Pimp My Ride was almost a legend in the world of reality shows until the world found out that their favorite show was nothing more than an idol with feet of clay. There were things on the show that many believed to be a literal fairytale come true that were later proved to be big fakes. And yet, there were things people almost wrote off but proved to be the truth, albeit a truth stranger than fiction.
In its initial seasons, the show was a resounding success and had people being glued to their TV screens to catch the next episode. Many dreamed that they'd one day be on the show, wanting their ride to be the next best thing since the invention of sliced bread—and yet, many hopes went in vain. But like it is with any (and just about every) reality show, there were a lot of embellishments that happened in the basic details of just about every little thing.
Then there was the host, Xzibit, who actually went broke once the series ended, though he bounced back with other roles later in his career. Most contestants—despite the myriad complains about the show and its quirks—did have a blast while participating, however. On that note, here are 10 things that were completely fake about Pimp My Ride and 10 facts that were strange but surprisingly true.
A couple of years back, Huffington Post did a whole exposé on the so-called reality show. According to their article, many contestants admitted to having gotten accepted simply because a friend of theirs worked for the show and getting that onto the show wasn’t a surprise for them. In fact, many had already been briefed by the producers and given a quick 101 on how to act surprised for the cameras. There was no payment involved for the contestants but they got their kicks by fixing their cars and having their day in front of the cameras, making them famous enough on the streets for a little while.
Televised entertainment, be it movies, shows, or reality, work by increasing ratings by milking the audience’s emotions for all its worth. In that, reality shows are probably only half real, despite all they may try to portray—and Pimp My Ride was no different. If the car that rolled in to be “fixed” had one flat tire, the producers probably made it so that it looked like the owner had four bad tires and no money to get them fixed. They portrayed the contestants in a poor light, in both the financial and personal sense, to get the most empathy out of the viewers and raise the show’s ratings.
Ever wondered how the contestants' homes looked oh-so-convenient for the filming, to the point of them looking contrived? Well, according to News 24, it’s because they were contrived, meaning that most of the houses where Xzibit rang the doorbell to surprise the contestants were, in fact, rented for the shoot—and were not the actual homes of the contestants. The reasons behind this were manifold. Sometimes the distance from the show’s HQ was too great while other times the homes were not in a great and easy-to-access locale. It turns out that the contestants were brought in a little beforehand and then were supposed to hang behind the door of their fake home till the bell rang.
According to Looper, fixing the broken engine of a car isn’t half as glamorous as putting a jacuzzi in the pickup bed—or so thought the show’s producers. So more often than not, the cars were cosmetically fixed but without actually making them roadworthy. The producers and the fixer-uppers (West Coast Customs, to start with) would often glamorize the shell and the interiors of the cars. And then they added in some over-the-top gadgets that no one wanted, like a candy machine that threw candy all over the car. Or a sound system that could turn the driver eardrums to jelly. Typically, the engine just rotted while the cars looked great.
Obviously, when the sob stories were all edited for perfect impact, the cars that rolled in for a makeover had to look the part as well. So sometimes, the junker was junked further. And it wasn't like the producers went at it with bats and batons; nothing so serious. But the cars were dinged and dented, covered with dust, and made to look dirty, as well—all in the name of making them deserving of their makeover. Basically, to justify the beauty being bestowed upon them, sometimes they were first made as ugly as possible. The insides were also made deliberately messy to add to the poor-little-Cinderella appeal.
Honestly, sometimes, the show was a real tear-jerker; but for the contestants, not the audience. Every contestant seemed to be leaking a bit during the show and most were often shown a tad teary-eyed while narrating their sob story. Others turned teary with joy when the final reveal of their ride happened. But as is with any reality show, these emotions were more tutored than genuine and many contestants had to retake their reaction multiple times until they were able to hit that perfect plaintive pitch. The more drama there was, the better the ratings, so the waterworks had to be woven in.
The very idea of this show wasn’t to actually fix cars and make them more roadworthy than before. It was to be as over the top and grand as possible, to make people starry-eyed over what cars could be; oftentimes that was, frankly, impossible. So the contestant may have rolled in with a specific request about how they wanted their dream ride to look but if the producers and the car guys thought otherwise, otherwise it would be. One car owner got a candy machine in his car and despite him being a little portly, candy wasn’t his thing. But since the producers wanted it, so they did it.
According to Huffington Post, one contestant specifically asked for no red interiors but at the reveal, the interiors were redder than cherries because the producers wanted it so. This same contestant spoke on Reddit about how they wanted to rip out those red leather seats with their bare hands when they saw them. But the show demanded they look over the moon happy with their new wheels and they had to do so. So they acted out looking joyful when they were basically fuming on the inside. And this happened with all contestants; they had to be happy with the reveal and basically jump around with joy. Especially when they didn't want to!
Many of the contestants who came out on a Reddit thread were clear about one fact: many of the zany gadgets and upgrades the show got put on cars were faulty to the extreme. According to Daily Edge, Seth Martino’s car got a “robotic arm” which was supposed to be controlled from within the car. In reality, it was controlled by a series of commands inputted in a laptop by a spiky-haired guy offscreen. His car also got LED lights on the seats—but they got so hot that they had to be removed. Of course, the faults were never shown on the show. The end was always hunky-dory and happy.
