“Roadworthy Rescues” is a reality documentary TV series that made the rounds across media platforms upon its debut on 28 September 2022. The show premiered on Motor Trend network, hosted by Derek Bieri, who is a successful YouTuber and entrepreneur well-known for his ability to transform old, non-running vehicles into renovated masterpieces.
He goes out and finds forgotten cars that have been left to rust and brings them back to life in spectacular and unexpected fashion. As he works on these vehicles, Derek shares the history of the cars, who they were originally intended for, and why they are still relevant today. His storytelling is infused with his clever wit and timely humor, making the show both informative and entertaining.
The series is shot on the premises at Vice Grip Garage in Lewisburg, Tennessee USA, but has also been filmed in various other locations, including Detroit, Kentucky, and North Carolina, as some builds require the team to work away from their headquarters.
The show had a total of eight episodes in its first season, with an individual running time of just over 40 minutes. The episodes feature a variety of peculiar vehicles, with each bringing a different taste of the automotive industry, which in turn ensures a diverse and absorbed audience.
“Roadworthy Rescues” has been well-received by critics and viewers, earning positive ratings on platforms such as IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic. As a result, a second season was put in the making, set to be released in late 2023. However, such popularity wouldn’t have resulted so quickly from just a brand-new name entering the industry.
In fact, Derek Bieri and his wife are the two main individuals behind the YouTube channel known as Vice Grip Garage. With over 1.5 million subscribers, it features videos about low-cost builds, derelict vehicle rescues, and various car improvement guides for the general public.
Their children, Chris and Sean Bieri, can also be seen in the series, helping the parents perform all their grueling work around some of the most intricate restoration procedures shown on television. Fans are elated to witness the young’uns following in Derek’s footsteps, and they are both expected to be top-tier and high-earning vehicle connoisseurs in their heyday.
Vice Grip Garage
Derek’s YouTube channel was created on 29 December 2011, and has since then climbed through the automotive media hierarchy, capturing the attention of many enthusiasts. It boasts more than 200 million views across all its videos, with the first having been uploaded on 11 April 2018.
The video in question is a perfect example of the channel’s content, standing at more than 11 million views as Bieri’s most popular piece of footage on YouTube. Like most of his uploads, it details the full restoration process, which tends to add up the minutes, leading the video to be almost two hours long.
It starts with Derek introducing the audience to a 1968 Buick LeSabre 400, a classic American car that had been sitting idle for 26 years. His mission is to get this vehicle back on the road and drive it home, which is a daunting journey of 600 miles. The car is in a state of disrepair, with unsurprisingly flat tires, a dead battery, and a fuel system that hadn’t seen gasoline in over two decades.
Derek begins by replacing the battery and inflating the tires, then proceeding to address the fuel system, which is likely to be clogged and corroded after years of disuse. He pours in a can of Berryman B-12 Chemtool, a powerful cleaner designed to remove gum, varnish, and other deposits from the fuel system, subsequently adding much-needed fresh gasoline to the tank.
With the preliminary work done, Bieri attempts to start the car and get on his long way. The engine finally sputters to life after a few tries, revealing evident delight on the host’s face. However, the vehicle is far from roadworthy, as Derek notes that the engine is running rough, likely due to a clogged fuel filter. He replaces the filter and continues to fine-tune the engine, adjusting the timing and checking for vacuum leaks.
In spite of his best efforts and meticulous maintenance, the car begins to overheat as soon as it hits the highway. Derek suspects that the timing might be off, causing the engine to run too hot after only a short while. He then adjusts the timing, which seems to alleviate the overheating issue for the time being. Alas, the car’s fuel filter continues to clog up, indicating that there’s still a lot of sediment in the tank.
The journey itself, even with a somewhat functional vehicle, is not an easy task. Derek has to stop multiple times to replace the fuel filter and deal with the car’s overheating issue, ultimately even considering removing the AC condenser to improve airflow to the engine.
Bieri later finds himself battling the cold of vast open terrain as night slowly rolls in, which poses yet another challenge for a damaged machine. The car’s heater isn’t working, and he resorts to using a plug-in heater to keep somewhat warm throughout the darkness. Surprisingly, the heater blows a fuse almost immediately, leaving the driver to endure the freezing temperatures.
Vice Grip Garage's 1 grit sandpaper lives in my head rent free pic.twitter.com/vufaDQc3Xm
— Housecats W/ Sweet Red Tie (@HousecatsNSH) May 19, 2021
Regardless of the troubles, Derek kept up a positive outlook on the situation, pointing out several impressive features of the vehicle. He marvels at the car’s fuel efficiency, noting that it’s getting over 14 miles (22.5 kms) per gallon, which is outstanding for a machine of its age and size. He also takes time to admire the beauty of the Buick, appreciating its classic design and the smooth ride it offers.
