• "Car S.O.S" is a National Geographic TV show premiered in 2013 known for its creativity and skilled team of experts.
• Every restoration is paid for by the show itself with a budget that allows them to finish the project in a timely money-conscious way.
• Every season starts with an initial schedule of 24 weeks, which are used to restore 10 cars in 10 days each.
• To appear in the show, car owners cannot nominate themselves and must have good photos and relevant information of their car, among other conditions.
• The show's main goal is making car owners happy while restoring their cars.
There’s certainly no shortage of car flipping series in today’s TV industry, yet there are very few shows which actually stand out for their high quality work and memorable cast. That’s certainly the case of “Car S.O.S”, the National Geographic show known for the creativity and skilled team of experts, whose talent has brought to life several classic cars which were once thought to have no saving grace.
Premiering in 2013, “Car S.O.S” has certainly gained a huge following, and become one of the most beloved and respected shows in its genre. That also means that certain questions are brought up in people’s minds, especially when it comes to the financial aspects of the show’s restorations.
So who pays for the restorations done in “Car S.O.S”? And what other important money and production related details should we know about? Stay here to discover all!
Who Pays For The Renovations?
Car renovations are known to be expensive, so it’s really no wonder that the financial details about “Car S.O.S” are often the subject of questioning due to the surprise aspect of the show. However, hosts Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend have been quite open about behind-the-scenes processes which make every restoration possible, including the money-related aspects that so many fans are curious about.
In an interview with the website Classic Proof, Townshend affirmed that every restoration is paid for by the show itself: ‘Basically, there’s a production company that pays for the people at the garage to restore the car’, he said.
Although it’s unclear how much of a budget the restoration staff is given, it’s certain that there’s a lot of planning beforehand that allows them to successfully finish the project in a timely money-conscious way. Nevertheless, sometimes that’s not exactly possible, as affirmed by Townshend: ‘we try to stay within that budget. But we do what’s necessary and if that means going over, well there’s no helping that’.
While these budget privileges make “Car S.O.S” stand out from other flipping-centered productions, the lack of limitation while doing their job surely explains why the show has been so successful.
What Is The Working Process?
Creating and maintaining a successful TV show isn’t an easy task, but it becomes even more complicated when the production is done within a strict schedule, leaving no room for failure.
The latter it’s certainly the case of “Car S.O.S”, as the renovations should be done in the best way possible in order not to put at risk the safety of the team or the car owners, while at the same time trying to stick to TV schedules. So these processes can be stressful and tiresome for those involved, as affirmed by Fuzz Townshend: ‘It’s a killer. The car simply needs to be finished in time for the reveal. No way around it. The stress you see on the show is all real’, he told Classic Proof.
Every season starts with an initial schedule of 24 weeks, which are used to restore 10 cars in 10 days each. Usually, the “Car S.O.S” team work in the mechanical and body aspects of the car, leaving the painting job to a third party. In total, every car takes 500 hours of labor except for some special cases. Surely, this is a very demanding job for everyone involved, yet it’s worth it in the end.
Car SOS – this one's knacked pic.twitter.com/nYaIYf8eUb
— Dave Richards (@ClassicCarDaily) January 21, 2019
Are Cars Entirely Finished?
Seeing all the hard work and planning which goes into “Car S.O.S”, it’s surely surprising for fans to find out that the projects shown on screen aren’t really 100% finished. As it happens, the show’s mechanic and restoration staff do their best to show a seemingly complete project when filming time comes around, without surpassing their schedule.
However, there are always details which are left incomplete even when time isn’t an issue for them. As admitted in a BANG Showbiz interview with Tim Shaw, this is done in order to let car owners play a small part in the restoration: ‘We’re not afraid to leave a window wiper falling off or chrome paint the car’, he affirmed.
While this move might be unexpected, there’s a good reason behind it. As it happens, “Car S.O.S” is an auto-flipping show, centered on people who love cars but haven’t really got around to finishing their restoration projects. Helping them to accomplish that goal is great enough, but the show also takes in consideration what the owner might feel after the work is done: ‘We’re petrol heads and know there would be a certain resentment if we completely rebuilt a car into mint condition’, as Shaw admitted in the same interview. Surely, this small but important detail makes “Car S.O.S” one special show.
How Do People Get Into The Show?
Appearing on TV is not for everyone, but there are people who do it just to enjoy the opportunity of having their cars restored by a TV show, for free. Nonetheless, not everyone is fit to appear in “Car S.O.S”, so those interested in it should follow certain guidelines to accomplish that aim.
As the show’s production company, Renegade Pictures states on their website, the first and most important condition to appear in the show is for car owners not to nominate themselves. Sending a self-nomination invalidates the show’s goal of secretly restoring a car for someone who has put a lot of effort in doing it themselves, but wasn’t able to finish it.
If a car owner breaks the rule by convincing someone else to nominate them, the producers assure them that they’ll find out about it, which most likely would result in disqualification. Other than that, other small but important conditions apply, such as having good photos and relevant information of the car in question, a letter of why the owner deserves to appear in the show, for the car in question to be 20 years old or more if possible, and having belonged to its owner for at least four years.
Are Car Owners Interviewed?
