Take to the Road recently blagged an interview with the worlds greatest car parts blagger, Tim Shaw, co-star of the National Geographic’s Car SOS. The show is launching its 5th Series on Thursday 16th March on the National Geographic channel and we got a chance to chat with Tim and ask him what fans can look forward to in the new series. And what he would do if he was stuck on a desert island with Fuzz Townsend and Workshop Phil. Here’s what he had to say…
Without giving away too many spoilers, what is the best thing about the new series of Car SOS?
We’ve stepped it up a notch in terms of the sexiness of the cars. We’ve taken bigger risks with the cars we’ve taken on and we’ve been stung. That’s the nature of the beast. Even the best mechanics on the planet sometimes get stung buying a car and end up making a mistake. One that’s clad in filler or whatever. It has happened to us a few times in the series.
Doing the Fiat Dino, both Fuzz and myself now have a new found love of Fiat and Italian cars. For me it was always German engineering growing up and I kind of overlooked the Italian engineering. Because if you think about the Fiats and the Alfas, they are so well know for rusting. We actually went to Turin and had a tour of the factory and the museum there and we realised that engines came first for the Italians. It should be a car built around an engine. They have got great style and flair, but they are also excellent engineers. And you have a lot more respect for them because of that. So Fuzz and I have now fallen in love with Fiat.
As the worlds greatest parts blagger on Car SOS, if you could blag any part for a car, what would it be?
That’s a good question. Let me think… what has been one of the hardest things to get? What I would blag is a power steering pump for an Audi S2. I know they don’t make them any more and I’ve got friends of mine who’ve got those cars off the road, because they can’t find the ECU or the power steering pump for an S2. I would have all those parts in great abundance and supply them all around the country and around the world. So that’s probably what I would blag. And the blag I would pull off is one where the guy is oblivious to the fact that I’ve just spotted the product code on his huge stack of ECUs and power steering pumps. He has no idea what he’s got. And he’d sell them to me for just a couple of quid each.
But seriously, I hate the fact that there are parts that I need for the cars I’ve got, just sitting in peoples garages or sitting in workshops around the country. And they don’t know what they’ve got. So they just sit there instead of being used to put cars back on the road.
You are stuck on a desert island with Fuzz. And Workshop Phil. You can only bring one classic car project with you to restore. What would it be?
Right… Oh god…. It would be an MGA. My reason being my Mum has always wanted an MGA. My Dad always wanted a Daimler Dart and we did one on Car SOS, but we’ve never done an MGA. It’s a beautiful looking car and its one she’s always wanted. So I would like to take one to said desert island and on return hand over this gleaming red MGA to my mother. And it would be a twin cam. With servo assistance.
The stories Car SOS tells are often of classic car owners who’ve suffered ill health, misfortune or just bad luck. Out of all the episodes you and Fuzz have done, what was the hardest moment for you?
We did up an Alfa Romeo Giulia (Car SOS Series 2) and the owner had Alzheimer’s. It was painful to watch this guy who in body was fine, but mentally was in a terrible place. It was very obvious to me and to all of us. It is the only one where we had to sort of forget we were doing a tv show and go “right whats morally the right thing to do here”. We’ve restored his car and he’d descended to a place he is not going to return from and he wasn’t around for much longer after that. It was very sad for everyone.
Giving a car back is always very pleasurable but on this occasion he didn’t really know what was going on and it was just sad for all of us. And it makes you very aware of the reality of what happens to us in life, eventually. We were just a little bit too late. His family had the memories but it was a shame it wasn’t a more happy occasion.
Will Fuzz ever convert you into a Bus enthusiast?
No! Yes! It’s possible. I’m a fan of all things engineering. I’ve got to the stage where restoring a car isn’t too big a project. I can cope with a car, I can cope with the 10 that I own and am working on at the moment. The idea of a Bus is just that little bit too big. It would never happen to me. If someone gave me a Bus I would enjoy converting it into a Holiday Inn. But the idea of becoming a Bus fanatic like Fuzz… he can spot any number plate and tell which county it is from, which town its from. He does that with a bus. It’s some sort of bizarre skill he has developed. But for me in terms of becoming a bus enthusiast… not likely.
But I am in the process of slowly converting him into high performance sports cars now. He’s someone who’s always said he’s a fan of pre-war cars. Thats all he’s into. Now he drives a BMW 5 Series. A couple of years ago he said he’d never have something modern like that. And there he is driving one.
If you could buy one car, money no object, what would it be?
I often ask the same question. But I ask this one instead “if you could have one car for the rest of your life what would it be?”. I’ve learned that all cars suit certain environments. You could drive a Fiat 850 Spider in the Pyrenees or the Italian Alps on a hot day and it works. But where I am in the Midlands and on a snowy day, it wouldn’t. I think all cars have a specific home where they really suit a certain location and a certain time.
So in answer to the question, I don’t know really… whatever it is I would buy it and sell it and get 20 different bangers. That’s why I collect £2,000 – £3,000 cars. They all give you a completely different sense of driving and they all suit different occasions. You can have fun driving any car, as long as you understand what they were designed and built for. So I’d buy the most expensive car possible, then sell it and buy a load of bangers. And insure them all. For me its all about the driving experience, never about the value or the status. Its about how much fun I can get from a car.
Tim Shaw was speaking to Niall Julian.
Watch Tim and Fuzz on Car SOS, which returns this Thursday at 8pm on National Geographic.
Read more of our Exclusive Celebrity Interviews
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