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

CVRD reopening head office, playgrounds, washrooms and more

Move part of staged reopening plan for all district facilities

Editorial: What comes next for the homeless?

We hope there is a plan in the works to make this housing-for-all push more permanent.

Paintings stolen from Honeymoon Bay studio returned

Hutchings said he received a lot of feedback from the community

3 people found violating court imposed curfews in Cowichan

People are placed on curfews for a variety of public safety reasons.

No parking on Thain Road, Shawnigan police remind

Warmer weather brings complaints near Cobble Hill quarry

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

Most Read