The simple yet compelling concept behind Storage Wars goes like this: when tenants neglect their storage units they go up for auction, thus leaving their prized valuables open for the taking of competitive bidders from all over. The mystery of what lies behind those steel roll-up doors and the thrill of finding something that’s worth much more than what it cost to win a bidding war is what makes this a hit show on A&E.
Even on the surface, many valuable items don’t look like much. In the first episode of season 4 as per Self Storage Finders, antique hunter Barry Weiss paid nearly two grand for a unit that had car and motorcycle parts. It may not have looked like a jackpot, but that ultimately yielded him $10,000. Cars still intact or even parts alone have the potential to be good finds in Storage Wars.
Barry Weiss was always known for the odd cars he collected. There are so many, we had to put a list together of sick cars that Barry Weiss found in storage and the ones that were junk.
There are lots of factors involved with storing cars in units that the show doesn’t tell audiences. Even stories outside of the show pull back the curtain on what it’s like to actually find a beater or rare car that’s been sitting for years in a storage unit.
We’re going to look at the way A&E presents cars in Storage Wars and uncover the secrets they haven’t been honest about, along with other cases outside the show.
15 A Cast Member Asserts The Show Planted A Car Before The Cameras Rolled
Storage Wars has seen cast members come and go over the years. One of the members, Dave Hester, wasn’t in the best standing with the show’s producers. According to Looper, he raised doubts about whether they staged certain parts. He points out several factors that raised his eyebrows out of suspicion, with one of them involving a car.
The same source notes that Hester believed a BMW mini car he found was one such planted item. If true, it makes sense that the producers wouldn’t want to let audiences know that they did that to spice up the episode. A small BMW certainly makes the storage unit more interesting.
14 The Cars Are Mostly Compact, Not Full-Sized
When one thinks about the size of the lockers generally showcased on Storage Wars, they’re not the biggest. If they have a car tucked away inside, it’s going to be compact. The likelihood of them finding a full-sized vehicle is much smaller.
In one episode, Jarrod and Brandi spent $1,300 on a unit because of a pocket bike he noticed. In the YouTube video posted by A&E, Jarrod rolls the yellow bike out of the unit’s dark confines before spending several minutes looking for the keys. While the bike still ran, the throttle and brakes were in poor condition along with a flat rear tire.
13 Whether It Was Used In Any Crimes
With episodes lasting only 22 minutes long, Storage Wars doesn’t have a lot of time. Much of the background surrounding items and where they came from could easily take up an entire episode's worth. That’s why the network behind the hit show doesn’t get to delve too much into the car’s background, notorious or otherwise.
The reality though is that many vehicles in storage units are there to “lay low.” Someone may have used the vehicle to commit a crime, making it a piece of evidence. That could certainly complicate the repossession of the vehicle and explains why Storage Wars would rather brush these details under the rug.
12 They’ve Planted Cameras Inside Of Cars
Many reality TV viewers take these shows with a grain of salt, thinking there’s no possible way everything plays out the way it does. This next tidbit may support the case those viewers are making.
According to the blog Storage Heroes, not only does Storage Wars have cameramen all over the place, but even cameras planted inside storage units. They even note that producers go so far as to put them in a car’s dashboard while it’s still collecting dust in a storage unit. Regardless of how audiences feel about this revelation, the network behind Storage Wars certainly isn’t broadcasting this information.
11 Someone Got A Storage Unit For $100, Which Happened To Have A James Bond Car
It’s hard to believe that a legendary car like the underwater one James Bond got behind the wheel of would sit neglected in a storage unit. That’s exactly what happened though. According to History TV, a bidder in Long Island who won a unit for a mere $100 was pleasantly surprised when he found the actual Lotus Esprit S1 car. The source notes that it later fetched for a whopping $1 million.
Did someone from the film studio rent out a storage unit to put it in and forget all about it? A&E may have shared this tale with its cast members to give them hope of finding one.
10 Storage Wars Reached Out To Host A Barn Auction Of Old Vintage Cars
Come across a large jackpot of cars, and the producers of Storage Wars just might reach out. It happened to the Hitchners who, according to KCRA, came across 6 acres of vintage valuables that included Powells and Metropolitans. The cars had all belonged to a family member. That’s when Dan Dotson of Storage Wars called the Hitchners up, telling them to keep the cars exactly as they are before they head to auction.
Instead of going through all the trouble of selling the cars, which could take years, the family decided to bring Dotson in to auction them off. A&E isn’t likely to advertise Dotson’s side gigs though.
9 Guy Fieri’s Stolen Lamborghini Showed Up In A Storage Unit
A chef like Guy Fieri has managed to elevate his profile outside the kitchen and into the mainstream. It’s the kind of success that’s allowed him to purchase a beautiful yellow Lamborghini. As NY Daily News reports, the vehicle went MIA only to reemerge in 2012. Where did the cops find it? In a storage unit of all places.
