Movie Reviews

The 20 Best Car Restoration Shows

Summary

  • Fast N Loud (2012-2020)
  • Wheeler Dealers (2003-2022)
  • Chasing Classic Cars (2008-2021)



The best car restoration shows take the world’s love of cars and motorcycles and deliver a series that shows people making them bigger and better. This has been a popular genre since the 1990s when Top Gear took the world by storm, and things have just gotten better as time goes on. These shows offer a look at not only restoring an automobile to its original glory but also upgrading it — both inside and out. These shows take a car that has seen better days and restore the interior and exterior, delivering a work of art in many cases.

There are also shows that do much more than update the looks of an automobile. Some of the best car shows also upgrade the engines and other parts to make the once-normal cars into powerhouses on the road. This allows viewers to see some of the best examples of car building and repairing, as well as the restoration process that not only delivers impressive results but also examples that help instruct people who want to do a little work on their car themselves. When it comes to the best car restoration shows, there is something out there for everyone.


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21 Project Binky (2013-2023)

Building The World’s Fastest Mini

Nic standing with his hand on Binky

Project Binky is a YouTube series from Bad Obsession Motorsport, which launched in 2013. It is different from other car restoration shows, as it focuses on just working on one car, which is a mini that they named Binky. The entire purpose of the show was to watch them produce one of the world’s fastest minis, and they put a lot of work into the little car over the 10 years that the show aired.

They began working on Binky in 2013, and the final assembly of the car came in 2023.


This ended up extremely popular, with over 424,000 subscribers, as they began working on Binky in 2013, and the final assembly of the car came in 2023. They were also working on a new transporter that could carry Binky and other cars, and they named it The Escargot.

There have been very few updates since 2023, but the show has 38 episodes and no drama. It’s refreshing to see something that is just about building the car and making it the best it can be with some very charismatic mechanics.

20 M539 Restorations (2016 – )

Restoring Older BMWs

Sreten Milisavljevic with a Maserati Quattroporte GTS


The YouTube series M539 Restorations is a long-form car restoration show that focuses mostly on repairing, restoring, and reviving older BMWs. Created by Sreten Milisavljevic, a Serbian national, this show takes older, neglected BMWs of all kinds and then restores them in one of the best channels for gearheads of all levels to enjoy.

The series was a massive success, and the car site Road & Track called it one of the best car restoration shows a person would find. Before creating the show, Milisavljevic began buying and flipping BMWs as a pastime, but he made sure he fixed it up before he flipped it to someone else.

That led to his desire to start the show. The channel has over 565,000 subscribers, and he admits he is not a professional mechanic but a normal guy with a hobby, making it a very relatable series to watch. The show started in 2016 and it remains a popular channel today, averaging over 300,000 views for every episode.


19 Roadkill (2012 – )

A Car Restoration Show By The MotorTrend Group

A 1969 Chevy Nova on Roadkill Garage

Roadkill is a car restoration show produced by the MotorTrend Group. It is a YouTube series hosted by former Hot Rod Magazine editor David Freiburger and former technical staff editor Mike Finnegan. The hosts of Hot Rod Garage also appear on the show.

This series actually outgrew its home on YouTube and moved to the streaming service MotorTrend On Demand in 2018, and it is currently available on Discovery+. There are 12 seasons and 154 total episodes to date, making it perfect for along binge.

Its biggest success starting in 2015 when American automaker Dodge began sponsoring the program


The show hit its biggest success starting in 2015 when American automaker Dodge began sponsoring the program, which allowed it to bring in over a million views per episode, which is likely what led to its move to a more lucrative platform. There were even spinoff series from the show (Roadkill Garage, Roadkill’s Junkyard Gold, and Faster with Newbern and Cotten) and they are also available to see on Discovery+, as is a companion series called Roadkill Extra.

18 The Skid Factory (2017 – )

A Show Previously Hosted On MCM2

Al and Woody from The Skid Factory

The Skid Factory is a YouTube car restoration series that was hosted for years by Woody and Al. The show started out as part of the MCM2 YouTube channel in 2018, but one year later they set out on their own with a separate channel dedicated to just their work.


While this was a drop in subscribers (MCM2 has over 700,000), The Skid Factory still has over 280,000 subscribers and well over 35,000 views per episode. The show did deal with a major change this year, as Al has left the series, and Woody is hosting it alone.

