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So, Classic Car Rescue, a low budget reality TV show currently running on Channel Five where two so-called 'experts' restore old rust buckets to their former classic car glory so to sell on, four episodes in of six so far in the opening series, Monday night at 8pm the ignition time.
Expert number one is balding East End Jew with attitude 'Berne' Fineman, a mouthy eye bulging cockney who goes off the handle very quickly, and a heart attack waiting to happen. Our second expert is Canadian Italian Mario Pacione, the more phlegmatic one of the pair who seems to be more car enthusiasts than mechanic, regularly making what appear to be costly mistakes with the cars construction, much to the annoyance of Bernie, his catch phrase being: 'Its costing me money'!
Bernie knows his cars and more opinionated than most, in recent publicity blurb for the show claiming to be able to 'knock Clarkson out with one punch'. He is more TV presenter than hands on mechanic these days as he also appeared on a show called 'Chop Shop' on the Discovery Channel on similar restoration themes last year and claims to be the 'mechanic to the stars' with many celebrity clients. 'Chop Shop' is a somewhat ironic name considering how some of his restored cars end up here, the show failing to be the sums of all its parts, so to speak. Mario, on the other hand, doesn't seem to register on a Google search and just the dull straight man plucked from nowhere to complement this comedy double act, phlegmatic and a bit of a bungling idiot if the truth be told.
As with most of these shows there seem to be 'staged incidents' that make the operation look a bitch chaotic and incompetent to please the casual viewer, Mario, if he was one of the Mr Men, very much 'Mr Clumsy' to Bernie's 'Mr Gobby', one episode backing a freshly painted E-Type into an engine block on a hoist and last week dropping a Ford Mustang windscreen on the floor when he claims to have cut his fingers on it. These incidents appeared set up for dramatic effect; again pumping that sense of tension you get from any show with time pressure added.
The tirade of abuse on the C5 website message board toward this show matches Bernie's in the show to anyone present who doesn't agree with him and suggests those who know the car restoration business can see just how many set ups and erroneous situations there are going on here. It certainly looks somewhat fishy although as I'm no expert on cars and unsure if these guys are just a couple of cowboys who make a mint from selling rich people restored cars way over their real value, or a show that shows how tough it is to restore cars. There's even a suggestion on Wikipedia that one of the cars was deliberately wrecked for the show to save money and another unsafe when it was finished.
With such a simple and cheap idea for a show it's fairly easy to enjoy and certainly unchallenging, so far the boys restoring four cars, an E-Type Jag, a Porsche 911, an MG and last week a Ford Mustang. A time element to get the car done from wreck to riches is introduced for dramatic and tension reasons although the shows producers say the clock ticking to bring down labor costs from a long restoration as that would minimize any profits to the restorers. The fact that viewers can win all six cars restored in the show through a £1.50 text competition suggests the two guys may not get the profits and the show simply wants to make money from the phone lines, a typical reality show trick.
The set up...
The boys go out on the road to locate the rusting wrecks and after agreeing on a price with the owner they bring it back to the garage - be it East London or Canada - to let them and their workers get to work on it. The cost of spare and new parts are bunged on top with labor costs and other sundries and then, when the restoration is complete (normally with minutes to spare), an important car valuation expert, Adrian Flux, arrives to inspect the finished car and sets the official price for respected car magazines to value it at. For some reason its normally thirty grand.
The first episode was enjoyable, the much loved Jaguar E-Type first up for restoration. Mario takes a risk and buys a dodgy looking antique rust bucket for £10,000 from a bloke's garage, a skip load of E-Type parts 'conveniently' available in a nearby dealers junk yard in Hackney to fix it. After an ugly red re-spray Mario backs it into an engine block on a hoist for one huge dent, which the angry mechanic has to bash out for the next two days after working all night to get it sprayed. But they get it done just in time and the posh man turns up and it's valued at £30,000, after costs a nice profit.
The second week wasn't as good with a garish bright orange Porsche the restored result. This is the car critics believe was deliberately driven into a tree to make it look like wreck for the show. It was bought for £7,000 and valued at £22,000 after the refit. Old Porsches don't ware well and ugly little cars around that 1970 period this came from.
The third episode was a disaster as the boys got only a five grand valuation for a restored MGB, which, to be fair, was a five grand crap box when they were built in the 1970s and certainly no classic car. It later transpired that the original car was a victim of identity theft by previous owners and that should have been spotted by the 'experts' and so C5 had to apologize. The boys result was what appeared to be a classic 'chop shop' car, which is actually illegal, welding two different cars together and using just one license number plate. The shows producers responded to the critic from various message boards and admitted 'extra bits' were used from 'other cars' to create the finished article.
Last week's episode saw the boys go over the pond to America to seek out the so-called 'muscle car', the classic 1950s Ford Mustang the target, a stunning car in its pride. When they finally got the one Mario wanted it appeared not to have an engine and just a frame and parts for $5,000 US. They did find an engine from another rust bucket Mustang they turned down and made a decent little car from the parts. Sadly they painted it with a dreadful sky blue and go faster stripes. These babes should be black and chrome, end of.
I think the critics and petrol heads miss the point here. This is a television show aimed at me and people like me and corners are always cut and artistic license taken to make it entertaining, like the guys do when the cameras are not there and they are restoring the cars for regular punters. We all know mechanics love to take time fixing cars so they can find more faults and bump your bill. They have to make money by taking liberties and unless you restore classic cars yourself then you will never know if it's a good job, why people with no real car knowledge would be the ones to actually buy a restored classic from guys like these two. Do we really want to some fat grease monkeys taking six months to rebuild a Mini Clubman with their ass crack exposed, what the business is really about? No. We want to see so - called experts making mistakes like we do. The secret of television entertainment is to bring celebrated people on TV down to our level, why the X-Factor and I'm a Celebrity works so well.
The shows presenters are deliberately over-the-top and annoying at times and remind me a lot of the reality TV 'caught in the headlights' syndrome, first witnessed in the original reality TV series that I cant recall the name of but was set in a double - glazing firm in Coventry, where the main protagonist realize they are on telly so forget to behave naturally and so the way their business run appearing somewhat warped. These reality shows have to be real for them to work and I'm afraid this one feels very contrived and so only managing one million viewers so far. Saying that I like to see classic cars restored in some sort of form and that side of things is appealing here. You clearly can turn old rust buckets into something of their former glory. The big question then is just how much of the car is the original in the show, which doesn't seem much by episode 4. Is this merely Triggers trusty old council broom from Only Fools and Horses, we wonder? It's had six new heads and 14 new handles, which kind of sums up Channel 5 if the truth be told...