The Untold Truth About Overhaulin’

The Untold Truth About Overhaulin'

Although “Overhaulin’” was beloved by fans for four years on TLC and three more on Discovery Network’s Velocity, it seemed done and dusted after it ended on 18 November 2015. While the network never canceled it, they gave the show a bittersweet ending by featuring a star-studded cast of guests such as Johnny Depp, Amber Heard and Shaquille O’Neal.

Chip Foose, the main mechanic and the owner of Foose Design, Inc., the company behind the designs and work, returned briefly for an unofficial 10th season in 12 episodes between November 2019 and July 2020, exclusively available via the website. While dedicated fans loved its return, the show wasn’t a revival; this production company focused on advertising on-demand access to all previous seasons. Therefore, they likely wanted to boost the catalog’s popularity with new episodes. But why did “Overhaulin’” go off the air when Chip’s company is still hectically working on cars today? We analyzed the reasons it ended.

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The show wasn’t profitable enough

Most fans forget that “Overhaulin’” was one of many automotive reality TV shows in the 2000s, and that the TV networks were still testing the format. TLC gave it a few years to find its footing and start racking up cash, but ultimately did not see a return on its investment, and the show went off the air in 2008. It was clear to everyone that the same problems plagued the revival season, and most issues persisted until the last episode.

Keeping the format similar attracts loyal fans and reduces risks, since the show has a proven track record. However, tweaks in the show’s deadlines and project funding, unfeasible for a show with over 110 episodes, could have kept it going. Finally, the brief second revival didn’t garner the overwhelming support the producers required to greenlight another season.

Some people disliked Chip because of Boyd

Chip alienated potential watchers before his show aired. Anyone familiar with his story knows that Boyd Coddington employed him; Boyd was the star of “American Hot Rod,” which aired concurrently with Chip’s show but went off the air in 2007, a year before Boyd died.

Their issues were unresolved; Chip worked for him between 1990 and 1998 and started his own company after Boyd filed for bankruptcy. Thus, he began to produce designs inspired by what Boyd taught him, which his former boss disliked. Moreover, Chip’s attitude, knowledge, and ability to encourage camaraderie attracted his former co-workers. Therefore, they moved tp work for him instead of staying with Boyd through thick and thin.

Chip clashed with Richard from Gas Monkey Garage

Chip generally got along with fellow car enthusiasts and professionals, allowing them to promote themselves in the show. One such professional was Richard Rawlings, who promoted Gas Monkey Garage, his car parts, overhauling and tuning shop. However, his marketer, Stephen Andrews, started posting the episode across many car forums when it aired, then filmed a separate promotional video.

The push was overwhelming, and viewers disliked the immature humor and deemed it sacrilegious to the industry and the show. Consequently, Discovery removed the episode from the schedule and never aired it again. Chip and Ryan settled their differences,  and had mutual respect; Richard called him ‘one of the goats (greatest of all time) in the car game’ in October 2021. However, that didn’t change from Ryan’s Discovery-produced show “Fast N’ Loud” being a competitor to Chip. It was even more successful, airing 155 episodes in 16 seasons and several specials, and spawning two spin-offs, “Misfit Garage” and “Fast N’ Loud: Demolition Theater.” Thus, his popularity affected Chip’s ability to keep his show on the air.

Aaron and I were on Overhaulin a few times way back in the day when Aaron was beardless and I had a ponytail. Chip was…

Posted by Richard Rawlings on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cast members were overworked

Viewers are used to extended time limits, fast-forwards, and recapitulations in reality TV shows. However, “Overhaulin’” remained faithful to the advertised eight-day rebuild. That meant everyone, including designers, mechanics and couriers who delivered parts, worked quickly and efficiently to get things done. According to many cast members, they worked over 150 hours on each car, and survived on four to five hours sleep a night.

Unsurprisingly, despite their claims that neither of them disliked such a brutal work pace, oversights happened from time to time. Also, the production company likely pushed them too far, eventually limiting the number of episodes per season they could film without hiring a second team.

Chip was equally tired, claiming that he experienced burnout by the time the third season aired. According to him, his company finished almost a car per week, totaling 29 cars in nine months within the first five years of filming. Unsurprisingly, he wanted to slow down, and figured that finishing one car every three weeks would be ideal. While that meant everyone could get some sleep, and the work quality would improve, the producers evidently weren’t pleased.

Cars required low-cost or donated parts

Supplying working parts that looked good was a crucial problem the producers had to solve, especially as they had to be priced reasonably, arrive on time, and obviously fit the vehicles. As a reminder, vehicles were predominantly several decades old and thus no longer in production. Luckily, the producers found companies willing to donate or sell car parts cheaply in exchange for exposure in the show. Nonetheless, constantly receiving a critical contribution at the last minute stressed everyone. It also frequently forced Chip to change the design, so compromising the initial plan, reducing the overhaul’s quality, and therefore the car’s value.

Additionally, while most viewers understood why the show had to do it, they felt that the products wouldn’t be Chip’s first choice. After all, the show chose them because the companies agreed to sponsor the show, hoping for extra sales. Thus, some viewers saw it as producers taking whatever was available, instead of picking products with the best quality.

Not everyone loved the concept

Although the result was almost always overwhelming happiness, the targets or “marks” were stressed for eight days – they were convinced their valuable possessions were gone and unlikely to return. Moreover, the producers had to notify the mark’s family, circle of friends, and law enforcement upfront, since any of them, alongside the mark, could file a police report.

While it may have been funny to watch someone snap at first, it quickly became a hurtful part of the episode. While the concept eventually changed in response to feedback, the risks to mental and physical health reduced the show’s initial viewership and ratings. Thus, fewer people returned for the Discovery revival, expecting to see the same tactics.

