I don’t watch a lot of TV, and when I do, I typically watch something political like the Rachel Maddow Show – she’s good – reruns of M*A*S*H or The Twilight Zone AND car shows. Yes, car shows, even the auctions. I don’t quite know the attraction really. I like cars, but am not a collector or anything and drive an underpowered, economical Honda Fit, but I once owned a muscle car, or I should say my parents did – a 1976 Camaro that they bought off the showroom floor at the Cliff Peck dealership in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was their car until it became mine. It’s life ended tragically in Denton, Texas in the year of 1986 when a pickup rear ended it at a stop sign, reducing the Camaro to an accordion. Fortunately, neither me, nor my passenger were seriously injured. The driver of the pickup was unharmed too and in fact, his pickup suffered barely a scratch. Actually, what I like more than muscle cars are roadsters. I don’t have one now, nor have I ever owned one, but my dad once had a 1973 MG Midget and it was with this car that I learned to drive a stick, a skill that I fear is as foreign to most U.S. Millenials as a self-driving car would have been to me in 1976. What does any of this have to do with the show Fast and Loud? The MG nothing – but the Camaro, ah, the Camaro – the crew of Fast and Loud operating out of Gas Monkey Garage (GMG) has featured several and “equivalent” Pontiac Firebirds which I think made me long for the days when I myself drove a muscle car.
I started watching Fast and Loud from the beginning, back when the Gas Monkey Garage worked out of a small workshop, as the Brits from Wheeler Dealers would say. I remember some of the original “monkeys” like Jordan and Tom, both of whom were later fired during the famous Firebird build. But of course the stars and founders of GMG make the show watchable and popular. Richard Rawlings, the tall and skinny slicked back hair, goatee wearing owner of GMG, a car aficionado, racer, and businessman who built and expanded the GMG brand, snd who finds cars, and flips them. And then there’s Aaron Kaufman, chief Gas Monkey mechanic, nicknamed the bearded wonder, who repairs and tricks the cars out, often with a newer more powerful engine, a lowered stance and a stunning paint job by former paint master Kasey, who sadly also left the show several seasons ago. Too bad because he was a funny character and perhaps the chief burnout king. And then there’s Sue, GMG’s go-to upholsterer on their “junk” cars, as she calls them. She is notoriously cranky and combative with a sharp tongue to put the “ass monkeys” in their places. They bicker with her and the banter is always entertaining, which comes off as authentic reality show stuff, but may be a little bit scripted, as most reality shows are. The other two characters of note are Dennis Collins, who owns a Jeep dealership, or something along those lines, and is Richard’s business partner with much deeper pockets. They are always finding valuable cars in a someone’s garage or barn and flipping them for big money – cars like rare Mustangs, a ’63 split window Corvette and the first two Firebirds ever produced. And occasionally, golden opportunities drop into their laps like that wrecked Ferrari that Aaron restored and Dennis bought in the end.
I like the premise of the show which is a formula for success. Find car. Flip it right away or fix/modify (with drama during the build between the “monkeys”) to sell or auction off, often at no reserve. Sometimes GMG makes money, and sometimes they don’t. You never know. The show has been successful with the core cast of Richard, Dennis, Sue, Aaron, and office assistant Christie. The “lesser” monkeys work in the background and are not that interesting as personalities, but obviously do good work on the cars. Now with Aaron leaving the show, I’m not sure it will ever be as good. A self-taught mechanic with wild ideas, Aaron comes off as a brilliant wizard. He and Richard often clash over the builds – for example over a design element or the budget for a project, but in the end, despite Richard’s doubts and anxieties, Aaron always gets the job done. However, it seems that ever since Richard hired a project manager, Jason Acker, for the Firebird build, Aaron may have been feeling less appreciated. And whether this is true or not, I think Aaron is simply a car guy and not attracted to the marketing side of the business. He has never seemed too enthusiastic about GMG Bar N’ Grill or Gas Monkey Tequila. He doesn’t even drink. So the question becomes, will people still watch the show without Aaron? Will the missing bearded wizard mechanic, the hipster, self-taught professor of mechanical engineering spell the end of the GMG reality show?
As much as I like Aaron, I do think the show will not only survive, but continue to be popular without the bearded wonder. Here’s the thing, “King” Richard has star quality. He’s cocky, but personable, a risk-taker, and a saavy businessman who knows the automobile AND entertainment industry. Of all the car shows on Velocity, he probably has the most star quality, or star presence of any of the other leading personalities on the network, which includes guys like Mike and Edd of Wheeler Dealers, Wayne of Chasing Classic Cars, Chip Foose of Overhaulin’, David Grainger of Restoration Garage, Joe Martin of Iron Restoration, and Bruno of Garage Squad. The only other guys who come close would be Jay Leno, but his show, Jay Leno’s Garage, is an Internet show and not part of the Velocity lineup, and Danny of Counting Cars on the History Channel.
I wish Fast and Loud the best of luck in the future. It is a show that I like to watch to just chill out and wind down. It doesn’t require me to think or anything – and I can just put my brain on autopilot and strap in for the fast and loud ride.
Filed under: Cars, Reality Shows, TV, Uncategorized | Tagged: Aaron Kaufman, car shows, Dennis Collins, Fast and Loud, Gas Monkey Garage, Richard Rawlings, Velocity, Why Aaron left Fast and Loud | Leave a comment »