree-cutting machine. There was a difference of opinion throughout the job between Eddie, who they brought in to lead the hydraulic mechanics of the splitter, and Tim, an actual logger by trade. The Monster Garage manager Ben Wood had to construct a special drive shaft.
The only problem was none of the team members had to experience TIG welding. Jesse came in to save the day, only he didn’t have much space to do it. If the drive shaft had been ready sooner and there was more space, he probably would’ve done a better job and regrets what little space (and time) he had.
7 Cop Car Donut Shop – Season 2, Episode 3
Monster Garage imagined a Crown Vic cop car that could actually make donuts. It was a wacky episode that not only featured a crazy car but an even crazier atmosphere around the shop with costumed freaks causing mischief. At one point, Jesse made hinges for the car’s suicide doors.
After mounting them and trying to close one of the doors though, he found they didn’t work. “I used a hinge kit that should’ve been easier, instead of just doing a regular piano hinge like I always like to do,” Jesse confessed. That forced him to do some last minute changes we’re sure he would’ve liked to have avoided.
6 Panoz Flying Car – Season 3, Episode 24
This flying car was so ambitious, it took two episodes to showcase the entire build. At one point towards the end of the process, one of the builders feared that the plane was dangerous. He said, “It's a killer. It’ll kill. It’s not safe without rudders.” He literally feared for Jesse’s life and how the test flight would turn out.
Even Jesse admits his trepidation later on at flying a machine that was assembled in just five days. Jesse spent time towards the end making an exhaust system, but no one seemed to think the fixed rudders would be an issue. Thankfully Jesse did the test flight without issues, but it doesn’t mean there weren’t any regrets.
5 Pike’s Peak Racer – Season 3, Episode 5
Viewers of the show are familiar with Jesse’s contributions. He’s either making a wicked exhaust system for the cars or constructing something purely aesthetic. It’s like what he said while working on the bumper for the Ultimate Surfmobile in season 3: “I think I’m just entertaining myself now on this build. I’m not worried about anything, that’s why I’m making a bumper—something this car doesn’t even need to run.”
The Pike’s Peak Racer did need an exhaust system though, and he had a tough time getting it to fit. He admitted the exhaust “wasn’t going to be pretty,” but rushed the job in order to get it ready on time.
4 Doom Buggy – Season 1, Episode 17
There were a few hiccups Jesse and the team encountered while turning a Mazda RX-7 into a sand rail ready to take on the desert. One of the members, Cole, got himself into trouble for guessing measurements in the rear configuration, which had a giant back wheel mounted in the center. Jesse admitted he hadn’t checked it out, trusting that the team knew what they were doing.
It was clear Jesse regretted not doing this quality control, or else it could’ve saved them time and pain in the final stretch. The good news is they were able to take this "Doom Buggy” out to the desert; the bad news is it lost the race and had to get destroyed.
3 Peel Trident Micro Car – Season 3, Episode 19
There were only a handful of failures that didn’t manage to make it out the Monster Garage for a test drive, and the Peel Trident Micro Car was one of them. It’s too bad considering they hoped to make a car the team of little people behind it could appreciate.
While working on the piping though, Jesse realized they weren’t going to get as much horsepower as he wanted out of it, thanks to the cramped space. Later on, the hoses leaked out oil, causing more headaches. “Whose idea was this show?” Jesse said when things went south. "It was mine, I think. If it doesn’t work, guess who’s fault it is? Me!”
2 Box-Truck U-Haul Wrestling Ring – Season 2, Episode 17
Jesse had his work cut out for him when he had to make a U-Haul truck that could convert into a wrestling ring. As if that wasn’t enough, it was something WWE star Bill Goldberg—who owns quite a muscle car collection—had to approve of. The crew really struggled with this one, leading Jesse to admit he just wanted the whole project to end.
It all came to a head when Jesse gathered up the team and said, “To be done realistically, I just want it to open and close and that's it.” It was a last minute change to the project that saw a lesser version of what Jesse and the team had originally planned for come to life.
1 El Camino Figure 8 Racer – Season 2, Episode 4
The El Camino, which started out as a “cherry” in Jesse’s own words, had aspirations of becoming a full-fledged Figure 8 racer. While the end of the episode saw Jesse racing it on the Irwindale Speedway, he may have regretted a rash decision he made in the shop that led to an accident there.
As if struck with an epiphany or inspiration, Jesse hacked the wing off the top because he didn’t like the way it looked. That prevented the car from having adequate downforce and may have resulted in him getting into a T-bone accident. Either that or converting the perfect El Camino into a mere racer may have made his list of regrets.
Sources: YouTube, DailyMotion, The Discovery Channel