Da Rod Shop rolls with new TV Show “Rods N Wheels”

Recently I got an advanced copy of a new Discovery channel show which will debut in a week called “Rods N Wheels“.  The show follows a hot rod and muscle car shop in Simi Valley, California (30 miles from Los Angeles) called Da Rod Shop and the cracked team of guys that run and work there.  Da Rod Shop specializes in the restoration and preservation of hot rods and muscle cars which are mostly pre-1970's cars.  In this write-up of the show I will explain the cast and characters, what happens in the first episode, and my overall thoughts about the new Discovery channel TV show.

rods n wheels

Rods N Wheels Cast and Characters

The first episode you get to meet the shop owner, Billy Derian, who is the frontman of the show.  Derian has been a host and presenter for several other TV shows and thinks of himself as “Hollywood.”  In the first episode he mentions he feels the other guys in the shop do not contrast well with his good looks and they are somewhat scary looking.  (If Billy wants to be scared he should come to Baltimore.)  He also views himself as the businessman of the shop.  Billy's son, Billy Derian Jr, also works at the shop along with his father as an apprentice mechanic but his dad doesn't let him work on cars much.  Billy Jr. mainly cleans and sweeps the floor.

Derian operates Da Rod Shop with his friend and business partner, Steve Reck.  While Derian is the businessman of the hot rod operation Reck is the mechanic and fabricator behind getting a lot of the cars finished and out the door.  Steve's son, Shane Reck, also works at the shop and is a bit OCD when it comes to getting his hands dirty.  Other guys in the shop see this as a bad trait but I don't if you work on collector cars.  When it comes to winning awards the tiniest details matter and most of the people that are successful are obsessive.

Other characters in the show include Mike “The Professor” who is the chief mechanic and knows everything there is about fixing a car.  He his willing to help people when needed and can fine tune carburetors without using special tools.  Jeff is known as a great mechanic but is a bit of a pretty boy and Billy nicknamed his Chevy Bel Air wagon “Weiner wagon” since from what he's seen no chicks have ever been in the car.  Jeff contends it is “Shagging Waggin” though.  There is also Art who is the suspension master of Da Rod Shop.  Art measures in at just 3’ 5” but his size is advantageous when working on suspension systems it seems.  Art tries to pursue acting when he isn't fixing and working on cars.  

Rods N Wheels First Episode

1968 camaro

In the first episode Billy gets a call from Bill Springer who is a friend he has known since the 10th grade when they met in math class.  (I hate math!)  He asks Billy to come over so he can show him something special, an original steel body 1932 Ford 3-Window coupe.  Springer's goal is to have Da Rod Shop turn the '32 Ford coupe into a homage to “American Graffiti.”  The caveat is that he needs it in a few weeks to take to Bob's Big Boy classic car night competition.  In addition he has $40,000-$42,000 for the car when Billy and Steve both think they need $100,000 to do the car properly.   The way the Da Rod Shop guys feel they are not just fixing up cars but preserving pieces of American history.

The side plot to the first episode is that Steve and Billy want to prove to their dad's they can handle the family business and one day take over the shop.  Something that Billy Derian wants but neither son feels that have gotten respect and both of them want to prove their skills.  They buy a 1968 Camaro from a shop customer who does not want to deal with the car anymore and plan to fix up and flip the muscle car for a profit.  Both their dads are not so sure and they can make it happen though.  They make a bet that once completed if they can sell the Camaro for over $30,000+ they keep 80% of the profit and their dads keep 20%.  If not, Steve and Billy keep 80% of the profit and their sons only get 20%.

1968 camaro

What I Liked & Didn't Like in Rods N Wheels

Since I am fan of hot rods and muscle cars I enjoyed watching Rods N Wheels (and Rods and Wheels) and the Da Rod Shop crew.  It is always fun to see restorations of cars come to life as it takes a lot of work, time, effort, and skill.  Something that most people are not aware of.

However, the show does not document enough of the restoration process for me to seriously keep my interest in the show on a long term basis.  The producers seem more concerned with building contrived plots and wacky characters than actually showing the restoration and mechanical work being done on the cars.  This is the wrong attitude since gearheads will make the same complaint and regular people will get tired of watching it unless there are better explanations of the skilled techniques they use to restore and maintain cars.  Da Rod Shop clearly takes great care and puts a lot of love into restoring these classic cars which should be showcased more.

