“Pimp My Ride” was one of the most popular car mod shows on TV in the mid to late 2000s. Every week for six seasons, viewers tuned in to see Xzibit and what wild vehicles West Coast Customs would come up with next. And while the owners of those cars seemed excited to have their vehicles fixed up, the reality behind the scenes was that things weren’t always what they seemed. Here are a few things that went on.
While the show made it seem as if they came to the contestant’s houses, picked up the cars, and had them back from the shop within a matter of days, the reality was much different. People waited ages for their cars to be finished, often six to seven months. And that was a hassle for people that actually had to, you know, get around.
Some contestants said that MTV gave them $2,000 for a car rental. But even that didn’t help as a lot of contestants weren’t old enough to rent a car, or the money that was given wasn’t enough. One contestant ended up pocketing what was left and figured the rest out.
Justin Dearinger said that he tried to rent a car with the money, but just one month alone cost him one thousand dollars. After that, he just pocketed the rest and found other ways to get around.
Another contestant who spoke to HuffPost said he had to get a rental for a couple of months. MTV was paying for it, but when they stopped he had to pay out of pocket. It ended up taking two years for him to get reimbursed.
Seth Martino had a particularly frustrating time where he had to go through a “really small, shady company off the freeway by LAX because they were the only ones willing to rent to me because of my age.” According to Martino, at first MTV only paid for a couple months and then he had to pay out of pocket. He held on to the receipts and then about two years after the show aired MTV reached out and finally reimbursed him.
You’d think with the thousands of dollars being dumped into these vehicles, the show would at least try and make some of the vehicles run better. A lot of cars on the show were beaters and likely had some sort of mechanical issues. That wasn’t the case, though, as everything was thrown into all the wild mods. One contestant who did a Reddit AMA actually had to have the car sit after it came from the show because it didn’t run and he didn’t have the money to fix it, calling it a “polished turd.”
The show even had a tow truck on standby for vehicles that needed it. But co-executive producer of the show Larry Hochberg made it seem as if the truck was more for problems that arose from the mods rather than to help out the contestants, telling HuffPost: “The people who had cars that appeared on the show would call me, and I would leave my desk, run to meet up with the flatbed tow truck and go help them. I made sure that things were fixed on cars that needed fixing.”
This part may not be as surprising as you would think given that it’s widely known that reality shows are staged for the most part. But most things on Pimp My Ride were rehearsed or set up. Surprisingly, the reactions of contestants when they opened the door to find Xzibit standing there were real, mostly due to being duped by producers.
Contestants were told to wait in the house and that at the door would either be someone holding something like a $100 Pep Boys gift certificate or it would be “ya boy Xzibit.” So the surprise of Xzibit at the door was real, but in maybe a weirder way than you expected.
(The contestants didn’t own the houses they were at, though. Those were rented by the network.)
Contestant reactions to the cars were all faked. Oftentimes, retakes had to be done because, as one contestant put it, they needed an “ape shit” reaction. If they didn’t get that, it got kind of… threatening as contestant Jake Glazier put it.
I remember this very clearly, Big Dane, very big dude, he like puts his arm around my shoulder, kind of walks me around the shop for like 10 minutes and he’s like, ‘Listen, we put a lot of work into this ... we expect you to be a little more fucking enthusiastic.
I would’ve ended taping right then and there because it’s really not that serious. Sometimes, though, things were staged for the worst. As the contestant that had the polished turd said in his Reddit AMA, they emphasized him being overweight by making it seem as if he lived with candy wrappers all over his car.
I know im fat, but they went the extra mile to make me look extra fat by telling the world that I kept candy all over my seat and floor just in case I got hungry. Then gave me a cotton candy machine in my trunk -_-.
He added that he watched them “dump out 2 bags of generic candy” in the back of his car for the cameras.
Despite other problems, like mods being removed because they were only for TV, cars not working shortly after contestants were on the show, and vehicle resale rules, the show will still go down as one of the greatest car shows of that generation. Most contestants said they had an overall positive experience. And with Hollywood’s recent habit of reboots, it might be kinda cool to have it on TV again.