Do Shows Like “American Hot Rod” Offer Quality Builds?

American Hot RodCar shop-based reality shows have become their own genre with the sensible repairs of “Wheeler Dealers” to the full-on reality drama that was “American Choppers.” Are the cars being built by these shops any good? As we’ve seen with four shows, it depends a lot on how the show is filmed.


West Coast Customs and MTV

WCC has a reputation for building high-quality customs ranging from celebrity rides to purpose-built buses used by companies for mobile promotions. MTV hired the shop for their show “Pimp My Ride,” giving ordinary people a chance to have their clunkers turned into high-end customs.


At least that was the idea. Instead, the producers would come up with themed designs that the shop would execute, resulting in ridiculously impractical vehicles. Video game conveyor belts, fish tanks and fireplaces were just some of the bizarre things added in the transformations. Fourth season participant Jake hosted a Reddit AMA about having his Buick Century “pimped.” Instead of a like-new car, he ended up with the latest product from car audio company MTX but not a single thing done to address the car’s mechanical issues. Jake sold the car to MTX for $18,000 so they could use it for audio shows; the car broke down a month later, and it had to be shipped to events.


Eventually, the shop split from the show citing “creative differences.” West Coast Customs launched their own self-titled show on Discovery so they could skip the reality drama and focus on filming the builds they’re famous for.


The Coddington-Foose Feud

Fans of “American Hot Rod” and “Overhaulin'” may notice more than a few familiar faces. Boyd Coddington’s rough demeanor was played up for his show, and Chip Foose says his personal relationship with his old boss was amicable, but that didn’t stop most of Coddington’s staff from leaving to work with the more laid-back Foose.


Foose’s “Overhaulin'” builds cars in seven days, but quality is maintained by putting 32 experienced mechanics and fabricators to work on each build. Foose also has complete control of the projects, allowing them to retain his unique style. The few cars that have gone for sale have returned big money-so much so that they’re beginning to surpass Coddington’s creations in the market making the show a true success story for all those involved.