‘Overhaulin’ was an American reality television series that joined the ranks of the many car-related shows on cable TV back in 2004, which appealed to the ever-growing number of petrol heads and automobile enthusiasts of that era. The show aired on TLC for four years until 2008, when the show went on a four-year suspension, returning to our screens once more in 2012 after Velocity Channel recalled ‘Overhaulin’ to fill their program schedule.
The show ran for another four seasons, reaching a total of nine seasons before its conclusion in 2015. In June 2019, Motor Trend announced a revival of the show that aired on 16 November later that year, bringing back the show’s uncomplicated yet entertaining concept, as well as its original hosts.
Each episode would follow the refurbishing of old or vintage cars, documenting both the process of the overhaul, completed within eight to seven days, as well as the subsequent revealing of the project.
The producers would most often pick the cars from submissions mailed to the show, corresponding only with close relatives of their mark without informing or asking the consent of the vehicle’s owner.
The show would refer to the unsuspecting owners as marks, and before revealing the polished, jazzed-up car, the hosts would prank the mark by telling them their cars had either been hauled off by police, stolen or irreparably damaged.
Naturally, a show that can easily be found guilty of grand theft auto, and by all consideration, vandalism, would inevitably get into trouble with the law. Somehow though, the show avoided excessive lawsuits, but this only made people question the legitimacy of the show’s ‘reality’.
Like many reality shows, ‘Overhaulin’ is packed with secrets and intriguing behind-the-scenes facts to be discovered, which will provide its fans with as much entertainment as the show itself, and maybe as much shock as their marks suffered.
While many believe that the marks chosen for each episode were somehow in on the production, only going along with the show to boost viewer ratings, the truth is that none of them followed a script. This part of the show was as honest as could be, and all the reactions from shocked, and often angry marks viewers loved to see were actually real.
For the better part of the episode, right up to the end when the mark finally saw his or her car again, they stayed out of the loop about what was really happening to their prized possession. In many of the episodes, the host of the show, Chris Jacobs, pretended to be an insurance agent with the intent of keeping the marks uninformed and convinced that the worst possible scenario had happened to their cars, keeping them occupied until Chip Foose completed the overhaul.
Considering that many of the marks featured on the show inherited these vintage models, or bought them at extreme prices, with some even keeping them for decades, their initial reactions should not be surprising to anyone.
Regardless of all the planning that went into each episode, ‘Overhaulin’ succeeded at catching the marks off guard every time, but at least they ended kindly… most of the time!
The Secret of Mitigation
Many fans might question how ‘Overhaulin’ successfully got away with possible felonies related to the disappearance of their mark’s vehicle, which as mentioned, were in most cases prized possessions. Their marks would obviously realise that their vehicle had been stolen, and many undoubtedly reported it to the police.
While some might consider it a remarkable feat to get away with it and catch the mark by surprise in every episode, the producers followed a simple and easy formula to mitigate the situation, and subsequently avoid any trouble with law enforcement.
When the producers selected the mark for an episode from the many submissions the show receives, they privately approach the closest family or kin, informing them of their intention, and instructing them on the role they have to play.
— MotorTrend TV (@MotorTrendTV) March 5, 2020
Of course, the family member, most often the wife or a close relative of the mark, would play along, doing their best to keep the secret. In doing so, the producers procure the primary consent needed for a ‘legal theft’, but as an extra precaution, the producers would also inform the local police.
Thus, if the mark turns to the police for assistance, they would also play along, making the situation seem as legitimate as possibly conceivable. This also mitigated any legal issues that could arise – in some cases, the police even assisted in the removal, towing away the vehicle.
Despite being a reality television series, the show requires a lot of preparation and planning. With so many details in its concept, a tight schedule, and the possibility of unexpected modifications, planning for the show happened long before the cameras started rolling.
To create a successful show such as ‘Overhaulin’, the production team needed to plan every aspect of the show, paying close attention to the most minute details.
Most of the time, this was both because the mark needed to remain out of the loop during the whole process, and to succeed at this, the overhauling process had to be completed in the least possible amount of time.
Thus they film each episode over the course of eight days. One of the most important aspects is Chip’s concept for the overhaul of the vehicle chosen.
Wasting time could create difficulties while trying to keep the mark uninformed. Once work on the car begins, all the parts for the modifications need to be ready and to do this, everything has to be pre-ordered, sometimes weeks before filming takes place. Then there is the ‘disappearance’ of the mark’s car, which required thoughtful planning to both succeed and be kept quiet.
The Truth About Submissions
A show as popular as ‘Overhaulin’ would naturally receive plenty of submissions, so through the years many applications were denied, despite the potential some marks may possess.
Of course, the producers were meticulous about who they chose to appear on the show, mostly because it could mean the difference between high ratings and bad entertainment. Many applications were from friends hoping to play pranks on their mates, especially on guys who were too sentimental about their cars.
Others were from family members who nominated marks who couldn’t afford the costs of an overhaul. Also regardless of their potential, some were turned down because the background associated with the vehicle wasn’t interesting enough; the producers specifically searched for marks who could supply the show with a little extra emotional excitement too.
For example, ‘Overhaulin’ would select marks such as James, who featured in the second season. For his episode, they overhauled a 1971 Challenger James received as a gift from his father upon graduating from college.
In another episode, they picked a veteran soldier who toured Iraq. He hoped to rebuild his car alongside his dad, but since they never got around to it, his family approached the show with the hopes of surprising the young soldier. While some may have been disappointed by their choices, it nonetheless provided heart-warming entertainment.
