Mike Hall became such a prominent figure through his hobby of restoring abandoned old classic cars in their local community in British Columbia, Canada, why his reality-television show called “Rust Valley Restorers” became successful. His main goal is to turn his yard of hundreds of piles of metal rust into millions of dollars while he still can. After the series was launched in 2018, it provided viewers with amazing transformations of rust buckets into shiny vintage cars that the average folks could afford to own. He turned his hobby into profit, by eventually starting to auction his collection, which added to millions of dollars in net worth.
- 1 A brief background on Mike Hall
- 2 “Rust Valley Restorers,” his own reality-TV show
- 3 Top three of Mike Hall’s car restoration projects
- 4 Personal Life
- 5 Mike Hall’s net worth
- 6 The “field of dreams” auction
A brief background on Mike Hall
Whether it was due to him keeping a lid on information about himself to protect his family’s privacy, or that he lived quite an ordinary, uninteresting life before he became a reality-TV star, there wasn’t much information that could be found about Michael “Mike” Hall. During an interview back in December 2019, Mike said that he was 62 years old, born in Saint Boniface, Manitoba, Canada, but in 1956, his family moved to Kamloops in British Columbia because of his father’s new job with Canadian Pacific Rail. His interest in anything mechanical and construction came early, as he watched his father tinker in their garage until he found himself learning how machines worked in general.
Established a business
When he became an adult, he moved out and started his own company called Chimera Springs Rockworks Ltd., a slope stabilization business, which as the name suggests, primarily provided services to any individual or company that needed the expertise of stabilizing unstable slopes. For instance, they were the people to call whenever there were infrastructure projects with steep slopes along the roads, that have to be controlled. He was quite proficient in drilling, rock scaling, and blowing up huge chunks of rocks, and his business was quite successful, and helped in providing a comfortable lifestyle for his family.
Reality-TV introduction – “Highway Thru Hell”
Most of Mike’s fans didn’t realize that his first foray into reality TV was back in 2017. He made an appearance as the dynamite-blowing expert in “Highway Thru Hell,” a TV series about heavy rescue truck operators who made sure that the Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia remained clear of any obstruction from to vehicular accidents or Mother Nature’s glacial temper. In one episode, a huge ice storm hit Fraser Canyon, and afterwards danger remained as loosened large boulders continued to fall down on the road. Mike, who was described as a blasting contractor at that time, was called in. He said that the more freeze-thaw cycles that the mountain went through, the more the rocks were loosened and started to move as the water affected them. He expertly blew up one huge boulder into smaller pieces in the middle of the highway without any incidents – his blasting expertise was the reason he earned the nickname, “Rasta Blasta.”
“Rust Valley Restorers,” his own reality-TV show
How did it start?
Mike Hall was a known classic car collector in the local community, situated in a remote part of British Columbia. Against better judgment, he collected more than 400 classic cars by the time he’d hit 50. He’d been encouraged by his family to sell it while he still could, and after rejecting the idea many times, he finally gave in. In 2016, he advertised that he was selling not only the cars but also the huge property where his cars were stored. There were no takers, so a year later, he tried selling it again, but at a higher price. Since it was featured in the news and went viral, it garnered the interest of many people, including Matt Shewchuk, one of the producers of Mayhem Entertainment. With Mike’s overall physical look of long dreads and hippie vibe accompanied by a quirky personality, the TV producer knew that Mike was a perfect fit for a reality-TV show – it didn’t take long for them to reach an agreement.
Main arc and premise
It was hard for Mike to part with his collection, because he felt that those cars were his legacy. However, he knew that at his age he was already running out of time to restore all of them. His solution was to open up a car restoration shop called Rust Bro with his son, Connor, and long-time best friend, Avery – they wanted to turn his hobby into profit. While there were already many auto-restoration TV shows around, the main difference with their show was that Mike’s crew restored cars that the average person could afford. He knew that it was quite difficult to earn money with that kind of perspective, so he asked for help from his friends and colleagues in their town, who were just as car-crazed as he was. His place of business and junkyard, which he called the “field of dreams,” was situated somewhere between the Rocky Mountains and the desert; it was called Rust Valley, hence the title of the show, “Rust Valley Restorers.”
