If you’re a fan of classic cars and reality TV, you’ve probably heard of “Dallas Car Sharks”. The series, which premiered in 2013 on the Velocity channel (now MotorTrend), follows a group of car enthusiasts and professional car dealers in Dallas, Texas as they compete to find, buy, and sell the most valuable and unique cars at auction. Like many reality TV shows, it has been accused of exaggerating or even fabricating some of the drama on the show. A burning question fans want to know is what really goes on behind the scenes of this popular show. Follow along to find out the untold truth behind “Dallas Car Sharks”.

What is “Dallas Car Sharks”?

Dallas Car Sharks” is a reality TV series that follows the activities of a group of car enthusiasts and professional car dealers in Dallas, Texas. The series made its debut on 22nd July 2013, created by AMS Pictures, with Andy Streitfeld serving as the Executive Producer and Randy Martin as the senior producer. In August 2013, Robert Scanlon, senior vice president at Discovery Communications, was promoted to the position of General Manager at Velocity, and played a crucial role in the network’s success, elevating it to the 46th position among male viewers aged 25-54. This accomplishment was achieved through the popularity of original shows like “Dallas Car Sharks”, “Fantomworks”, and “What’s in the Barn?”. Scanlon’s strategic efforts enabled the network to surpass competing networks, including NBA TV, MLB Network, and Golf Channel, in terms of viewership and outperform them by moving up 22 slots. The show focuses on the intense competition between these dealers as they bid on and buy classic cars at auction, hoping to find hidden gems that they can restore and sell for a profit. The dealers are a diverse group, each with their own unique personalities and approaches to the car business. The creators of the show decided to make some changes to the show’s narrative and introduced a fresh approach to presenting its content. Rather than featuring clients visiting the auto shop for vehicle upgrades, they brought together four rival car dealers from the Dallas area, and pitted them against each other in intense car auctions. The dealers competed to outbid one another with the aim of acquiring cars that they could restore or customize and eventually sell for substantial profit. This innovative format not only gave them the opportunity to showcase their skills but also allowed them to earn recognition within the local automotive dealership and restoration community for achieving the highest payday hauls.

Meet the cast

Tommy Spagnola Jr.

Tommy Spagnola Jr., a dedicated businessman, began his journey by pursuing his dream job independently. Unfortunately, Tommy experienced the loss of his father, Tom Spagnola Sr., at a young age, leaving him with limited resources for survival. Armed with sheer determination and a $1000 loan from a bank, he fearlessly embarked on establishing his own business. Remarkably, by the age of 16, Tommy had already established a successful dealership, earning a reputation as one of the best in the state. The family business that Tommy inherited thrived, standing out as a top choice among other dealerships. Renowned for its exceptional service and genuine southern hospitality, the dealership earned the trust and loyalty of countless customers. When Tommy is not engrossed in dealership operations or participating in car auctions, he enjoys quality time with his family aboard his yacht in the Bahamas, or indulging in the thrill of dirt track racing alongside his friends.

Ash Rabah

Hailing from Chicago, Rabah embarked on an impressive academic journey. He began his studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, where he pursued a degree in Bio-Chemistry. Eager to broaden his horizons, Rabah subsequently enrolled at Colombia College, where he focused on journalism as his major – notably, his exceptional thesis earned recognition, and was included in the esteemed Journal of Chemistry. Demonstrating remarkable independence and entrepreneurial spirit, Rabah became self-employed at the young age of 19, making his mark as one of the youngest independent dealers associated with Mobil Oil. However, as his journey continued, Rabah felt compelled to seek new opportunities, leading him to make the significant decision to relocate to Dallas. It was there that he established Tampa Bay Motors Inc., marking the next chapter in his successful career path.

Martha Davis

Martha Davis is a remarkable individual with an unwavering passion for automobiles. From a young age, her curiosity and eagerness to learn about cars has been ever-present. Growing up in Dallas, she immersed herself in the automotive industry, thanks to her father’s car dealership in the area. Her mother also played a pivotal role in teaching her the art of buying and selling cars. As she was operating in a market predominantly dominated by men, Martha faced numerous challenges during the early stages of her career. However, her resilience and determination enabled her to overcome these obstacles and accomplish her goals. Guided by her steadfast belief in the mantra, ‘Your word is your bond’, Martha sought to establish herself as a trusted and reliable figure in the industry. As a result, Martha’s unwavering dedication and commitment to her craft have propelled her forward, carving a unique place for herself in the automotive world.

