CAR S.O.S RETURNS WITH GUEST ROGER MOORE
WE SPEAK TO FUZZ TOWNSEND THE POPULAR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC AUTO SHOW
For those unfamiliar with the Car S.O.S. format, the recipe goes like this: take one cherished car that every guy has dreamed of owning and have Paris Hilton drive around in it like she does with her $400,000 Pink Bentley Continental GT. After a few weeks of her handbag-sized mutt scratching the leather upholstery a team of experts are sent in to ... of course I jest. It's a similar premise, only replace Paris Hilton with an owner who appreciates a fine automobile that is in need of a helping hand, secretly whisk the wheels away to a well-equipped workshop, simmer for three weeks in grease, graft and mechanical know how, then serve to an unsuspecting owner with a sprinkling of surprise.
Even if you're not a car guy, you can't help but get swept along with the story. It's like Surprise Surprise but with cars instead of long lost relatives presumed dead. Although it would be nice to have Tim Shaw slide off after the reuniting of the car with its owner and mime the Surprise Surprise theme tune to a live studio audience.
Car S.O.S.returns Thursdays at 8pm on National Geographic Channel, and each episode takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride of emotion. It makes you laugh, cry, there is a bit of mechanical takeout in the bargain, plus genuine happiness of the contributors and their families. Season four of Car SOS on National Geographic opens with Tim and Fuzz racing against the clock to rescue a stunning 1964 Volvo P1800, made famous by cult 1960s action series ‘The Saint’ that starred Sir Roger Moore. Stick that in your tailpipe Matt Le Blanc. When the car’s owner Peter suffered a major stroke his plans to get his beloved car back on the road became a distant dream. While Fuzz sets to work on the car’s rusty shell, Tim sets out to track down our guest star Sir Roger Moore to bless the car in time for it to be returned to its unsuspecting owner. They say cleanliness is next to Godliness, but now I'd have to put Tim Shaw next to Godliness as he managed to interview Sir Roger himself. This season sees iconic British, European and Japanese cars transformed, including one of the most beautiful sports cars nobody has ever heard of: the AC Aceca, a 1974 BMW2002 Turbo, and the mighty Datsun 240z.
Car SOS is now in its fourth season and still going strong, what do you think keeps people coming back for more?
“I think because it’s the stuff of dreamers. Everyone likes to see a classic car put back on the road. Everyone would love for it to happen to them or to someone they know and love. It’s got that feel-good factor and viewers really appreciate seeing a viewer get a lift back in their life when they’ve been through hardship. And the best thing is knowing that it could happen to them, that they could be the ones on the show next. Also there’s a guy called Tim Shaw who hosts the show with me and he’s pretty funny!”
What was it like working alongside Sir Roger Moore this season? Any funny stories to share from the set?
“Well I wish I had! While Tim was filming with Sir Roger Moore, I was in the workshop putting the car together. I didn’t get to meet him!”
Which was the most exciting transformation for you this season?
“I think it has to be the AC Aceca. I had a model of one since I was a boy. I always wanted one, but never touched one, I’d never sat in one, and I’d certainly never spent three weeks working on one that had been rotting away in a garage 40 years.”
Were there any moments in the season when you thought things might not come together?
“Oh loads of times, but let’s not ruin it for the viewers. There’s only been a couple of times in 40 shows where we’ve not gotten everything done in time due to factors outside of our control, but the owners always end up with a fully functional car at the end.”
I read you don’t get emotional about the car transformations until you watch it back on TV. Have you got your tissues ready for Thursday?
“I have, yeah, that’s when it really gets me. It is such an intense process putting cars back together and doing 10 in a row. The nightmare is when we reveal the car, because my number one key worry is that the car is going to run and drive ok. We don’t get a chance to give the cars a shakedown, we have to launch straight into things. Once we know the car is ok and the person has their car back, Tim and I leave the families to enjoy the rest of the day and have a good time with each other. We don’t really get a chance to see the emotion on their faces on the day.”
What was the first car you fully restored and how long did it take?
“That would probably be my 1950 Landover I got when I was 18. I drove it for a couple of years, then it sat around for year or two. I was 21 when I started restoring it and it took… well I did it over a summer so about four months.”
Where did the nickname Fuzz come from?
“Back in my hometown I was the only kid with fuzzy hair. Well not the only kid with fuzzy hair, there was one other kid, but I was the oldest. Fuzzy hair was rare so that’s where the name came from.”