Famed car builder and Autobody News columnist Rich Evans returned to Curtis Custom Designs and Radical Garage in the Elmsdale business park in Nova Scotia in late July. Much like his trip in 2011, Evans built a custom vehicle in a short period of time. However, this time, he brought an all-star group of builders, and a camera crew with him to shoot the pilot for a new TV series.
The car in question was a 2004 H2 Hummer, which they planned to lower the roof, turn it into a coupe, and change the front end.
“We’ve got nine of the best craftsmen from the U.S. that I’ve selected personally,” said Evans. “We’re going to travel the world building cars out of our comfort zone. The first stop is Canada—we’re in an unknown area, unknown garage, coming out to Curtis Custom Designs. We’re challenging ourselves to build a vehicle in 10 days. We flew out here to build a 2004 H2 Hummer for Curtis—and what we’re going to do is chop it, make it from a four-door into a two-door, build a front-end for it, and turn it into a roadster. It’s something that’s never been done before.”
When Rich arrived with his group of builders, and they started sizing up the shop, and the Hummer, Rich began to think that maybe they had it too easy.
“I looked at the job, and I said ‘we have too much talent,’ “ explained Evans. “This is too easy. So I was challenged by a local customer of Curtis to build a ‘54 Chevy in the same ten days. I didn’t hesitate—I made my mind up in about 30 seconds. I let my guys know, and they were all for it. So we now we’re building two cars in ten days—two totally different cars.
“That’s what it’s all about,” continued Evans. “Getting the best of the best under one roof, and all of us learning off of each other—that way we’ll get better. Really it’s the journey of getting better at what we love to do, and the passion and the challenge of what we do. We all eat, breathe, and live customizing.”
Evans feels as though this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for himself and his crew—to explore different shop cultures, and to step outside of their comfort zone to work on cars. It’s a challenge that he feels will help everyone involved expand their existing skill set, and add new skills.
“You always live for that best job,” said Evans. “What’s happening here is that we’re meeting up with a shop in Canada that has a staff, and it’s really U.S. meets Canada, where we all get together and build something cool. So we’re learning from you guys, you’re learning from us, and that makes for great TV.”
Amongst Evans’ all-star team of car builders is amateur builder Denny Stewart. Stewart teaches high-school auto body in a town of 200 people in Missouri. Stewart worked with Evans on builds 20 years ago, so Evans brought him along to have the chance to be part of a team that will hopefully inspire his students in the future.
The inspiration for the show came from the first trip Evans had taken to Elmsdale in 2011—wherein he built a Mustang in five days.
“When I left here last year, after the media, the news, the car show, the people—the Canadian car enthusiasts, I got an idea,” said Evans. “I wrote down a treatment, met up with a production crew, and really tightened up what was written. What we’re doing here has never been done before—using top-of-the-line cameras on a reality show. What we have here is really a perfect marriage for something new and cool to bring to the industry.”
Currently the show is called World Wide Car Building as a provisional title while it remains in production—chances are high that it could be changed before airing, however.
“Curtis,” is what Evans answered when asked what the inspiration was to bring his show to Elmsdale over other places in Canada. “I met Curtis at SEMA—where we’ll eventually be taking these two cars. That was five years ago when I was a spokesperson for Chicago Pneumatics, and he invited me out to Nova Scotia last year. I came out to do a project with him, and to see what I can learn from Canada’s side of the fence—I had a blast, so here I am, back out one year later, and I’m back for another car show, and I brought some friends with me.
“I dig it here,” continued Evans. “The greenery and the weather while we’ve been here—I’m running on about one-hour of sleep, but I still want to get out and see your guys’ backyard. It’s phenomenal, we went out shark fishing not too far away and caught 15 sharks with the aid of a captain that was very good at what he did, and very knowledgeable. And the car enthusiasts here absolutely blow my mind.”
“It’s very slim,” said Evans when asked about the equipment and product selection in rural Canada when compared to the United States. “You don’t have much of the same equipment or product, but the community is great about getting together—it makes the hospitality just phenomenal. Everybody’s not geared up like we are, we’re out of our comfort zone up here, yet we’re still able to pull off the impossible.”