According to their report, whoever stole it had managed to perform a stunt that required them to rappel it down to where the car was being held and he would take off with it. It wouldn’t have looked very good if Fieri’s Lamborghini had showed up in Storage Wars.
8 Selling The Car For The Right Price Is A Time Sucker
Finding a car in a storage unit might seem like a jackpot at first, but it could end up being more of a burden. When Barry Weiss found a BMW Isetta, he had to lug it around town to find answers. He ended up going to a car expert at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The inside looked worn out, yet the expert said it could still be worth thousands of dollars.
The good news is Weiss only paid $850 for it. Not all cars end up being collectibles like this though and could end up costing a lot of time and effort just to end up in the junkyard.
7 Whether It Runs Or Not
In the second episode of Storage Wars season one, a car is in one of the storage units they unearth. Barry Weiss ends up winning the auction and walks away with a BMW Isetta. He had to do some digging to figure out how much the car was really worth. Ultimately though, the viewer never sees the car actually run.
That’s a reality all storage unit seekers have to accept: if they find a car, they don’t know whether it still runs or not. They don’t even know what it’s worth without looking under the hood, which can make it hard to bid on.
6 If It Doesn’t Sell, The New Owner Has To Haul It To A Junkyard
As detailed earlier, finding a car may require some outside help, especially if the winning bidder isn't a car enthusiast. They have to do research online, get a car expert to look under the hood and maybe even put money into making it presentable. If none of these laborious avenues end up yielding much in the end though, the owner is still stuck with a giant paperweight.
They ultimately have to figure out how they’re going to dispose of it. Taking a car to the junkyard can cost money and time, so if things don’t pan out well, it’s going to end up being a waste.
5 They Have To Make A Trip To The DMV To Verify The Car
The appeal of bidding on a storage unit is not knowing what’s housed inside. It could be full of useless junk or possibly contain a diamond in the rough worth thousands of dollars. Few items will incite instant excitement like a car does.
One problem though, which A&E won’t share openly with Storage Wars audiences, is the hassle involved in finding one. It requires some work on the owner’s part to get it verified with the DMV. For many, the DMV is the last place they want to wait in line for hours on any given day. This is just one of the low side effects of finding a car.
4 They Don’t Always Come With Keys
Earlier we covered a scene from season 5 of Storage Wars where Jarrod and Brandi got a pocket bike. Technically A&E showed it, so they’re not necessarily hiding it from audiences, but it’s not something they broadcast too much either. Just because someone finds a vehicle in a storage unit doesn’t mean they’ll be able to drive off with it.
They couldn’t find the keys to the pocket bike at first, casting doubt on the entire acquisition. They spent a minute or so scouring the entire storage unit piled high with junk before finally powering on the little pocket bike's motor.
3 It Might Cost More To Restore A Car Than It’s Worth
When Barry Weiss found a mini BMW car in a storage unit, he hoped it was worth something. He ended up at the Peterson Automotive Museum where an expert showed him a BMW Isetta in perfect condition. The paint job was shiny and the front door that opens up in front of the steering wheel still worked like a charm.
“I thought you could give us an idea of how much it would cost to get it to look like this,” said Weiss pointing to a restored Isetta in a YouTube video by A&E. In many cases, a car has been sitting there in a storage unit for decades, and the price to restore it just isn’t worth it.
2 The Car Might Have Security Measures Leftover To Protect The Storage Unit
The law-abiding bidders on Storage Wars aren’t the only ones after people’s valuables, but thieves also. According to Fox 13 Memphis, it tends to get worse around the holidays each year when people attempt to break into storage units. There are measures tenants can take with their storage units, such as locks and security cameras.
In many cases, even when someone's unit gets repossessed, these items are leftover. It only serves as a hindrance to storage hunters even after they’ve won an auction. This is a detail that the network doesn’t want to get out though considering it makes the whole process look more difficult.
1 States Hold Unit Owners To Strict Laws Before They Can Auction Off Vehicles
There’s actually quite a bit of red tape involved with repossessing a storage unit. If the network listed it all out though, they’d lose audiences in minutes. According to Inside Self-Storage, when someone defaults on their unit and it has a vehicle inside it, many states have a set of guidelines they have to follow.
Each state varies on what those rules are, however, and the rental facility housing the vehicle needs to make sure they do right by them. Otherwise, they could create legal troubles for themselves and, potentially, the bidder who wins the unit. A&E more than likely handles all this on their end before the cameras rolls, making it look a lot easier than it is.
Sources: Self Storage Finders, Looper, History TV, KCRA, Storage Heroes, NY Daily News, Inside Self-Storage, YouTube, Fox 13 Memphis