A Behind the Scenes Look at MTV’s Popular Show: Pimp My Ride

Back in the mid-2000s, “Pimp My Ride” first premiered on MTV, the show had a straightforward purpose: Get a beat-up car and have the rapper Xzibit choreograph a major upgrade. We’re talking custom paints, over the top rims, decked out sound systems, oh and a chandelier, cause why not?
 
However, reality TV is not always as it seems – ever since the show’s demise in 2007, several former participants have shared troubling stories about their experiences behind the scenes.

Custom Transformations

To begin with, Xzibit was the host of that show, and his job was to examine the contestant’s ride, rolling off all the problems that need fixing. Then he would take the car back to West Coast Customs to modify the vehicle.

Getty Images Photo by Carley Margolis

Once all the work was done, each episode came to a close with the big reveal, and we’d watch as the contestants went berzerk!

What We Would Expect

Even though the show managed with such a minimal framework, the truth is that “Pimp My Ride” was a very different show behind the scenes.

 

We only saw the incredible results that were often eye-popping, with vehicles showcasing the fantastic transformations that perhaps only moneybags could dream of.

New and Improved

Once their renovation project was done, the contestant could finally see their newly-improved wheels. The final episode aired in December 2007. If you can recall any of the episodes, you would remember just how ridiculous and, at the same time, incredible the transformations were.

 

But as we highlighted early on, a few of the youngsters that participated in the show have since revealed some shocking reports about their experiences.

Not Legal or Even Safe

There was a lot being planned so that they could create a good story for the thirty-minute episode. Everyone really wanted to believe that the show was real, without much manipulation. It’s not realistic or practical to drive with a fully functioning aquarium in the back of your car, but people wanted to believe they would keep it regardless.

 

Unluckily, many of the show’s upgrades were removed as soon as the show finished filming, either because they weren’t street-legal or road-safe. Let’s take a peek at some of the insane overhaulings that were done during the show…

Auditions for The Show

MTV didn’t actually audition several contestants on the show. One contestant, Brooke Siegel, had her Chevy Cavalier pimped, ended up on the show cause she had a mutual friend with one of the producers. They only gave her the gig, because she agreed to act, she had to beg on camera to get her car pimped.

 

They gave her an entire fabricated backstory, saying she was a 22-year-old film fanatic. In reality, she was 25-year-olds at the time and working as a cocktail waitress.

MTV Used Staged Houses

Just as on MTV’s show “Cribs,” the contestants’ houses weren’t their actual homes, the same is true for the houses shot during the filming of “Pimp My Ride.”

 

Brook Siegel revealed that when Xzibit showed up at her house to announce that she had been chosen for the show, they didn’t even use her real home to film the scene.

A Tow Truck Had To Be Used

MTV had to get a Tow Truck on-call because so many of the cars that were featured on the show didn’t actually work once they were finished filming. This was bound to happen as the cars were all very old and worn out, and the renovations were more focused on the exterior.

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According to the executive producer, Larry Hochberg, a tow truck was kept on call to assist any of the contestants with cars after filming as many of them had problems starting.

They Didn’t Fix Any Major Mechanical Issues

As we all know, there is nothing glamorous about replacing an engine or fixing a taillight. Many times, the crew overlooked the car’s own mechanical issues in favor of putting in features that looked more exciting.

 

One contestant named Seth Martino shared on Reddit about how after the show, he had to spend $1,700 of his own money to pay for a new engine, something the crew could have easily done had they not been focused on pimping the car out.

A Strict Contract

Of course, one of the conditions of being on the show was signing a pretty lengthy contract that basically dictated what the owners were allowed to do with their cars once they were on the show.

 

The participants on the show weren’t allowed to say that the car was on “Pimp My Ride” if they tried to sell it.

The Big Reveal

One of the episodes featured a young lady who wanted to transform her copper-brown station wagon. As a soon to be nurse, her ambitions were kept in mind by the show’s crew, leading up to the big reveal.

 

And once they were done with the renovation, the vehicle looked utterly different.

We Heart It

As we can see in the photo, the transformation showed the upper half had been sprayed white, while the lower section of the station wagon was dark blue. The two colors were both between a red line, which symbolized the readings we would see on a heart-rate monitor.

