Car S.O.S. Season 12

Car S.O.S. Datsun 240K Skyline
Reveal of the completed Datsun 240K Skyline

Tomorrow evening sees Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend return to our screens in a brand new series of Car S.O.S. on National Geographic with 10 new episodes of the ever popular and much loved car show.

Now in its 12th season the Car S.O.S. team will once again be restoring the beloved classic and cherished cars of ten deserving owners along with what has become a regular feature of the show now, and the appearance of some familiar celebrity faces. Some of the special guests for this new season include cameo appearances from David Jason in episode 2 and Gordon Ramsay in episode 6.

After over a decade of restoring a long and enviable list of classic and iconic cars, as well as the odd van and fire engine, Car S.O.S. continues to grow in popularity with car enthusiasts all over the world since its launch back in 2013. The show’s success is largely down to its two amiable presenters Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend, who I once again caught up with a couple of weeks ago to find out more about what the new season has in store for us.

When I have spoken with Tim and Fuzz over the last few years, normally all the cars have usually been completed, but unusually this year, there were still three cars to complete and so at the time of my speaking with them, they were not sure how the all the cars would turn out as they had taken on some very big builds.

Pristine Ford Pops
Tim and Fuzz with some pristine Ford Pops

What Tim did tell me though, is that there has been a much bigger focus on the emotional back stories in this series. He also shared with me that apart from giving back a beautifully restored car to its deserving owner, a big part of the experience is apparently when the whole family sit down together and watch “their” episode, something Tim had not realised and really appreciated until recently.

Background to Car S.O.S.

For those of you unfamiliar with Car S.O.S., Tim and Fuzz have restored some fabulous classic cars over the last 11 series, from an E-Type Jaguar and 1984 Audi Quattro in Series 3 to a stunning 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL Pagoda and Aston Martin DB6 in Series 5, which ranks up there as one of my favourite cars the team have restored. There was the iconic Volvo P1800 Roger Moore drove in The Saint, which had Tim tracking down Sir Roger to ask him to sign the back of the restored driver’s seat in a memorable episode. Then there was a heartfelt plea from James Nesbitt to restore a completely rotten old 1959 MG MGA and elaborate set up for the reveal so they could return the car to its owner in a London Mews on a make-believe filmset.

More recently, Tim and Fuzz restored a unique and very rare MG Metro 6R4, which turned out to have once been driven by a Scottish rally champion, as well as a beautiful Jensen Interceptor with its massive American Chrysler V8. A rather tired 1992 Saab 900 Turbo was brought back to life in Series 9. Last season Tim and Fuzz restored a sad and tired looking 22-year-old Ford Mondeo, but not to its standard original factory finish, but rather turning it into owner Karl’s dream car: a replica of the 1994 World Touring Car Championship Mondeo, as driven by the likes of Nigel Mansell and Paul Radisich. In episode 6 the team then restored a rather rare fibre glass bodied 1987 Renault Alpine GTA which had a lot of hidden rot that needed some serious attention.

Series 12 – Episode 1 ‘Ford Pop Hot Rod’

The new series opens with an incredibly moving episode and a rather unusual restoration project and complete rebuild of a Ford Pop Hot Rod. Andy, the car’s owner was sadly born with Cerebral Palsy and has been bullied mercilessly throughout his life. Unbelievably, he was even stabbed for being different! He however eventually found solace in the Hot Rod club scene, one of the few places he feels safe. But due to his illness, Andy is unable to speak and is assisted by his wife Kim who communicates verbally for him. Without giving too much away the reveal is incredibly moving, with Andy’s wife expressing his sentiments to Tim and Fuzz. It may even be one of the most tear-jerking Car S.O.S. episode finales ever filmed.

Ford Pop Hot Rod
Flames have been added to the Ford Pop paint job as it awaits more work in the workshop

Future Episodes

In episode 2, Tim and Fuzz breath life back into a Datsun 240K Skyline while in episode 3 there is great concern that the BMW E30 Alpina the team set about restoring may not actually be genuine but simply made to look like an Alpina. But following a trip to the Alpina factory in Germany, Tim is over the moon to discover that the car is in fact a genuine E30 Alpina, as it’s a car he absolutely loves with its straight six C 2.7-litre engine that gives a unique sound coupled with loads of torque.

Episode 4 sees the restoration of a Ford Fiesta XR2i while episode 5 has a strong back story as the team set about restoring a Honda CRX. Tim, the car’s owner suffers from an unimaginably unpleasant disease that causes thousands of polyps to grow in his intestines. Bit by bit they have to be removed until eventually there are none left. Supported by a loving family, this is an incredible story of bravery and has a cameo appearance by Gordon Ramsay as Tim is a wanabee chef.

Episode 6 sees Tim and Fuzz take on an old and rather unique Citroen SM that was ahead of its time and crammed full of technology not seen on other cars back in the 1970s, such as hydro-pneumatic self-levelling suspension, self-levelling headlights that swivelled with the steering and can see around corners as well as variable assist power steering and DIRAVI self-centering steering.

The 1962 TVR Grantura in episode 7 holds the record as the car project that has taken the longest to complete, as owner Steve started restoring it 44 years ago. As he has never driven it, the reveal should prove to be a memorable and emotional occasion for him.

BMW E30 Alpina
Fuzz and Tim stand with the completed BMW E30 Alpina

In episode 8 the team restore a Mk2 VW Golf GTi, a car that Tim has obsessed about, having owned many examples over the years, it is also the first car that I raced, so I can appreciate the attraction. They were extremely tough and very tuneable. This particular car’s owner Darren was hit by car while crossing the road with his grandson and is now brain damaged and lives in a nursing home and is sadly wheelchair bound and has very little vision. So, the team had to completely rethink what they do and have created a sensory space for Darren, as his Golf was the love of his life. It was a fresh take on car design and meant doing things they had never done before such as putting stiffer suspension and hard exhaust rubbers on and removing the bulkhead noise deadening so that Darren could really feel and hear the car. It was all about creating a feeling for Darren which they think they successfully achieved.

One of the things that always intrigues me about Car S.O.S. is how hard it can often be to track down hard to come by parts for some of the older cars in particular. And so, I had a long chat with Tim about how he has built up good relationships with a lot of the parts suppliers over the last 12 years. He did say though that in the early days it was extremely difficult to try to get these people to even talk to him, let alone help him out with parts for what was then a new and largely unheard of show.

To many of us who follow and love the show, Car S.O.S. is a timely reminder to enjoy every day, as life is not fair, and Tim and Fuzz really enjoy being able to make a few people’s lives a little brighter by celebrating their life through their cherished car.

The new season of Car S.O.S begins on National Geographic tomorrow 7th March at 8:00pm.

Author Bio:

Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers, professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.

Photographs courtesy of Car S.O.S. and National Geographic

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