When Billy Jr. and Shane completed the 1968 Camaro they basically just jump to the Camaro being completed and having a graphics specialist come in and install racing stripes on the car.  For some reason they thought it would be more interesting to showcase the pair selling the muscle car for $27,000 at a local Camaro owners meetup than what it took for them to fix the Camaro up.  (They spent $9,500 to buy the Camaro and $13,500 in parts and labor, so it was a $4,000 profit.)  It's more fun to watch a car come to life than watch it get sold.

What made shows like American Chopper fun to watch is that they showed you how the custom motorcycles were getting built and put together.  While this wasn't always interesting it felt more real.   I always found it fun to watch how a chassis or chroming process was done and there was something there for people that were not interested in motorcycles or choppers.  Also what made American Chopper a good show is that it didn't feel “Hollywood.”  For the first 2 seasons it really just seemed like they were following around a family in upstate New York that built customer choppers.  (Not sure who kept watching American Chopper after season 3 since that's when it they started adding all the drama.)

While nowadays I guess you can't expect a “reality show” to be realistic and people to not put on characters, there should be an attempt to make the show feel less contrived and more real.   Still I had fun watching the Rods n Wheels (and Rods and Wheels) and would probably watch it again if Discovery channel kept sending me advanced episodes online.  Unsure if they will but it would be nice.

If you are interested in watching Billy and his Da Rod Shop team, Rods N Wheels premieres next Monday on January 27th, 2014 at 10pm on the Discovery channel.

If you've landed on this summary and review of the show because you've already watched the show and Googled for information about it, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought.  Do you agree or disagree with my assessment of Rods N Wheels?

Note: In exchange for getting an advanced viewing of the 1st episode of Rods n Wheels before it aired I was asked to do write a review about the show by Discovery channel.  However I have not received monetary compensation for this review and do not have any special affiliation or relationship with Discovery channel, Intuitive Entertainment (the production company behind Rods n Wheels), or Da Rod Shop.  However it would be nice if I did. 🙂

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Adam loves cars and anything with wheels. He has many interests and passions but he especially loves writing and blogging. Hence starting this auto blog.

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Adam loves cars and anything with wheels. He has many interests and passions but he especially loves writing and blogging. Hence starting this auto blog.

61 thoughts on “Da Rod Shop rolls with new TV Show “Rods N Wheels””

  1. I remember this guy and his son from Million Dollar Listing! The parents sold their 50’s or 60’s style home and the son worked with Josh Flagg. I thought the son was trying to be a realtor?!?

    1. According to the press release Discovery channel sent me Billy Derian Jr. was pursuing a real estate career but then decided to do this TV show about cars with his dad I guess. I didn’t know about Million Dollar Listing but I don’t watch much TV.

      It will be interesting to see if this Rods N Wheels show will be successful since there are so many similar shows out there now. Thanks for commenting and the tip Courtney.

      1. Thanks for replying! The minute I saw their commercial I knew it was them! The son was decked out in high fashion suit all the way down to the socks and shoes. He wanted to assist Josh Flagg in selling his parent’s house at the time. The house was fully decked out in 60’s Mad Men style furniture and decor. The dad was pretty creepy and kept making the buyer, a woman, very uncomfortable with his sexual comments. I was wondering what he did for a living to make that much money and why he was obsessed with that style/era. Makes sense now. I just can’t stop laughing at seeing Billy Jr. in the torn off, sleeveless, mechanic costume! Seems so fake!

        1. Let me get this straight, Billy Derian was trying to sell a Mad Men style house on a real estate show with his son as the quasi real estate agent? Kinda weird but I guess the Derians like to be on TV.

          Unsure of what he did to make so much money besides doing other TV shows and running home improvement businesses. Million Dollar Listing doesn’t seem like it was a real show from what I can tell. Rods N Wheels, like I said, feels a bit contrived and fake too. I agree with you there Courtney.

    2. You are right. This is the guy that needed to interview the buyer . . . I’ll end it there. Apparently, the car business is just as lucrative as the real estate business. Did you see that house?

      1. The restoration car business is not as lucrative as real estate. Unless you have a TV show. 🙂

  2. The dumbest show I’ve ever watched. The Derian’s(Blair’s) are reality show whores.

    1. Yeah, wasn’t all that imressed with the show. I wish they showed more of the cars getting built. I think non-car people and gearheads would enjoy that more.

