It's easy for a lot of people to like the dysfunctional but lovable redneck rebels of the Discovery Channel's car show Misfit Garage-- for at least a couple of episodes, anyways.
Their nutty adventures stretch viewer credibility far too often, but folks do get a sense that they are talented, genuine car lovers and that they are honest about their automotive passions.
They do seem to know what they are doing-- in a brash, careless, redneck-y sort of way.
After a while, however, all of the on-set fighting, cussing, and yellinh tends to jangle some folks' nerves. However, it’s clearly a case of different strokes for different folks, as Misfit Garage continues to plug along with a relatively strong fan base, and is now in its sixth season.
The show’s fan base seems to have held despite the fact that the crew/cast members come and go and— well, mostly they go.
Only two founding partners of the shop, Fired Up Garage, featured in the show remain in their posts. However, at least the departing personnel usually leave in entertaining ways— like the way former partner Jordan Butler walked out, issuing a string of colorful, bleeped-out pronouncements.
At times, the antics at Fired Up Garage all make for a Texas-sized bucket of weirdness. That means that it’s time to put some Black Angus ribs on the grill, polish our Tony Lama boots, and examine some of the incidents and speculations that you may not have noticed about Misfit Garage.
With that said, here are the 15 Behind-The-Scenes Secrets About Misfit Garage.
15 The founding partners were fired from Gas Monkey Garage
Gas Monkey is the custom auto shop featured on the long-running hit show Fast N’ Loud, which is now in its fourteenth season on the Discovery Channel.
According to the tea that Smith spilled to TMZ way back in 2014, the embarrassing incident all came down to a Rolls-Royce owned by Richard Rawlings, the combative proprietor of Gas Monkey Garage.
Smith and Butler allowed a visitor to pose for a photo near the Rolls, which angered their shop manager, who berated them severely.
Smith swore at the manager and the pair were then dumped on the spot, with Rawlings claiming later to TMZ that they were always troublemakers at his shop.
In a video featured on the Discovery site, Butler lamented that the incident was the only time he had ever been fired. He also said that the way the shop manager handled the issue was blatantly unreasonable.
”There’s no reason to get fired just for calling your boss an a**hole,” he complained.
Smith, on the other hand, said that getting fired from Gas Monkey was “the best thing that ever happened to me.” He also compared himself grandiosely to Bill Gates and other successful people who’ve been fired at some point in their careers.
After being fired, Smith and Butler partnered with two other Texas auto shop whizzes, Scot McMillan (a former Gas Monkey employee as well) and Thomas Weeks, to star in Misfit Garage, which debuted on Discovery in October, 2014.
14 The name 'Fired Up Garage' is a tacky double entendre
If you use the shortened form of the name (which everyone eventually does), it comes out as "FU Garage." However, that’s not a coincidence.
According to an email exchange that Tom Smith conducted with the site Hollywood Soapbox in 2016, the inspiration came from a sign that Smith installed on his toolbox three decades ago.
"I have a sign that I made on the side of my toolbox around 1988 that reads 'F&U Auto Service' with the caption: 'Our customers have been satisfying us since 1973,'" he wrote in his email to Soapbox.
That's what Tom Smith says, but it's probably a good bet that the “FU” could also be interpreted as a not-so-subtle message to Smith’s former boss, the “dastardly” Richard Rawlings over at Gas Monkey Garage.
Meanwhile, if you’re wondering where the very apt name of Misfit Garage comes from, Smith has an answer to that also.
He claims that it was the inspired choice of the wife of the show’s executive producer, Eddie Rohwedder. Considering how often the Misfit Garage crew seems to do everything by the seat of their pants and how they can’t stop arguing about trivial issues, it looks like Mrs. Rohwedder was spot on.
13 Fired Up Garage has lost a lot of its staff
Since the series debuted in 2014, the garage has lost former founding partners Scot McMillan and Jordan Butler, plus a few non-partner garage monkeys along the way as well. The latest defection is Kevin Clark, who, in the May 2nd premiere episode of the current season, announced that he was also leaving.
