When a show has been running for twenty years it’s guaranteed to have plenty of highlights for those that made it happen, so we asked Mike Brewer to tell us about his memorable Wheeler Dealers moments.
It’s a show that’s all about the cars, and Mike has certainly enjoyed the last twenty years. “Spending my life restoring great cars, ones that have meant something to both myself and Edd, Ant and Marc, has been very special.” And does he have any favourites? “There have been so many great Wheeler Dealers moments. I’m really proud of the Mk 1 Ford Escort. It was a brilliant transformation, and although I wasn’t keen on the yellow paint the chance to visit the Ford heritage centre to show it off was brilliant. And the Lamborghini Urraco was one of my all-time favourite episodes with an awesome test drive.”
Heading to America
It was back in Series 8 that Mike headed to America to buy cars that Edd could restore in the UK workshop, and there’d be a permanent move a few years later. “It was a really exciting time for the show, and gave us the opportunity to feature some of my favourite cars like the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Bel Air. When we moved Wheeler Dealers to California there were plenty more great classics, and the ones that stick in my mind were the Pontiac GTO and DeSoto Firedome. Edd did brilliant work on them and it was a time I really enjoyed.”
A new presenter
As the show headed into Series 14 back in 2017 it was a period of change for Wheeler Dealers with the arrival of Ant Anstead, and there were plenty of exciting projects on the way. “I was really proud to see the show continue with Ant, and while it was going to be a bit different for both of us we did some brilliant cars. The Escort Cosworth really showed-off his talents and I think this is one of the best episodes we’ve ever done. And watching him change the clutch of the Saab 96 on the owner’s driveway was a great moment.”
A growing show
It’s amazing to think that it’s been two decades since we first saw a classic – a Porsche 924 – undergo a restoration in the Wheeler Dealers workshop, and it was the start of something with enduring appeal to enthusiasts. “I was really proud that the first series went so well” says Mike. “I just had a feeling that we’d hit on something, and by the time we’d done the next couple of series there was much more confidence about the future of the show. I knew it was something we could keep growing.” We’re certainly glad it did.
Heading into Europe
Twenty years after its modest beginnings the show has gone on to be broadcast in more than 150 territories and reach a global audience of more than 200 million, but Mike clearly remembers the real beginning of that success. “For me it was when we did the ‘On The Road’ series in 2008 where I really felt that we were able to reach a much bigger audience. It was the first time we’d done anything outside of the UK, and the chance to see us buying cars in Germany, Italy and France gave the show a really different feel. It was a brilliant time for Wheeler Dealers.”
‘Elvis’ has entered the building
“People thought the show might end, but it was never going to” says Mike. “Elvis bought a whole new energy, and he’s incredibly talented with his Formula 1 experience adding an extra dimension to the work we do. He has his own approach to projects, and the first car he did was really special. He’d never worked on a Mini before, but he cracked it straightaway which shows just how good he is. I’d say this marked a real golden period for Wheeler Dealers as we went forward, and I’m so excited about what lies ahead.” It looks like we’ve got plenty more great cars on their way…
In the money
Transforming an Austin Healey that went on to make the biggest profit for the show was great to watch, and it’s no surprise that it was one of Mike’s favourite episodes. “I absolutely loved this one, and it was the perfect way to show just what Wheeler Dealers could achieve. Ant did an epic job in capturing the evocative sight and smell of a British sports car, and that’s what led it to making such a big profit, but it also showed what can be achieved by owners if they want to end up with a really special car.”
Hitting the Strip
Wheelers Dealers has never been short of ambition when it comes to transforming classics, but the 1965 Plymouth Barracuda took things to a whole new level. “My original plan was to restore the car, but it sat around in the workshop for a while and we sort of fell out of love with it. But then I went to a show and heard people talking about their hot rods, and I knew we could do something special. And that’s exactly what Ant did, and I was so proud to see him test it on the drag strip. It was a real achievement for us both.”
The 1974 Ford Transit that appeared in Series 17 wasn’t the first commercial vehicle to enter the workshop, but it was a memorable one for Mike. “For me it shows just how far Wheeler Dealers has come over the last twenty years when people still enjoy watching us restore a vehicle like this. It’s not your usual classic car, is it, but viewers are still enthusiastic about it which is what I really love about this one. Elvis put in a lot of work and it’s still one of my favourite episodes.” And Mike loved it so much he owns this brilliant Transit today.
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