Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman were the two main people behind Gas Monkey Garage. They were the mainstays (until Aaron left the show to start his own program, Shifting Gears, citing creative differences with Rawlings). It seems like Richard Rawlings, who is a self-proclaimed businessman before he is a car junkie, can be a hard guy to work with.
He is the main man behind Fast N’ Loud, though, a reality TV show on Discovery Channel where his crew at Gas Monkey Garage transforms old cars into remarkable, customized treasures. In quite a short amount of time, he can usually remake a car into something spectacular. But the audience isn't always privy to what happens after the car is finished. Sometimes a build goes to auction, it might be featured on Fast N’ Loud again, and sometimes it’s kept in the garage—other times, it just goes to Rawlings himself!
Gas Monkey Garage, which is based out of Dallas, Texas, is known for taking run-down cars and bringing them back to life and Rawlings profits by flipping them quickly. Part of the show follows Richard’s journeys through the US to check out potential money-making cars. But the cars that Rawlings thinks are valuable—or will be once he’s done with them—often prove to be lemons.
Sometimes he scores big at auction, but just as often—if not more—Rawlings ends up losing his shirt and not making any profit on the cars he sells. Here are 11 times Fast N’ Loud lost money, and 5 of their biggest winners.
16 Loser: Fake Prototype Firebirds
There was a time that Richard Rawlings and his Gas Monkey Garage crew came upon two original Pontiac Firebirds and then claimed they were prototypes of the car worth $325,000. They said that the cars were proof of concepts that the manufacturers had studied to decide whether the Firebird was capable to be mass produced or not. As it turned out, these weren’t actual prototypes, but were just barn finds. They were standard, consumer-model vehicles, and definitely not worth $325,000. They were two of the first off the line, apparently, but that wasn’t impressive enough to make it onto the show.
15 Loser: 1968 Shelby Mustang
Shelby Mustangs are rare and expensive because they are the Mustangs that featured Carroll Shelby's handiwork. This one, created by the Gas Monkey Garage group, was transformed into a true Thomas Crown Mustang replica, from the famous heist film that was remade in the late 1990s. This car was built on the very first season of Fast N’ Loud and according to Motor Trend, Richard Rawlings liked the build so much that he ended up keeping the Mustang for himself. It was lifted with bigger wheels and fog lights, in a completely unique build. Though they might have destroyed the integrity of a vintage Shelby Mustang, the reason Rawlings lost money on this one was that he didn’t sell it!
14 Loser: Ford GT40
This one was a bit heartbreaking for Rawlings and his crew because of how much they time and money they put into the car, only to the result of dismal auction efforts. This 800-hp Ford GT was spiced up during a two-part series on Fast N’ Loud and then the “GMGT” (Gas Monkey GT) was put up for auction across the Barrett-Jackson block. Rawlings put $250,000 into this beauty and then it sold at the auction for just $230,000—not even covering the labor for his guys. Richard wanted $500,000 for it, so he lifted the reserve, then lost money. According to the episode, the final cost to the car was $173,000, but Richard put $77,000 more into it.
13 Loser: 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat
The Dodge Challenger Hellcat is an extremely big, extremely fast car with one of the biggest engines ever put into a production vehicle. Its 717-hp powerplant makes it capable of hitting 0-60 mph in just 3.4-seconds. So what could Richard Rawlings have done to make it faster, more unique, and more epic? Well, nothing, actually. The reason this 2015 Hellcat was a lost him money was because it was boosted! Last year, the car was taken and Gas Monkey Garage put out a notice that they were hoping fans would help them find it. Apparently, the car belonged to Sue Rawlings and had a priceless photo of her with her son in the backseat. They offered a reward to anyone who found the car.
12 Loser: 1967 Ford Mustang Fastback
This is another car where everything seemed a little too perfect on the Fast N’ Loud episode in which it was featured. They were on pace to meet the deadline to have it finished and then, out of nowhere, it was smashed into while on transit to the shop. They made a big hullabaloo on the show (who knows if this part was scripted or not, though they tried their hardest to make it seem like it wasn’t) and Richard Rawlings had a near-meltdown on the offending driver because the guy apparently didn’t have insurance. In all, Rawlings had to spend $50,000 in repairs because of the other guy’s lack of insurance.
11 Loser: 1978 Ford Fairmont
This chromed-out 1978 Ford Fairmont drift car was an eBay find that was built by the crew on Fast N’ Loud. Under the hood of this once-humble family sedan, which has been heavily modified, is the heart of a 1986 Ford Mustang, a 5.0-liter V8. It also has a five-speed manual transmission, an 8.8-inch rear with a 4:10 ratio, and a heavily upgraded suspension setup with Hotchis trailing arms, KYB shocks, an Aerospace five-lug disc brake conversion, racing seats, and a roll cage. In all, Rawlings put over $40,000 into this car to customize it, but it ended up selling on eBay for just $16,549!
10 Loser: 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster
Even though you don’t always see it, Richard Rawlings has had as many bad days at auction as he has good days—if not more. This 1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster is a prime example of a car that the Gas Monkey guys put up for auction. Rawlings can be seen in a video of the auction with a stern face, realizing that the bid price isn’t going up nearly as much as he would have wanted. According to him, he put $22,500 into this car and then it sold at auction for just $11,750! Rawlings complained to the buyer that he got the “deal of a lifetime” and in a post-sale interview, the buyer said he was at the right place at the right time.
