It took three seasons for Mike Hall to finally catch an episode of his hit reality TV show Rust Valley Restorers.
“As a matter of fact, I watched the first episode,” laughed Hall, noting it’s been 25 years since he owned a television. “Normally I don’t watched it but Connor showed me. It actually had me laughing…”
Based in Tappen, B.C. – the heart of Rust Valley – the show follows Hall and his crew, including son Connor Hall, Avery Shoaf, Cassidy Mceown, Greg Preece, Rick Hamerston, Sarah Ward and a host of guests as they attempt to restore Mike’s beloved collection of rust heaps into slick retro rides, and make some money in the process.
From the film crew’s sound booth at his shop, Mike explained in a Feb. 11 interview that filming was nearly done for season 3, set premiere on Thursday, Feb. 18 on the History Channel.
“I think we’ve done some of the best builds we’ve ever done and some of the best stories,” said Mike.
For those who’ve been looking forward to return to Rust Valley, Mike explained more than 250 filming days have gone into this latest season and, with COVID-19, there were various delays.
Unable to go into detail about what’s in store, Mike did answer questions about his experience so far.
Q: “What is sweeter music to your ears: Avery’s laugh or a buyer telling you you’ve got a deal?
Mike: (Laughs) A buyer telling me I’ve got a deal.
Q: In which episode can we view your moves from the 2019 Dancing with the Shuswap Stars? Would you ever do that again?
Mike: I think it was one of the first ones - It’s all a blur. (Season 2, Episode 11) It was for a good cause and I don’t mind publicly embarrassing myself as long as it’s for a good cause. What really irritated me was Avery beat me.
Q: What is Rust Valley, where is it and how far does it extend?
Mike: Rust Valley, where we actually are, it’s located in beautiful downtown Tappen, B.C.… But for Rust Valley, the TV show, basically if you draw a line a couple of hundred miles and make a circle, that’s what we call it. We go down and visit JF (Launier) in Osoyoos, Donny (Kleinfelder) out in Barriere, we’ve got friends down at the coast, we’ve got friends in Kamloops. We go out to Revelstoke for shows, so… as we say on the show, somewhere between the desert and the Rocky Mountains.
Q: After three seasons, has the number of vehicles on your property increased, decreased or stayed it about the same?
Mike: I think it’s up about 100 but I’m afraid to count.
Q: What is the marmot to car ratio on your property (as seen in season 2 episode 3)
Mike: It’s got to be about eight to 1. If I wasn’t such an environmentally friendly guy I’d go shoot em but I can’t. So we just kind of put up with them. They are cute, but sometimes when you see them sitting on top of your car taking a big dump, it makes your blood boil. Whatever. They were there first, it’s their property, I’m just an uninvited guest, you’ve got to go with it.
Q: Who among the Rust Valley Restorers crew do you think would be best suited for a spin-off series?
Mike: That would have to be Avery. (Laughs) there’s a lot to work with there, pardon the pun.
Q: What has been your most rewarding vehicle restoration. The most expensive?
Mike: They’re all more expensive than what you think. When we did just a (1967 Mercury) Cougar for the man that lost his daughter (Season 2, Episode 6) and they’d been looking at the car for almost (14) years. That was a pretty satisfying… Basically, every build that we’ve done has been a good story and has been very satisfying to finish and actually help some people realize their dreams.
Q: If you were to find a buyer for your collection, is there one vehicle you absolutely wouldn’t part with?
Mike: If I actually did find a buyer, there would be about 20 I wouldn’t part with. It would be tough.
Q: It’s been said that 90 per cent of what you see is real. Is that accurate?
Mike: We try and maintain a high ratio of truth to fiction but it is a television show. We do have a story producer and every now and then they drag us down the slippery slope…
I don’t think being in front of a camera has really changed me. It’s not like you wake up at 62 years old and say, “I’m going to be a TV star. I spent 40 years doing what I do, rock scaling and collecting cars, and I basically said to myself, no matter what happens, I’m going to maintain who I am, what I am and where I came from.
Q: Do you receive correspondence from fans, and if so, is there anything that stands out you can share?
Mike: We had one person reach out to us from England when we did the episode, well, if you haven’t seen it, my mom passes away at the end of an episode last year. He said I’d really like to do a portrait of your mom. So we sent him a picture and he did an amazing digital photo… It moved me to tears.
Just recently some mother from the states said my son is four years old, he loves your show. Could you please do a birthday shout out for him? I’ll pay you. Well, I went out into the back field, did a little five second video, and said hey, Happy Birthday from Mike and all of us… His mom sent me back a video of him saying thank you so much Mike, can you build a car and come down and pick us up and bring us to Rust Valley? Stuff like that is pretty special.
After three seasons of being on TV, Mike has become accustomed to taking selfies with fans (a challenge during the pandemic). He stressed the Mike Hall you see on TV is the same Mike Hall you might bump into in Rust Valley.
“The biggest compliment I get is when people come and the meet me and they say, ‘holy man, you’re just like you are on TV,” said Mike.
Asked if he has a season 4 in him, Mike said if the fans and the network want it, “I’m pretty sure we’d deliver it to them.”
In addition to the History Channel, seasons 1 and 2 of Rust Valley Restorers is available on Netflix Canada. The show will also air on Amazon’s Stack TV.