Of Fast X set to hit theaters next year, auto enthusiasts are eager to check out auto-related content. The most popular of this content is in the form of car restoration. It may seem daunting to get together a watchlist due to the abundance of these shows.
Fortunately, the best have been collected (with a few brand new shows turning their engines now or later in the year) and are available on TV or streaming, making it easily accessible to any viewer. While many of these shows share the same basic idea, there’s plenty in each of these that will appeal to even the biggest of gearheads.
Fast N Loud (2012 – 2020)
Stream on Discovery GO
This Discovery Channel TV show features Richard Rawlings, Chief Mechanic Aaron Kaufman, and Gas Monkey Garage from Dallas, Texas. It’s a great combination of Kaufman’s restoration work and the deal-making Rawlings to make the cars profitable.
Sadly, after 16 eight-year seasons, Rawlings announced on The Joe Rogan Experience that the show was coming to an end. Despite this, it still remains popular among the gearhead community, especially the earlier seasons. Because of this popularity fast and hard spin-offs made Misfit Garage scaryanger rehabilitation.
Wheeler dealers (2003 – )
Stream on MotorTrend OnDemand
A British TV series with over 17 seasons under the hood, Wheeler dealers stars Mike Brewer, Edd China, Ant Anstead and, more recently, Marc Priestly. The show tackles car restoration with a no-nonsense approach, meaning it’s highly informative and not held back by artificial drama – something most gear heads will probably appreciate.
The most appealing aspect of the show is that it is aimed at DIY enthusiasts. It shows you what to look for when buying a car and how to fix minor issues ranging from oil changes or polishing to the suspension and brakes.
On the hunt for classic cars (2008 -)
Stream on MotorTrend OnDemand
In Chasing classic cars, the viewer follows Wayne Carini, a Ferrari expert, classic car restorer and son of the famous Bob Carini, as he “chases” vintage cars and restores them in hopes of selling them at auction. Because he is highly respected in the car world, he has access to secret garages that no one else has.
As the name suggests, Chasing classic cars is exactly what car restoration is all about: realism. It is original and portrays the good and the bad of the restoration process without artificial drama or glamour. The show also features classic movie cars and cars rarely seen by the public today, such as a 1938 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante and a Hudson Italia, similar to some classic cars seen in movies.
Graveyard Carz (2011 -)
Airing on MotorTrend
Shot on location in Springfield, Oregon, cemetery Carz came about when Mark Worman wanted to restore a 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda. For the first six seasons, the viewer will be presented with the ‘Cuda, along with other classic cars, restored by the cast, otherwise known as The Ghouls.
Due to the way the show was shot and edited, the auto reveals differ from those in similar shows. Instead of a dramatically unveiled final product, the emphasis is placed on the smaller but vital parts of the car. While the show only restores Mopar muscle cars (built by Chrysler) and only appeals to a certain niche, it’s entertaining nonetheless.
Iron Resurrection (2016 – )
Stream on MotorTrend OnDemand
In Austin set Iron ResurrectionJoe Martin, his wife Amanda, his best friend Jayson “Shag” Arrington and Martin Bros Customs explore the Texas countryside in search of hidden mechanical gold. Not only do they restore hot rods, but if the crew comes across a motorcycle, they won’t hesitate to bring it back to life.
As with most auto restoration shows, each team member has a specialty, be it mechanical, sales, or just general automotive knowledge. Iron Resurrection is unique because Amanda is the whole package. The show deserves credit for featuring this extremely talented woman in a genre traditionally male-dominated in the media.
Flipping Bangers (2017 – )
Stream on BlazeTV
After quitting their jobs, Will Trickett and Porsche photographer Gus Gregory’s show is a combination of the early seasons of wheeler Dealers and Vice Grip Garage (see below). Despite being a restoration show full of challenges, the chemistry of the two petrolheads (car enthusiasts) is what makes the show so entertaining.
It’s a great DIY show as it uses basic tools. Money is tight, so affordability is imperative. Since Trickett and Gregory are amateurs, the viewer learns along with them. The only downside seems to be a lack of episodes, but that certainly doesn’t detract from the quality of the show itself.
Rust Valley Restorers (2018 -)
Stream on Netflix
This auto restoration show is set in British Columbia’s South Shuswap. Known as ‘Rust Valley’, it is known for its car community and junkyards. Centered on Rust Bros Restorations, owner Mike Hall, his son Connor and friend Avery Shoaf have restored tons of cars ranging from those in the 60’s like a ’68 Camaro all the way back to a 1926 Ford Model T. Some of these are similar to cars found in the Fast and furious franchisee.
A big selling point for the show is that the cast has great chemistry and banter and generally avoids the real or fabricated inter-team drama often seen in other, similar shows. It’s satisfying to see the end result, even for those who don’t like cars. Rust Valley Restorers is currently in season 4 on Netflix.
Vice Grip Garage (2018 -)
Available on Youtube
Since auto restoration is so popular, it only makes sense that a hidden gem exists in the labyrinth of the internet, in the form of a YouTube documentary series. Derek Bieri is in charge of Shame grip garage, a low-budget show that moved from Minnesota to Tennessee. He tries to repair cars by any means necessary.
Perhaps his most famous restoration is that of a 1972 Chevelle, nicknamed ‘The Independence’. Here Bieri’s passion for cars shines as he pours his blood, sweat and tears into restoring the classic car. Equivalent to Chasing Classic Cars, Vice Grip Garage is best known for its authenticity and reliability. It is also noteworthy that it is free to watch for anyone with access to YouTube.
Lost car rescue (2022)
Not streaming at the moment
A new show that debuted in January this year, Lost car rescue was filmed in Northern Saskatchewan and focuses on finding and “rescuing” cars in Canada’s backcountry. However, this is not a typical restoration show. Throughout the six-part series, brothers Matt and Steve Sager use a plane to traverse the rugged terrain of Canada for a bird’s-eye view of abandoned cars.
Due to the excessive snow and wind, the team has to wait until spring to hunt for the thousands of cars that have been left behind. As Matt Sager states, per wheels.ca“It’s the family and the people that we actually hunt.” A rare find of a Volkswagen bus that Woodstock has seen certainly meets those criteria.
Downey’s Dream Cars (2022)
Currently under development
Robert Downey Jr. debuting later this year on Discovery+, leading a brand new, unscripted series where he transforms sports and muscle cars into eco-friendly machines. This seems to be a passion project for Downey Jr as he channels his inner Tony Stark to tweak and tinker with what he finds. Even the biggest gearhead will be curious to see how he pulls this off.
Chances are, this show will be very popular very early on, not only because people will tune in to see the former Avenger, but also to see what he’s doing in linking technology to the cars. If successful, it could signal a shift in the restoration community towards more eco-friendly projects and solutions.
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