On the show, each pimping job seemed to happen in a matter of minutes, with the time frame looking like a week or two, at most. But in reality, when a contestant got his car for pimping, he could basically kiss it goodbye for a while. The show was edited cleverly to show that the upgrades happened super quickly but basically, when you hand your car over to the mechanics for fixing, painting, or even minor work, they take their own sweet time about it. The show and the car guys were no different, leaving contestants inconvenienced while they turned the rides into a freak show.
Most of the cars that were chosen to be upgraded were not really chosen for their roadworthiness. The producers keenly scrutinized the contestants, instead, choosing the ones that could get them the best ratings—never mind the car. The result was that many of the cars that rolled in should have ideally gone straight to the junkyard. Even so, none of the engines or the transmissions were fixed, and the cars were only upgraded cosmetically. The end result was that many of these pimped out rides would come to a halt and the contestants had to call MTV for help—and co-producer Larry Hochberg remembered sending out tow trucks pretty often.
What happens when the world sees some strange or memorable vehicle on the road? The remember it and recognize it the next time they see it around. Uncommon cars tend to become mini-celebrities and the cars on the show were even more recognizable considering they had been on TV. The end result of this was that the Pimp My Ride cars became celebrities and people would often stop the drivers just to have a look-see and feel of the cars. It came to the point that one contestant was actually stopped by the cops, only to discover they wanted to see the car and not ticket him.
Since the cars became celebrities, so did the contestants. And sometimes people recognized the contestant more than the cars. The sob stories, the camera appearances, the joyful reveal all gave many contestants their little spot in the limelight and many milked it for all it was worth. Some even recall scoring far more dates than before. The contestants may not have liked what had been done to their rides but they got their two minutes of fame and for a while, audience recall was enough to get many of them recognized by strangers on the streets. Frankly, who minds being a celebrity?
Being without wheels feels strange and the contestants who "sacrificed" their cars for fame were no different. The ultimate transformation of their cars took not just weeks but months and in between, the contestants had to rely on rentals. While MTV did reimburse them for the rentals for the first couple of months, as the time-lapse grew, the reimburses stopped and many contestants had to fish into their pockets to pay for the rentals. Contestants recall visiting the producers and pleading their case but not all the requests were met with success. After all, they were getting a free upgrade, weren’t they?
For many contestants, the initial thought of being on the show may have been economically driven, meaning that some may have thought that they could make a tidy profit by appearing on the show, getting their cars upgraded for free, and then auctioning the pimped rides for a sum. However, MTV did put a no-sale clause in the contracts wherein it was clearly mentioned that these cars could not be auctioned off at eBay for a good number of years. However, there were some contestants who managed to find a loophole and sold off their rides quietly without much fanfare.
Despite the truth about this reality show being as fake as they come, most contestants remember having a blast on the show. Sure, many had complaints about the timeframe the cars were taken in for and others had a problem with not having a final say in the pimping of their rides. But most contestants would not only be happy with a revival of the show but they’d be happy to go back to it, also. They enjoyed a bit of celebrity status because of the show and their cars became celebrities, too—even if it lasted for just a little while. And whether they liked their newly shiny rides or not, their cars remained unique till the very end.
Not all the contestants were treated right. According to the Huffington Post, one of the contestants who had it the worse was Seth Martino. As Martino himself said, since he was the heavier side, the producers decided that this was a guy who had to like candy. And so they put in a candy machine in the boot—without installing a lid on top—so when the car ran, there was candy flying all over the car. The candy machine had to be removed and the thing was, Martino never really liked sweets but just went with the flow because it was easier to just go with the things than try to argue with the producers.
The one thing that all contestants are nearly unanimous about is that Xzibit was a completely awesome dude to all of them. He was, perhaps, the only genuine thing about the show and is remembered by all the show’s contestants with the utmost of fondness. He not only was the nicest to all the contestants but sometimes also went out of his way to convince the West Coast Customs guys to take up the deserving cases, going as far as paying for a few upgrades to the cars himself. Though he was a decent rapper even before the show, the show did propel him to the limelight and he seemed the same till the end with no starry tantrums.
In a strange case, the show installed a champagne-popping contraption inside a car. We understand the dude who got this gift was practically drooling about his near-limo car with its built-in bartender. But just before MTV handed over the car to this guy, they removed this gadget. Why? Because they realized, almost too late, that this was a gadget that actually promoted drinking and driving. And MTV did not need—or want—that kind of a reputation, so off went the gadget. This wasn’t the only time they installed a questionable upgrade that they had to remove later but it was perhaps the most memorable.
According to Complex, many so-called “upgrades” that the car guys did on the cars looked great on paper but the actuality ended up being a lot different. There was one guy who was very fond of fish, so for some reason, WCC decided it would be a great idea to give him a little aquarium in the car. And they crossed all their T’s and dotted all their I's. The tank was sealed on the top to avoid any spillage and even came with a straw to let in the oxygen. Unfortunately, when the dude parked his car in the sun, he forgot about the fish and the fish turned into fish soup.
Sources: Huffington Post, News24, Looper, Daily Edge, Complex, and Reddit.