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Redusernab Asks Bonus: Has Wheeler Dealers jumped the shark?

Kamil Kaluski March 10, 2014 Redusernab Asks 51 Comments

Edd China

The British cable TV show Wheeler Dealers should not need introduction to Redusernab readers. They buy low-priced interesting cars that need a bit of work, fix them, and flip them for profit. All of that is done in the name of keeping another modern classic on the road. The idea behind the show is pretty cool, and it works too, with Edd China’s careful explanation of all the work he is doing and Mike Brewer doing the buying/selling and generally being in the way.

Let’s start off with the fact that the show has never been perfect:

  • Mike always finds the car he wants for low money – c’mon, there are cars we all want, and we do look for them and never find them for the right combination of car/deal. Then there is the fact that everyone looks for a deal first, and car second, as there are more good deals out there than there are good cars for the right price.
  • There is no job that’s too big/small for Edd – interior makeovers, frame-off restorations, oil changes, he does it all, and nothing ever goes wrong! No bolts are rusted/broken, all trim always fits perfectly back in, all after-market parts work perfectly. All the things that Edd does not work on are evidently perfect.
  • No car ever gets washed, it just ends up being clean.
  • Poor acting on part of sellers, buyers, vendors, and other characters, especially Paul who comes over only when needed and never says anything.
  • The fact that Edd’s labor does not cost anything. Evidently he can spend eighty hours working on the car which results in 200 quid profit, and that’s enough to keep the shop running, pay his and Mike’s salary, and build up the kitty for another car purchase.

We have all come to expect that from this show, and really it would be challenging to fit more details into a 45-ish minute time slot. There were a few episodes that I rolled my eyes on, such as the drifting Skyline or the expedition Discovery (on stock tires/suspension), or the completely weird VW bus that Edd ended up keeping for himself. Recently, however, I was even more perplexed by the choice of vehicles used on the show and their final result. 

[Image: our old friend Wayne Moyer]

wheel dealer vw camper van

The recent show featured a 1950’s Cadillac Coupe DeVille, bought in the U.S. and exported to UK. The car needed everything, and upon seeing it Edd asked if Mike could bring it back, and rightfully so. But Edd being Edd predictably gave the Caddy everything it needed, except any kind of engine work. Everything Edd did worked flawlessly as always, including the completely custom air suspension which took about four minutes to install. 

What got me in the end was the choices made on the Caddy. Neon-ish green color, white interior, and the worst looking pin-stripe things I have ever seen. The only person that could like this vehicle is .

The show seems to have moved from quick-fix flips to complete restorations. The attention to detail and explanation in labor involved that once existed is now gone. The cars have changed from $5000 enthusiast models to supercars, which isn’t necessarily bad but the BS factor is raising exponentially with that.

To their credit, there are only so many $5000 interesting cars. The work on all similarly priced cars would be similar, and we would be complaining that each episodes are the same. They, the hosts and producers, need to change to keep things interesting to keep the audience. In a way they need to keep raising the bar, but along with that come a lot of BS that frankly many viewers won’t like.

What does Redusernab think?

How could the show be improved?

  • Van_Sarockin

    I saw an episode a while back, I think it was a Jensen Interceptor. It was mostly enjoyable, but didn't give me much more information than I already had. And the approach to the project, workmanship, and sales pitch combined to make me very skeptical that anyone would be buying a good car for a fair price from them.

  • Jesse

    The ford popular was the f'ing worst

  • Sjalabais

    I agree with your reasoning here, Kamil. They move away from what is relevant to what is entertaining. That happened before…Top Gear, anyone? But I remember Edd swearing a fair bit, too, with things not just fitting as they should. At the same time, they did some shortcuts that I wouldn't like to end up with. The Volvo P1800 episode includes bondo and rattle cans, if I remember correctly. But that, again, is probably fairly close to what happens in the real world.

  • Brandon

    I think for the sake of entertainment it is a great show. I remember an episode where a car needed something major and it literally took weeks to get it. Obviously they edit a TON out to get it to fit the time allotted, which I'm sure includes all of the nitty gritty parts that we car nuts want to see. When compared to other shows like the Car Chasers, Texas Car Wars, Dallas Car Sharks (why are all of these shows filmed in Texas?!) or even worse, Chasing Classic Cars I think Wheeler Dealers is above par. But maybe that's just because it's the only car show my wife actually enjoys and will watch with me.

    • fodder650

      That's the same for me. My wife,and for that matter my kids as well, will sit down and watch Wheeler Dealers with me and none of the other ones. There is just something about it that is easier to watch. Some of the others add reality bits into them or don't do as much on the restoration side or don't even bother trying to tell you what they did. At least with this show you know what you are getting going in.