 

To top it off, the medical symbol of the caduceus was drawn on the bonnet of the car.

More Surprises

However, the surprises didn’t stop there, after showcasing the fantastic paint job to the aspiring nurse, Xzibit and his collaborator led her to the back of the car.

 

At that scene, they touched upon the young woman’s wish to become a nurse before popping the back open.

Hip-Hop Siren

What she found was a big portion of her car’s inside had been converted into a lie-down area, resembling a CT scanner, outfitted with TV screens and speakers. Meanwhile, the bottom part extended to the outside of the trunk, like an ambulance stretcher, with only the push of a button.

 

And if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, the vehicle was equipped with a “hip-hop” siren as well.

A Rusty Van

There was another episode focusing on a young man named Rob, who owned an old, rusty van. Just like the contestant before, he was in desperate need of an overhaul.

 

And that’s exactly what transpired, but we could never have predicted just how absurd the show’s crew would end up going with it.

Talk About Bling!

Gold and Diamonds Before Xzibit’s intervention, Rob’s van had an old blue paint job. When the crew was done, though, the exterior had a new gold finish. Alongside that, the vehicle’s grill was coated in diamonds too, adding to the extravagant look.

 

But that wasn’t all, as the show had a few more tricks to show us!

Speechless

After unveiling the van’s new exterior, Xzibit and the company then directed Rob to the back of the car, where the exhaust pipe sits. With the simple flip of a switch, a deck of playing cards suddenly shot across the shop floor, surprising Rob and leaving him speechless.

 

And this was just the beginning of things to come as the theme of this van appeared to be ‘mini-casino.’

An Actual Slot Machine

Yes, because the crew had also installed a slot machine onto the sliding door. This feature meant the owner Rob couldn’t gain access without pulling on the machine’s lever, which kicked off the reels and spun the screens.

 

By landing a match, several coins are then dished from the door’s accessory, unlocking the vehicle. Now that’s bling!

Inside the Mini-Casino

After all this, Rob eventually got his first peek inside his new and improved van. And there his gambling themed car carried on as a mini-casino, as the carpet had its own craps table and even a dice stick.

 

And to end things off, a miniature white piano was installed in the back as well, with a padded seat and all.

Esmeralda’s Convertible

Another contestant also received a crazy surprise when “Pimp My Ride” got their hands on Esmeralda’s convertible. Once the squad was done with her car, it had a striking yellow paint job with custom patterns along the side and on the bonnet.

 

To finish it off, a giant Tiki mask was sprayed alongside the patterns, and that’s not even half of it!

Binoculars

Just as the bonnet had a Tiki mask on it, as did the seat have one sewn into it. But the best part was the pair of binoculars installed into the eyes, offering backseat passengers an incredible view when the convertible’s roof was down.

 

This was a nice touch as the crew knew that Esmeralda liked to take her car to the beach.

Taking A Peak

Esmeralda couldn’t help but test out her new binoculars before taking a look at the rest of her renovated car. This is probably one of the more practical additions; we can only imagine how nice it must be to arrive at a nice lookout or scene and have a pair of binoculars on hand!

 

From there, Xzibit and his crew presented one last modification to her vehicle that caught Esmeralda completely off guard.

A Snow Cone Machine

After opening the trunk of her car, Esmeralda first caught sight of a fully-functioning snow cone machine! From now on, she could make her own slushy, and the best part is, it would travel with her wherever she drove.

 

While this might not have been as elaborate as the last two transformations, it did show just how far “Pimp My Ride” was willing to push the envelope.

From Bread Van To Skater Ramp

Another memorable episode happened when a skater named Mike gave over his van that used to deliver bread to the show.  Before that, the car had a white paint job, with pink stripes wrapping around the lower half.

 

After some time in the shop, the exterior was redone with a blue and orange spray-painted design.

Sandwich Seat

In addition to this, the driver’s seat was redone and made into white bread. Mike’s van used to be a bread truck, so in homage to its earlier years, the crew wanting to tie that into their new design.

 

As if that wasn’t enough, they also furnished a skater’s ramp at the back of the vehicle for the avid skater.

