Doane Yawger: TV abundantly rewards the old-car buff

March 20, 2014 

It just gets better and better.

I’m referring to the abundance of reality television shows dealing with old cars. Last Monday night I stumbled upon a new one called “Lords of the Car Hoards,” about two car guys searching out individuals hoarding old cars and trucks. In exchange for transforming one of the long-neglected vehicles into a show-winner, the guys take away all the accumulated “clutter” and sell the extra stuff to recoup their costs.

The first episode had the protagonists on the trail for some Corvettes. Instead they discovered their find was a large yard full of Corvairs, the Chevrolet-branded compact rear-engine wonder in production from 1960 to 1969.

The two dudes and their associates restored a Corvair Greenbrier passenger van into a stunner in exchange for hauling off a number of less lucrative Corvairs. The first-generation Corvair is quite endearing, with its flat roof, rounded front and rear contours, and air-cooled engine.

Our two heroes initially turned up their noses at Ralph Nader’s favorite vehicles but warmed up to them later when they saw how the renovations were going.

While they ultimately lost a little money on the deal, it makes me wonder what future delights await.

Other auto shows include “The Car Chasers,” in which a Lubbock, Texas-based wheeler-dealer, his wife and a couple of mechanics look for vintage vehicles to sell for quick profits. There’s a considerable amount of back-and-forth dickering between buyers and sellers, along with some auction drama on occasion. Their showroom is always full of gleaming automotive temptations at gasp-type prices.

Then there’s “Fast N’ Loud,” set in the Dallas area. The owner and his master mechanic friend also search out automotive relics and usually spend a week or more turning them into high-dollar sales. They like doing “burnouts,” where the cars spin in circles with smoke billowing off the tires.

Another very entertaining show is called “Counting Cars.” It’s set in Las Vegas and the shop owner and his crew rebuild all manner of cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers and other rolling stock for big profits. They are known for their intricate and elaborate paint jobs and graphics.

In the past month or so, another old-car show has joined the mix. It’s called “Rods N’ Wheels” and chronicles the exploits of a Southern California hot rod shop run by two mature gentlemen and their 20-something sons. They also resurrect forlorn cars in hopes of making a fast buck.

All of these shows involve a fair amount of friction as shop workers interact with each other and as surprises or other obstacles surface during the builds. The old-car enthusiast/armchair viewer has to pay close attention as the cameras don’t spend much time focusing on all the rolling delights they spot.

To me this is better than taking in crime dramas, dance competitions or sports news. Not much beats seeing a 1960 Corvair brought back to life or a 1970 Cadillac spinning in circles.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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