Garage Revival may be the best automotive television show you can’t watch on any of the usual TV channels. But I hope that’s not the case for very long because based on the pilot episode released on YouTube, and with the possible exception of Jay Leno’s Garage, Edd China’s newest TV venture likely would be the best collector car program on television.
So what is Edd China’s Garage Revival? Well, it’s a show that takes the best part of the old Wheeler Dealers format — Edd not only working on an old car but providing a post-graduate how-to education for his audience — and eliminates the bothersome presence of former co-conspirator Mike Brewer.
Now Mike Brewer may be a nice guy, but on Wheeler Dealers he came across as just another buy-it-cheap, sell-it-high car flipper. What separated Wheeler Dealers from the rest of the slap-some-lipstick-on-the-pig genre was what happened between the buy and the sell — Edd China, the gentle giant, working his mechanical magic to transform an ailing vehicle into a classic you’d be proud to drive.
On Garage Revival, it’s just Edd, traveling the world like a doctor doing house calls, except the patient is a vehicle in a garage and in need of resuscitation.
In the pilot episode, Edd has received a plea from Stian Jorgensen, a 23-year-old Norwegian who has become stymied at trying to convert his Golf GTI from its standard 8-valve engine to a larger, more powerful 16-valve powerplant.
But why is Edd traveling from the UK to snow-covered Norway? Most likely because that’s where Rentarage AS, producer of the program, is based. Rentarage AS founder Kenneth Gran is a television veteran and longtime friend of China’s, and they are listed as co-executive producers of Revival, a fitting term since the show not only revives a vehicle but brings Edd China back —we hope — to our television sets.
Unlike most “reality” car shows, there is no director-induced conflict in Revival, though there is tension since Norwegian authorities don’t allow such mere engine swaps, China learns. There are hoops through which to jump; in this case, to get the new engine certified, the Golf also has to have its rear drum brakes replaced with discs.
It also turns out that Jorgensen’s car needs a new headliner, and its wheels are in sorry shape. Edd to the rescue, with a group of Jorgensen’s friends helping with wiring and other details in an all-nighter once Edd had the engine in place.
As usual, China wins us over with his combination of enthusiasm and expertise, and as usual, with just the right tool for every job. He’s also meticulous, reminding us not to rush but to get it right, which he does, right down to providing a GTI-spec child safety seat for the Jorgensen’s two-year-old daughter before sending the family off for its first ride in the revived VW.
Also getting it right from the standpoint of production values is Rentarage AS. The show runs a little more than 40 minutes, beautifully shot and presented with timely flow. When it ends, we’re quite satisfied as viewers, and eager for more (we also know why there are parentheses around the I in GTI in the pilot’s official title).
The pilot ends with China wondering what garage he’ll visit next. He asks for those in distress to send him a video pleading their case — and he adds that he hopes his next trip might be in a warmer climate.
I simply hope there is a next time, and many times after that, and that Edd China’s Garage Revival is picked up soon by a television network so we can watch and learn and enjoy.