  3. The whole show is a hard to watch train wreck! To call himself the Hot Rod King of California is….well just sad. To all those real hot rod builders here in California, it’s just a slap in the face. I have to ask how a kid that is the son of the “Hot Rod King” not know some of the basics of that Camaro was embarrassing. Boyd and his crew worked as a TV show because he was a King of Hot Rods and his crew know what the hell they were talking about. I think this article was much to kind to this garbage TV.

    1. Train wreck is a bit harsh but it definitely is not the best hot rod and muscle car restoration show that’s been on TV. I don’t recall Billy Derian calling himself the “Hot Rod King” in the first episode but I could be mistaken about that.

      From all the comments and emails I’ve been getting not sure if Rods N Wheels will stay on air. Seems hot rodders are not into this show, like I predicted.

      In terms of how I wrote this review I always try to provide constructive criticism even if I don’t like something or think it is terrible.

      1. Jim Watson says:

        I’m going to be harsh………..Very disappointed in this “Hot Rod” show….didn’t show any building of the cars…. anything worth watching….they seem like they all all pretty boys!…the kid that’s a neat freak….get a shave! The lady’s man….really….didn’t even touch a thing!… Which guy is the lady’s man?…a muscle bound sleeveless floor mopper? … damn shame that I wasted my time on that show….I mean really?….who are these guys?…the professor tuning the 6 x 2 Stromberg setup would’ve been cool!….a couple of revs….vinyl stripes on a ’68 Camaro!….Paint them! Boyd’s rolling in his grave!….Foose, Teutul’s, Rick Dale, Jeese James’ shows were/are awesome….sparks flying, custom body work, paint, fabrication and knowledge….I’ll even watch the Gas Monkeys!….not sorry for my comments……but a true car enthusiast shouldn’t waste their time…..get outside and get to work on your own hot rod! Jim Watson…….N.C…..

  4. Why take a 32 ford a put a chevy motor in it, not good.

    1. David Boling says:

      RIGHT Ford engines in everything

  5. These are the tools that were on million dollar listing. The dad is a weirdo he asked the buyer of his house to wear a tutu
    Made the buyer very uncomfortable. Watch the million dollars episode. This show is going now where fast. Once people realize whats up they will pull the show. Seems anybody can get a show

  6. knucklehead says:

    Brother, this show is so fake it’s insulting to real hot rod builders. Especially the SoCal builders. Good friends of mine. I wish reality tv was actually real instead of this worthless contrived garbage they shovel on us. Crap in crap out. No thanks!

    1. If you want me to interview some real SoCal hot rod builders feel free to have them contact me. I’d be happy to do profiles.

      Keep in mind, if reality TV was too “real” I doubt many people would watch it.

  7. Shop exists, the rest of this show is fake. It made me sick to see lie after lie and call it reality tv. I know most of them, if not, all are scripted but this one is like a day time soap opera.
    The true craftsmen that work at Da Rod Shop had be pissed unless they get paid.
    I guess everyone is attempting to get rich on the reality bandwagon.

    1. So most of the guys at Da Rod Shop that do the car fabrication and work are not on “Rods N Wheels?”

      Most shows need to be scripted or have a game plan when the camera is rolling or it’s chaos. I know from experience and working in media.

  8. David Boling says:

    I agree with everyone that thinks it is crap.The good car shows that were on got into to much advertizing instead of showing what they were doing.I am an old car guy not necessarily hot rods but I get my running and drive them not make them show perefect and drive them once or twice a year.THEY ARE MADE TO BE DRIVEN

  9. David Boling says:

    Also all these realty have employes arguring and fighting JUST FIRE THEM AND GET SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO WORK

    1. Seems most of the Rods N Wheels cast are actors. Nothing wrong with that if they also build cars though.

  10. It seems we have another shake hands and hug show like Count Kustoms, not enough fabrication. Guy in the muscle shirt is just to much, I guess his IQ is .5. Wii never live up to fast n loud. Will not be watching anymore.

  11. For my two cents the only one worth watching is Overhauling.

    1. Overhaulin was a fun show but the whole tricking people to think their car was stolen got old fast. Was a lot of drama and BS in my opinion.

  12. I saw them on million dollar listings too!!! His son seemed to be acting like a gay male in that show, now hes a hot rod builder….. I doubt the kid even knows how to use a drill

    Horrible show, i hope it fails… And im usually not negative like this, but this show is disrespectful to real hot rod builders…claiming to be the “hot rod king of so cal”?? Thats rediculous

  13. Much better show if they would show the process, ala Foose or Coddington

  14. Just watched this last night for the cars. I agree with those who said it is fake. The way the boys sold the Camaro and the Skylark seem way too good to be true. I just can’t believe the auction where they sold the skylark would have had that many high-dollar bidders.

