Pimp My Ride? More Like Botch My Ride

Remember Pimp My Ride? What a weird time in history that was. Run-down cars were taken and modified with cotton candy machines and chocolate fountains – random add-ins that, quite frankly, none of their owners wanted in the first place. Oh, and that ridiculously tacky paintwork…

Xzibit / A Car Before and After / Xzibit / Justin Dearinger, Xzibit.
Source: MTV

Diving deep into the show’s nooks and crannies, we found out just how outrageous and fake a lot of it was. In fact, some of the participants had to sell their cars because none of the problems were actually fixed. It just looked pretty (and even that’s debatable).

Here are some horror stories from behind the scenes.

The Participants Had to Follow Strict Rules

Secrets from the show were uncovered only years after it ended (well, I guess faster internet connections and social media have also helped with that). One of the conditions of being on the show was signing a pretty long and wordy contract.

Xzibit in a promo shot for the show.
Source: MTV

The paper dictated what participants were and weren’t allowed to do after being on the show. While it wasn’t like a horrible Disney contract (where the star signs away their rights to be a normal teen), they still weren’t allowed to say that the car was on the show if they tried to sell it afterward.

If They Kept the Car

If they kept the car for themselves, they were free to show it off and talk all they wanted about their experience on the show. If they decided to sell it, they had to keep quiet. There were also rules about which sites could be used to sell the vehicle in the first place.

A before and after photo of a pimped car.
Source: MTV

This was to ensure that the car owners couldn’t inflate the value of the car by saying it was fixed on the show. There were likely other, more serious explanations for this restriction, like trying to prevent audiences from knowing about the shady work that was being done to the vehicle.

Some of the Add-Ins Were Fake

The best part of the show was seeing everything come together – the paintwork, the interior, the wheels. The final moments of each episode were dedicated to one of the workers, usually Mad Mike, who would take the car owner on a mini tour of his brand-new ride.

Mad Mike in a still from the show.
Source: YouTube

The owner got to see all the crazy additions they’d be driving off with. Well, maybe. Some of the upgrades were actually fake and were placed there just for show. Season Four’s participant, Jake Glazier, shared some dark secrets. Read on.

Things Were Added Just for the Cameras

Jake said that his car desperately needed a new muffler. This was a problem that he was able to easily recognize even without fixing cars for a living. But instead of fixing the problem, they installed a fake exhaust pipe to make it seem like the car was supposed to sound that way.

Jake Glazier speaks to the camera.
Source: YouTube

Another participant noticed that the upgrades done to his car were super random and just for the cameras. For example, a robotic arm was installed for no other reason than for looking cool. The arm didn’t really work on its own, it was being controlled by someone backstage.

Malfunctions Right After the Cars Drove Off

Seeing the finished product was truly the best part. The specialists always inserted such cool gadgets into each contestant’s car and seeing how everything came together was part of the fun of watching the show.

A photo of a car from Pimp My Ride.
Source: Pinterest

Unfortunately for the car owners, though, not all the cool-looking additions kept working after they drove away from the shop. Some of them failed within a few short days. Even though the car had been in the garage for months, the work wasn’t actually good.

The TV Screens Stopped Working

One car owner Seth Martino claimed that the TV screens placed in his car stopped working, and the LED lights they installed in his seats were so hot he couldn’t actually drive with them on. In addition, he struggled to keep the wing doors in the back because the mechanism they used blocked any chance of installing seatbelts.

A photo of Seth Martino on Reddit / A close-up on Seth’s pimped car.
Source: Reddit / YouTube

All these mistakes and mishaps might have been forgivable if they fixed up the other issues Martino was having with his car at the time. But they didn’t. It seems like the show just added to his problems.

They Didn’t Fix Any Major Issues

The vehicles might have looked spectacular by the time the car owners drove off with them, but that doesn’t mean they actually ran well. The main reason why producers always had a tow truck on hand was because Pimp My Ride’s mechanics didn’t actually fix any serious mechanical issues.

A still from the show.
Source: YouTube

Need a new transmission? Is your engine run down? No problem, we’ll fix it. Just kidding, we won’t. We’ll make your car look the absolute best, with cool doors and awesome paint. But you won’t be able to actually ride it, sorry.

