Re­al­ity show not that real, cou­ple finds

Vancouver Sun - - DRIVING - ALYN ED­WARDS (To view the ‘re­veal’, go to face­­tingTV/ videos/326583054450804) Alyn Ed­wards is a clas­sic car en­thu­si­ast and part­ner in Peak Com­mu­ni­ca­tors, a pub­lic re­la­tions com­pany. aed­[email protected]

Re­al­ity TV shows fea­tur­ing old vehicles get a lot of at­ten­tion these days: Grave­yard Carz, Fast n’ Loud, Count­ing Cars, Over­haulin’ and Ve­gas Rat Rods to name just a few.

So it’s lit­tle sur­prise Sur­rey res­i­dents Nate and De­siree Best­ward were ex­cited when the pro­duc­ers of Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel’s Carspot­ting showed in­ter­est in fea­tur­ing a makeover of their 1957 GMC pickup.

Nate, who has been buy­ing and sell­ing vin­tage pick­ups and parts since he was 14, bought the “resto­mod” truck just across the line in Lyn­den, Washington a few years be­fore. De­siree had been driving it to work as a day pro­gram co-or­di­na­tor at the Delta Com­mu­nity Liv­ing So­ci­ety.

But the truck was a vic­tim of a hit-and-run while the cou­ple had din­ner in White Rock and then an en­gine wiring fire side­lined it. So the thought of a com­plete re­build done by a re­al­ity show that would split the cost was ap­peal­ing.

The New York-based pro­duc­tion com­pany, Left­field Pic­tures, saw Nate’s ads for old pickup trucks and parts on­line and con­tacted him. Over a pe­riod of months, they nar­rowed their choice to Nate and De­siree’s 1957 GMC. Af­ter a se­ries of Skype in­ter­views, the deal was struck with the truck set to be fea­tured in Carspot­ting Episode 2 ti­tled Di­a­mond in the Rust.

The truck, as viewed on the episode, was pur­chased by Nate and De­siree for $60,000 … at least ac­cord­ing to what was aired. How­ever, the ve­hi­cle was al­ready owned by them and the real cost was much less. Nate and the pro­duc­tion com­pany had an agreed value that would be paid upon com­ple­tion of the ve­hi­cle, which was not the value pre­sented dur­ing the episode.

In the seg­ment, old car buyer Car­los and his team of builders would do the makeover. The shop would be an old Ford deal­er­ship rented in Lyn­den, Washington — which by sheer co­in­ci­dence is the town where Nate and De­siree first pur­chased the truck. The pro­duc­tion com­pany bought and in­stalled all the equip­ment for the shop in­clud­ing ve­hi­cle lifts, welders and a paint booth.

Nate was pumped, as he wanted to give the com­pleted truck to De­siree as a wed­ding present. But the promised re­al­ity would turn into fic­tion al­most im­me­di­ately.

The show stars wouldn’t be do­ing any of the work. The work that was sup­posed to be com­pleted and su­per­vised by a skilled crafts­man from a Belling­ham hot rod shop was con­tracted out to oth­ers, with only the oc­ca­sional in­volve­ment of the well-known hot rod builder. As a re­sult, hardly any­thing of the build was shown in the tele­vi­sion seg­ment.

Al­though they were sup­pos­edly do­ing a makeover of Nate and De­siree’s 1957 GMC pickup, it wasn’t their truck at all that view­ers were shown at the start. The build re­ally started with a rusted out Chevro­let pickup.

“They got called out on that be­cause the Chevy has a V-shaped in­stru­ment clus­ter and the GMC has a round gauge clus­ter,” Nate says of the vis­ual de­cep­tion, adding the pro­duc­ers changed the story so many times it got fur­ther away from what re­ally hap­pened ev­ery time. “I guess real drama doesn’t work un­less it’s scripted.”

As the story evolved, Car­los buys a beat up pickup and sells it to Nate and the two come to an agree­ment on the build. The truck was to be com­pleted in one month to add ten­sion.

The build re­ally took 18 months. The truck Nate sup­pos­edly bought for the build was a Chevy, not his 1957 GMC pickup. And the work was com­pleted by a shop crew hastily cob­bled to­gether to com­plete the re­al­ity show builds.

All this led to the big re­veal, where Nate and De­siree were to see the com­pleted truck for the first time. But the truth is Nate fre­quently vis­ited the shop in Lyn­den to check on the build and he al­ready saw the com­pleted truck be­fore the re­veal date.

The lo­ca­tion for the “re­veal” was Birch Bay, Washington, an hour south of Van­cou­ver. The OMG moment was shot over and over by the pro­duc­tion crew.

“We were to stand there and the truck would be driven to­wards us,” Nate re­calls. “The big moment hap­pened about 10 times dur­ing a four-hour pe­riod of film­ing, yet we were only seen at the very end of the episode for ap­prox­i­mately 15 sec­onds.

“They never showed the footage that we filmed in the shop, do­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions and dis­cussing the build concept. That dis­cus­sion was dubbed into the episode at the end.”

The pro­duc­tion com­pany took so long to com­plete the seg­ment that Nate got De­siree’s wed­ding present back on the eve of their wed­ding on Aug. 19. Dis­ap­point­ment would cast a dark cloud over the blessed event. The truck that was to be the fo­cal point of the cel­e­bra­tion broke down and wouldn’t start.

De­spite nu­mer­ous ef­forts to di­ag­nose the is­sue just hours be­fore the cer­e­mony, the truck re­mained an im­mo­bile show­piece and was un­for­tu­nately not used for De­siree’s en­trance to the cer­e­mony. Luck­ily, they had a close friend’s mus­cle car to drive the bride into the cer­e­mony, and the wed­ding pho­tos were taken in the drive­way of Nate’s home with the fan­tasy-built GMC pickup. Nate con­cedes he ben­e­fited from the build that took 1,200 hours and would have cost up to $90,000 based on shop time and parts costs. Al­though the work on the truck was good and re­sults are spec­tac­u­lar, Nate was left to sort out nu­mer­ous de­fi­cien­cies and prob­lems.

Would he com­mit a ve­hi­cle to a re­al­ity show again? No.

“I was mis­led about who was go­ing to build the truck and was left to sort out a lot of is­sues,” he says. “I would have much rather done the work on the truck my­self.

“We fell into this op­por­tu­nity and it seemed like it would be a fun ex­pe­ri­ence at the time. The big­gest down­fall to these re­al­ity shows is that peo­ple be­lieve it’s all true. Un­for­tu­nately, the per­ceived mon­e­tary value and work neg­a­tively im­pacts the hobby we love so much. Live and learn.”

De­siree and Nate Best­ward dis­play their 1957 GMC pickup that was re­built by the re­al­ity TV show Carspot­ting.

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