Pimp My Ride aired on MTV from 2004 to 2007, filming six total seasons in the timespan. Hosted by the now-famous rapper Xzibit, the show helped boost the careers of everyone involved during its run and triggered something of a cultural phenomenon. Today, tricked-out rides from the show still pop up online, while Xzibit himself is probably more recognizable to most people as a meme than any of his actual songs may be.
Today, the world has (hopefully) grown weary of reality TV shows that feature scripted drama, ridiculous situations, and over-the-top, emotional subjects. Programming like Keeping Up With The Kardashians and The Real Housewives still draw in viewer figures that would astound anyone keeping tabs on Pimp My Ride in the mid-2000s, though, so maybe that kind of world is exactly what most audiences look for.
During Pimp My Ride's tenure, though, most viewers probably wouldn't so easily have scoffed at the show's premise: taking a random Joe off the street's beat-up car and turning it into something magical after a quick trip to West Coast Customs. Gearheads with a keen eye may have noticed a few strange incongruities but the average viewer wasn't jaded like most audiences today.
But even with the perfect hindsight that comes with a decade having passed between now and when the show ran its course, there are still some surprises lurking behind the scenes of Pimp My Ride.
20 Cars Were Sent To Real Mechanics For Issues
Mistakes are bound to happen during any mechanical undertaking. Imagine spending months on fixing up a car only to find that it won't run right when before a scheduled film session. Well, ironically, it sounds like that may have been the case quite often on Pimp My Ride—the irony being that West Coast Customs wouldn't then roll the car back into their garage to troubleshoot, they'd just send it to a more mechanically-oriented mechanic for a quick fix. But of course, that quick fix would only last long enough for the necessary clips on the show and the vehicles' owners would be left having to sort everything out later.
19 Not Much Time Spend With Xzibit
From the first (staged) surprise at the houses rented by MTV to the final reveal and (staged) reaction shots, participants who subjected themselves to being on Pimp My Ride often endured a process that lasted many months. But though Xzibit played a major role in the finished product pumped into millions of TV sets across the globe, for the most part, the rapper and host didn't spend very much actual time with the rest of cast, much less the average Joe off the street. Instead, he appeared for short spurts to plaster his face onto the show, which did increase his celebrity quite a bit even if it reportedly didn't help his rap career too much.
18 They Messed Up Cars On Purpose
The whole point of a reality TV show like Pimp My Ride is to create a narrative or story arc for each episode and each car. Just like how sitcoms put their characters into hilariously impossible situations just to see them squirm their way out, it turns out that Pimp My Ride may have been pushing the bounds of non-fiction with some of the cars' stories, too. In fact, one participant revealed that crew members had messed with his car's bumper to make it look like it was hanging off, according to his Reddit AMA and an interview with HuffPost.
17 Cars Could Not Be Sold on Ebay
Many high-end supercar manufacturers only sell their cars to established customers that they know won't turn around and sell the limited-edition products for a quick profit. Even Ford made such a stipulation part of the deal for buying their recent GT release (and that led to a bit of drama with John Cena). But even though Pimp My Ride wasn't cranking out supercars, it seems like they were worried about the cars ending up selling online, and so the show's producers made sure to create a rule that cars on the show couldn't be sold on the online auction site Ebay, which was reported by Cyber Breeze.
16 Final Reactions Were Staged
By now, this should come as no surprise to anyone who's watched a single second of reality TV in the past two decades but (spoiler alert) some of the reactions of participants on Pimp My Ride when they received their newly fabulous car may have been staged. In fact, multiple takes were common when producers were repeatedly unhappy that smiles weren't big enough and squeals weren't high-pitched enough. Jake Glazier recounted, "“I remember this very clearly, Big Dane, very big dude, he like puts his arm around my shoulder, kind of walks me around the shop for like 10 minutes and he’s like, ‘Listen, we put a lot of work into this...we expect you to be a little more...enthusiastic."