It’s Truly Disappointing

It’s truly disappointing to hear that Pimp My Ride’s mechanics completely ignored the car’s actual needs. And it’s not like the contestants didn’t tell them about the problems. Everyone on the show knew very well what the right thing to do was.

Xzibit in a promo shot for the tv show.
Source: MTV

But, instead, they ignored the car’s issues and did a cool paint job instead. All they did was make the car look amazing. Some owners said they had to take their car to an actual, functioning garage after the show to get it fixed.

All for Show

To add insult to injury, a lot of the modifications didn’t actually drive off with the car and its owner. Instead, they were kept just for the big reveal – the show’s climax. The owner then had to watch as all those additions were taken away.

Xzibit in a scene from an episode.
Source: YouTube

In extreme cases, where the engine was so bad the car couldn’t be used, the owners had to watch their new “pimped out” car towed away. What’s more, they had to fake their happy reaction, even though, deep down, they were upset.

No Pop-Up Champagne for You

One contestant, Justin Dearinger said that once the cameras were turned off, the show’s producers took away a lot of the cool additions that were added to the car: for example, a pop-up champagne contraption that was taken down right after (because of concerns over drinking and driving and all that jazz).

A picture of Justin Dearinger’s car being towed.
Source: MySpace

His “drive-in” theater was also taken away. While the additions looked great on camera, a lot of them weren’t actually legal. So, the producers just snatched it all away, leaving contestants with a bad engine and some cool paintwork.

They Knew MTV Was Coming

Each episode of the show kicked off with what looked like an audition video, with the contestant complaining about how horrible their car was and how much they desperately needed Pimp My Ride’s crew to come and fix it.

A still from the show.
Source: YouTube

After the audition tape came Xzibit, who went straight to the owner’s house, checked out their lame car and then knocked on their door. When the contestant opened up, their face was usually surprised, and they start tearing up and whatnot. Unsurprisingly, it was all fake.

They Weren’t Sure Whether They Had Won

The contestants had a microphone on them, so they knew that cameras would be waiting outside their door. But while the car owners knew that MTV was going to knock on their door, they didn’t know whether they had been accepted yet.

Xzibit in a still from the tv show.
Source: YouTube

The contestants were told that either a producer was going to meet them at their front door and tell them they hadn’t won. Or, Xzibit would be there, telling them that their broken-down ride was going to be fixed.

A Tow Truck Was Always on Hand

Xzibit loved to crack jokes about driving the run-down cars to West Coast Customs, but, from the looks of this list, it won’t come as a surprise to any of you readers that he didn’t always drive the cars.

A still of Xzibit driving a car to West Coast Customs.
Source: YouTube

Some of the vehicles were in such bad shape that they had to be towed to the garage before they could be worked on. The last thing anyone on the show wanted was for the car to fall apart on the way there.

“Fixed” You Say?

The worst part about this show was that they had a tow truck on hand 24\7, and it was needed at the end of the show when the car was allegedly pimped and ready for a spin. But the tow truck was there in case, well, the car didn’t run (which happened quite a lot).

A car is in a tow truck at the end of an episode.
Source: YouTube

Sometimes the vehicles needed to be towed because of wiring problems, but sometimes the issues were way more severe. Either way, we’re sure the car owners weren’t too glad to see their “fixed” vehicles being towed away from the garage.

The Show Fat-Shamed One Participant

In addition to phony upgrades, the producers of Pimp My Ride also made up some aspects about their contestants. Even though the show is considered “reality,” what the producers really wanted was a good story.

A participant and Xzibit in a still from the show.
Source: MTV

One of the participants on the show, Seth Martino, said that MTV made a laughingstock of his body size. The episode featured Martino showing his car to Xzibit and giving him a walk-through of what was wrong with it. To make it a bit spicier, producers dumped a bunch of candy all over the floor of his car.

They Told Him What to Say

The show’s producers told Martino that he should say something like, “I keep it there in case I get hungry.” And as if that wasn’t demeaning enough, Pimp My Ride’s team of mechanics made sure to install a cotton candy machine in the back of his vehicle.

