If you are a fan of restoration projects that include unimaginably trashed muscle cars later transformed into dashing and functional metal beasts, this show is for you. “Rust Valley Restorers” is a documentary /reality series that follows a group of restorers and mechanics who use their skills to restore and repair old and/or rusted cars, giving them a new life! Produced by Mayhem Entertainment for History Channel, the series premiered in December 2018, and has run for four seasons, quickly garnering a fan base, and for a good reason! The Canadian show takes place at Rust Bros Restorations in South Shuswap in Tappen, British Columbia, Canada, an area known as “Rust Valley,” which is well-known for its unique car community and junkyards. The main face of the show is the engaging eccentric Mike Hall, who is also the owner of the restoration shop Rust Bros. Let’s dive into his life and the series!
Who is Mike Hall?
Mike Hall, also known as “The Rasta Blasta,” was born in 1956, and raised in Saint Boniface, Manitoba, Canada, until his father landed a job with Canadian Pacific Railway, and his family moved to Kamloops, British Colombia. He developed an interest in cars at a young age, and when he was 20, began collecting various vehicles. In an interview, he explained how he became ‘addicted’ to muscle cars: ‘I was a product of the ’60s and grew up around muscle cars. Back then we just called them fast but these days they deserve that special designation. They might not be environmentally correct but I still react like a young boy whenever I’m close to one; it’s in my DNA’.
Even though not much information about his educational background is available, it’s believed that he received his education in Canada. Mike does not like to share details about his personal life, but it is known that he now lives with his wife and their dog named Minnie on a 26-acre-farm. Unlike Mike, his wife is not thrilled about his habit of collecting cars and filling up their space with bulky, rusted, run-down vehicles.
Before becoming a reality TV celebrity and the star of the show, he worked at the slope stabilization business, “Chimera Springs Rock Works.” Interestingly, Mike is a rock blaster by profession, meaning he uses explosives or other methods to break rock for excavation. In an interview, he described his former job as “hanging from cliffs and blowing sh*t up.’ Mike got the nickname “Rasta Blasta” for his dreadlocks and his profession as a rock blaster. According to reports, he has made his fortune in the construction business, but most of his money has gone into buying new cars. Long before he landed his series, Mike appeared as a rock climber in a different reality series, “Highway Thru Hell,” which features daring rescues of road accidents of the British Columbian Mountain’s treacherous terrain.
According to the latest sources, Mike’s net worth is around $2 million, including his vast car collection.
Despite being the conductor of a band that pays him no attention, Mike still gets excited about all the great builds the Rust Bros have done over the years. What's been your favourite restoration throughout the show?Don't miss new episodes of #RustValleyRestorers Thursdays at 9pm ET. Also on STACKTV.
Posted by HISTORY on Tuesday, March 2, 2021
How was “Rust Valley Restorers” Created”?
While working for the Chimera Spring Rock Works, he often traveled from location to location, and in each one found a discarded wreck worth dragging home and potentially restoring. However, over time he collected nearly 400 cars and had little time to fix all of them, so he started thinking: ‘I’ll be 62 soon; my dad died at 60. I’ve seen buddies dying or running into health problems, leaving their families with all kinds of stuff to deal with. What are my wife and kids going to do with 400 cars in a field?’
So, in 2016 he tried to sell the property with the vehicles for $1.19 million. However, there were no takers. Interestingly, the following year he raised the price to $1.45, opening several doors and opportunities. His story and offer went viral, and in no time Mike received dozens of calls from car collectors to video producers, proposing documentaries about a man with an undying love for vehicle cadavers. Two directors of Mayhem Entertainment, Tyson Hepburn and Matt Shewchuk got the idea to film a series about Mike, whom they already knew from his appearance on the “Highway Thru Hell” series, directed by Matt, in which Mike was invited to blow up boulders.
