Everyone who is a certain age remembers the excitement of Pimp My Ride—basically the first reality TV show involving cars that really skyrocketed in the United States. It had everything: a famous rapper host, awesome rides, great stories, and drama. Pimp My Ride was the “it” show in the mid-2000s.
For the first four seasons, Xzibit would have cars worked on by West Coast Customs, and after the fourth season, they went to Galpin Auto Sports. These companies do great work, and you can see some of the outstanding modifications they do to the show.
But not everything was all peaches and rainbows. There are lots of secrets about the show that MTV execs don’t want you to know. Behind the scenes, there was a lot of manipulation happening on Pimp My Ride.
Here are 20 secrets about Pimp My Ride that execs want to hide.
20 Restrictions On Selling Your Car
Anyone who managed to get on Pimp My Ride had to sign a lengthy contract that contained all sorts of restrictions on selling your car after it was worked on. For instance, participants weren’t allowed to say their car was on Pimp My Ride when selling. Besides the gag order, there were restrictions on what sites sellers could use so that people couldn’t try to inflate the value of their car.
19 Fake Upgrades
It was always cool to see the cars at the end, and how spiffy they looked, but the work wasn’t always functional. Some of the upgrades on the cars were straight-up fake, and were only there to look good on the cameras. For example, Jake Glazier from season four needed a new muffler, but instead the shop installed a fake exhaust pipe. Others also noticed fake upgrades, such as a robotic arm on one contestant’s car that was added for no reason.
18 Shoddy Finished Products
Like many of the cars shown on these reality shows, the finished product wasn’t always all it was cracked up to be. Even though Pimp My Ride had tons of specialists and sweet gadgets, not all of the additions to the cars kept working after the cameras turned off. The TV screens in Seth Martino’s car stopped working within days. The gull-wing doors they’d installed had to be removed because they prevented Martino from using seat belts in the back seats.
17 They Didn’t Fix Mechanical Issues
No matter how crappy a participants car was going in, they looked a lot cooler coming out. But that didn’t mean they ran better—in fact, the Pimp My Ride specialists didn’t fix any mechanical issues on the cars they worked on. New transmissions, engines, and other things that contestants actually needed weren’t included. Cool doors and paint jobs? Sure. But that doesn’t do much for someone who needs a new engine!
16 Shaming And Bullying
One of the worst legacies of Pimp My Ride that execs don’t want you to remember is that time they fat-shamed and bullied a participant. Seth Martino claimed that MTV went out of its way to make fun of his size. Before his walkthrough, producers dumped candy all over the floors of the seats, which weren’t his. They even went further by adding a cotton-candy machine in the back of his car.
15 Modifications For Publicity
Not only did Pimp My Ride not fix any mechanical issues, and sometimes gave participants gadgets that stopped working, but they often added modifications for the big reveal that were then removed before the owner got to take the car home. Contestant Justin Dearinger said they took away a lot of the stuff that was featured on his car, such as a popup champagne contraption and a “drive-in” theater.
14 Participants Weren’t Surprised
Contrary to what the show would have you believe, participants knew that MTV and Xzibit were coming to their house beforehand. After “convincing” MTV to pimp their ride, Xzibit then goes to the owner’s house, checks out the car, and knocks on their door. The person looks shocked! But the person already had a mic on them, and there’s already a camera crew in their house! Even though contestants knew MTV would be there, they didn’t always know Xzibit would be.
13 Tow Trucks On Hand
Some of the cars that went into West Coast Customs had to be towed from the house, which makes sense if the car’s in bad shape. They didn’t want to damage it or make it worse. But producers also admitted that a tow truck was pretty much always available for AFTER the reveal, when the cars are supposed to be fixed and modified, just in case they didn’t run. That doesn’t speak very well to the “specialists’” skills, does it?
12 Making The Cars Look Worse Beforehand
It’s no surprise that MTV liked to embellish backstories to make the contestants seem way worse off than they were, but they also liked to make the cars that were chosen look worse than they were. Contestants didn’t mind, because they’d be getting a brand new, spiffy looking car, right? One example is when they used aircraft remover to make the peeling paint on a car look even worse. They also removed the bumper and made a dent much harsher.
