The auto restoration reality-television show “Chasing Classic Cars,” has been delighting car enthusiasts especially the hot rodders for the past 12 years. It was hosted by the master restorer, Wayne Carini, whose knowledge and skills in car restoration were passed on to him by his father. The hunt for the rare vintage automobiles along with the auto restoration process made it one of the most-watched TV shows on Discovery Channel’s cable network. The show will be on its 17th season next year, and fans were confused as to why there were rumors that the series had been canceled, when its social media accounts indicated that they have been filming new episodes for the next season.
- 1 How did “Chasing Classic Cars” start?
- 2 Wayne Carini, the man behind “Chasing Classic Cars” success
- 3 Interesting moments in the 16 seasons of “Chasing Classic Cars”
- 4 “Chasing Classic Cars” cancelation rumors
How did “Chasing Classic Cars” start?
Wayne Carini has been a prominent classic car restorer for many years, and his impeccable reputation in the automotive business attracted the attention of Jim Astrausky, the chief executive producer of a TV production company called Essex Television Group Inc.
When Jim made a documentary of Monterrey Week in 2006, one of the biggest automobile events, he featured Wayne’s businesses to get an insider’s view on why most car enthusiasts converged yearly on this huge event. Jim also featured him in the show, “The World’s Most Expensive Cars.” It gained positive feedback from the viewers, and showed that Wayne was a natural in front of the camera.
The people from Essex Television Group, Inc. then offered him to be the host of a television series about auto restoration. Initially Wayne said ‘no’, since he didn’t like reading and memorizing scripts. He also told the TV producers that he wasn’t an actor, and didn’t have plans of becoming one. Jim assured him that there would be no script, as they wanted everything to be as natural as possible. So “Chasing Classic Cars” aired its first episode on 3 June 2008, and as promised, the TV crew only followed Wayne as he went about his activities in his three businesses.
A typical episode would start with Wayne hunting for a rare classic car, which he would purchase for a reasonable price after haggling with the owner, and then bringing it back to his shop at F40 Motorsports in Portland to be restored. The TV show was aired on Discovery Channel’s automotive-focused Velocity cable network, later rebranded as MotorTrend streaming network.
Wayne Carini, the man behind “Chasing Classic Cars” success
Wayne Carini’s reputation of being one of the experts in automotive restoration was the main reason why “Chasing Classic Cars” has lasted this long in the world of reality-TV – viewers, who were mostly gearheads, knew that his skills weren’t hyped just to gain high TV ratings. His three successful businesses were a testament to his excellence in auto restoration, however, before he was able to reach the top of the game, he also went through years of perfecting his skills.
From his pedigree alone, most people assumed that he’d just inherited everything without doing the ground work, but they were mistaken.
Early Life and Education
The master restorer was born on 13 October 1951, to wealthy parents Rosemary and Robert “Bob” Carini, in Portland, Connecticut. Wayne’s interest in automobiles came while growing up, from watching his father do automotive restoration in his garage. Bob ran a popular auto repair and restoration shop in their city, and due to his love for his craft, in 1952 Bob along with some of his friends and colleagues co-founded the Model A Restorers Car Club of America; he served as the first Vice-President of the club.
Wayne was lucky enough to be trained by his father, but it took a lot of sacrifices on his part. Instead of playing with his friends during his free time, he was in the auto shop assisting his father, who was quite old-school and from a generation that believed in putting in hard work to get to the top and not rely on family inheritance.
🎉🥳Sending a huge THANK YOU to my wonderful family who celebrated my birthday today with a very special golf cart parade! 🥳 🎉 #cheerstoanotheryear #familyiseverything #timetocelebrate
When Wayne showed enough interest in the business, Bob made sure that his son would grow-up fully equipped in the automotive business.
Wayne could easily dismantle and re-construct a Model A engine when he was still a third-grader. His passion for car building and restoration intensified when he was nine years old. The young Wayne was allowed to take a brand new 1960 Roso Chiaro Ferrari 250 SWB for a spin and immediately fell in love with Ferrari cars. However, when he was in college, he pursued another career path and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education, but when he was subsequently in between jobs, his father made an offer to lure him back. Wayne returned to join his father’s auto shop, and was guaranteed half-ownership of the business.
