Mike has seen many classics head into the Wheeler Dealers workshop over the past twenty years, and while many have been popular with enthusiasts the world over a few might have raised an eyebrow or two.
So what better time to take a look at those cars that were, well, a little bit different. Here we recap Wheeler Dealers most controversial projects…
1958 Ford Popular Hot Rod – Series 10, Episode 8
This was a trip down memory lane for Mike, and a tribute to the work of his dad in the customising scene. It was certainly an unusual project for the duo to take on, and one that was in need of a major transformation; it not only looked poor on the outside but the way it drove was pretty dreadful, too. The answer was to spend many, many hours and a whole lot of cash to make this into the cool hot rod it should always have been. With a spectacular paint job to finish it off no wonder Mike’s dad approved of the result.
1967 Amphicar – Series 11, Episode 7
This show about classic cars had also taken on, well, a boat, and while it might have looked good in Florida things didn’t look so healthy back at the workshop. What followed was a marathon of welding and fabrication and plenty of time spent making it ready to take to the water once again. Showing that Wheeler Dealers is never afraid to tackle the most unusual of projects, this one was a lot of fun to watch. And how did things go when Mike and Edd drove into the River Thames? It wasn’t entirely plain sailing, but the finished Amphicar was soon ship-shape.
1903 Darracq – Series 11, Episode 13
By far the oldest car to make it into the workshop, the delightful Darracq was being readied for the famous London to Brighton veteran car run and there was a lot to do. Work included ensuring the cooling system was healthy and repairing the wooden wheels, and there was time for something more high-tech with 3D-printed light bulb holders. It was clever stuff. And there was the event itself. Always challenging – and rather tiring – Mike and Edd were thrilled to make it to the finish line on Madeira Drive. And what a way to celebrate the 100th Wheeler Dealers car.
1985 Maserati Biturbo – Series 13, Episode 16
Converting a classic to an electric vehicle is something of a controversial subject amongst enthusiasts, but as the work had already been started it was up to Mike and Edd to finish the job properly. The stylish Maserati had been stored away for 15 years, so it wasn’t going to be a straightforward project, but a lot of time and money was spent installing a modern electric powertrain. Some clever technology was involved, and all the effort was certainly worth it when it performed brilliantly on the test drive. It wasn’t going to be popular with everyone, but the show’s first EV was a definite success.
1995 Ford Escort RS Cosworth – Series 14, Episode 1
Enthusiasts love their fast Fords, and messing with such a special recipe means this car makes it onto the list of controversial projects. That’s certainly true of this brilliant Cossie, so the idea of fitting an additional spoiler that never appeared in production was always going to split opinion. But it was part of Frank Stephenson’s original design, and he was on hand to give a bit of advice. And as he’d designed Maseratis, McLarens and Ferraris he’s a man that knows his onions. Ant did a cracking job to make it all happen, and testing in a wind tunnel showed that it worked. Thing is, did you love it or hate it?
For a show focused on the very best of classic cars, tackling a campervan was definitely a bit different. But as a few unusual things had appeared in the workshop over the years, well, why not, especially as Mike had fallen in love with this charming old vehicle. In fact, he liked it so much he gave it a name – Colin! But while it had lots of character it wasn’t really ready to head off on holiday, so ‘Elvis’ got cracking on updating the mechanicals and making the interior a rather nicer place to spend the night. We think the result was superb.
1975 AMC Pacer – Series 12, Episode 5
We couldn’t talk about the most controversial projects on Wheeler Dealers without including the 1975 AMC Pacer. The Pacer was already an American classic that split opinion, but that’s not what made this particular one stand out. It’s hard to know where to start, but how about the ‘flocked’ interior trim, or the reflective vinyl wrap that made it look all a bit space-age? It’s fair to say that Edd had let his imagination run wild on this particular project, and it’s also fair to say Mike was somewhat bemused by the result. What can’t be avoided is that it wasn’t what you’d call popular with buyers, and its sale in a charity auction ended with a loss. Oh well…
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