      • Sjalabais

        I honestly think that Edd's snowboarder-dentist-teacher-aura helps a lot. I'd like my mechanics to ooze relaxed smartness, too.

  • nasalgoat

    This seems to be the way these shows go – they start interesting and then some suit tells them to change it up to get better ratings.

    I asked Richard Rawlings during his AMA why his show started catering to the "stars" and "drama" more than the builds this past season and he blew it off, but literally half this season was bullshit episodes that were either scripted bullshit involving celebrities or had almost zero real hot rod content.

    • Nuclearspork

      Better ratings some of the stuff they showed could be questionable repairs at best, which isn't good for their sales.

      Hell how much of last season seemed like marketing for the restaurant.

  • Nuclearspork

    I think some of the earlier ones were more realistic, and I do recall come across some unexpected issues in earlier ones, but they always ended up luckying out with finding the parts in a junkyard.

    Also a lot of the work is beyond a shade tree mechanic, like blending paint so you can notice that parts were repainted although other things might take you longer but polishing old wheels could add a bit to resale if you took the time to do it.

    Also how long its been on wouldn't be surprised if people would drop the price or pay more just to be on tv.

  • Finally! This olelongrooffan finds out who Edd China is. Having said that, the lack of owning a TV allows me to miss all of these kinds of shows…..and to me, that is not a bad thing except I miss out on contributing to these conversations. Hey, maybe that is a good thing after all, for my fellow Hoons.

    • battles

      The early series are a treat, the later ones not so much.
      I don't think they've done any estate cars though, except for a few Land Rovers. Maybe you're not missing much.

    • mtdrift

      There are dozens of episodes on

      Just search "Wheeler Dealers" – I agree with battles, the earlier episodes are not nearly as slick in their production values, but they seem somehow more "authentic"(?). Kind of a loaded word.

      • fodder650

        There are also a bunch of if you search for Wheeler Dealers, long

      • M44Power

        Thanks for killing all my free time… I've somehow missed the fact that this website exists.

        • BlackIce_GTS

          I missed the fact that streetfire still exists. Because it doesn't? It's not loading for me.
          I remember it from the pre- days where all their uploads looked (and sounded!) like this:
          [ j-cnXGFha_M ]
          I'm fairly sure I got this video off kazaa. Which is probably something you forgot existed.

  • I'm still OK with it. Not every car is done to my taste but I usually learn something from Edd's work. Mike, on the other hand…

  • battles

    I learn something from every episode, I'll keep watching.
    Have you guys seen the "Trading Up" spin off?
    Buying cars in India, Sweden and whatnot. Not a lot of car fixing but a lot of interesting car info-porn.

  • Jim

    Edd does have a separate business building weird promotional vehicles, so the quality of his shop and his mechanical expertise aren't surprising. But the earlier seasons were much truer to the "shadetree mechanic" ethos. I also watch the show on my DVR so I can fast forward through all of Mike's "dealmaking" BS.

    That said, I'll take Wheeler Dealers every day over all these US series with their faux interpersonal drama and time pressure.

    • JayP2112

      "That said, I'll take Wheeler Dealers every day over all these US series with their faux interpersonal drama and time pressure."

      This is exactly what I came to say. WD is an entertaining show without the fake "reality" bit. FastLoud started strong but lost me with the blonde welder model chick. I see these guys (Aaron) and their stuff at C&C about every month. I wanted to believe! I want to see something get cut, replaced or rebuilt! WD still has that. FL doesn't.

      Wheeler Dealer's worst is still better than everyone else's best.

      The only bad thing about WD is that Edd makes it look way to easy and tricks me into thinking even I can rebuild a Jaguar.

      • fodder650

        When you look him up on Wiki you will also find out he build the double decker cars for the Top Gear Germany/UK battles and currently holds the Guiness records for fastest furniture. Which helps to explain a few of the odder choices he has made over time.

  • XRSevin

    Are the Moon Discs commenting ironically on the Vanagon, or is it the other way around?

    Edd China is informative and helpful, and he's pretty realistic about what should and shouldn't be attempted by amateurs. Mike Brewer is, um, a used car salesman. The weird part is that by the time the buyer factors in Edd's "labour" and beats up Mike a little on price, he's actually getting a pretty good deal subsidized by the show. That said, there have been some questionable lapses of taste which bodes ill for future seasons. And Brewer got ripped off when he tried to buy cars in the States…I seem to remember him overpaying for a 4-door '57 Chevy and a Dodge Charger when he came here. He seemed out of his depth when not surrounded by his mates.
    Can we get Edd a new partner?