“It’s just time to move on,” Clark said on the show, but he also made it clear that he was getting tired of all of the Misfit drama.
That sounds familiar, as McMillan also got sick of all the fussing and went off to concentrate on his own business, Scot Rods Garage. Meanwhile, Butler left in a hissy fit at the beginning of season 4 because he didn't want to take on Clark as a new partner or move to a bigger shop space.
To make matters worse, last year the Misfit crew almost lost John Klump, who replaced Butler after he walked out.
According to Hidden Remote, Klump started having “second thoughts” about his role on the show after being confronted with the task of fixing a super-dilapidated 1959 Chevy El Camino that he thought was hopeless.
Why do the Misfit boys run a revolving personnel door? Is it because they seem do everything the hard way and never stop arguing and yelling at each other? Who would object to working conditions like those? Hopefully they manage to figure things out in the future.
12 Fired Up Garage’s 'feud' with Richard Rawlings is mostly fabricated
Rawlings pops up often on Misfit Garage to taunt and harass the crew and generally make things difficult for Fired Up Garage.
He is depicted as a villain who gleefully undermines the business activities on the show. In real life, however, he is actually the landlord of FU Garage’s shop space, who has a vested interest in making sure that the company's business prospers.
Rawlings is also listed as an executive producer in the credits for the show, just below Eddie Rohwedder’s name. In addition, he has a separate credit for “creative talent,” whatever that means.
To top it off, Rawlings allegedly gets an estimated $22,000 for each of his appearances on Misfit Garage, according to NetworthMag.
Those connections haven’t gone unnoticed by the viewers, though. As one poster on the Vintage Mustang Forum made clear, for example, there’s no reason to buy Fired Up Garage’s alleged “feud” with Richard Rawlings.
“The kick off of Misfit Garage took it to the next level of completely staged antics. If there was any doubt, I noticed that the executive producer of Misfit Garage is... Richard Rawlings,” he poster stated.
With all of those show credits presumably adding paychecks to his bottom line, it looks like Rawlings is actually making plenty of money off of his shop’s “grudge” against Fired Up Garage.
11 Fired Up Garage partners might make more money from the show than they do from flipping cars
According to NetworthMag, the main crew members allegedly make between $17,000 and $25,000 dollars per episode.
Yet, the FU Garage partners rarely seem to clear that much profit individually from the builds that they do on each show.
For example, in season 4, the Misfit crew rebuilt a 1961 Ford Econoline pick-up truck, setting an estimated budget of $25,000 for completing the build. Yet, the partners ended up selling the rebuilt, orange-and-white Econoline to actor Danny Trejo-- of Machete movie fame— for only $27,000.
That left a profit of only $2,000 to be split presumably among all of the partners.
It’s tough to see how all of that work paid off financially for such a challenging and elaborate build. However, partner Thomas Weeks said that it might be worth it for the publicity that Fired Up Garage would get from selling the tricked-out truck to a well-known Hollywood figure.
To sweeten the deal, Trejo promised to park the Econoline in front of one of his popular Los Angeles-area restaurants, which are called Trejo’s Tacos.
Unfortunately, the episode didn’t follow up to see if Trejo actually made good on his promise. He did seem very happy with the bargain that he got on the cool ride, though.
10 Some fans have caught Misfit Garage faking jobs for the camera
It’s no secret among reality show fans that many shows are staged or scripted. Fast N’ Loud has stretched viewer credibility numerous times, according to this expose from the car site Hot Rod.
Misfit Garage has the same kind of credibility problem among some ardent car fans. For example, a poster on Vintage Mustang Forum devoted an entire thread to debunking the show.
The fan claimed that in one episode, a Misfit “flunkie” was filmed painting a drive shaft near a high-running fan, throwing the whole painting project into chaos.