Expanded his business empire and now has three businesses
Wayne wasn’t satisfied with just the business that he inherited from his father.
He expanded, and now has three thriving automotive businesses – Continental Auto Ltd, F40 Motorsports, and Carini Corozzeria. He was also mentored by Ferrari experts including Francois Sicard and Luigi Chinetti Jr., after they saw how passionate he was about vintage Ferrari automobiles. Wayne has a good head for business too, and made sure that the three businesses would benefit from one another, eliminating the need for third parties as much as possible when restoring and reselling cars.
Interesting moments in the 16 seasons of “Chasing Classic Cars”
Through a network of contacts built-up by being in the business for about 50 years, Wayne has scoured most of the major car auctions and boneyards around the country, along with getting tips from regular folks on rare classic and vintage cars that needed to be restored.
“Chasing Classic Cars” documented his dealings and restorations; here are just some of the most interesting moments in the TV series:
Wayne and Bob’s 1956 Baby Ferrari Racer V12
The 1956 Baby Ferrari Bambino Racer V12 Electric Car might be just a classic car toy, but its restoration was one of Wayne’s most memorable experiences depicted in the TV show. In the sixth episode of the second season, he partnered with his father in restoring it, made more significant as they had it auctioned at Bonhams. It was sold at $18,000 for the benefit of the “Autism Speaks,” a charity that was close to his heart as it was a spectrum disorder with which one of his children was afflicted. The toy car was originally styled by Giovanni Michelloti, based on the Ferrari 375MM Spyder.
Former President FDR’s 1932 Packard got a tune-up
Wayne’s reputation has been well respected by most car enthusiasts, and it wasn’t surprising at all that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo chose him to fix President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1932 Packard Twin Six. The vintage car was displayed at the New York State Museum for decades, and it was only in 2017 that the Governor thought of having it fixed. They had it shipped to Wayne’s F40 Motorsports auto shop from Albany, and spent over $10,000 to have it running again. Wayne and his trusted mechanic Roger Barr, made sure everything was running smoothly by fixing the clutch, brakes and the starter during the 10-day deadline they were given.
They also couldn’t help admiring the 12-cylinder engine of the vintage automobile when they were working on it. Gov. Cuomo drove it later on to a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Kosciuszko Bridge, a significant event as the bridge gave New York residents an easy way of going to Brooklyn from Queens and vice-versa.
1964 Shelby Cobra USRRC Roadster sold at RM Auctions in Monterrey
It was initially scheduled to be brought to RM Auctions’ Automobiles of Amelia Island, but both the auctioneers and Wayne agreed that it wasn’t the right venue for the 1964 Shelby Cobra USRRC Roadster. Later on they put it on the block at the RM Auctions in Monterrey, California, and it was perfect timing since every car enthusiast was there in time for all the racing events held at Laguna Seca. Wayne was visibly anxious, most especially since he auctioned the car without reserve, which meant that they would be leaving the place without the car.
When it was presented, he was quite impressed, and four people bid on the car, starting at $500,000.
He was hoping that they would get a great price for the Shelby Cobra and was relieved that it was sold for over $1.5 million. Only 42 Shelby Cobras were built to racing specification, manufactured specifically for the US Road Racing Championship Series, so each of the cars included USRRC in the name. According to the documentation attached to it, the classic car racer that Wayne restored in “Chasing Classic Cars,” was one of the most blemish-free of all the Shelby Cobra race cars still out there.
1921 Stutz Bearcat won FIVA award in Pebble Beach
When Wayne found the 1921 Stutz Bearcat in a garage somewhere in Georgia, he couldn’t believe that it had remained unrestored since it was initially purchased.