    • Mike Brewer

      No…says me Mike Brewer

      • JayP2112

        Mike Brewer! A Cobra with a Chevy engine is not a Cobra!

      • I wondered how long it would take to get you to chime in here.

  • fodder650

    And here is the part where I defend the show.

    The van above is where going to far had a price. No one bought it so Edd did himself. This was also after Mike was trying to get a type 2 and couldn't get one for their price range. Which disproves the whole "The cars magically appear thing". The vinyl wrap was too weird and, if memory serves, it wasn't the only car they didn't sell or sold at all but but at cost. In fact the Caddy was sold at what they put into it to a dealer as well.

    Now the Caddy. I hate the color (or colour for our Canadian friends). Since the 1 owner Caddy was sold to a dealer understand the first thing that happened to this car was, likely, that it went back to black. At the price he paid there was way a dealer was going to make a profit in it with that look as a lowrider. As a 1 owner car though there would be money.

    The Ford Hot Rod is a special case mostly due to the fact that it was a tribute his father's cars. It was still butt ugly.

    The rest of the season hasn't been that bad most of the other episodes around have been, for the most part, winners. You tend to come away from an episode learning something if you are someone with minimal skills like me. Yes it bugs me they don't account for Edd's time but that was pointed out from the pilot. That you were supposed to be able to do all of these in a well equipped garage and flip the car yourself. They kind of got away from that but that was why.

    Also on the list for next season is an Amphibicar. It's basically a Herald but still I'm looking forward to it. The list for the season doesn't have them going to America or anything silly. It looks like next season won't be about stunts it will be more about going back to the old formula.

  • nanoop

    I feel well entertained, and that's the purpose. Sure, they take shortcuts and things are left out for keeping the documentary bits non-boring, but hey, I did learn things in some episodes, and:

    They display genuine enthusiasm for a broad selection of cars and everything hoon.

    Unlike these three pals riding supercars across closed Alpine passes, and smashing vehicles with pianos (or pianos with vehicles).. others would rather fix the cars and fight to keep them on the road: highly entertaining, but hardly a showcase for car love.

  • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    This 1962 Series 62 just about killed me.

    If I ever meet Mike or Edd, I'm going to attempt to punch either/both of them for just this FUCKING TRAVESTY!!!!!!!!!!

    I know it was close to an east L.A. low rider, before, but you didn't need to help it along that path.

  • UDman

    Well, I liked the Cadillac episode (By the way, it is a 1962 Coupe deVille, not some 50's Cadillac) and I liked the Corvette C2 episode… The Lotus Elise? I could care less… The TVR? Equally less than enthralled… But for the most part, I like Edd and Mike.

    • It's funny how completely polar opposite our tastes in cars are. 🙂

  • mattc

    I love it. I know I need to factor that having a talent like Edd is an unfair advantage but I have been able to glean some helpful information from every episode. (Edd's expertise in air cooled VW's especially). Also WD's does not deal with unnecessary drama.

  • It's a TV SHOW, so they are actors in it. Would be infant to think they have to make money of their cars. Take it as it is and enjoy what is to like if not go and do something else.

  • rustylink

    1. come on nah, stick ya hand out.
    2. you bought a crackin' car
    3. which we can sell for a handsome profit.

    the schtick can get tiresome

  • Land Ark

    Defending the show a bit, there have been some flubs. I can't remember the car, but Edd rattle canned the fender and it came out totally flat and they just left it that way. And there was the episode with the Suzuki that was too rusty to get an MOT for so they sold it as a farm truck.
    As for finding the car, I see that more as needing to film the show. If the car is impossible to find, well that episode doesn't happen. You see the episodes where they actually find it. I have to assume they find the car before they film Mike looking for it.
    But, unfortunately I no longer have Velocity (or anything more than an antenna) anymore so I can't watch the new episodes.
    I liked the Cobra episode because it got into the minutia, like changing the rear axles to fit deeper wheels. I hated what they did to the '57 Chevy sedan and how much work they cut out of it.
    I appreciate that they can only show certain things so many times, but when it's obvious they've replaced something, they should at least list it i the rundown. They rarely talk about replacing chrome parts (usually bumpers) and almost never talk about replacing tires. That type of thing it my biggest gripe.
    As others have mentioned, the worst episode of WD is better than just about any other car show in tv history.

  • smokyburnout

    I guess I haven't really enjoyed the last 2 episodes, and I've found myself fast-forwarding the part where Mike haggles with the seller, but there have been some fairly interesting episodes this season (particularly the FSM Syrena and Morris Minor, and even the brake stuff with the Corvette). I'll stick with it

  • Ol' Shel'

    When you factor in the never-mentioned payment the seller gets for appearing on TV, the price of the car isn't as low as they want you to think. Every car show does this. They say they got it for an incredible price, not mentioning that the price was lowered to make them look like heroes. Truth is, the buyer dropped the price because they made a bundle.