“Naturally… he could barely get any paint on the driveshaft and the freshly painted project on which all their fortunes rely. Predictably, the overspray is now a great threat to their project being [completed] on time. Fortunately, the detailer can save their special paint job and everybody lives happily ever after,” the fan stated.
The poster then subsequently alleged: “First, if there's such a strong breeze that you can barely get any paint on the object you're painting and you don't move somewhere else, you're probably not smart enough to hold a can of paint. Second, the can is clearly Plasti-Dip, [which is] not real paint. Nobody paints a driveshaft with Plasti-Dip. But they do paint things where they want the paint to be easily removable, like staged overspray on your project's special paint job.”
Ouch. Maybe the Misfit boys need to be more careful about hiding the labels on their paint cans?
9 Jordan Butler seems to have dropped out of sight since leaving the show
The former founding partner of Fired Up Garage still updates his public Facebook page occasionally, but otherwise, he seems to be keeping a pretty low profile. Jordan Butler quit Misfit Garage in season 4 because he did not want to take on a new partner or move to a new shop space.
Apparently, the split from his former partners on Fired Up Garage was even more contentious than depicted on the show.
He wrote on his Facebook page a year ago that he hasn’t had the desire to touch a car in a long time, especially “after all the bs with fired up (sic).” That changed, he said, when he started working on a truck project with his 10-year-old son last year.
He also wrote on the same thread that he had no idea what was going on with the show, hinting that he doesn’t really keep up with it or the crew members anymore.
As a former semi-professional drag racer, maybe Butler has other irons in the fire. His Discovery bio states that he started drag racing weekly at local strips while still in high school, earning up to a $1000 per win. He claims that he never lost a race.
Many viewers would like to see Butler back on Misfit Garage or another car show, so who knows what the future will bring.
8 Sue Martin From ASM Upholstery doesn't get along with Fired Up Garage
Yu-Lan “Sue” Martin is the owner of ASM Upholstery, the shop that does custom upholstery for both Misfit Garage and Fast N’ Loud. She’s famous for yelling “Why [do] you bring me junk?” at her car show clients, whom she sometimes calls “a** monkeys.”
However, she wasn’t around for the premiere episode of the new season of Misfit Garage, and some fans have been wondering if it’s because she is holding a grudge against Fired Up Garage for almost screwing up a job they did for her at the end of season 3.
She hired them to restore a 1956 Ford truck and they were very late on the job. Martin got mad and threatened to bring in Richard Rawlings to finish it, which wasn’t exactly what the Misfit boys wanted to hear.
Thankfully, it all worked out in the end, but tempers flared and feelings were ruffled. At one point, Martin even threatened to hit the Misfit boys with a wrench.
As an immigrant from Taiwan, Martin bought a bankrupt upholsterer for just $4,500 and worked night and day to build up the business and obtain a loyal customer base, even sleeping in her shop to get her jobs done. No wonder she expected her truck to be done on time.
7 Tom Smith once drove a car into a lake on purpose
Tom Smith once drove a car into a lake, and what's more is that the car was an AMC Gremlin, a model from the '70s that often turns up on lists of the worst cars ever made.
A Gremlin, really? According to Smith, the much-maligned vehicle was actually a great car “that ran every good.”
When he got tired of the car, however, he decided to give the Gremlin a “burial at sea.” So Smith and a friend tried to create an amphibious vehicle out of the car, thinking that they could make it float on water.
They built and attached a wooden boat-type structure around the Gremlin, complete with prow and bow.
Once the additions to the Gremlin were complete, Smith decided to jump the car from a boat ramp into a local lake.
However, the modifications broke up on impact, and the Gremlin started to sink. The full story is posted on Fast N’ Loud’s Facebook page, including the fact that Smith had to kick out a window to escape the sinking Gremlin.
As a matter of fact, it looks like car disasters started happening to Smith at a very young age.