Seth Martino in a still from the show.
Source: YouTube

Seth Martino felt like they had done that to capitalize on the fact that he was overweight and liked to eat a lot. The really sad part is that he had to fake being happy about it. Yay! A cotton candy machine I never wanted in the first place! Thanks.

They Made the Cars Worse

It’s not just the participants’ backstories that MTV liked to fabricate. The show’s producers also made the car look more dramatically trashed so that the end result would seem even more dramatic too. There’s nothing like a good before and after picture, right?

Xzibit in a still from the show.
Source: YouTube

So, even if a car owner already came with a wrecked-up car, Pimp My Ride’s people would make it look even worse, so the end result would stun the viewers. In other words, producers exaggerated the damage that was there.

They Peeled the Paint on Purpose

In one episode, they peeled the paint of a car to make it look even worse. In addition, they enhanced a dent on the door and removed a bumper that was hanging off. Many of the owners felt insulted by the show’s decision to mess around with their cars.

A still from the show.
Source: YouTube

They felt like MTV was making them come off as these poor, irresponsible, reckless people who didn’t mind driving around in broken-down dump on wheels. The show also edited the footage to make it seem like the participants were horrible drivers.

They Worked on the Cars for Months

The show’s editing makes it look like the car owners are only without their precious vehicle for a short period of time—a week tops! After all, shows like Extreme Makeover build massive houses in seven days.

Mad Mike in a still from the show.
Source: YouTube

But, as it turns out, the shop would keep the run-down vehicles for months before finally returning them to the owner. The people on the show have complained about how Pimp My Ride actually made their lives a lot more difficult.

Participants Weren’t Able to Use Their Cars Anymore

The main reason that people applied to the show in the first place was because their car was all messed up and they needed to fix it so they could go about their daily responsibilities and cruise between errands easily.

A picture of a car from Pimp My Ride.
Source: Pinterest

However, after going on Pimp My Ride, these people found themselves incapable of doing anything on their own and having to rely on public transportation, and if they were lucky enough, on the generosity of their family and friends.

Participants Were Forced to Rent Cars

To keep things fair, MTV’s producers, who realized how inconvenient it would be for the owners to be without their cars for months, found a solution for them instead. They gave them $2,000 to rent a car.

A participant poses next to her pimped car in a still from the show.
Source: Pinterest

That sounds like a decent deal, right? That is, until you remember that the garage worked on those cars for months. If your ride is taken for five to six months, it’s highly unlikely that two thousand dollars will cover all of your rental costs.

Most of the People on the Show Were Young Adults

With all due respect to the two grand the show provided, most of the show’s participants were too young to rent a car in the first place. One participant, Justin Dearinger, revealed that he tried to rent one with the money, but found it impossible.

A still of a participant during an episode.
Source: YouTube

He said that one month alone cost him one thousand dollars. He decided to pocket the money, and instead, found other creative ways to get around. While MTV was getting rich from the ratings, the poor contestants had to make it work for months without their cars.

The Participants Didn’t Spend Much Time With Xzibit

After being on the show, a lot of contestants revealed that the most common question they were asked was – what was Xzibit like? The rapper’s fans wanted to know how the rapper was in person, whether he was chill, funny, serious or a total snob.

A photo of Xzibit sitting in front of a computer.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The thing is that none of the contestants really spent enough time with him to be able to answer that in detail. The time they did spend, though, was usually a lot of fun. Nearly every participant on the show said he was really down-to-earth and funny.

They Only Saw Each Other at the Beginning

Xzibit hung out with the car owners at the beginning of the show, when he came to “pick up” their car and drive it back to the shop, and then at the end, when the big reveal takes place. For the rest of the time, the owners were at home, living their lives.

Xzibit surprises a participant in a still from the show.
Source: Pinterest

So, in total, there were only about two days where contestants could talk to Xzibit. That didn’t leave them much time to get into in-depth conversations. But even though they didn’t spend much time together, he sure left a good impression on them.

Contestants Faked Their Reactions

A lot of rundown vehicles passed through Pimp My Ride’s shop, and with so many cars, there were bound to be at least a few car owners who didn’t like how their ride turned out. However, even if someone genuinely didn’t like the way their car turned out, they still had to pretend they did.

