Are you a television set owner/operator and uncertain as to what manner of audiovisual information you should play back through your device? If so, I have a suggestion: on April 30 at 10 PM, there’s going to be a show on the Discovery Channel that, improbably, has decided to feature me and my 1973 Volkswagen Beetle. But don’t worry! There’ll be much better people and cars on there, too.
The show is called Sticker Shock, and, if I’m honest, it’s based on a concept I’m not sure I’m so thrilled with. When the show was pitched to me, I was told it would be about telling the very personal stories about people and their cars, a wonderful concept, and I was thrilled to be selected to take part in it.
I was thrilled because I love hearing people’s very personal stories of their attachments to their cars, and I love telling anyone I whose arm I can seize tightly enough about all the stories about my Beetle, a car I’ve had since I was 18 and have been through all manner of life with it, including it being stolen and recovered.
The show, though, seems to have, at least in part, morphed into a see-people’s-shocked-or-angry-or-thrilled-reactions show, like an automotive Antiques Roadshow. The hook, as the name implies, is to appraise the car and tell the owners how much their car is worth, with the hopes of tears of joy or rage.
Okay, I get that these car shows need some kind of hook, so, whatever. It’s fine, I guess. It helps a lot that the show has some great people as appraisers—for me, that appraiser was possibly the most qualified person to judge the value of a humble old Beetle, Randy Carlson, the man behind Oldbug.com and a really great guy as well. It was a treat getting to show my Beetle to him.
I’m also hopeful about the show because the variety of cars they’ve sourced is really impressive. It’s not the usual set of American muscle and an occasional token Porsche or something. There’s real interesting variety here.
All the cars were shipped out to a warehouse in Los Angeles, and the resulting collection would have made a fantastic and eclectic automotive museum anywhere. There were hearses, an Amphicar, a ‘60s-era Mitsubishi 360, one of the most amazing Corvair Greenbriar campervans I’ve ever seen, a ratty Tatra, wonderful old delivery vans and Model Ts and American land barges and even some astounding rarities like an Alabama-built Keller, one of only three left in the world, looking like a sort of alternate-universe Crosley.
There’s a ton of amazing cars in this show, and they all get scrutinized and prodded and talked about in satisfying length and depth.
Despite the somewhat cheesy appraisal-shock hook of the show, Sticker Shock seems like a good, minimal-bullshit car show that offers a really vast spectrum of car types. The fact that it’s targeted at the general public and not just hardcore gearheads is even better, as a show like this could expose people to the rich and diverse spectrum of interesting cars, and make them realize there’s so much more to the world than silver Corollas.
I haven’t seen any of it yet, so it’s possible they edited it to make me look like even more of a buffoon, but I think if you can endure that, it’ll be worth it to see all of the interesting cars.
Besides, doing the show was worth it just to see my longtime automotive companion, my beloved and imperfect Beetle, sitting on a fancy, well-lit turntable, looking like the glamorous little yellow star I always knew it was.
Everyone who has a relationship with their car longs for a chance to put their car in the spotlight, and try to explain why the possibly baffling-seeming relationship between themselves and an inanimate assemblage of steel and rubber and paint means so much to them. I got to do just that, and it felt pretty great.