Monster Garage was a hit TV show that took the world by storm as Jesse James and a creative team looked to rebuild, remodel, and recreate some wacky and wild ideas, turning regular cars into all manner of different things. With James at the helm, already famous from his West Coast Choppers business, the show got off to a great start and would last five seasons, with 80 episodes being created during its run on the Discovery Channel.
However, no matter what people would like to believe, not everything that was produced on Monster Garage was the gospel truth. In fact, there were plenty of fake moments from the show that were polished up and presented as real—when, in fact, they were anything but.
It was one of the first 'reality' shows to hit television screens, starting the popular trend that has now taken the world by storm. Yet when it was running, people were not aware that many of the things they were seeing were fabricated or enhanced simply for viewing pleasure. But that is not to say that everything on the show was a lie. The incredible work that took place on the show was very much real and some of the strangest real things did take place on Monster Garage.
Within this article we will delve into the world of Monster Garage, uncovering 10 examples of the show being totally fake as well as 10 very strange but very true stories.
20 Totally Fake: Producers Heavily Edited The Show
As with every reality-style television show, the producers certainly had a heavy hand to play in the editing of Monster Garage. However, where this practice is common knowledge nowadays, back then it was not. Monster Garage was one of the first shows to be grounded in reality but have producers making very clever edits in order to depict the show however they wanted, which often didn't show some people in great light.
Jobs were given to people that they were unqualified to do, which the producers knew beforehand and would, therefore, make for perfect television, much to the frustration of those involved.
19 Strange But True: Jesse Fired Someone Over A Comment
Jesse James often ends up with a bad reputation for some of his antics and this strange but true story doesn't exactly help that situation, with James once firing a member of the Monster Garage crew. One member of the team was working on transforming a DeLorean DMC-12 into a hovercraft and Jesse got frustrated about them removing some of the outer bodywork.
A crew member made a comment in return. Instead of talking it over, having a moment to think of things, or simply arguing it out, James opted to fire the team member on the spot, showing how difficult he could be to deal with at times.
18 Totally Fake: Smashing Windows On Purpose
One of the most popular episodes of Monster Garage took place in Season Two back in 2003, when the team had to turn a Cadillac Escalade into an ultimate tailgating party vehicle, which led to plenty of entertaining moments. One moment that stands out is when Larry Webster smashed an expensive window by sandblasting it, but he later revealed that this wasn't the case during an article for Car and Driver magazine.
Webster stated that he didn't actually want to sandblast the window because he knew the chances were high on the window smashing. However, the directors forced him to do it in order to create drama to make the episode more entertaining to fans...the magic of television.
17 Strange But True: There Was A Monster Garage Video Game
Whilst Monster Garage was a popular show, you wouldn't think that it was quite at the level that a video game would be created out of it. After all, not many TV shows actually end up with a video game! However, clearly, Invictus Games Ltd felt differently and a Monster Garage video game was actually made for the PC, allowing fans of the game to have a go at being in control of the situation themselves, from painting to customizing.
But that's not all, as Impulse Games went on to remake it for the Xbox, allowing the game to reach even more people and it then even inspired a book to be made, showing the wide-spanning reach that the show had.
16 Totally Fake: Producers Messed With ‘The Curse Of The Hearse’
Another classic episode of the show saw Jesse James attempt to transform a hearse into a mobile car crusher, like something out of Robot Wars. And of course, it ended up turning into the crazy mess you can see above. Absolutely everything was removed from the inside of the hearse and there was plenty of fun as they destroyed the car.
But then the producers began adding ridiculous distractions to make it impossible, such as the Batmobile randomly appearing. This was obviously done to make the show more entertaining but in the end, it distracted the team so much that the performance of the car was messed up.
15 Strange But True: Jesse James Fined By The California Air Resources Board
When you customize a vehicle, there are strict rules and regulations that must be followed, with legal boundaries needing to be taken into consideration for obvious health and safety reasons. But these don't always just focus on the actual performance of the car. One of the big focal points is actually the transmission and engine and what that can do to the environment, especially due to how big of a concern global warming has become.