Marks were left in a precarious situation

Most people forget that the mark has to care for the car after the overhaul. That means that they have to pay taxes on the new valuation, which can rise by 50 percent from the initial one. Since many marks keep their cars in a garage and only do minor work and maintenance in their free time, paying the difference may be impossible for some. While the person who signs them up is made aware that they are liable for federal, state and local taxes, the recipient of the car may not agree.

The allure of making money from a previously unwanted or average car is also strong. Therefore, many marks decide to sell the car at auction, covering the taxes and other fees. That way, they can drive their dream car in top shape for a while before putting extra money in their pocket. Although unfair to Chip and the team, the decision is logical, especially after they hear about success stories. For instance, a decommissioned Hummer that CNN used in Iraq, called “Warrior One,” was in disrepair and hardly worth a penny in 2006. That was until Chip and the team got their hands on it. Afterwards, it sold for $.25 million at a Barrett-Jackson auction. Although the unbelievably high proceeds went to The Fisher House Foundation, such an example tempted the marks.

The cast made some cars worse

While the stringent eight-day deadline was actual, for the reasons mentioned above, the cars they handed over to their owners weren’t always ‘complete.’ Some marks complained that their beloved vehicles had poorly done paint jobs, scratches, mechanical issues and required heavy tune-ups afterward. However, the show’s producers were committed to fixing those things after the cameras stopped rolling.

Additionally, in rare cases, the car in its initial state was more valuable than the restored one because of the original parts, appearance, or interior. With exceptions, cars must preserve their chassis to keep their identity and history; replacing some parts raises the question of whether the vehicle is still original. That’s a thought experiment applicable to other objects, and is the topic of an unanswered Ship of Theseus paradox. Plus, all cars carried sentimental value, and marks may have wanted to preserve their condition because they treated them as heirlooms. If so, the cast didn’t do them a favor, and the upgrades made things worse.

Even when that wasn’t the case, the crew sometimes messed up. Most fans remember the Oldsmobile 442 from the second season. Although joyriding was forbidden, the team blew off some steam by ‘testing the overhaul.’ They did donuts in the parking lot before taking it to the freeway. After the car overheated, they power-washed the engine, damaging the finishes, and letting water enter the oiling system, and frying the electronics when they started the vehicle. Unsurprisingly, the owner noticed and complained, and while the crew solved the problem afterward, it still marred their reputation.

Candidate choices were drying up

Chip Foose and the team received an overwhelming number of submissions over the years. What’s surprising is that he still does; thus, he has to clarify that reaching out to his company with a project is not an application for his show. That said, only a few candidate applications were actually suitable back in the day. Even if Chip wanted to help, the producers called all the shots – they needed to find a person with a car ideal for the show. If the car was extremely rare, the mark’s personality and the car type didn’t matter as much. However, such vehicles only appeared a few times yearly, with high demand, and many weren’t in California. Moreover, the competition, including private buyers and other TV shows, didn’t have a tight budget and conditions.

Therefore, the producers usually looked for a mark with a touching story, a charismatic personality, or an attitude that made them flip out when the car was in the shop. Unsurprisingly, there’s a limited number of such candidates, and many don’t know the show exists, or lack a family member or friend to sign them up.

Most people disliked the celebrity cast

Fans felt the lack of good marks toward the end, when the producers brought in celebrities, with largely mundane cars, to draw interest. While fans appreciated that the producers tried to boost the show’s popularity, they criticized them for bypassing the familiar format. Money was the most significant issue; the booking fee for a celebrity likely cost as much as purchasing a car.

Plus, they felt the choice could be better; with a few exceptions, celebrities seemingly didn’t know much about their cars and bought them to be cool or use them as investments. They didn’t look overly passionate, either, because they could have tuned up their vehicles at any moment. Thus, to keep going, the episodes needed the heartwarming element of Chip and his team fulfilling someone’s life-long wish.

The drama was fabricated

Outside of the drama surrounding tricking the mark, and convincing them that their car was destroyed, stolen, or taken by a tow truck, nothing overly emotional actually happened. Chip and his crew members stated that they appeared in the show to do what they loved. According to them, they wanted to share their passion with a broader audience, and do something special for someone who loves old cars.

As mentioned, everyone had to work in unison to complete such a dramatic project in eight days – they all enjoyed working with Chip and each other. Because they had no time to argue or fight, the producers’ suggestions, combined with the exhaustion and stress of such a short overhauling stint, produced the minimal drama that was broadcast. That was undoubtedly bad for the reality TV series genre, which thrives on emotionally-charged conflict.

Other car shows dominated “Overhaulin’”

Viewers also know that the rising competent rival shows from TLC, Discovery, and other media networks also contributed to the demise of the revived “Overhaulin’.” They could watch dozens of shows starting in the early 2010s, including “Fast N’ Loud,” “Misfit Garage,” “FantomWorks,” and “Counting Cars.” That reduced the viewership and ratings; people could criticize and move on, instead of clinging to one of the several choices.

While the show spearheaded the format of automotive reality TV, others have evidently learned from their mistakes, and chosen a less pricey premise. They didn’t struggle to find screen-worthy marks, stay under budget, and deliver outstanding results on a tight schedule for each car. Therefore, those shows weren’t burning cash and overworking the cast members.

Chip has different priorities

Another critical reason that Chip stopped filming “Overhaulin’” was that he’d accomplished his goal. He attracted enough publicity to keep his business afloat after 2015, and is still swamped with work behind the scenes. Moreover, his designs now carry a high value, and he can sell them at eye-watering prices, while having worked on them at his own pace.

Additionally, Chip found someone to fund his philanthropic efforts when he couldn’t do so. Today, he and his team can do car designs for charity, or needy people whose stories he hears. Therefore, he doesn’t have to push himself and his team into consistently cramming a month’s work into eight days.

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