Based on the episode where Al announced he was leaving, it sounds like he was growing disenfranchised with the production side of things, so while it will lose his experience in 2024, the series will still have Woody, who was learning from Al for the last seven years. There are 353 episodes to enjoy on the main channel, so there is still plenty to catch up on before Al’s departure.

17 Top Gear (2002-2022)

The BBC’s Most Successful Car Restoration Show

16


In many ways, Top Gear is the most successful of all car restoration shows. There was a series of the same name on BBC from 1977 until 2001, and then it rebooted in 2002 with what turned into the show’s most successful run. Jeremy Clarkson and Andy Wilman rebooted the show and aimed the focus on examining and reviewing all cars, including looking at challenges, races, designs, and more. They even brought celebrities in to race the cars, adding to its allure.

The series has had 33 seasons and 240 episodes since its reboot in 2002.


The series had 33 seasons and 240 episodes since its reboot in 2002 though it began to struggle in the ratings when Clarkson and Wilman left. Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc replaced them, but fan complaints caused Evans to quit, and Chris Harris and Rory Reid joined LeBlanc to carry the series on. Everything ended after its 33rd season when BBC said it would “rest the UK show,” which could mean another reboot could be coming again down the line.

15 All Girls Garage (2012 – )

Featuring An All-Female Cast

All Girls Garage plays on the idea that auto mechanics and car restoration are male-dominated interests by flipping it on its head. The show features three hosts — Sarah “Bogi” Lateiner, Faye Hadley, and Cristy Lee. The legendary Jessie Combs was also on the show for four seasons, but she passed away in 2019 when she attempted to break the women’s land-speed record in the Alvord Desert, Oregon.


Seeing this kind of show done from a new perspective is a lot of fun and may inspire other female fans to get more involved in a world that can sometimes seem closed off. The show has also become one of the most popular of the best car restoration shows, with 12 seasons and counting. It remains must-watch television as one of the best car restoration shows with an all-female cast.

14 Pimp My Ride (2004-2007)

Xzibit Hosts This Auto Restoration Show

Xzibit in Pimp My Ride.


Rapper Xzibit hosted one of the best car restoration shows on MTV with Pimp My Ride. The hip-hop-themed reality series lasted six seasons over three years and featured cars in poor condition being both restored and customized. After choosing the car for the job, Xzibit takes it to a custom body shop, which was West Coast Customs in the first four seasons and Galpin Auto Sports after that, and they replace almost everything and rebuild the car from scratch. They then finish things off by “pimping” it out with something that fits the car’s owner’s personality and likes.

It was such a success that it spawned international spinoffs and a truck series on CMT.

Since the show’s time on the air, there have been a lot of hilarious details revealed about the series, from its more scripted format to the fact that the new cars didn’t necessarily work. However, there was a lot of fun to be had with just how ridiculous the series could get with the cars they came up with. It was such a success that it spawned international spinoffs and a truck series on CMT.


13 Downey’s Dream Cars (2022)

Robert Downey Jr. Seeks To Turn Vehicles Into Eco-Friendly Cars

An old picutre of actor Robert Downey Jr. in a classic car

While Robert Downey Jr.’s Oscar win marks a very exciting landmark in his acting career, many fans might not know about his secret and passionate reality series which serves as his own entry in the car restoration genre. Debuting on Discovery+, Downey Jr. led a unique, unscripted series in which he takes sports and muscle cars and turns them into eco-friendly machines. This seems to be a passion project for Downey Jr, as he channels his inner Tony Stark to tweak and tinker with what he finds.


Downey Jr. and his team take a bold approach to the series as eco-friendly mindsets do not always exist in the world of classic cars. However, even the biggest gearhead might be curious to see how he pulls off each restoration. Not only does this show give people a chance to see the former Avenger in a reality show, but also to see what he does when pairing tech with cars.

12 Overhaulin’ (2005-2008)

Restoring Cars As A Surprise For The Owners

The hosts of the show Overhaulin' posing with their arms crossed.

Overhaulin’ was one of the best car restoration shows that aired on various networks from 2004 through 2020, with nine seasons and 113 episodes. The series features auto designer Chip Foose and his co-host Chris Jacobs. Much like Pimp Your Ride, the show overhauls an old and worn-out car. However, instead of a person coming to them, friends nominate someone to have their car overhauled without the person knowing it is happening.


The co-hosts then act out as fake insurance adjusters or law enforcement agents as Fosse and his team take the car and remake it into a customized masterpiece. The show is a more grounded and realistic approach than what is seen on Pimp Your Ride, making the restorations all the more impressive as they seem to be brand-new by the time the team is done with them.