When he was just 10 years old, for example, he went joyriding in a 1974 Pontiac Grandville and crashed it into a police car. It’s probably a good idea to take the bus if Tom Smith ever offers you a ride.
6 John Klump’s proudest achievement is a van that features its own flamethrower
Painter John Klump started working in his Dad’s auto shop at the tender age of just four years old. He’s worked on a lot of fascinating projects since then, but the one closest to his heart is probably a one-of-a-kind vehicle known as the “Batvan.”
The unusual vehicle is a custom-built, Batman-themed van that was designed by the late George Barris. (Barris was the legendary Hollywood car-customizer who created the famous “Batmobile” for the campy 1960s Batman TV series.)
Featuring a slick black body with bright orange-red trim, the Batvan sports bat wings soaring out of each side. The Batvan also boasts a built-in flamethrower (which is real) and a side mount for a machine gun (which is fake), as well as a spot for a missile (which is also fake) on the top.
The original unfinished van was found rusting in a field by Rick Crocker, a local classic car dealer, who hired Klump to help finish it.
In 2014, Klump, who has his own paint shop called Radical Restorations, told the Dallas News that it took three-and-half years to complete the Batvan.
Klump further told the News that he “put his whole heart and soul into that thing.” The Joker and the Riddler apparently couldn’t be reached for comment, however.
5 5- Misfit Garage raced against a weird monster vehicle called the 'Gonorail'
Earlier this year, the FU Garage team rebuilt a classic ‘65 Ford Mustang into a slick racing machine for Motor Mega Week, Discovery’s car show competition.
They were pretty “fired up” about their prospects for winning— after all, their competition was a bizarre vehicle built out of an old train car that was rescued from a state fairground’s monorail system.
The massive, so-called "Gonorail" was the car entered into the competition by Sean “Farmtruck” Whitley and Jeff “AZN” Bonnett from Street Outlaws, Discovery’s popular street racing show.
In the first best-of-three race, the Gonorail, driven by Farmtruck, beat John Klump and the Mustang handily, as noted on the Street Outlaws website.
The FU Garage team, however, triumphed in the second race, with Kevin Clark and the Mustang prevailing over AZN and the Gonorail, which went off track and was damaged.
Technically, Fired Up then won the overall competition, as the Gonorail couldn’t be fixed in time for the third race. The Misfit team also did better against the Street Outlaws than their alleged nemesis, Richard Rawlings.
The Fast N’ Loud star’s 2015 Dodge Challenger, which was driven by professional racer Alex Laughlin, lost two races straight to the Street Outlaws in a best-of-three contest. No doubt good times were had by all at Fired Up Garage that night.
4 Richard Rawlings once implied that Thomas Weeks was 'a Michael Jackson impersonator'
Misfit partner Thomas Weeks has an injury to the base of his neck that prompts him to wear a single, special glove on one hand. The glove helps with a painful condition that stems from a herniated disc— the result of Weeks’s past racing activities.
The condition makes his arm feel numb a lot and also makes his hand feel like "it's in a bucket of ice," he told viewers on the season 4's episode 4 of the show.
Never one to be celebrated for his tact, Richard Rawlings once made fun of Weeks’s injury.
In 2016, he tweeted: “Why is Thomas wearing one glove? Does he moonlight as a Michael Jackson impersonator?”
Weeks refused to let Rawlings get his goat and handled the situation humorously. He later joked about his connection to The Gloved One in his own twitter feed by posting a picture of Michael Jackson next to a photo of himself wearing his glove, under the title: “Who Wore It Better? Me!”
Weeks also suffered another horrible car-related injury as a child, where he fell on a car’s transmission rod while his Dad was working underneath, according to his Discovery bio.
The fall jammed a rod through his mouth and throat, cutting his chin. His parents rushed him to the hospital with blood pouring out of his mouth. The life of an auto shop man can be extremely dangerous.
