Custom Paint Job Week: Profile – Car Warriors

CarWarriorsLogo0102-05aCustom Paint Job Week continues today. So far this week, we featured cars with chrome paint jobs and custom paint jobs on classic cars. Today we look back at the Speed Channel show “Car Warriors”. It was a show recognized for their amazing paint jobs as well as their fantastic restorations.

Reality show fans may argue about “real” and “scripted” styles, but it seems like it would be impossible to influence in a build competition show.

Or is it?

Speed Channel’s “Car Warriors” may have tried to influence judging to build tension, leading to the threat of a lawsuit and a format change to ensure everything was above board.

“Car Warriors” – Season 1: Like Iron Chef With Cars

Each episode, host Marc Istook introduces a new team to compete against the in-house All Stars team, building a custom car with great paint, great handling and great acceleration within 72 hours.

The teams work across from each other in a large shop with access to the same tools and parts, but one of the teams can win a special engine by moving the car or the old engine into the Victory Box first.

The winner was decided by an independent team of judges who rated the car’s exterior and interior appearance and take the vehicles through slalom and drag strip courses.


Accusations of Fixing

Rick Sheley of SKJ Customs claimed his victory was taken away after the All Stars threatened to walk off the show. Sheley said the All Stars used a shortened drive axle that couldn’t be built to safely standards using the tools available, and he and two fellow team members spotted the show mechanics working on the All Stars’ car for over an hour before testing.

Although SKJ Customs initially sued for $2 million in damages, the lawsuit was dropped and SKJ released a statement saying that everything had been done according to the show’s contract.

“Car Warriors” – Season 2: An Attempt at Legitimacy

SKJ’s lawsuit may not have gained traction, but the show was still retooled to help clear the air. The All Stars were dropped, pitting a pair of new teams against each other. Hosting and judging was handed off to Jimmy Shine, owner of the legendary So-Cal Customs and holder of several land speed records in vehicles he built himself. Each team got the help of either Ray McClelland, owner of Full Throttle Kustomz, or Brad Fanshaw, owner of Bonspeed wheels. All testing and judging was done in front of the contestants. The engine competition was replaced by skill challenges that could earn teams extra work time.

The show was never renewed, but that probably has more to do with Speed’s rebranding as the more general Fox Sports network.