11 Counting Cars (2012-2021)

A Spin-Off From Pawn Stars

Counting Cars is a show that aired on History and is a spinoff from the extremely popular Pawn Stars series. In this series, Danny Koker owns a car restoration company known as Count’s Kustoms, and after he made appearances on Pawn Stars, he got a show of his own, which premiered in 2012. Counting Cars has Koker’s company obtaining automobiles and motorcycles and restoring them, as well as a little bit of drama concerning the cast members.


The show ended after 10 seasons and 184 episodes.

It is the kind of show that is elevated by the colorful characters who inhabit it, with some of the most memorable moments simply being the interactions. However, that should not take away from the amazing car work done on the show which will deliver just what fans of the car restoration genre are looking for. The show ended after 10 seasons and 184 episodes.

Streaming now on Prime Video

10 Fast N Loud (2012-2020)

Misfit Garage & Garage Rehab Spun Off Of This Show

Cast members from the Discovery series Fast N' Loud

One of the biggest thrills of the series is seeing the hosts traveling around the country in search of the overlooked gems with hidden potential.


This Discovery Channel TV show features Richard Rawlings, lead mechanic Aaron Kaufman, and Gas Monkey Garage from Dallas, Texas. It’s a great combination of Kaufman’s restoration work and the deal-making Rawlings does to turn the cars into a profit. One of the biggest thrills of the series is seeing the hosts traveling around the country in search of the overlooked gems with hidden potential.

Seeing what the hosts can do with derelict cars is always impressive and showcases the obvious love they have for automobiles. Unfortunately, after 16 seasons spanning eight years, Rawlings announced on The Joe Rogan Experience that the show was coming to an end. Despite this, it remains popular among the gearhead community, especially in the earlier seasons. Because of this popularity, Fast N Loud created spinoffs Misfit Garage and Garage Rehab.

Streaming now on Max


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9 Wheeler Dealers (2003-2022)

A British Car Restoration Show With A DIY Approach

The hosts from the MotorTrend series Wheeler Dealers

A British TV series with over 17 seasons under its hood, Wheeler Dealers stars Mike Brewer, Edd China, Ant Anstead, and, more recently, Marc Priestly. The show tackles car restoration with a no-nonsense approach, which means it’s very informative and isn’t held back by artificial drama — something most gearheads and fans of car shows will likely appreciate. The work is shown to be precise and not unnecessarily flashy, making for one of the most relatable shows in the genre.


The most appealing aspect of the show is that it’s geared towards DIYers. It shows what to look for in buying a car as well as how to fix minor problems ranging anywhere from an oil change or polish to the suspension and brakes. There is a step-by-step aspect to the whole operation that is fascinating to see and may inspire amateur viewers to get more involved in the car world.

Streaming now on Prime Video

8 Chasing Classic Cars (2008-2021)

A Vintage Car Restoration Show

Wayne Carini, the host of the MotorTrend On Demand series Chasing Classic Cars

In Chasing Classic Cars, the viewers follow Wayne Carini, a Ferrari expert, classic car restorer, and son of the famous Bob Carini, as he “chases” vintage cars and restores them in the hopes of selling them at auction. Because he is highly respected in the car community, he has access to secret garages that no one else does.


Chasing Classic Cars is exactly what car restoration is all about. It’s original and portrays the good and the bad of the restoration process without artificial drama or glamor. Some of the best aspects of the show are just seeing car lovers meet and share what their respective collections of cars mean to them. It is not hard to get caught up in the passion of the world. The show also features classic movie cars and cars rarely seen by the public nowadays.

7 Graveyard Carz (2012- )

A Car Restoration Show That Specializes In Mopar Muscle Cars

The cast of the vehicle restoration series Graveyard Carz

Shot on location in Springfield, Oregon, Graveyard Carz came to inception when Mark Worman wanted to restore a 1971 Plymouth ‘Cuda. Throughout the first six seasons, the viewer gets to see the ‘Cuda restored, along with other classic cars, by the cast, also known as The Ghouls.


Because of the way the show is shot and edited, the car reveals differ from those seen in similar shows. Instead of a dramatically revealed finished product, the focus is placed on the smaller yet crucial sub-assembly builds on the car. While the show only restores Mopar muscle cars, and may only appeal to a certain niche, it’s entertaining nonetheless. It is a fascinating look at the longer process of putting real work into restoring a far. While it requires more patience on the part of the viewers, the payoff is all the more exciting.