Finally, after an arduous journey, Derek arrives back home at Vice Grip Garage HQ. It’s 3:30 in the morning, and he’s exhausted and freezing, but he’s also feeling triumphant, as he’s successfully revived a classic car that had been abandoned for 26 years, and driven it the 600 miles home.
What happens in “Roadworthy Rescues”?
Since he finally elevated his work from a YouTube show to a veritable TV series, Derek also upped the ante on the work that had to be done, which had great success in enchanting the audience, affording many new faces among the ranks of his hardcore followers. All of the episodes were released throughout the second half of 2022, providing entertainment throughout the rainy and snowy days around the globe.
The inaugural episode appeared on the TV screen on 27 September, starting off with deep-diving for prize vehicles as detailed and thorough as the rest of the season would prove to display, placing the viewers just behind Derek as he travels across the US to lay his hands on a rare 1967 Ford Mustang, that hadn’t moved from its place in over 28 years.
Naturally, the car began racking up all sorts of unwanted particles, such as rust, dust and mold. While the task seems daunting to even the most experienced makeover enthusiasts, the host remained determined to get its wheels rolling again, thus undertaking the grueling process of meticulously restoring both beauty and functionality to every part of the vehicle.
One of the most iconic episodes of the series was its third, in which Derek embarks on a mission to restore a 1966 Pontiac Tempest, a car that boasts a rarely seen overhead-camshaft six-cylinder engine. However, this machine isn’t just a simple dust-off-and-drive kind of vehicle, as it requires a far more intricate and detailed restoration process.
As the first order of business, Derek decides to upgrade the engine to Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI), a modern system that would enhance the car’s performance and efficiency. Meanwhile, another expert steps in to work on the car’s interior.
Dan, known as the ‘Interior Man,’ is tasked with refurbishing the upholstery. His magic touch is expected to restore the car’s interior to its former glory, making it as comfortable and aesthetically pleasing as it was in its heyday.
“Black Hills Blazer”
In the seventh episode of “Roadworthy Rescues,” Derek found himself drawn back to his roots at Zweifel Motors, the shop where he had honed his skills as a teenager. The shop was still run by his old mentor, Roger Zweifel, a man known for his vast knowledge and expertise in the field of automotive repair and restoration.
In the corner of the shop, covered in years of dust and disrepair, sat a 1979 Chevrolet K5 Blazer. This vehicle had been left idle for over two decades, slowly having turned into but a mere shell of its former self, which was a parts truck waiting for a new lease on life on the road.
Seeing the overlooked potential, Derek got down and dirty, enlisting the help of his brother, Sean, and together they embarked on a long journey of revivification. Their goal was ambitious, to transform this vehicle into a full-on trail machine capable of tackling the challenging terrains of the Black Hills of South Dakota.
It later turned out that the car had quite a story, as Bieri’s mentor would slowly come to reveal throughout the episode’s duration. This extra layer of information allowed for greater immersion across the audience, making the episode truly stand out among the rest as a heartwarming journey in many aspects.
“Rebel With a Cause”
The finale of the series aired on 15 November, featuring Derek on his travels to Collier Motors, in North Carolina’s Pikeville. Being the last dealership in its state that still offers vehicles primarily built by the American Motors Corporation (AMC), it gave Bieri an opportunity to work with rarely accessible cars.
A certain AMC Rebel SST convertible quickly caught his eye among more than 100 forgotten and abandoned machines, and he wasted no time in starting the revival project. Interestingly, the car was so neglected that its owner last saw it running when he was nine years old, as it had been left to gather dust for more than 40 years. Derek took the opportunity to show his craftsmanship and undo decades upon decades of neglect, restoring the vehicle to a competitive road runner by the end of the episode.
Who really is Derek Bieri?
Derek Bieri was born on 16 May 1984, in Minot, North Dakota. He was raised on a farm in the more rural parts of the state, which likely played a role in his developing a passion for mechanics and automobiles.
The YouTuber’s venture into the automotive world where he finds himself today began out of both curiosity and necessity, as the inhabitants of his environment at the time had to be well-versed in fixing their machines.
As for his romantic involvements, Derek began dating his high school sweetheart Jessica in 2000, when he was only 16. They stayed in a loving relationship for the next eight years, deepening their bond until it was time to take a step further, at which point she took his surname in a private ceremony.
She is also the CEO and co-owner of Vice Grip Garage, as the business is something Derek could never have managed without her. Before any employees and esteemed colleagues that he has today, he had been relying on Jessica for a lot of support around the cars he worked on.
They have three sons together, two of whom have been featured in the series. The family ultimate relocated from Minnesota to Tennessee, due to its more affordable cost of living and the absence of income tax, which allowed them to save a significant amount of money to reinvest in their booming business.