But this didn't stop Jesse James. He simply didn't follow those rules and the California Air Resources Board came crashing down on him and it ended up with him being given a hefty fine for bikes he made between 1997-2006.
14 Totally Fake: Failing To Hit 200 MPH
Jesse James is a very determined man, which is one of his better qualities as a person. Something he was determined to accomplish during the duration of the series was his desire to create a monster vehicle that could exceed speeds of 200 mph. Of course, in some episodes, this was literally impossible, as the vehicles the team was working on would never have hit that speed.
But at other times it was possible and the team's ideas would have seen them come close. Despite this being a major goal throughout the series, the Monster Garage team never actually managed to accomplish breaking the 200 mph speed, despite how much talent and creativity was involved.
13 Strange But True: The UK Spin-Off
Something that many people might not know is that Monster Garage actually ended up gaining its own spin-off in the UK, with Channel 4 creating its own version of the hit show for UK audiences to enjoy. Even though Monster Garage was a fairly niche television show, catering to a very specific group of people, Channel 4 took the gamble, clearly thinking that UK viewers would be interested, especially with the popularity of Top Gear in mind.
However, whilst Monster Garage managed to run for 80 episodes spanning over five seasons, the UK version failed to live up to it and only lasted for eight episodes, with the show quickly being pulled due to how poorly it was being received.
12 Totally Fake: The Ratings Weren't Always A Hit
Whilst Discovery was never going to run around shouting about the situation, the fact remains that the ratings for Monster Garage weren't always huge, even though the show was very popular. Despite the fact that millions of people tuned into the show each and every week, the show's ratings seemed to start falling through the roof, especially during the final two seasons, which ultimately led to the show's end.
Just like most shows, producers are happy to push out the facts when the ratings are high, making the show look great, but are quick to keep things as secretive as possible when they flip the other way.
11 Strange But True: Trying To Build A Car For Dwarves
One very strange but true story from Monster Garage is that Jesse James legitimately tried to create a car for dwarves to drive because he didn't like them being treated any differently to other people. James used a Peel Trident car and though those vehicles are actually still in production, although they aren't exactly popular.
Despite the best efforts of the team, they failed to reach the goal. It was a tough task to try and even though the team failed, it does show what sort of a person James is: always looking out for others and trying to get the best possible situation for everyone else.
10 Totally Fake: Miata Jet Ski Failed
Most car enthusiasts wouldn't have appreciated the Miata Jet Ski experiment, with the old car being torn to pieces. The lower half was totally demolished as the team tried to set it up to be a jet ski with propellers going into the rear section. But the idea was a fun one that created great TV. However, while the idea was a smart one and the Miata was a lightweight car, when it came to making the project work, things didn't exactly go to plan.
Whilst on set, everything was tested and appeared to be working. But once it was placed into water, problems quickly arose. Even though it didn't sink and did accelerate for a few seconds, the engine quickly failed and it was clear that this was a major mistake.
9 Strange But True: Successful Cars Were Kept
People have often wondered what happened to all of the wacky cars that got created on Monster Garage and the truth is that the vast majority of them ended up getting wrecked because, let's face it, most were either failures or simply not functional. This was mainly because Jesse James hated when a project went sour, so he wanted things destroyed as soon as possible.
But what happened to the successful vehicles, you might ask? Well, they were actually kept! Many of the successful and very expensive vehicles were taken home and saved from being destroyed, oftentimes by the producers who, in reality, had nothing to do with the hard work that went into making them.
8 Totally Fake: The Rules Became Very Relaxed
One of the main reasons that Monster Garage was such a fun show was the possibility that the teams could fail, which was mainly down to the rules that would be set, with many of the vehicles failing to meet the standards and, ultimately, getting scrapped. However, those same rules which helped make the show entertaining also made things quite tough for the teams, especially the financial rule, which meant teams had just $3,000 to get any parts they needed.
But if you watched the show for a long time, it was very clear that the rules became way more relaxed, with James encouraging the teams to take things easier until the producers relaxed the restrictions, allowing the creators a little more freedom.