  15. Yep I thought the exact same thing when I saw it today. I could not place, at first, where I had seen him before. Then I remembered and it just made the whole thing seem ridiculous. I mean what has happens to tv nowadays. Reality tv has turned into scripted written episodes. Why would they do that? The whole point of reality tv was it was interesting to watch. Like in a car accident sort of way, and it was cheap as shit and simple to make for production companies. Now they just make up a show, pay writers, pay actors, make it fake as shit, and try and sell it to anyone who will offer. Don’t even get me started on the car repo shows. Seriously. Sadly some ppl actually believe these shows are real. That’s scary.

    1. You can’t expect there to be “Reality TV.” Besides all TV, even shows like Da Rod Shop, have a basic idea of what’s happening before the camera rolls. Producers specifically look for people that don’t mesh well, which creates drama for people to watch or they just tell them what to do.

      It’s not like when The Real World got started. The object is to entertain you and get you to watch. I doubt many people really want to watch real life.

  16. This show BLOWS. 2 week builds are likely pop and swap… Find a junker that matches a project you’ve already finished and film it all one day. Lets check the VINS shall we?

    Only watch this when I need to purge..

  17. Also… Was just watching the vette episode… The wreck they bought had no motor or drive train… When they were at the swap meet they said it was a numbers matching… Even idiots like this wouldn’t claim this if it were not true. So I call bait and switch! The car they “bought” is NOT the car they sold!

  18. It’s sad how so many reality shows aren’t even 50% real and it’s obvious. I remember seeing Billy Jr. on Million Dollar listing (L.A.) a couple years ago trying to sell his parents house, and I think he’s just put in this show for his looks. I also agree that they need to show the work on the car which would make it more interesting, but maybe some of these characters are actually actors anyway who don’t actually work on the car. Who knows lol

    1. Actually Jeff Thistle, one of the guys on the show, is an actor I believe. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t like or appreciate cars though.

  19. This Billy guy was building Ford roadsters a few years ago. I believe the name was B-32. What I remember seeing was nicely built rods but he’s a film flam guy. He got in trouble with DMV doing the registrations. Don’t think I’d take this show or anything he does seriously. Actually it’s scary…….

  20. I don,t know how these idiots have time to film the show and train for the “special olympics” at the same time.

  21. Terrible show. The worst of the worst!

  22. DENNIS SPICER says:


  23. PLEASE PLEASE cancel this show it is freaking pathetic! !!!

  24. Martin Logan says:

    THANK YOU for helping me remember where I knew these guys from – sure enough “Billy D” was the 50s house seller who had to MEET and APPROVE of just the right buyer for his house. He came off like a tool, and next to Josh Flagg that really says something.

  25. I live In Los Angeles…and know for a fact that the cars featured in the show are not restored at that shop…they have a very well know local restorer do the work and then on the show say they did it…shows a total scam….

  26. This show sucked dick. That’s why it was only a few episodes long. The cast sucks. A copycat of fast n loud. Worst show I’ve seen in a long time.

  27. Looks like the show has been canned. I agree it’s seems contrived and very light on actual vehicle work. If Velocity are reading or looking for feedback Car Guys actually like seeing cars being built, we like seeing tools being used and we like creative solutions to problems when it comes to building. They tend to show too much of the ‘guys blowing off steam’ when we don’t even get a chance to see the boil up, that stuff should really be out takes. More real please!! We can tell who the real people are, it’s not something you can manufacture.

    1. It’s a give and take. I think nobody wants to watch just a car being built without some sort of story to the episode. Wouldn’t you agree?

  28. Looks fake and scripted. Not worth watching. I’d never give them a project!

  29. I can’t believe that I just watched a bunch of idiots that don’t even know it’s a ’33-’34, not a 1932. Crock o’ shit!

  30. Paul Buckmann says:

    All you have to do is look at the name of the shop, I mean “DA”, really why not call it were too stupid to spell. The only thing I hate worse than this show is watching all girls garage take parts out of boxes and bolt them on to “customers” cars and call it customized. Put them all on the same night with Will Castro and his Unique crew of parts changers always working on a 15 minute deadline.

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