Rust Valley Restorers star shares his background and experience in fixing classic vehicles.
It’s likely that a good many of us got into this industry, one way or another because we like cars and probably what are now classic cars.
Today these vehicles represent an almost completely different concept of personalized transportation. In many ways, they are simple and hark back to a less complicated age. In fact, the lure of classic cars has become such that we’ve seen the rise of a whole industry dedicated to them, and by extension media and TV as well.
Here in Canada, a good example of that is the hit TV series Rust Valley Restorers that aired on the History Channel and laterDTour, as well as Netflix and Motor Trend+ in the U.S. Key characters on the show, include Mike Hall, a professional rock blaster and avid classic car collector, his son Connor, and Mike’s good friend, fellow enthusiast, and mechanical wizard Avery Shoaf.
Recently, Autosphere had the opportunity to interview Shoaf, asking him about his background, how he got into fixing cars and some tips and suggestions for those looking to find parts which can be challenging, particularly for rarer classic cars and trucks.
Autosphere: Tell us a little about your background growing up in B.C.
Avery Shoaf: I grew up in Cecil Lake on a homestead, and we didn’t have much, so we basically had to fend for ourselves. That was where I learned to work on small engines like my dirt bikes, and with my neighbours. We resurrected our first car—a 1964 Vauxhall, which we drove up and down the ditches and dirt roads causing havoc as kids often do!
Autosphere: Were you always into fixing and repairing things?
Avery Shoaf: My dear mother had horses, and I wasn’t much into riding them, so I turned to dirt bikes and tractors and from there, graduated to cars and trucks. And I tell you what, the running joke with my mother is that I could fix any kind of motor except the rototiller engine. The reason for that is because I really didn’t want to participate in free labour for her!
Autosphere: How did you first come in contact with Mike Hall and Rust Bros?
Avery Shoaf: I actually knew Mike’s son Connor Hall first as he worked for a friend of mine. I originally met him at the shop when I got a boat motor repaired. Connor and I hit it off immediately and so I hired him to work for me at my jet ski and boat rental company. It was there where I met his dear father Mike (Hall), who would visit Connor at work and take dips in the lake and leave grease rings in the water. From there, we found we had mutual interests in all things related to cars, trucks, and vehicle restoration. The rest, as they say, is history.
Autosphere: A lot of our readers are curious about how you became known as the “Muscle Car McGyver” on Rust Valley Restorers. Can you tell us a little about that?
Avery Shoaf: In a nutshell, the Muscle Car McGyver is essentially who I am. I’ve always figured out a way to make pretty much any engine run with not much more than haywire and a hammer.
Autosphere: Are there any particular classic vehicle projects you’ve worked on over the years that really stand out for you?
Avery Shoaf: I really like my Grizzly, which is my baby. The Grizzly is a unique Canadian vehicle that was originally built for use in the logging industry. Only a few of them were made. Mine is used as a flatbed/tow truck and is mounted on a Ford F-450/550 chassis with a Cummins 12-valve diesel under the hood. It really is one of a kind. Besides the Grizzly, I also really like Austin Minis and enjoy repairing and restoring them.
Autosphere: What advice would you give to people looking to tackle their first classic car project and see it through?
Avery Shoaf: When you’re looking at classic cars, it’s not the same as fixing a late-model vehicle. You need patience and persistence. In order to succeed you need to take it one part and one piece, as well as one step at a time. A big thing is making sure you educate yourself through the process of fixing up the vehicle and restoring it.
You also need to be resourceful at finding parts. Places like eBay and eBay Motors can be great resources as you can often find the parts and even parts cars that you need. It’s amazing what you can discover when you start searching but also remember, it’s persistence that pays off and if you haven’t found what you’re looking for, keep searching.
Autosphere: Based on your own experiences, when looking for parts, what advice would you give to others when it comes to their own projects, particularly for vehicles that may not have a complete aftermarket catalogue available?
Avery Shoaf: There are all kinds of different cars and trucks. Some of them have a huge number of aftermarket and reproduction parts available, while others do not. Even then, some pieces such as grilles, exterior trim and interior parts can be hard to find.
The first place I go to when I’m looking for parts and accessories is eBay.ca/motors. You can find some very rare and hard-to-find car parts that you simply can’t get anywhere else. A good thing about eBay is that the ‘Fits Your Vehicle’ checkmark is really helpful, as it saves you time in knowing whether a part is going to fit your particular car or truck. There is nothing worse than buying or finding a rare part only to discover it doesn’t fit or doesn’t work with your vehicle.
Autosphere: If applicable, what’s your favourite vehicle and why?
Avery Shoaf: For me, I really like the 1930s Auburn 851/852 Speedsters and Duesenberg Model Js. They are still some of the most incredible cars ever built. They are rolling works of art, there is nothing else like them.
Autosphere: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today?
Avery Shoaf: One thing I would like to share is that you should never let fear stand in the way of your dreams. If you want something you should just go for it. I look at my own experiences as proof of that. A couple of other things I’d like to share today is firstly, my new YouTube channel which I’m very excited about!
We have a lot of fun and go on a lot of great adventures that viewers will love.
The second is that I’ll also be onsite with eBay Motors at the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo, March 9th & 10th at the International Centre in Toronto, alongside the rest of the Rust Bro team. We’ll be showcasing a surprise restoration and hope to see you there!