A close-up on a contestant’s facial expression during an episode.
Source: Pinterest

The producers made sure to tape the owners twice. The first was the actual reaction, and the second was an exaggerated performance. And the more outwardly thrilled they seemed, the better.

One Participant Was Told His Reaction Sucked

One of the participants, Jake Glazier, was told that he wasn’t enthusiastic enough. He was coached by the producers to appear happier. Glazier recalled that one of the mechanics walked him around the garage for ten minutes and mentored him.

Jake Glazier in a still from the show.
Source: YouTube

He kept saying that his team had put in all that effort, working on his car for months and that the least they deserved was a thrilled, excited reaction from him. Glazier then put on his best happy face and reacted once more for the cameras.

They Didn’t Have Any Say

A lot of the show’s participants ended up selling their cars when they got them back. Some were disappointed because none of the issues had actually been fixed, while others really hated the paintwork and “fun” additions.

A picture of a car from Pimp My Ride.
Source: YouTube

The main reason they were unsatisfied is because they had no say whatsoever in how they wanted their car to look, or what additions could actually be of value to them. We’re positive that if they had been allowed to share their thoughts, none of them would have rushed to sell their rides.

They Were Briefly Questioned

To their credit, MTV did make an effort to try and figure out what the car owners liked or wanted to be placed in their car. They were questioned about their preferences before the vehicle was taken away.

A still from the show.
Source: YouTube

But the show didn’t HAVE to follow their guidelines. Most of the time, they didn’t. If one of the mechanics didn’t agree with what the participant had in mind, they simply ignored it and carried on as they thought was right.

The Cars Attracted the Police

Driving around in a car that was fixed by Pimp My Ride’s crew came with a price – attention, and a lot of it. So, yes, it might be fun to get looks from people driving by, nods of the head and smiles, and even some laughs.

A photo of police coming towards a car.
Source: YouTube

But there’s one particular group you don’t want to attract while driving, the police. The pimped-out cars, with their loud and proud paintwork and impressive doors, attracted police officers like bees to honey.

Justin Was Stopped Nearly Every Day

One participant, Justin Dearinger, complained that he was pulled over by police nearly every day just because they wanted to ask him about his car. Imagine, you’re driving along, minding your own business, when an officer pulls you over.

A picture of Justin Dearinger’s car.
Source: YouTube

The first thing that comes to mind is – I did something wrong, right? But in fact, all the officer wants to do is to talk about your pimped-out ride. Fortunately for Dearinger, he said that the cops were always polite and let him go right after their brief talk.

They Used Staged Houses

If the police ever followed a participant from Pimp My Ride back to their crib, they might have ended up surprised. While some participants were picked from their actual houses, some weren’t.

Xzibit in a still from the show.
Source: YouTube

In some cases, MTV used staged house to shoot the opening scene of the episode. This happened for a few reasons. One, if the car owner lived with their family and the house was crowded, they preferred taking them to a quiet, private home of their own.

The Had to Get the Right Shot

The last thing the show’s producers wanted was for someone’s nephew to run around the house when Xzibit knocked on the door. So, the staged houses ensured that the scene was quiet and that the person answering the door would be the participant and not their mother.

Xzibit in an opening scene of the show.
Source: YouTube

It’s unclear how many staged houses MTV used, but it would be a fun experiment to go back and watch all the episodes to try and see if they used the same house in multiple seasons. In retrospect, we knew some of the houses were too good to be true!

Not Everything Was Scripted

While the houses and surprised reactions may have been staged, the show itself wasn’t all scripted. Having discovered that so many things were fake, we’re truly a bit surprised that the dialogue in the shop wasn’t.

A still of West Coast Customs.
Source: YouTube

That isn’t to say that the producers didn’t influence what happened in specific parts. After all, each person had a storyline, so they had to stick to their backstory to make things believable and interesting.

They Gave Them Topics to Talk About

To keep the dialogue flowing, the producers gave the contestants specific topics to stick to and discuss. That way, they made sure that no one rambled on about boring things. As long as they stuck to the topic, they were golden.