7 Strange But True: Jesse James Was A Legitimate Minister
One strange story about Jesse James that many might not know is that he is a legitimate minister after getting ordained for the "Wedding Chapel" episode of Monster Garage, showing his true commitment to the show. Instead of just phoning it in and using TV magic to allow him to act as a minister, James actually got himself ordained so that it was all as realistic as possible, with the episode seeing them turn a Chevrolet Suburban into a chapel on wheels.
James is registered as a minister of the Universal Life Church Ministry. The website mentions that the reason for him becoming ordained was for the TV show but it does prove it's legitimate and means that he can actually officiate a wedding ceremony, although it's unknown if he has done this any other times.
6 Totally Fake: The Whole Show Is Fake
Everything on television is scripted to some degree unless it is a live event, with the producers making big or minor changes in order to make sure the show in question is as entertaining and dramatic as possible. That was certainly the case with Monster Garage. Despite how realistic they tried to make the show seem, the fact remains that everything was either pre-planned or heavily edited to make things as fun as possible.
Even though audiences tend to enjoy the real elements the most—which was the team actually at work on their projects—producers often added extra issues or other activities that they felt would be more fun to watch.
5 Strange But True: Equipment Was Donated
While a lot of people like to look at some of Jesse James' flaws and use them to determine who he is as a person, there are other stories that show a totally different side of him, with James always believing he was an everyday man, rather than a celebrity. When he was given equipment on the show, he would ask the people providing it to give it all away to his foundation, which he set up in Long Beach where he would teach people the skills needed to work in a garage.
The Jesse James Foundation for Industrial Arts is a big part of his life and while many sponsors simply wanted to give him things, he always pushed for stuff to go to those who needed it more.
4 Totally Fake: James Broke A Contract
Jesse James was known to break a few rules during his time on the show, but one rule that he did break ended up with him getting in a bit more trouble than just a producer of Monster Garage in his ear. Michael Jones claimed that James had failed to create a custom car that he had ordered, despite the fact he had paid $270,000 over two years for the vehicles, with James not quite getting the job done and requesting more money.
In the end, the two men had to go to court to settle the problem and it was eventually solved but it does show that not every single custom car James was asked to create ended up being made.
3 Strange But True: Turning Down Sylvester Stallone Over The Color Yellow
While James broke one contract for creating a custom vehicle, he flat out refused to even start another. Turning down a project doesn't seem too strange; after all, you can't commit to everything. But when you learn the person in question was major Hollywood star, Sylvester Stallone, that changes things a little. Knowing how rich and famous Stallone is, turning down the chance to make him a custom car seems like an odd decision.
But when you learn the reason why it becomes even stranger and it all revolved around the color yellow. That's right, Jesse James reportedly hates the color yellow so much that he refused to make Stallone a custom motorbike because that is the color that the Rocky star wanted it to be.
2 Totally Fake: Jesse James Would Break The Rules
As we previously mentioned, throughout the show, the rules were seriously relaxed as the program went on and one of the main reasons for that was because Jesse James himself didn't enjoy following them. Oftentimes, he wanted to do things differently than what the producers wanted and that often led to him simply breaking the rules, including the time limits which were often put on them.
While that might seem annoying, it was mainly done through sheer passion. James wanted to do the absolute best job possible and if rules came in his way, he would happily break them and would go against the producers, which he knew he would get away with.
1 Strange But True: James Fought With Discovery Channel
Speaking of going against the rules, Jesse James didn't just fight the producers of the show; he actually went up against the Discover Channel once his second show was axed, letting his emotions get the best of him as he unleashed his feelings on the channel. James had a long-standing partnership with Discovery and even when Monster Garage came to an end, he continued working with them, setting up the Outlaw Garage show, which was also cut due to ratings.
That time, he didn't hold back his thoughts, putting up a blog post which read: "For all those asking about Outlaw Garage, I'm sorry to say that I'm done with Discovery. It's time to take skills and hard work to a network that appreciates what I offer..."
Sources: Autoweek, Car And Driver, and Monagiza.