TV premiere, ratings, number of seasons, and accessibility
Mayhem Entertainment and Big Time Decent Productions co-produced the TV series in association with Corus Studios, and “Rust Valley Restorers” made its TV debut on 6 December 2018. The first season consisted of eight episodes, and it captured the attention of so many viewers in Canada that it became one of the top five reality-TV series aired on History Channel. As its popularity grew, the executive producers made the series accessible worldwide by making it possible for anyone to watch it at any time zone through the biggest streaming network, Netflix. Aside from being commercially successful, it also gained a nomination from Canadian Screen Awards for Best Direction in a Documentary or Factual Series in 2018. The TV show continued to regale its viewers with more car restoration projects in its subsequent seasons; its latest season, the fourth, was aired from 24 February up to 23 June 2022.
Top three of Mike Hall’s car restoration projects
The dry air in Rust Valley helped in preserving the classic cars in the junkyard, and was the reason why the place became the center of the classic car culture in Canada. While Mike was reluctant to part with the cars, he was big on restoring them, as it wasn’t just a hobby but a passion. Here are some of the most interesting car restoration projects they did in the show:
The 1966 Lincoln Continental Ragtop – a dream come true
Beauty and the beast! What a transformation for this rare 1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible from episode 1! Remember how many layers of paint the crew had to strip?#historychannelcanada
During the first episode, while Mike, Avery and Connor were sorting out what cars to be restored in his collection, a man named Mike Poulton with his wife and kids came driving an iconic Continental that would forever be known as the car that US President John F. Kennedy was riding in the day he was assassinated. Back in the late 1960s, a convertible was worth around $6000, which was the amount that an average family made in a year at that time. It was the client’s dream for quite some time to have it restored, and played a major part in his life.
Apparently, he’d a skiing accident, and while he could still drive after his long rehab, he still went around in a wheelchair. He said that it was the car that gave him that little spark to live again. Mike wanted to give the client his dream car, and they agreed on a price that was too low for the repair hours and materials they needed. They discovered more problems with the car, and to lower the expenses, he called in favors from friends. In the end, they restored the 1966 Lincoln Continental Ragtop to its former glory.
The 1966 Mustang – transforming ‘rustang to mustang’
‘Everybody loves a Mustang’ – Mike chose the 1966 Mustang to restore and sell since he said the one in their yard was something they’d started restoring years ago. The 1966 version was the first of the “pony cars,” which meant that it was small and affordable. The design and performance catered to the younger generation at that time. Most of the spare parts were cheap, and the Mustang was sold at $2,500 a piece back then. Connor then realized that the specific Mustang they were about to work on was the one promised to him by his father when he was still a kid; it was supposed to be a gift for his graduation after they restored it.
Most of the parts that they needed for the restorations were stored in the containers that Mike had in his yard. He’d bought them over the years, including doors, fenders, and hoods. Most of them were brand new, but he forgot where he’d placed them. They installed a five-liter engine so that it could look like a discreet muscle car. They put on new doors, new fenders, tail lights, and interior, but no luck with the matching hood, so Mike went shopping in another junkyard, and found the perfect match. They initially had problems with the fuel-injected engine, but in the end they made it work. Mike fulfilled his promise to Connor as he finished building it. Father and son did the test drive happily. Mike said that he wasn’t there much when his son was growing up, and he felt good that somehow he made it up to him by doing the car restoration together.