They filmed a pilot video for the series, which quickly saw a green light from Corus Entertainment, calling for an eight-part series with Mike Hall that celebrates the unique car culture in the Shuswap community. After the series premiered, it reeled in many automotive fans, who were fascinated by Mike’s presence, reminiscent of Hulk Hogan’s, plus his dreadlocks. Obviously, Mike is not your usual car collector, and his persistence and inability to let go of a car make him more interesting to watch, especially knowing that sometimes his obsession tends to hinder his profit. A complete success, now the series can be watched in over 190 countries; Mike said: ‘It’s the strangest thing to hear your voice overdubbed in French or Italian.’
About the Show and Cast
Mayhem Entertainment created the show for History Channel in association with Corus Entertainment, but internationally the series’ is distributed by Netflix and considered as Netflix’s original series. Mike explained the show’s title: ‘The Rust Bros is our name because we always buy rust and we love junk.’ Besides the central figure Mike, the show’s two other prominent members are Avery Shoaf and Connor Charman Hall.
Avery is a mechanic, restoration specialist, and Canadian TV personality, who gained popularity starring in “Rust Valley Restorers.” Shuswap native Avery has spent most of his life in British Columbia, where he learned about engineering and assembling cars. Similar to his partner in crime, Mike, Avery is a huge car enthusiast with a particular interest in vintage cars and automobile machinery. Given that he and Mike are like two peas in a pod, Avery landed the nickname ‘Cad Buddy of Mike Hall.’ Avery has another interesting nickname – ‘Muscle Car Macgyver’ – and is considered to have enormous knowledge of engines. Before landing celebrity status, Avery owned a company that specialized in repairing heavy equipment, which unfortunately went under. Later, he opened the new shop Wildman Restorations, in collaboration with his son Shafin. Having gained success and reach, in 2022 Mike launched his self-titled YouTube channel and “The Avery Shoaf Show.” That’s not all! He started his business with Knox Studio, and you can purchase his merchandise through his official site.
Connor Charman Hall
Connor is Mike’s son, mechanic, negotiator, and reality TV celebrity, who came into the limelight after his appearance in “Rust Valley Restorers.” Not much is known about his educational background, but given that he grew up with a car enthusiast, it’s safe to assume that he got the bug from Mike. Before appearing in the show, he worked for Avery, who later became his mentor. Connor is one of the original cast members, so has been present since season one. So what does he do at the shop? Connor’s task in his father’s business is overseeing the operations, and engaging clients.
Connor is knowledgeable about cars, but not as much as Avery and Mike, and has done some minor adjustments and fixes such as replacing the starter or the brakes. Talking of his experience as a mechanic, he said: ‘I also work on cars. I’m not a mechanic by trade but I’ve been pulling wrenches my entire life. I’ve got buddies with shops that I’ve worked for, and of course growing up with my dad collecting cars.’
Regardless of his mechanical skills, which have greatly improved since the first season, he has a real eye for business, and there lies his quality and contribution to the team. While his father and Avery share a mutual love for weird-looking old and rare cars, Connor is the one that thinks about making a profit, and not just breathing new life into a vehicle, which is not always the case with his father. Besides taking care of the shop’s finances and resources, he is also there to prevent his father from harboring more useless junk in the yard. Although in an interview, Connor joked about his father’s obsession with cars, saying: ‘He doesn’t really listen very good, but you try to minimize the damage that he can cause. If you can stop him from buying one, you have made a dent, because you will not stop him from buying all of them.’
In addition to the main cast, the show also features other specialists and mechanics who appear in the show: Cassidy Mceown, Russell McKiel, Donny Kleinfelder, J.F. Launier, James West, Rachel Bohnet and Sarah Ward.
Who is the girl on “Rust Valley Restorers”?
While the show’s cast definitely includes various interesting and colorful members, the fan’s attention has mainly been drawn to a blonde young Cassidy Mceown. Breaking the stereotypes that restoring is a male profession, Cassidy quickly rose to fame, displaying her charisma and abilities. She is a mechanic, car enthusiast, and reality TV star, who gained fame by starring in “Rust Valley Restorers.” Coming from a family rooted in the automotive industry, she developed an interest in cars from a young age, as she often spent time in her parents’ garage. After matriculating, she took a course at Okanagan College to Study Auto Collision Repair. She was adamant about furthering her knowledge, so she also completed an apprenticeship at Prestige Collision-Vernon.