11 They Kept Cars For Months
Judging by the pace of the show, you’d expect that it would take a weekend, maybe a week at the most for these cars to get worked on, right? Well, you’d be wrong. Editing made the show look like it happened in short periods, but West Coast Customs and Galpin Auto Sports could keep cars for weeks or even months before finally giving them back to the owner. That’s a lot of days of rentals!
10 Embellished And Fabricated Backstories
Pretty much all reality shows do this, but Pimp My Ride was one of the first and worst culprits. In order to create more drama and appeal, MTV would embellish backstories and even fabricate entire events that happened in the lives of contestants. Some of the stories were based on reality, but not always. Either way, the stories usually missed the mark.
9 Participants Had To Rent Cars
This is both a bad and a good thing. Obviously participants had to rent cars when theirs were in the shop (especially after MTV added extra damage to the cars), and MTV didn’t give owners a replacement car. But they DID give them $2,000 to rent a car with. That just shows you how long they expected to keep cars—weeks, not days. And if the car was gone for a month or more, then the owners had to rent on their own dime. Some rental companies even refused to rent to participants at all!
8 Xzibit Wasn’t Around Much
One of the highlights of the show was the time that participants got to spend with Xzibit. Everyone had great things to say about him—he was nice, cordial, and funny. Unfortunately, participants didn’t get to spend much time with him. He was usually only there at the beginning, choosing stage, and at the end, with the big reveal. Other than that, contestants weren’t talked to during the months it took to fix their cars.
7 Participants Had To Fake Their Reactions
This shouldn’t come as a surprise either, especially if a participant wasn’t too thrilled on the end product of their car. Since they had no creative input, plenty of contestants had no idea if their car would come out looking worse than it started. But in the contract, MTV made sure that participants had to show a jovial, happy reaction, no matter the outcome. Some participants, like Jake Glazier, had to be coached into how to act right.
6 Car Owners Had No Creative Input
As mentioned above, the participants had no say as to what went on in their car. That’s so that specialists could surprise them, but also because it would be an endless stream of suggestions, most likely, which MTV didn’t want. After all, who would put in a cotton-candy machine or a chocolate fountain, if they actually got to choose what went inside? Specialists had free reign to do as they wanted, which led to some pretty outlandish contraptions.
5 Attracting Unwanted Attention
One of the worst parts about getting a car fixed on Pimp My Ride is that the car would often attract unwanted attention afterward—in the form of police officers. Sometimes attention is nice, but no one wants to get pulled over all the time to explain their ride. Justin Dearinger said he was pulled over by cops almost every day just because they wanted to talk about the car.
4 Staged Houses
Not only were the backstories made up and the cars made to look worse, but sometimes the contestants’ real houses weren’t even used! MTV used staged houses sometimes, for a few reasons: to get the right shots, especially if contestants lived with their families, and it also guaranteed that a contestant would open the door—and not their mom or kid.
3 Contestants Chosen By Casting Call
MTV would have you believe that contestants sent in videos claiming they wanted their rides pimped, but that’s not how they were actually chosen. After all, those videos had professional lighting and microphones, so it was obvious that they were already working with MTV by that point. What actually happened is much more mundane: potential participants attended a casting call with about 200 other cars and were then sent to a final audition of 15, where the videos were then made.
2 Messing With People’s Real Lives
Most of the interactions between Xzibit and contestants weren’t scripted, to keep them as real as possible. But MTV went a whole other step over the line in some cases, in order to create drama. Jake Glazier said that producers tried to convince him to break up with his girlfriend before the show, because it would make a better story—“guy needs a sweet car to attract women and not be lonely anymore!” Glazier refused. MTV reps denied this ever happening.
1 Cars Bursting Into Flames
Not only were some of the cars pretty shoddy when they got out of the shop, or simply didn’t work—one of the cars from Pimp My Ride even burst into flames! Justin Dearinger had a lot of work done on Pimp My Ride, but then added about $20,000 worth of work afterwards. It was at one of those shops where faulty wiring was input, which caused his car to explode a few days later. So it wasn’t West Coast Customs or Galpin Auto Sports’ faults. Dearinger was unharmed.
References: reddit.com, themotorhood.com, mtv.com, lifebuzz.com