Image source

J.D. Cole

J.D.’s passion for cars has been ingrained in him from an early age. With his mother, Martha Davis, and his grandfather Charlie Davis as his mentors, he absorbed a wealth of knowledge about the automotive industry. What draws J.D. to this world is the inherent element of risk; he embraces opportunities to bid on any car that catches his eye, be it a classic, a rugged 4×4 truck, or a sleek sports car. Investing in these vehicles and subsequently restoring them brings him immense satisfaction, as he can then sell them for substantial profit. J.D. Cole lives by a motto that guides his actions not only in his automotive pursuits but also in his daily life: ‘Every person has a seat, and every car has a seat for that person’. As a third-generation car dealer, J.D. Cole inherited a legacy of expertise from his mother, Martha Davis, and his grandfather. They imparted invaluable knowledge to him, equipping him with the necessary skills to navigate the automotive industry. While initially starting his journey alongside his mother, Martha recognized the right time to step back and allow her son to flourish independently, setting him on a path toward success on his own terms.

Andy Dunning, The auctioneer

One other pivotal role, that of Auctioneer, was filled by Andy Dunning. As each episode commenced, the car dealers engaged in fierce bidding wars, spurred on by Andy’s ability to instill a sense of competition among them. With his quick wit and sharp tongue, he would deliver clever and amusing commentary, pitting the dealers against each other in a playful attempt to drive up the price. Andy’s charismatic presence often triggered the competitive nature of the dealers, causing them to surpass their initial bidding plans. Consequently, the focus shifted from evaluating the vehicles’ potential, to engaging in a spirited rivalry that transformed the auction into an intense showdown.

Some interesting and unknown facts

Despite its popularity, there are still some unknown facts about “Dallas Car Sharks” that might surprise viewers. From the auction process, to behind the scenes, let’s dive in!

  • Quite contrary to the show’s premise, its cast members often work together on restoration projects, despite the fact that they’re competitors. They are well-known in the Dallas’ automotive scene, usually attending events and car shows together. Behind the scenes, things are more laid back compared to the high-stakes and ruthless environment when the cameras start rolling. When they’re not filming, the cast gets together as friends. Additionally, they co-operate to find cars for each other, going so far as to exchange tips on how to restore effectively and make more money.
  • The auctions on the show are in fact real and take place in a variety of Texas locations. In the hope of outbidding their rivals and securing the best vehicles, the dealers bid on automobiles in a frenetic and intense setting. Although the dealers on the show frequently end up with the most valuable and one-of-a-kind automobiles, the auctions are open to the public, and anyone can attend and bid on cars.
  • Any classic car from a 1980 Corvette to a 1998 Official Indy 500 Pace Car typically sparks arguments and rivalries in every auction in the episodes. In the world of auto flipping, each contender has their own distinguished reputation and distinctive bidding style. They each use competitive and sometimes hilarious tactics in an effort to stop other bidders from winning. This whole process is managed by the auctioneer, Andy, and takes place at the Texas Lone Star Auction House.
  • After the automobiles have been sold to the highest bidder, the dealers take them back to their facilities to fix them up and make them ready for resale; the real work for the car sharks begins after they win the bidding wars. They now have to get down and dirty to check their purchases, and what they find under the hood shows how valuable their skills really are on the bidding block. Some of the cars need a lot of work to get them back in working order, because they’re in worse condition than others. The restored automobiles either go back up for auction, or are sold directly to customers.
  • Unlike other car restoration shops, in which they quickly search for the most ideal choice to use in restoring the vehicle, the objective in “Dallas Car Sharks” is simply to make the vehicle look respectable and presentable, to bait purchasers, and make it run as expected, so car enthusiasts with more modest financial plans can afford them.

The biggest lies and exaggerations on the show

The lack of flipping cars footage

When discussions about “Dallas Car Sharks” arose among fans of the show in online forums, the prevailing opinion was that the show ranked as the epitome of scripted television. Many expressed the belief that there was absolutely nothing authentic about it. The absence of actual scenes showcasing the resale of the restored cars raised considerable doubts. Instead, the audience was simply informed of the earnings at the conclusion of each episode. Speculation arose regarding whether this choice was motivated by cost-cutting measures by the producers, or sheer laziness to stage the reselling process. However, the most logical explanation seemed to be that the vehicles were not actually being resold.