He found it in its original condition, and was shocked that it had only 10,000 miles on it. Restoration of the car was done easily and smoothly at F40 Motor Sports, as he and Roger only replaced the old sparkplugs on the car to get it running. It didn’t take long for Wayne to finish work on it, and the car looked stunning. It stayed in Wayne’s garage for a year and a half before he took it to the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance, and people couldn’t just pass by it without giving it a second look. Wayne’s car won the 2016 FIVA Award, judged as the best-preserved regularly driven car of the early 1900’s; it was eventually sold at auction for an amount close to $600,000. In 1912, the Stutz manufacturer made this road-friendly version so that it could be used by regular folks, as compared to the homologation cars they initially produced, with specifications sanctioned by some motorsport racing groups.
One of the rarest – 1966 Ferrari 365P Tre Posti
During one of the episodes in the seventh season, Wayne was commissioned to help sell a rare car, a 1966 Ferrari 365 P Tri Posti, said to be one of only two ever created by Pininfarina. The driver’s seat was in the middle, hence the name, Tre Posti, and the aluminum body was somehow similar to a Ferrari 246 GT Dino, but with a more subtle and well-balanced shape. The car owner, Luigi Chinetti, the son of the first US Ferrari importer, brought it over to Wayne’s F40 Motorsport shop to be its caretaker. It was said to be the last bespoken car created by Ferrari for a client, and when it was auctioned by David Gooding of Gooding & Company in California, it didn’t meet the reserve – a fixed minimum price decided by the owner. A $23.5 million offer was made for the car but Luigi Chinetti rejected it. The auctioneer, the owner, and Wayne were expecting it would have at least a winning bid of around $30 million.
We're sad to learn of the passing of our friend Dale Walksler, founder and curator of Dale's Wheels Through Time museum…
“Chasing Classic Cars” cancelation rumors
With a well-loved TV show like “Chasing Classic Cars,” its huge fan base would feel agitated when they saw some changes in their favorite TV series. Questions about its future were raised by some TV insiders and fans alike. Here are some of the speculations that were discussed in forums and blogs:
Fewer episodes during the 17th season
The fans of the reality-TV show were bothered by the cancelation rumors that went around online. The 17th season was aired from 21 July 2021 to 18 August 2021 with only five episodes, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise to the loyal viewers, since a lot of shows halted their production due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. It wasn’t even the shortest season, as there were only four episodes aired during its 14th season.
The TV show didn’t have a uniform number of episodes shown each season, but maybe the cause for alarm was that in recent years the TV show aired two seasons in a year, and with 2021 already ending, no announcement of renewal was being posted on their official social media accounts. However, some of the posts in their Facebook account indicated that they had already filmed for new episodes. There was also never a hint in the posts that the show was about to end.
The Roger Barr controversy
It wasn’t the first time that the TV show was rumored to have been axed. When Roger Barr, Wayne’s reliable mechanic, was never seen again in the show without explanation, some fans disapproved of the move. It became controversial when it was reported that Roger was unfairly treated by the show. In 2020, he corrected speculation including that he already retired after having medical issues.
He said that nobody personally informed him that he was no longer needed in the show, and only received an email that he was involuntarily terminated. He also denied that he had a net worth of $1.3 million, as he has to continue to work to put food on the table. The old mechanic revealed that he left some of his valuable tools in the shop, and felt that he needed a lawyer’s help get them back. He wasn’t paid any TV appearance fee, and only received his salary as an employee in the auto shop. The year Roger was terminated, only one season was aired, and fans speculated that the show was canceled. It was debunked later when two seasons were aired the following year.
Unstable TV ratings
The world of television was primarily invented to entertain people but it’s also a business enterprise.
Low ratings would mean the TV network executives would order a cancelation to stop the bleeding of expenses incurred in production. There were talks that the TV show lost its attraction, and that it had run its natural course. However, “Chasing Classic Cars” journey to stardom wasn’t instant or easy as compared to other series. It took them several years to eventually attract a huge loyal fan base, with an international following. If the TV producers were able to wait for several years to acquire high ratings, it wouldn’t be logical to end the show due to unstable TV ratings.
The Covid-19 outbreak’s health protocols and restrictions took a toll on many businesses, and the entertainment industry wasn’t spared. It was only in the last few weeks that things were getting back to as normal as they could possibly achieve. Viewers can expect brighter things including reboots, new seasons, and new episodes on TV including, that of “Chasing Classic Cars.”