gif: Edd China’s Garage Revival (YouTube)

The concept for former Wheeler Dealers host Edd China’s new “Edd China’s Garage Revival” show has tons of potential. An affable, capable mechanic travels around the world to help people get their projects back on track, Unfortunately, the pilot episode is a bit slow.

Edd China’s loyal fan-base has been anxiously waiting for the tall, likable, t-shirt-over-long-sleeve-wearing mechanic to host a new show after leaving Wheeler Dealers last year, and now the wait is over.

The 40-minute pilot episode for “Edd China’s Garage Revival”—in which China helps a Norwegian get his modified first-generation Volkswagen GTI back on the road after two years of wrenching—is now on YouTube:

The episode begins with a brief and not particularly satisfying introduction to the town of Trøgstad, Norway. China shows viewers the local “hotdog in a waffle” delicacy as well as Trøgstad’s largest employer, a prison.

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I’d like to have seen where the town is on a map (for context), and it might have been good to include a bit more about the area’s history. As it sits, there’s not much to the tour, and frankly, it seems like an afterthought.

Screengrab: Edd China’s Garage Revival (YouTube)

After quickly showing the town, the show describes the history of the first-generation VW Golf, and even shows an old commercial in which an MK1 GTI races down a ski slope. This historical context is an element I always liked about Wheeler Dealers, and I’m glad it carried over in some form to the new show.

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After a few quick facts about the GTI, China visits a local VW Golf expert to learn about ways that Stian Jørgensen, the young man who asked China for help with the GTI project, can drive his car legally in Norway with the 16-valve engine he plans to install. Norway, China points out, is strict when it comes to engine modifications, and sometimes requires that an increase in power be accompanied by other modifications, like stronger brakes.

Screengrab: Edd China’s Garage Revival (YouTube)

While I enjoyed the bit about the GTI’s history, and thought learning about Norway’s strict automotive modification-related regulations was important to the episode, I do think those two bits could have been more smoothly integrated into the story. Putting those elements at the beginning makes viewers wait for what feels like a long time before ever seeing any wrenching. It seems like a long time to build up to the crux of the show.

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Screengrab: Edd China’s Garage Revival (YouTube)

The wrenching itself was interesting, though the jobs weren’t particularly technical. Don’t get me wrong, learning about the metal “stays,” and how they work with little clips in the GTI’s body to keep the headliner up was fascinating. The windshield installation, the rear disc brake modifications, the wheel refurbishing and the motor install were also cool to see, though I wish Edd had tackled something a bit more technical. Describing how complex technical gizmos work is one of China’s specialties, after all.

Another one of his specialties is giving viewers tips and tricks on how to fix things, like how to make sure the headliner stays are the right size, how to use rope or wire to install a windshield, and how to use a dial indicator to make sure a brake rotor is within spec. This is Edd China in his element, and he did an excellent job displaying it in this pilot episode.

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Screengrab: Edd China’s Garage Revival (YouTube)

The episode ends with Jørgensen and China hooning the beautiful little GTI, which is definitely the right way to end.

Still, I’m left wanting more. I understand that making two guys wrenching in a cold Norwegian garage into an extremely exciting bit of TV is a tall order, but it seems to me like there are still some low-hanging fruit to pick. I’d either elaborate on or nix the introduction to the local town, I’d get straight to the wrenching early on, and I’d be sure to have Edd China tear into complex gadgets so he can spill some more wisdom from his brilliant brain.

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The concept is promising, and China is extremely capable, so I’m hopeful that if/when this actually gets picked up by a network, it gets fine tuned in a way that takes full advantage of China’s excellent hosting and wrenching skills.