15 They Didn't Fix Mechanical Problems
One element of Pimp My Ride that stands out for any gearhead is that there isn't much actual wrenching on the proverbial gears going on. Approximately 100% of the work completed was cosmetic, for show, or for the entertainment system—none of the time spent upgrading up these cars went into actual mechanical repairs. And these weren't pristine cars off the showroom floor; these were beaters who needed plenty of loving care on the inside, outside, and under the hood. Of course, no amount of love could truly save the AMC Pacer above from being a lemon right out of the factory, but they could have, at least, tried a bit.
14 Long Waits
Anyone watching reality TV should know by now that scenes are shot over and over, storylines are fabricated, and dialogue is scripted. This was, however, less well-known in the mid-2000s, when Pimp My Ride was a hit show. But the program was definitely fudging with time scales a fair amount and the transformations wrought upon the cars that appeared definitely took far, far longer than the show made it seem. In fact, some could even take six to seven months, according to HuffPost, while on the show the changes looked like they'd been completed in an afternoon or, at the very most, a few days.
13 No Rental Coverage (Even Though They Were Young)
During the extended time periods when cars would be in the West Coast Customs shop, their owners were left pretty much without a ride. This proved especially problematic for the younger owners who appeared on the show, as they found it difficult to rent cars—and even more difficult for MTV to reimburse them for the months they had to live with a rental. Seth Martino told HuffPost he had to use a "really small, sketchy company off the freeway by LAX because they were the only ones willing to rent to me because of my age" and that it took around two years for MTV to finally pay him back.
12 Couldn't Tell Buyers About PMR
Just because the folks who came on Pimp My Ride couldn't sell their newly glitzed-out cars on Ebay doesn't mean they were prevented from selling them at all. That wouldn't be entirely fair, especially given that the whole point was these people couldn't afford to fix up their cars on their own—so there's a good chance they weren't in the best financial shape. While they were allowed to tell friends they'd been on the show (after all, it was broadcast on TV), there was another stipulation that any car couldn't be advertised for sale by referencing the fact it had been on Pimp My Ride.
11 MTV's Tow Truck
Anyone who has worked on a car knows that Murphy's law definitely applies and one major risk of taking that wrench in hand is that something could get broken that can't be unbroken. Apparently, all did not go 100% swimmingly on Pimp My Ride, and one of the show's producers, Larry Hochberg, admitted that he had to use a tow truck that MTV kept on call to occasionally have to save cars (both before and after the cars received their customizations). From cars that wouldn't start or be able to drive to the shop to wiring issues with custom electronics, it seems a whole host of problems plagued the crew on the regular.
10 I Heard You Hate Red, Dawg
Xzibit may not have actually said, "I heard you hate red, dawg" but he may as well have. It turns out that during the segment of the show when the vehicle owners expressed their greatest hopes and dreams for their car and its restoration, no one was actually listening. Justin Dearinger, in fact, apparently told the producers that he hated red—but it must have fallen on deaf ears because by the time his car was ready to roll, the entire interior had been trimmed in brand new red leather. Unfortunately, red leather doesn't exactly make a car easier to sell, either.
9 Cars Broke Down All The Time
West Coast Customs has earned a reputation for being a shop that'll transform a car's looks—cases in point would be Paris Hilton's Pink Bentley and will.i.am's unrecognizable Beetle—but they're not exactly known for their mechanic prowess. With all the truth-telling that's occurred since Pimp My Ride went off the air, it almost seems miraculous that the show managed to last six seasons in the first place. Apparently, cars were breaking down left and right, before, during, and after the upgrades. Seth Martino told HuffPost that he was able to enjoy his car only after he "put the $1700 of work" into the engine that it needed to actually run.
8 Some Accessories Were Removed
Most people would be pretty shocked and confused if they bought a new car from a dealer and before they pulled off the lot, a few of the accessories they thought came with the car—like the sound system or the backup camera—were removed by a team of mechanics. Producer Larry Hochberg chalked the decisions up to safety issues, which makes sense for a hot tub inside a van or a built-in theater but makes no sense in the case of a car that had its 24-inch spinning rims replaced with 20-inch standard rims after filming but before the owner could drive away.