Cassidy McEown from @HISTORY Rust Valley Restorers, spoke about her collision repair training experience at @okanagancollege and her #apprenticeship journey.
Watch her interview to hear the advice she has for future generations of #tradespeople.
⏯️ https://t.co/hHZMdRpcHx pic.twitter.com/LHfeBsqc9j
— OC Trades (@tradesOC) June 18, 2021
Cassidy first appeared in the series in 2019, when she was 17 years old – her initially role was to assist the team on a project, but given her knowledge and qualities, she found a spot among the old car restorers. With an eye for talented mechanics, Mike recognized her talents, especially her ability to learn new materials very quickly, so having no choice but to hire the girl. Despite Mike’s reasoning, Cassidy is a breath of fresh air in the show, normally dominated by male cast members. In her introductory video, she shared thoughts about working at Mike’s shop: ‘My favorite thing about my job is working on these old cars and turning them from a pile of rust… into gorgeous cars that turn everybody’s heads. My least favorite thing is spending three days sanding a car, and it looks the same as it did three days before’.
Was Mike’s business successful in the beginning?
If you’ve ever watched an episode of the show, you must know that Mike has a knack for ‘sniffing’ vehicle cadavers, but when it comes to making a profit, that’s a different story! Unfortunately, his business and restoration shop got off to a bad start, as he invested too much on restoration, and then sold for too low a price. Even though the show garnered massive attention, and new fans eager to visit Mike’s shop, he was losing money. In an interview, Mike revealed: “My accountant told me I lost a lot of money. I’ve only broken even on two cars.’ Mike and his team restored a 1963 Continental convertible, quoting $17,000, with the actual cost $50,000.
Rasta Blasta then explained: “Filming a reality show doesn’t make the shop any more productive or efficient. It takes thirty percent more time, and I make up the difference. But I like to fulfill people’s dreams.’ Mike also discussed working with cameras, saying: ‘It’s never easy doing anything when you’ve got a camera shoved in your face. It slows down production a little.’
Mike, who jokingly refers to himself as the biggest Canadian paying actor, disclosed that one of the major issues when starting a business is discerning between a quote and estimate, saying: ‘That’s when the trouble starts. An estimate is a best guess. A quote is what you will do the restoration for.’ Mike has come a long way since the first season, in terms of upgrading and maximizing his business financially!
The show popularized Tappen; Mike said: ‘People have just been showing up ever since the show has become available on Netflix. Everybody thinks we live in the U.S., but visitors from UK drove all the up from Vancouver just to see if we really live where the show takes place.’
Is “Rust Valley Restorers” fake?
When it comes to reality series, it’s usual for a show to be scrutinized, as most of those series feature made-up and staged scenarios, to boost popularity and attract new viewers. Despite its term reality, it’s still a series, meaning that parts of the show are edited or added to for a specific effect. However, if you ask Mike, “Rust Valley Restorers” is ‘90% real’. Many of the show’s fans noted that Mike either took acting classes, or his reactions on the show were genuine. Unlike other reality series, Mike’s show rarely features dramatic situations concerning their private lives.
On the other hand, several occurences convinced fans that the show isn’t fake. In the first season, there was an incident where Avery dropped an automatic transmission, causing it to break. Having seen this, Mike saw red and shared his discontent using several beeped expletives. There was another occasion when Avery backed his trailer into a customer’s car, causing the engine to fall off a stand. Many commented on the scene, saying that this was staged or the crew was willing to sacrifice an expensive engine for ‘quality’ camera time.
Mike’s life story and how he landed the show are genuinely attention-grabbing! He has come a long way from wanting to sell his lot with cars, to owning the restoration shop, and having his (now profitable) business, and a TV series!