  • M44Power

    Something dawned on me. Take this show concept, get rid of oy-Gubna Mike Brewer, fire John Davis of PBS Motorweek, and make the show into something akin to This Old House for car guys. Edd China travels the country, helping guys fix up their interesting old cars. Edd is already the car equivalent of Norm Abrams, so this is sure to fly.

  • Metric Wrench

    Nah, they haven't jumped the shark until they bring in Chachi.

  • I get the time problem. I get that Edd and his amazing talent is FREE. I'd like the show a great deal.
    NOW for my suggestion.

    I'd like to see the guys go to another enthusiasts garage and help them get their classic back on the road. I'd especially like this if they came to America and helped owners with classic British autos in the owner's garage.

    • M44Power

      I agree completely. Except they need to help owners with classic German sport sedans.

      • Sjalabais

        I agree completely. Except they need to help owners with classic Swedish wagons.

        • I agree completely. Except they need to help owners with classic-ish Japanese hatchbacks.

  • lilpoindexter

    When they did a Mercedes W123, they bought a "patent part"..(known here as a knockoff from China) that didn't fit well, and had to be massaged a little to fit well. I really like the show…I could do without the "dealer" and just have a show with Edd Chyna doing his magic…It's TV…no one wants to watch a broken exhaust manifold stud being repaired.

    • Richie

      So then it would just be known as "Wheelers"

  • Jonathan

    I love wheeler dealer and even though all the observations of the editor of this story crack me up because it's all true….I still like the show.

    How these two guys manage to call themselves wheeler dealers and yet barely make a dime for their time always makes me laugh.

    Ever hear what the mileage on any of the cars is.?

    Edd never runs into catastrophic issues either,,,,

    Cracks me up.

    Thanks for posting up the story….

    Great show too.

  • austinminiman

    Y'all have to remember… we're jaded. We all know what DKW's are, or Trabants, or Citroen DS's, or Syrena's, etc. Most of us also know a lot about those cars. We're not the general public. So, for a lot of the viewing audience,just the introduction explaining the car is informative and interesting. The restorations have become more gimicky, but also more general, which makes sense. It's gone from "how to buy a hood for a 1972 Mini Moke" to "How to buy a hood for your old car" which has the possibility of helping more, really. And, the show works for the same reason it always has… Mike is annoying as hell but charming, and Edd is freakin' awesome.

  • nate99

    I tuned out their estimates of cost when they quoted a complete repaint of a car, including sanding and prep at 1000 GBP. Based on their numbers, I calculated that I could have shipped my '81 Corvette project (since abandoned and sold) to the UK, had them do the paint and ship it back to the US for less than local quotes I was getting for the work.

    I like the show well enough, though I haven't watched in about a year, probably. Only hoons would catch the inconsistencies, and there are not enough of us to make a TV audience.

  • ConstantReader

    All of these "reality" TV shows are anything but. Every one of them is staged and edited and partially scripted. The cars are found long in advance of what you see on TV and the deal is struck before it's recorded/taped. Sometimes the costs of flipping the car is underwritten by the producers. But lucky for the "stars" (like Richard Rawlings) who now make stacks o' cash selling merch to the unwitting droolers who buy their crap.

  • krazykarguy

    I always watch Velocity whenever I travel and find myself somewhere with cable. If Wheeler Dealers is on, I will easily waste an afternoon away watching it.

    The Caddy was a travesty for the horrific lime green paint (and the gold leaf pinstriping – even my wife said something about that), but was otherwise a nice resto.

    I eagerly watch every single episode, and it's really a great show, especially when compared to the drivel that we're fed on this side of the pond.

  • reallyloud

    The pictured VW, according to the volkszone guys ended its life fairly soon after the spruce up. I quite liked it as a panel van and I reckon leaving it up in the North East for a year would be enough for it to turn a profit. The Van was apparently sold to one of the production crew, who declared it scrapped in 2009. The Van was found in a breakers near Portsmouth as a CAT B write off in 2012. It had also suffered a engine fire. I wonder what's happened to the initial batch of cars they 'worked' on during series one? Mike Brewer is not a likeable bloke, but I appreciated China's clear if somewhat dour presenting skills. He likes his pre-paint that man.

  • 01566777

    The Cadillac was a 1962,

  • Edd China is the glue of the program. I did not like the I particularly enjoy his explanation of complex repairs on vehicle systems and it encourages me not to live a throw-away lifestyle with my car. 15 years years down the road I am still keeping my trusty beast.


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