6 Iron Resurrection (2016- )

A Female-Led Restoration Show From Austin, Texas

In Austin-set Iron Resurrection, Joe Martin, his wife Amanda, his best friend Jayson “Shag” Arrington, and Martin Bros Customs explore the Texas countryside in search of hidden mechanical gold. Not only do they restore hot rods, but if the crew comes across a motorcycle, they won’t hesitate to bring it back to life. The team aspect provides the show with a lot of charm outside of the main focus of working on these impressive cars.


As per most car restoration shows, each team member has a specialty, whether it be mechanical, salesmanship, or just overall car knowledge. Iron Resurrection is unique in that Amanda is the whole package. She is the standout of the series and helps to elevate it above other shows within the genre. The show deserves praise for featuring this extremely talented woman in a male-dominated genre.

5 Flipping Bangers (2017- )

An Auto Restoration Show That Gets Down To The Basics

The hosts from the car restoration series Flipping Bangers.

After quitting their day jobs, Will Trickett and Porsche photographer Gus Gregory’s show is a combination of the early seasons of WheelerDealers and Vice Grip Garage. Despite being a restoration show full of challenges, the two petrol heads’ chemistry is what makes the show so entertaining. It’s a great DIY show as basic tools are used. The money is tight, so affordability is imperative.


Because Trickett and Gregory are amateurs, the viewer is learning with them. There is a sense that the viewers are along for the same ride as well while the charm of the two hosts is even more appealing. The only downside seems to be a lack of episodes, but that certainly doesn’t affect the quality of the show itself which offers a more relatable car restoration journey than some of the series out there.

Streaming now on Prime Video

4 Rust Valley Restorers (2018- )

A Canadian Car Restoration Show

The cast of the automotive restoration series Rust Valley Restorers

This car restoration show is set in the South Shuswap in British Columbia. Known as “Rust Valley,” it is famous for its car community and junkyards. Centered on Rust Bros Restorations, owner Mike Hall, his son Connor, and friend Avery Shoaf have restored tons of cars, ranging from a ’68 Camaro back to a 1926 Ford Model T. They then used the newly restored car to sell or trade to other enthusiasts.


One big selling point for the show is that the cast has great chemistry and banter and generally avoids the genuine or manufactured inter-team drama often seen in other, similar shows. They make up a unique and eccentric cast of characters which elevates the show beyond the normal genre conventions. Seeing the result is satisfying, even for those not into cars. The Canadian-set series has managed to find an audience outside of its native country.

Streaming now on Netflix

3 Vice Grip Garage (2018- )

A Free Auto Restoration Series On YouTube

The host of the YouTube series Vice Grip Garage.


Because car restoration is so popular, it only makes sense that a hidden gem exists in the labyrinth of the internet, in the form of a YouTube docuseries. Derek Bieri is in charge of Vice Grip Garage, a low-budget show that moved from Minnesota to Tennessee. He restores cars by any means necessary. Perhaps his most famous restoration is a 1972 Chevelle, nicknamed “The Independence.

Bieri’s passion for cars shines, as he pours his blood, sweat, and tears into restoring the classic car. Similar to Chasing Classic Cars, Vice Grip Garage is best known for its authenticity and reliability. The host is not interested in providing his viewers with anything other than knowledge and proven techniques for how car restoration really works. It’s also notable for being free to view for those fans who are just getting into the car restoration world.

2 Lost Car Rescue (2022)

Searching For Abandoned Cars In Canada’s Backcountry

The cast of the automotive restoration series Lost Car Rescue


A car restoration show that debuted in January 2022, Lost Car Rescue is filmed in Northern Saskatchewan and focuses on finding and “rescuing” cars in Canada’s backcountry. Throughout the six-part series, brothers Matt and Steve Sager use a plane to traverse Canada’s rough terrain to get a bird’s eye view of abandoned cars. Because of the excessive snow and winds, the team waits until spring to hunt for the thousands of cars left behind.

As Matt Sager states, “It’s the family and people that we’re actually hunting” (via Wheels.ca). A rare find of a Volkswagen bus that witnessed Woodstock certainly fits the criteria. While the show offers the kind of restorations and car projects that fans will appreciate, but its focus on the location and its people also makes it a unique and charming entry into the genre that is more personal than viewers might expect.


Streaming now on Hulu

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