Making the cars look worse to lower the price

Viewers grew increasingly suspicious of the condition of the cars being auctioned, as they appeared unbelievably dreadful. They believed that the production crew intentionally presented them in such a manner to shape a specific narrative. In reality, if the cars were sourced from barnyards or neglected garages, owners would typically clean them up to attract potential buyers or, if the vehicles belonged to the auction house, it would make sense to sell them in a more presentable state to fetch higher prices. The apparent intentional degradation of each car’s appearance seemed exaggerated solely to justify lower bidding prices.

Mother vs son bidding

Fans expressed their dissatisfaction with the frequent occurrences of the mother and son (Martha and J.D.) engaging in bidding wars during the auction. While it was initially entertaining to witness J.D. teasing his mother, it became increasingly foolish as he continued to provoke her into spending more money than necessary. Fans expected that he would safeguard his mother from rival bidders, and prioritize her financial well-being – on the contrary, JD made the bidding process more challenging for her, something quite baffling to fans.

No focus on car restoration

The show’s concept revolved around car dealers bidding on, repairing, and reselling vehicles for a profit. However, it was frustrating to watch episodes that dedicated more time to unrelated scenes rather than showcasing the actual auto-restoration process. One such instance was when JD and Ash both acquired Corvettes, leading to numerous scenes focused on their post-repair races and bets. This emphasis on racing, despite their lack of professional or even amateur racing skills, left many viewers dissatisfied, yearning for more extensive footage of the actual restoration work. Consequently, some viewers began to question whether the cars featured on the show genuinely required fixing. Certain instances caught the attention of keen-eyed car enthusiasts, who noticed duct tape on specific car parts, prompting speculation and leaving them wondering if something was being concealed from the audience.

Facing legal issues

Instances of lawsuits being filed against TV shows have been relatively common, even predating the rise of reality TV. “Dallas Car Sharks” found itself in the midst of legal proceedings when its production company, AMS Pictures, faced a legal complaint during the airing of its second season. According to The Dallas Morning News, Bruce Kahn asserted that he was the original mastermind behind the concept of car dealers in Dallas engaging in bidding, restoring, and flipping cars, which is the exact premise of the show. Kahn claimed that he had discussed his idea with AMS Pictures executives back in 2011; he even provided suggestions of local car dealers who would be suitable candidates for the show’s regular cast.

Allegedly, AMS officials verbally agreed to the idea of him co-producing the show, and entering into a profit-sharing arrangement. Kahn further contended that he proposed the title “Car Sharks” for the potential TV show. However, he later discovered that AMS Pictures didn’t want him as a co-producer, nor were they open to profit-sharing. Despite this setback, he informed them that he would seek other production companies for his concept. To his surprise, Kahn alleged that AMS Pictures appropriated his idea, produced the TV show, and even used the name he had suggested.

When questioned about the lawsuit, Andy Streitfeld, CEO of AMS Studios, stated that he was unaware of any individual named Bruce Kahn, or the allegations made, but would provide a comment after consulting with his legal advisors. As of 2023, there hasn’t been any updates on the case, hinting at a possible out-of-court settlement between both sides.

Cancellation of the show

At the end of the first season, the cast, crew, and executives associated with the show were filled with excitement, due to the consistently high TV ratings. This prompted an immediate order for another season, with the anticipation that the show’s popularity would continue to grow. However, various negative factors came into play during the second season, significantly impacting the show’s trajectory. The lawsuit filed against the show garnered significant attention, spreading rapidly across social media platforms. The allegations made by Mr. Kahn gained momentum, and if proven true, it could have resulted in substantial financial damages for AMS Pictures and Motor Trend.

Additionally, viewers began questioning the show’s integrity, particularly within the passionate community of car enthusiasts; they became more discerning in their viewing choices during the second season. The renewal of “Dallas Car Sharks” for a third season was likely driven by the executives’ belief that making necessary adjustments and addressing the raised concerns would revive the show’s fortunes. However, the decline in viewership ratings persisted, leaving them with no choice but to end it. This decision was made to mitigate the mounting production costs, with fewer viewers, subscriptions and advertising revenues dwindling, ultimately resulting in a negative impact on the show’s profitability. The final episode of the show was aired on 16th December 2015, ending a briefly successful two-year run.

Fans and viewers will remember the show, if not for its car restorations, then at least for the drama and exaggerations.

Subscribe for the updates

* indicates required

Write A Comment

Pin It