3 There was a rumor that Aaron Kaufman almost joined the team
In December 2016, when Aaron Kaufman, the highly respected long-time mechanic/fabricator from Fast N’ Loud announced that he was leaving that show, rumors were flying that he was a natural fit for Misfit Garage.
According to a hopeful opinion piece on Fansided by Martin Feigen last year: “If Aaron decides to move to Misfit Garage, he would instantly be in charge."
He continued: "He would be in a position to purchase a controlling interest in the fledgling shop. His ownership would immediately take it from an upstart shop to a serious competitor to Gas Monkey Garage. Misfit Garage would no longer be a joke, it would be an equal from Aaron’s first day.”
While it’s unclear as of this writing if Fired Up Garage actually talked to Kaufman, if they didn’t, the crew certainly missed out on a great chance to bring in Kaufman and give their show a much-needed shot in the arm.
Adding the bearded wonder to their partner roster this year would have been especially beneficial in the light of Kevin Clark’s recent announcement that he is leaving Misfit Garage— a move that, as of the current season's premiere episode, leaves the garage short of one partner.
However, Kaufman instead ended up with his own new Discovery show, Shifting Gears, which premiered in February during Discovery’s Mega Motor Week.
2 Fired Up Garage was originally created to compete with Gas Monkey Garage
In the beginning, the FU Garage team hoped to be a real competitor for the more established Gas Monkey Garage and become the “best of the best” for street hot rod builds.
They even started up their own food truck to compete with Gas Monkey’s booming restaurant business.
This year, they did show some spunk when they beat a team from the Street Outlaws in the Mega Race 2 competition and savored the defeat of Gas Monkey Garage at the hands of another Outlaws team in Gas Monkey’s own Mega Race challenge.
However, there’s been a lot of drama from the constant personnel changes at FU Garage, and it doesn’t help that the shop still seems to be run by the seat of its pants.
Meanwhile, Gas Monkey has moved into ever more higher-end builds, while FU Garage seems to just keep plugging away at anything that comes across their doorstep.
According to Jennifer Borama of TV Overmind, the crew needs to work on five things in order to improve their competitiveness. One of the most important things, she wrote, is that the Misfit boys need to stop turning cherished vintage models into gassers:
“One of the worst, if not the absolute worst, episodes (sic) of this show was when one of the crew decided to chop up a ’57 Chevy to turn it into a gasser instead of a traditional hot rod. There are sentiments that are automatically associated with certain cars, and the ’57 Chevy certainly deserved more respect than it was given,” Borama stated.
1 Some fans believe that it might just be a marketing scheme for Richard Rawlings
Rawlings has his fingers in a lot of pies these days. In addition to Fast N’ Loud and Misfit Garage, he introduced another show on Discovery last year, called Garage Rehab.
Then there’s his booming Gas Monkey Bar and Grill restaurant business, and the tie-in merchandise for his shows. He’s also done TV commercials for Dodge cars, which is no doubt why he entered a Dodge Challenger in this year’s Mega Race.
For all we know, the story arc about Tom Smith and Jordan Butler being fired from Gas Monkey Garage could have been simply a staged set-up to create an excuse for a new Rawlings show.
Even the Misfit Garage food truck scheme could have been a set-up for Rawlings to appear on the show and promote his “better” restaurant business.
Certainly, many car show fans and press seem to think that the Rawlings TV empire has become increasingly fake.
For one thing, every episode seems to be variations on a single plot, wrote Freddy Hernandez of the Jalopnik a few years ago.
“If you watch an episode of Discovery’s breakout hit Fast N’ Loud because you’re a glutton for punishment like I am, you’ll notice that the first priorities of the show are 1) to introduce the show’s characters -- all portraying a different one-dimensional stereotype -- and 2) manufacture dram,” Hernandez wrote.
Misfit Garage, Hernandez added, marches “in lockstep with this paint-by-numbers technique of film making.”
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Misfit Garage? If so, let us know in the comments!