7 Weight Problems
All the upgrades performed on Pimp My Ride were for entertainment and style points only. Sound systems, hot tubs, pool tables, and more add serious weight to cars—meanwhile, anyone interested in actual performance driving is willing to sit through scorching summer days with no AC or daily traffic with no radio just to shave a few pounds. But did West Coast Customs do any suspension modifications or chassis reinforcements to help vehicles cope with so much added weight? Of course not. Even if a car had driven away a quarter-inch off the ground, that would have been enough to get the right set of shots for the show.
6 Cotton Candy Machine
One of the darker stories that came out after Pimp My Ride shut down surrounded one overweight participant whose life story was completely blown out of proportion in the name of a bit of drama. Seth Martino described in his Reddit AMA that the producers decided they needed to play up his weight and made sure to have candy strewn all over the interior of his car so it looked like he was a stress-eater. He added, "Then gave me a cotton candy machine in my trunk." His impression was that they just wanted to install a cotton candy machine in a car—any car—and thought this was the best opportunity.
5 Very Few Engine Mods
West Coast Customs has produced plenty of sweet whips for celebs who want a bit more wow-factor (will.i.am), a custom pink paint job (Paris Hilton), or maybe even to have their car stretched to more easily fit their gigantic frame (Shaquille O'Neal). But in almost every case, the celebs were bringing in impressive cars that already boasted impressive performance. Take a look at the cars in the pic above; they don't need any help blasting off the line. But the cars on Pimp My Ride were beaters that needed some TLC before being driven in anger, and it's a safe bet a few participants on the show would have traded a subwoofer or two for some reliable horsepower.
4 Houses Were Faked
Even though it should be expected that reactions shots to wild car upgrades may have needed a bit of sprucing up, this fact might seem a bit surprising. It turns out that MTV may have actually staged the houses that were used to surprise the participants. The people were put in the house and told to expect something like a Pep Boys gift certificate, according to HuffPost. But giving a little bit of credit where credit might be due, most people still weren't prepped fully for the fact that Xzibit might be about to knock on the front door of the house they were patiently waiting inside.
3 Cadillac With A Coffin Grill
One famous car that featured on Pimp My Ride was a hearse that received some serious upgrades on the show. But just like so many of the other strange modifications, the decisions behind putting a grill inside of a coffin inside of a hearse deserve a second thought. Imagine pulling up to a barbecue in a chromed-out, purple hearse, and then scooting out a coffin with some purple velour on the underside of the lid. If that sounds reasonable so far, now imagine having to wait until the coals cool down (when they turn to ash) to have to close the lid without the purple velour being ruined—and now imagine what happens when people see a cloud of ash flying out of the back of a hearse!
2 Xzibit Was Cool, Though
Despite not spending much time with the full production, Xzibit still received high praise from just about everyone involved. Producer Larry Hochberg actually spent the most time with the rapper and said, “Xzibit is the greatest. He’s a talented rapper, and he is a natural host. He’s cool, funny and always thinking on his feet. I really enjoyed working with him.” Participants also seem to have put nothing but the highest of praise for Xzibit, referencing the frequent and regular breaks that he would take (on the occasions when he was present) and the specific smells that tended to appear on-set shortly thereafter.
1 A Cinderella Story
Whether this piece of custom work counts as a wedding chappel or a Cinderella-style carriage, there's no doubting that living with a car built like this would be a nightmare more than a fairytale dream. And that's sort of the takeaway from Pimp My Ride and West Coast Customs: the show was, in the end, a show that didn't actually contribute to a vehicle's vehicular qualities. Instead, people brought in their beaters and left with beaters that looked "better" from a certain perspective but that were still equally as likely—or perhaps more so—to break down on the way to work on any given morning.
Sources: Reddit, HuffPost, and Wikipedia.