All Work No Sleep
Most petrol-heads will agree that eight days is hardly enough time perform intricate renovations on a car, and certainly not enough time to complete the kind of modifications for which ‘Overhaulin’ became famous. As such, many wonder how they pull it off.
Aside from intricate planning, it also requires long and arduous labour to complete these projects, and this often meant that the crew had to work around the clock, a decision made by the producers for two reasons.
Not only did they have to keep the overhaul a secret, but the show needed to be entertaining, and choosing a time limit would naturally cause tension to rise among the crew.
As a result, many of the labourers sacrificed their beauty sleep to finish the job on time. In an interview with ‘Car and Driver’ magazine, Chip admitted that he would hardly sleep for a total of 24 days a month.
Chip also stated that he would never agree to a short time limit ever again. Despite their effort, the time limit placed a strain on their projects, which often lead to final touch-ups and tune-ups required after the car’s return. While only minor problems, such as loose door handles and minor engine tuning, nonetheless it showed that most often eight days wasn’t enough.
The show’s concept focused on the reactions of the marks, who were at first given bad news, and later surprised by the overhauled return of their vehicle, however, some marks were not satisfied by the results. Keep in mind that many of the cars brought on to the show are vintage models.
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These models can be worth an astounding amount of money to the right collector, but once the cars have been re-modelled and perhapsfitted with non-standard parts, or even paint jobs, it could lose value. Despite all the money spent on the new parts and hip paint jobs, in such cases the owner of that car could consider it a drastic loss.
It then comes at quite the surprise that no mark has ever filed a complaint of vandalism against the show. Despite being considerably fabulous vandalism, it would still be a crime. Somehow though, the show gets away with it, and successfully hides the truth about any disgruntled marks from the public, but the producers can’t hide the fact that some of the projects they completed damaged someone’s property, and the marks weren’t happy about it.
Creating a show like ‘Overhaulin’ will, of course, cost a pretty penny.
From paying for the filming crew and all associated equipment to the required skilled labour needed to complete the overhauls on the cars, and not to mention the required parts – even whole engines – and the necessary hardware, the show has plenty of expenses.
Fans of the show may then have noticed the many subtle, and at times unashamed advertising the producers resort to, in order to cut costs. Suppliers reached agreements to supply parts and hardware at either reduced cost or without charge, in exchange for advertising on the show.
Some shots would intently focus on brand names, and the hosts of the show would repeatedly mention the manufacturers and suppliers of certain parts. Since the producer’s advertising scheme succeeds at keeping it on the air, suppose there is no shame in it, but for those who wondered why this happens in an episode, you now have your answer.
The Genius Behind The Concepts
Chip Foose has been with the show right since the start, and aside from being the co-host, he also plays the role of lead designer. All the beautiful creations viewers get to see at the end of each episode is the concept of the man which makes everything come together.
Unsurprisingly, the producers chose Chip for the job because of his impressive resume. Foose began his career in automobile design at a young age, working with his father, and by all accounts is considered a prodigal natural. By the time Chip turned twelve, he had already painted his first car, which Foose would proudly admit was a custom built Porsche.
Chip has won numerous awards for his work, including The Ridler Award and America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. Chip is also the owner of ‘Foose Designs’, a private company which specialises in the construction and design of new automobiles, as well as the development of model cars.
Chip’s participation in ‘Overhaulin’ is crucial, since his expertise not only supplies the design for each re-modelling, but his management ensures the projects finish within the eight-day time limit.
For a few special episodes, the show included the overhauling of several celebrities’ cars, but without any due word so perhaps to the disappointment of some viewers, the producers dropped the idea. One of the celebs they worked with include the actor and star of ‘Beverly Hills 90210’, Ian Ziering.
In an episode for the first season back in 2004, they overhauled Ziering’s Camaro, and following episodes would later feature the cyclist Lance Armstrong’s GTO. The show also partnered with Amber Heard, Jason Priestly, and Tony Todd, in the hopes that celeb inclusion would boost viewer ratings.
Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect, as fans began speaking out about it, leaving negative comments that convinced the producers that they should cut the concept completely. Afraid of losing viewers, the celeb edition of ‘Overhauling’ discontinued permanently.
Sales And Taxes
In 2006, ‘Overhaulin’ included a special episode which featured the overhaul of a Hummer H1, once used by CNN correspondents covering the Iraqi war. CNN originally bought the Hummer from a dealer in Kuwait, and upon its arrival in Baghdad, the H1 was caught in an intense firefight involving the 7th Marines.
Chip and his crew rebuilt the vehicle, and with a creative paint job, commemorated journalists around the world who risked their lives to document the stories of war-torn countries. ‘Overhaulin’ later sold off the Hummer at a charity auction, raising $1.25 million in support of wounded soldiers and their families.
— MotorTrend TV (@MotorTrendTV) October 22, 2020
However, it wasn’t the only rebuild designed by Chip and featured on the show that was sold. Several marks sold their refurbished cars after it was returned from the show, making a great deal of profit which never went to charity. Despite the sentimental value their cars once held, the marks in question decided that their financial gain was of greater importance. Aside from these individual accounts, the marks who chose to keep their cars needed to inform tax offices of the increased value of their new vehicles, remaining liable to pay the required imposts – at least the show’s producers assisted the marks with this process.
These interesting facts would certainly put a new spin on the show, and make long term fans all the more appreciative of the effort put into their entertainment. We hope you learned something new, and that you look forward to watching the latest instalments of the new ‘Overhaulin’ season.