This Episode Went Viral

To round their renovation up, the body shop mechanics laid some massive speakers inside the van, fitting them in front of the ramp.

 

Once their transformation was finished, neither Mike nor Xzibit could contain their excitement for this sweet new ride.

Now That’s Ridiculous!

Regardless of each vehicle that appeared on the show, every project was completely restored and upgraded, leaving everyone speechless, even viewers watching at home. “Pimp My Ride” produced some remarkable and sometimes ridiculous pieces of work during its run.

 

But not all is as it seems, there was a lot more behind the production of this show than Xzibits saying, “Yo dawg.”

Not All Contestants Had Good Experiences

As it turns out, there were a few of the young contestants who didn’t have the best experience while filming the show. One of these contestants was Jake Glazier, who appeared in the fourth season.

 

His feelings were shared by two other contestants named Justin Dearinger and Seth Martino, who both featured in the show’s final season.

Ask Me Anything

After their respective appearances on “Pimp My Ride,” they each took part in their Reddit thread called “Ask Me Anything.”. Soon enough, the HuffPost website contacted all three of them for an interview back in February 2015.

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The website outlet also chatted with one of the show’s executive producers, hoping to get his take on the stories.

Some Accessories Were Taken Out

Justin Dearinger revealed that some of the accessories were taken out of his car once filming the episode has finished. His remodeled car had a mini drive-in-theater installed as well as a champagne pop-up, but those two were scrapped for safety concerns.

 

And for Martino, one of his restorations turned out to be a massive disappointment and gave him a lot of frustration.

A Robotic Arm

During Martino’s episode, the body shop crew outfitted a robotic arm inside his car, but to operate it, you to have a laptop computer, so in the end, his gadget turned out to be quite worthless. This leaves us asking, “Why didn’t they just buy him a laptop??”

 

To add insult to injury, the LED bulbs that were fitted into the seats proved to be problematic as well.

The LED Lights were Too Hot

Martino explained to HuffPost, “the LED lights would get really hot if left on so I couldn’t use them while I was driving, besides that there were several issues with the car.”

 

The crew ended up taking the gull-wing doors off as the pistons that were used to lift them, prevented them from putting seat belts in the back, which can be dangerous.

More Problems

Martino’s problems with his ride didn’t end there, though. He went on to say, “There wasn’t any real improvement under the hood when it came to the actual mechanics of the car.”

 

Martino continued, “It still needed a lot of work to make it a functioning car for a regular driver, and the crew didn’t deliver.”

All That Extra Weight

“In the end, the crew added a lot of extra weight but didn’t even adjust the suspension to compensate,” Martino recalled. “So I felt like I was driving a boat, and with every small bump in the road, the tires would end up scraping the car.”

 

As a result, Martino claimed that he couldn’t drive his car after just one month following the show.

A Brand New Engine

So, in the end, Martino had to buy a brand-new engine just to fix the issue. The show’s executive producer, Larry Hochberg, spoke about what happened and said that these things can’t be avoided, and there’s not much you can do about it.

 

This meant taking MTV’s very own tow truck to assist the former contestant.

Mechanical Issues

But Hochberg’s thinking is that it’s not accurate to say that they didn’t work on the mechanics of the cars. Some of the cars were just so rusted and old that they were still going to have mechanical problems no matter how much work you put into them.

 

Dearinger and Glazier found themselves in a similar position to Martino, as they also had issues with their cars after the show.

His Car Burst Into Flames

Glazier’s car really needed a new muffler; he was able to easily recognize this even though he doesn’t work on cars. Instead of just fixing the muffler, the crew outfitted a bogus exhaust pipe to make it seem like that’s what the car was supposed to sound like. It clearly wasn’t.

 

As for Dearinger, his extravagant ride ended up catching fire while he was driving! And to think, this happened after the car was renovated.

They Had To Fake Their Reactions

Of course, there were other issues behind the scenes that we, as viewers, never got to see. Glazier and Dearinger both recalled that the show didn’t approve of their initial responses upon seeing their new and improved vehicles.

 

The participants had to shoot multiple shots and act more enthusiastic for the camera.