— Bob Smith (@Dvapteam) January 12, 2022
A ‘Frankentruck’ to a shiny well-put 1938 International Harvester
Mike accepted a job to finish what the client had been working on since he was in his teens – many people had a hand in rebuilding what seemed to be a 1938 International Harvester. The pickup truck was manufactured by JP Morgan, which specialized in farming and commercial vehicles. It didn’t last long in the business, because the production costs were way up higher than the three big car manufacturers. Eventually, America lost its independent light truck maker, and it was such a loss since it was designed uniquely with large grills and pontoon-style fenders. When the crew inspected it thoroughly, they called it ‘frankentruck’, as it was built with mismatched parts. It had a Chevy front end and a whole S-10 frame and a Ford motor. Someone called it an absolute nightmare for them, as it had been modified through the years with wrong pieces, such that the doors didn’t fit the body of the truck. However, they needed the cash flow, and Mike never thought that it was that bad when he accepted the job.
When they were trying to fix it, the welder found that the chassis was spliced and whoever worked on it in the past never bothered to fix it up safely; they all agreed that they wouldn’t even drive it on the road because it was unsafe. Another thing they had to deal with was that it hadn’t been cleared yet to be driven on the road by an inspector, as it was built from scratch. The client was notified of the new problems and was amenable to the changes in the budget. Mike’s crew fixed everything so it could pass inspection, because that was his main priority; he didn’t want any car leaving his garage to be unsafe t on the road. Fortunately, it passed inspection and so the Rust Bros crew pranked the client with the help of his wife and friends. Mike called the client and told him that they discovered new problems but when he arrived at the shop, it was for the big reveal of his newly-restored shiny 1938 Harvester – he was floored.
Mike Hall was stingy when it came to sharing his personal life, and reporters respected it. He would slip now and then with things such as claiming that his wife used to get crazy with his increasing collection of classic cars on his 26-acre farm property. It probably meant that his wife didn’t share his love for the cars, or that she felt that it was just a bunch of rust buckets filling up the space, and destroying the view of the landscape. Other than that, there was never any mention of a wife in his reality-TV show; his son never made any reference to his mother, even just in passing. Whether they were still together or separated, no one had any idea at all.
There were indications that Mike had other children aside from Connor, but they weren’t mentioned. Even on Connor’s social media accounts, he never posted anything about other members of his family, except for his wife, Jada; it was quite obvious that it was done intentionally. However, one of the episodes in the first season featured the wedding of one of Rust Bros crew members named Greg. When Mike and Avery were bantering after the wedding, the former said, ‘Weddings are a big deal. That’s why I never got married.’ Fans were kind of confused about his current status, but some said he probably considered his girlfriend as his wife but they were never married, or that he could have said it in jest.
Mike Hall’s net worth
According to authoritative sources, Mike’s net worth was estimated to be $5 million as of February 2023. Most of Mike’s fortune came from his blasting and slope stabilization contracts over the years, which was spent buying those rusted classic cars, which by 2022 were about 600 pieces.
In the fourth season of “Rust Valley Restorers,” Connor posted a video on Instagram of their place, and said that the five-acre property was already sold. He never shared for how much, but in 2017, the selling price was $1.5 million. By 2022, it could be assumed that the value increased, as real estate properties continued to rise at unprecedented rates due to the re-emerging economy after the pandemic eased out. He announced that all of the cars in the “field of dreams” were also for sale. At that time, they only had six months to sell the cars before the new owner of the land took over. If they weren’t sold by that time, the cars would go under the crusher. Mike said that he was finally convinced to give it another go, since he already reached an elderly age and had just received his first senior citizen check. He wanted to make financial arrangements for his loved ones.
The “field of dreams” auction
The final episode of the fourth season of “Rust Valley Restorers” featured the auction of all of Mike’s cars in his junkyard. Many people came to either just look at the classic cars, or bid for those that went on the auction block. Aside from those who went there physically, 700 online bidders participated in the auction. Initially, Mike didn’t want to be there and was having a panic attack, but Connor and Avery convinced him, so he could properly say ‘goodbye’ to them. At the end of the auction, Mike learned that he’d made around $750,000 in just one day of selling. He kept about 60 cars from his collection, but before the season ended, a delivery just arrived as Mike bought another abandoned classic car to add to his collection. Fans can’t wait for the fifth season of the show to arrive, as it was hinted by Avery that Mike probably would start a new collection again in a new property.