Though the tools and products and equipment may differ up north, Evans believes that it’s the team and local community coming together around them that’s making this as easy as it has been.
“It’s a situation of ‘use what you have’,” explained Evans. “We want to show people that you can use just what you have. It’s a team, and it’s about using what you have together; and we really want to show that to the audience. We really want to show people the nuts and bolts of our world—and what drives people to do this. So that when they see someone working on a car, they can understand it a little bit better. It’s fun, I like to say that every suit-and-tie-guy wants to do my job; and my job’s not even a job. I’ve never worked a day in my life.”
“Absolutely I plan on coming back in the future,” continued Evans. “I love it here—it seems like it’s a once-a-year deal, so hopefully we can come back and do something bigger-and-better next time. Every year it gets better. Last time I was here for five days and I built one car. This year I’m here for 10 days and I built two cars; so maybe next year I’ll come for ten days and build three. It’s all about keepin’ it cool, so I hope you guys invite me back next year, because I’ll certainly come back.”
Indian, Evans’ manager, and producer on the TV show also took the time to speak with The Weekly Press about the challenges of bringing a Hollywood TV film crew to rural Canada, and the changes in car culture and product availability.
“It’s very intense,” said Indian. “You’re up against deadlines; finding product; finding out which place is open, which place is closed; working on the weekend when nothing is open—like Sunday we were working, and nothing was open. We needed materials, so people were coming out to open their shops for us. So it’s pretty cool—but it’s definitely a challenge.”
They plan on showcasing the local community and various facets of the local culture during each episode of the show. This is to pay homage to the areas that host them, alongside hopefully inspiring the build.
“People dig Rich up here,” said Indian. “The thing that I thought was pretty cool in this area is the amount of cool custom and classic cars. It’s really a big car culture here—I was impressed to be quite honest. It’s something that’s expected in Southern California, yet to come up here I was really surprised to see them just on the road—because each time you’re out, chances are you’ll see one.”
During their tenure in Nova Scotia, Evans’ crew participated in a car parade to downtown Halifax, a car show, and multiple meet-and-greet/autograph sessions, all while continuing work on both cars.
“Curtis has got a really good shop here, and a really good group of guys,” said Indian. “People have been really, really nice, and really accommodating. It’s definitely a place worth coming to. I’ve never been to this side of Canada, so I didn’t know it was this much of a beautiful place.”
“I think it’s a great way to showcase Nova Scotia,” continued Indian. “That’s why we want to incorporate the cultural end of things. The local beauty, and the local cultural is something that we really want to incorporate into the show. It’s almost like ‘No Reservation’ meets ‘Orange County Choppers,’ but for cars. We just hope to keep building off of it—it should be cool.”
Nova Scotia is where the pilot for the TV show is being filmed, and despite pressure from other Canadian shops to go film at their location, they plan to make Nova Scotia the only Canadian stop for the show.
“We want to spread it around,” said Indian. “We want people to experience a lot of different places. It might happen (where they will shoot another episode in Canada), nothing’s out of the realm of possibility—I just think it’s more of trying to keep it different. What we did in Nova Scotia would be a lot different than what we could do in, say, Jamaica.
“It’s early in the game,” continued Indian. “We’re working with producers that are very busy. We have to time it in a way that makes sense, otherwise it’s not worth doing; but this stop was a no-brainer. Rich had been here before and had a great feeling about the place, so he wanted to do it here first.”
They hope to air the show sometime in 2013. Should it become successful, Evans plans to hopefully return once again in the future, with more cars, less time, and more talent. For more information on the progress of the show, stay tuned to Evans’ Facebook page (Rich Evans Designs) and keep an eye on the listing for the Speed channel.
“The biggest thing is to do what you love to do,” said Evans. “Do something new every day, and try to better yourself. Really live life to its fullest—that’s what we’re trying to do here.”