Intimidation

Glazier recalled her experience to HuffPost, “I remember it very clearly. Big Dane was a very big dude, and he put his arm around my shoulders, kind of walks me around for about ten minutes.”

 

Glazier went on to say that his words were a bit scary, and what he said was, ‘Listen, we put a lot of effort into this project. We expect that you would be a little more f****** enthusiastic.'”

Deceptive Timelines

Besides the fake reactions, which we can only expect from reality TV, the timelines of the episodes were also deceptive. From watching the show, we might have thought that the vehicles were in the shop for about a weekend, but the vehicles were usually in the warehouse for several months.

 

This led to additional issues for the contestants as they had to finance a rental car for themselves until MTV reimbursed them for it sometime later.

Fake Back Stories

Moreover, Glazier and Dearinger claimed that certain aspects of their stories were embellished by the program for the sake of ratings. In Glazier’s case, they had his car littered with cigarettes when he revealed that his grandma was a smoker.

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As for Dearinger, the contestant who appeared on the sixth season, his vehicle was made to look much more wretched than it actually was before filming took place.

Fat Shaming

We could argue that Martino got the worst of it, as he elaborated on his experience on Reddit. “I know that I’m overweight,” he admitted. “But the show made a big effort to make me appear like a lazy, fat person by telling the camera that I kept candy hidden in my car, making me look bad.”

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Then to make matters worse, the crew determined it might be a good idea to give him a cotton candy machine in his trunk!

Now That’s Just Mean

In his interview with HuffPost, Martino told them that at the time, he just went along with it because it was an exciting experience and didn’t question anything. He knew it was mean and done to get more ratings, but he didn’t feel like he could object to it as he was a contestant on the show.

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On second thought, the show probably had the idea to use a cotton candy machine, so why not make it seem like it was meant for the full-bodied contestant.

Behind The Scenes

Despite their negative experiences, Dearinger and Glazier both shared a fondness for their experience on the show. They did after get to appear on a TV show that was popular among their peers at the time. Indeed, they both admitted that they missed watching it after it stopped airing.

 

Martino was a little less captivated by the show after what transpired, but he still tried to keep positive about it.

Not as He Had Hoped it Would Be

Martino told HuffPost that the situation was not at all how he hoped it would be, and at times, he wanted to give the car back because of all the problems it still had. But nowadays, he’s able to look back at his time on the show and take the best from it.

 

Martino realized that he had an opportunity that only a small handful of people can say they experienced.

Dump His Girlfriend?

Jake Glazier also remembered one of the producers suggesting that breaking up with his girlfriend would be good for the show. As Glazier explained, the apparent producer said something about how it would be a better storyline if he was single with a terrible car.

 

The reasoning behind this is that if he had a better car, he would be able to get a girlfriend, and he would no longer be lonely.

Selling His Car

Jake Glazier only had his car for about a month after the renovations, as he decided it was better to sell it. He had originally purchased the car for $500 and sold it rather quickly for about $18,000.

 

But afterward, Glazier also regretted selling the car, as participants on the show weren’t allowed to advertise that they were on the show once they sold their car.

What Was Xzibit Like?

The contestants didn’t get to spend time with Xzibit too much, but each felt he was easygoing and great to be around. Martino said Xzibit would say things like “it’s time for a smoke” and that he “never had the feeling he was talking about cigarettes,” although he couldn’t confirm otherwise.

 

Xzibit really only saw the car owners at the beginning, when he came to “pick up” the car to take it back to the shop, and at the end, once they do the big reveal.

Some Additions Simply Didn’t Work.

The famous TV screens in the backseat simply didn’t work after the show. Seth Martino’s car was one of those that had a lot of problems, and his overhaul was particularly poor quality.

 

“There were plenty of issues with it,” he told HuffPost, including the television screens that never worked again after filming.

Some Of The Upgrades Were Fake

The best part of the show probably saw how everything came together during the big reveal. But some of the upgrades to his car were fake, like the robotic arm or the fake exhaust pipe that had been added for no other reason than to look cool.

 

For the amount of time that the cars were in the shop for, we’d think that they wouldn’t need to resort to installing fake upgrades just for the reactions.