9 Loser: 1968 Chevrolet Impala Custom Hardtop
This beautiful reconstruction of a 1968 Impala was built by the Gas Monkey team on Fast N’ Loud with the express purpose of selling it at an upcoming Barrett-Jackson auction. It was featured in the episode called “Preparation for Barrett-Jackson.” It started with a great platform and in excellent condition, and was finished with a black vinyl top, factory green paint job, updated taillights to LED twilight models, a modernized look, and much more. In all, Rawlings threw over $30,000 into this car. It ended up selling at auction for $34,000, which doesn’t sound bad but that’s without taking auction fees and manual labor into account. For him to have made a profit, he probably would have had to see $50,000 at auction.
8 Loser: 1976 Chevrolet C-10
Back in 2015, Gas Monkey Garage arrived in force at a Barrett-Jackson auction, bringing out seven vehicles that had been part of their Dallas, Texas garage. It seemed like they were basically selling these cars wholesale—just to get rid of them and make more room in the garage—though they sold individually. This classic 1976 Chevy C-10 truck uses an LS7 engine for power that is paired with a 4L85E automatic transmission. It was originally donated to a local Dallas charity before Dennis Collis bought the car on TV for $85,000. He flipped it at Barrett-Jackson and lost quite a bit, as it sold for only $45,000.
7 Loser: $6 Million Defamation Suit Against Richard Rawlings
Even if Richard Rawlings doesn’t lose this defamation suit, the amount of money he’s putting into lawyers will definitely be considered a major loss in finances. The popular Dallas restaurant, Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill, sued Rawlings last year for defamation and “deliberate and deceitful attempts” to get out of his contract. The lawsuit seeks $6 million in damages and was filed on behalf of the bar. According to the bar, Rawlings has been disruptive, trying to halt operations and usurp control and mistreating construction workers. Rawlings’ lawyer states that this lawsuit has no merit and is a last-ditch effort to try to get back the “Gas Monkey” license.
6 Loser: Firing Tom Smith And Jordan Butler
Tom Smith and fellow mechanic Jordan Butler were apparently “problem” employees at Gas Monkey Garage, so they were fired. Fans of the show might have wondered why they suddenly disappeared from air. They were both fired on the same day, according to Smith, when a fan wanted a picture next to a Rolls-Royce, Smith agreed, but Rawlings blew up on the fan. Smith told Rawlings to “chill...out” and was fired. This hurts Rawlings’ bottom line because those fired employees started a spin-off called Misfit Garage, which is in direct competition with Fast N’ Loud (even though Rawlings is, somehow, a producer on the show).
5 Winner: 1991 Ferrari F40
This 1991 Ferrari F40 has quite a history behind it, much of it thanks to Richard Rawlings. This resurrected car was featured on Fast N’ Loud in 2013, when it was given a new lease on life. It was wrecked in 2011 after a mechanic steered it into a fence, ruining the front end and damaging the chassis. Rawlings’ business partner, Dennis Collins, bought the car for $400,000. Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman did a full rebuild, making it straighter, lighter, and faster, and sold it for $643,500—over a $243,000 profit! Then it had some legal issues and is going back on auction this year, where Rawlings plans to “bid aggressively” for it once again!
4 Winner: 1981 Custom Jeep CJ-7
Talk about a big score! Gas Monkey Garage considered themselves fortunate to work on this build, restoring and customizing a 1981 Jeep CJ7 for the Gary Sinise Foundation and Sunbelt Rentals. The team said of the car that, “While building cars is our passion, this build allowed us the pleasure of aiding Gary Sinise in his passion for helping our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.” It was sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, where 100% of the proceeds went to the benefit of the Gary Sinise Foundation. And boy, were those proceeds beneficial! This white-accented CJ-7, honoring all the branches of the US military, sold for a whopping $1.3 million!
3 Winner: 1970 Plymouth Superbird
This gorgeous 1970 Plymouth Superbird was seen in Gas Monkey’s garage. This is a car that was built to race, with a divisive spoiler. It’s an original muscle car and Plymouth was forced to make enough Superbirds back in the day to meet NASCAR’s two-per-dealer requirement for racing, after they announced that race cars must also be available to the public. In the end, this is said to be one of just 308 produced as road-going examples, of the 2,000 ever produced. Richard Rawlings wanted $183,000 for it, which was the Hagerty value of a 1970 Superbird at fair condition, and it ended up almost getting that exact amount: $181,500.
2 Winner: 1966 Volkswagen “Shorty”
When Gas Monkey Garage came out in force to the Barrett-Jackson auction with the intent of profiting off seven of their vehicles, not all of them were winners, such as the Chevy C-10 mentioned earlier. But this little 1966 VW “Shorty” was one of the bunch that brought in a profit. This little Volkswagen bus was bought by Richard for $2,000 and he had $7,500 more put into it (which included a $3,000 installation fee for the kit). His $7,500 investment ended up bringing him $38,500, though, which is a huge profit percentage over his cost! It’s little flips like these that keep Gas Monkey Garage open, especially when they lose their shirts on bigger, more expensive auction busts.
1 Winner: K.I.T.T. Knight Rider Car
In one surprising episode of Fast N’ Loud, Richard Rawlings was approached and commissioned to build a custom Knight Rider car, K.I.T.T. from the classic David Hasselhoff TV show—but with a few caveats. For his friend’s 40th birthday, the challenge was to create the car in just 14 days, which Rawlings said he’d have no problem doing. He said he could build it for just $25,000. He was offered $100,000 if he could finish the build in two weeks! Then he was offered ANOTHER $100,000 if he could manage to bring the Hoff himself to his friend’s birthday party, just to pose with the car and hang out with it. Rawlings managed both, scoring a $175,000 profit on this two-week build.
Sources: Discovery, Gas Monkey Garage, Dallas News, and Hagerty.