Usually the potential participants are interviewed before being selected by the TV show. However, given the special format of “Car S.O.S”, the car owners aren’t interviewed prior to the restoration, but their family, friends and loved ones who go through that process, which is done in order to determine whether their nominated car owner is fit to appear in the show, or to find out if they have somehow broken the rules of selection.
That being said, getting to know the story of every nominated car owner through the lenses of their loved ones is clearly an emotional challenge, especially when it comes to participants who have endured difficult moments in life. In order not to let feelings get in the way of restorations, “Car S.O.S” makes sure not to let Fuzz Townshend contact the car owners and their stories: ‘If Fuzz became too emotionally involved in the family and their story, he might take his eye off the ball a little bit. I take that weight on my shoulders’, as Tim Shaw affirmed in an interview with BANG Showbiz in 2020.
Although some sad stories are left with Shaw forever, this plan of action definitely works well for the sake of smoothly completing every renovation.
Tim Shaw from Car sos showing off his Lotus. Which is now available on a graphic kit.
Who Is Tim Shaw?
While many people around the world have got to know about Tim Shaw thanks to “Car S.O.S”, the truth is that he was already vastly famous prior to the show’s premiere.
A native of Yorkshire, England, Tim has always split his time between his love for automotive and his passion for communication and media. At the early age of 16 years, Tim was already a big fan of design, and was an inventor, giving life to several products such as ‘rubberised ice cube trays’ and ‘folding walking aids’, as his online biography states.
Tim’s early ingenuity gained him a scholarship to Oxford Uni, from where he graduated in the early 1990s as a Mechanical Engineer and Product Designer. At some point, Tim also graduated with a degree in Professional Broadcasting, which has surely gained him a spot in his country’s media industry, hosting shows for Kerrang!, Virgin Radio and Metro Radio. His path on TV has included hosting the National Geographic series’ “Experimental”, “Street Genius”, and appearing in “The Cars That Made Britain Great”.
Tim’s love for automotive has always been a constant in his career as a media personality, but even in his personal life he just doesn’t forget about it. Apparently, some of Tim’s favorite pastime activities include welding, assembling cars and creating mechanical devices.
Who Is Fuzz Townshend?
While most people know him as Fuzz Townshend, his actual name is John Richard Keith Townshend. His ‘Fuzz’ nickname actually comes from his childhood, when his Afro hairstyle made him stand out among the other kids.
Gaining a cool nickname wasn’t the only memorable thing about Fuzz’ childhood. His first close experiences with cars happened from time to time during his early years, when his uncle had a different car every time he visited Fuzz’s home: ‘They’d all be high spec with leather seats and what not. And he’d smoke a pipe, so there would be that smell and the smell of oil. I loved that’, he said in an interview with Classic Proof.
Fuzz’ early years also saw him develop a deep passion for music, splitting his time between playing the drums in local bands and working as a mechanic for bus companies. In the 1990s, Fuzz made his debut in the music world with his band With Pop Will Eat Itself, and solo, releasing several singles and the album “Far In” in 1999. His debut as an automotive journalist came when he joined the Practical Classics magazine as a writer, later founding his own media company, Classic Friendly, which also specialized in classic cars.
When Did Tim and Fuzz Meet Each Other?
Considering the excellent team that Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend form together, it’s really surprising to know that they actually hadn’t met prior to being cast in “Car S.O.S” in 2013.
Nonetheless, they knew who the other was for good reasons. Tim’s fame as a TV and radio host made him a well-known personality in the British entertainment industry, while Fuzz was well known for his automotive journalistic work, on top of being a musician. That being said, the differences between Tim and Shaw didn’t stop them from becoming good partners in crime for the show: ‘Tim is very much larger than life, very inquisitive. Some people might not get along with someone like that, but I can work with him. It’s great’, as Fuzz described his co-host in an interview with Classic Proof.
While that sums up Tim and Fuzz’ relationship quite well, it’s for certain that the reason they’ve gotten along so well is because not only are their goals within the show compatible, but they also share the same passion for automotive and classic cars that is very rare to find.
What Is The Show’s Goal?
There’s something very impacting about seeing “Car S.O.S” restorations and how impressive the results are. However, more than just trying to tell the world how skillful the show’s staff is when it comes to giving new life to these cars, the show’s first and foremost focus is always making car owners happy, especially if they’ve gone through some difficult times.
Nonetheless, bringing a smile to these people’s faces is not a task to be taken lightly: ‘They’ve already been to hell and back a lot of the time, and we don’t want to be part of that’, as Fuzz Townshend said in an interview with Express.co.uk in 2022.
As such, there’s a high level of responsibility on the shoulders of everyone involved in the restoration: ‘We want to make sure we get things right for them first time, every time. People have suffered all sorts of traumas’, Fuzz added. That being said, the “Car S.O.S” team always does a great job at making people happy, and that speaks louder than everything else.
Is The Show Still On Air?
After almost a decade on air, “Car S.O.S” is still going on strongly on TV. With the 10th season premiere in early 2022, the staff celebrated the milestone of having restored its 100th car in the show, which happened to be a 1978 MGB GT.
Some of the elements which made this episode unique is the fact that the car was the first electric one for the show’s staff, but also that it was initially a self-nomination that had been previously rejected, but taken on in consideration after knowing the heartbreaking story of the family featured.
Surely more seasons are in the works for “Car S.O.S”, as it’s undeniable that Fuzz, Tim and their team have made this road truly memorable.