From rusted to restored, new reality TV show puts Shuswap on display

Nestled in the heart of the Shuswap in B.C.’s Interior lies a classic car lover’s dream: a sprawling collection of 400 iconic vehicles just waiting to be restored to their former glory as kings of the road.

It’s the collection of Mike Hall, a resident of the small community of Tappen near Salmon Arm, and it’s set to make a debut on the small-screen as the focus of the History Channel television show Rust Valley Restorers.

Mike Hall definitely stands out in the small community, getting his nickname, the “Rasta Blasta,” from his long blonde dreadlocks and his day-job blasting rock faces with explosives. His car collection ranges in condition from wrecked, rusted chassis housing valuable parts to near-mint collector’s pieces just needing a finishing touch.

The cars are as varied in their condition as they are in make and model.

Hall has been amassing this collection for 40 years, and has been looking for people interested in restorations to help offload some of the surplus. After making it public online that his massive collection was open for bidding, he soon found a flood of interest coming in which grabbed the attention of auto magazines and the online car community.

“I put my whole place up for sale, a 40-year collection of over 400 cars, and it kind of went nuts!” he says. “I had people calling me from England and the U.S., all over the world. I thought we had the place sold a few times to guys from Switzerland and the States. From that exposure, five or six people wanted to do a show with us.”

Related: Tappen resident seeks classic car collectors for new TV show

Following this, the collection was documented by several publications in the car community, such as Roadkill. When a viral video snowballed the popularity of the car collection, the idea of a television show came up at the beginning of 2018. After close to eight months of filming between the day job – blasting rocks with dynamite, Rust Valley Restorers is set to premiere Dec. 6 on the History Channel.

“It was definitely a different experience,” comments Connor Hall, Mike’s son and business partner. “It was a little weird getting used to having a camera in your face all the time.”

Now in semi-retirement, Mike is taking this chance to live out his dream of restoring classic cars while Connor focuses on the family business.

“Basically, I worked all year all over the province and I kept buying and buying. And then finally, I am 62 and I said ‘what am I going to do with 400 cars?’ My whole dream is I was going to retire and build cars, and that is the emphasis of the show: If not now, when?” Mike says. “I have seen my buddies who collect cars and run into health problems and their family is left with a bunch of stuff they don’t want or need, and I don’t want to do that to my wife and kids because they will curse me for eternity! So I figured, let’s build the place, start the show and give it a shot.”

While also featuring as a fixture on Rust Valley Restorers, Connor is also busy with the rock-blasting business.

“My dad sits at home and plays with his cars and I go to work and make him the money to afford to do so,” Connor jokes.

Some of the cars which feature on the show were restored for clients, while others were done out of a labour of love. Without spoiling anything too much, Mike noted they worked on everything from a 1940s-era Dodge Power Wagon to big block Chevelles, learning on the fly just how complex it was all going to be.

“There are always more problems than you can prepare for. It’s like unravelling a sweater, you just want to pull that one out- of-place thread and then you look down and you have 500 feet of yarn at your feet,” Mike says. “It’s been an extreme learning curve. They say you can’t buy experience but it’s very expensive to obtain, and I got a lot of expensive experience this year.”

Related: Photos: Classic Antique Car Show at R.J. Haney Heritage Village

Despite the huge size of the collection, both Mike and Connor can agree on something they would love to have to round out their collection: a 1957 to ‘67 split-window Corvette. And, while most of the collection is open for new owners, Mike stands firm on a few of his all-time favourites.

“In 400 cars there is some gems and some granite boulders, and when people come to buy the gems sometimes I am like Charleton Heston: you will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands,” Mike says. “Even if I don’t drive some of my cars, I just look at them and it puts a huge grin on my face. Even if it never moves, I can just go and rub the hood. It’s a weird thing.”

The majority of the show is set in and around Tappen, and both Mike and Connor are happy to get the chance to showcase their community to the world, incorporating some of their friends and other local collectors into the mix as well.

“I think it’s cool we are doing something here. You watch TV and all you see is these car shows in Las Vegas or California or down south in the U.S., but they don’t have anything in Canada,” Connor says.

However, both Mike and Connor note that it’s tough to stay low-key about their latest project in the little town of Tappen.

“I get called Hollywood about 10 times a day,” Connor says with a laugh.

“It is getting kind of freaky. I can’t go anywhere in Tappen without people making jokes like ‘hey, there goes the superstar,’” Mike adds. “I just say, don’t worry, I am not going to change, I am always going to be the same a**hole I always was.”

Rust Valley Restorers premieres Thursday, Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. PST on the History Channel.


 

@Jodi_Brak117
jodi.brak@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
COVID-19 exposure notice shuts down Hazelton school

Closure to last for one week and school is to be sanitized

MacCarthy GM staff and customers raised $700 for Pink Shirt Day. (Submitted Photo/Mudit Mehta)
Terrace dealership raises hundreds of dollars for Pink Shirt Day

MacCarthy GM staff and customers raised $700 for anti-bullying initiatives

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Most Read