Xzibit in a promo shot for the show.
Source: MTV

So, while the dialogue didn’t have a specific script, it did have certain guidelines that the participants had to adhere to. Not that that bothered anyone too much, I believe none of us watched the show for the dialogue anyway.

One Participant Spent Another 20K on His Car

Taking his vehicle in for extra work actually resulted in utter disaster for one of the participants of Pimp My Ride, Justin Dearinger. Initially, he wasn’t too happy with how they modified his car, but eventually, it grew on him.

Justin’s car before the show / Justin’s car after pimp my ride.
Source: YouTube

Astonishingly, Justin ended up adding nearly $20,000 worth of modifications to his ride after he got it back from the show. Finally, after some more fixing, he got his car the way he wanted.

But It Caught Fire…

Justin’s car eventually caught on fire. This wasn’t MTV’s fault, just to make things clear. The blaze was caused by some bad wiring that was installed by one of the garages that Justin went to after being on the show.

Justin’s car burst into flames.
Source: YouTube

Thankfully, Justin wasn’t harmed or anything, though he was in the vehicle when things started to go downhill. As soon as he saw smoke, he pulled over and called the fire department that stopped the situation from getting any worse. The car couldn’t be saved.

They Tried to Talk One Guy Into Dumping His Girlfriend

The show’s producers might not have scripted the dialogue between the participants and Xzibit (even if they surely scripted the mechanics over in West Coast Customs and GAS); however, sometimes the stories they told the car owners weren’t totally accurate.

Jake Glazier in a still from the show.
Source: YouTube

Apart from giving them a topic to stick to, like loving food to the point they scattered some on their car floor, producers would also manufacture backstories. In one case, they convinced a guy named Jake Glazier to dump his girlfriend before appearing on the show.

Being Single Attracts More Viewers

The producers told Jake that if he were single, he could say something like “I need a modified ride so I can attract hotties and stop being lonely.” But in reality, Jake wasn’t lonely. He had a girlfriend.

The cast from West Coast Customs and Xzibit pose for a portrait.
Source: Pinterest

Obviously, Glazier refused to cooperate because he didn’t think it made any sense. In response, a representative from MTV, Larry Hochberg, claimed that he wasn’t aware that anything of the sort had happened.

How Were They Chosen?

Pimp My Ride makes it look as though the clips at the start of each episode were an audition tape that participants filmed to get MTV to come and pimp their ride. In fact, that so-called audition video was shot after they were already chosen.

A contestant in a still from the show.
Source: YouTube

So, how were they chosen to be on the show? A former participant, Justin Dearinger, said he went to a casting call along with around two hundred other run-down cars. After that, they sent him to a final audition with fifteen other people.

They Were Lied To

Justin and the other fifteen people were told that whoever made the best video would be chosen. But in reality, all of them were already picked for the show. They just wanted to bring out the best of them, and if that meant encouraging them through lies, so be it.

A still from the show.
Source: YouTube

Justin reported that it took about a week and a half for them to call back. In conclusion, yes, there was a video involved in the process, but it’s surely not the high-quality, well-edited product we saw at the beginning of each episode.

Pimp My Ride Hurt Xzibit’s Musical Career

Xzibit would later claim that he didn’t profit as much as others from the show. Moreover, the show affected his career and legacy. After the show, a lot of people stopped caring about his music because they only viewed him as a goofy host.

A picture of Xzibit visiting MTV’s TRL set.
Photo by James Devaney/WireImage/Getty Images

“I felt like it hurt my career,” the rapper revealed; “I wasn’t able to tour, I wasn’t able to continue building Xzibit as an MC. All of a sudden, it became almost bigger than the music. It was worldwide, it was on MTV, it was on these networks that were pushing it around the world, more than they were pushing my music.”

Xzibit Wasn’t Earning a Lot

Despite how well the show did, the MC didn’t making a lot of money from it at all. In 2007, Xzibit made $497,175 as the host and star of the show, but laterhis income dropped to just $67,000 a year after it was canceled.

Xzibit poses for the press.
Photo by J. Quinton/WireImage/Getty Images

He ultimately filed for bankruptcy and was angry about how little he made compared to how much the show’s producers and the people backstage were making. Looks like the participants weren’t the only ones who felt ripped off.