Mike Brewer really is the genuine car guy we all know and love

The longtime host of Wheeler Dealers is one of the most humble yet passionate petrolheads you'll ever meet

2y ago

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I'll admit, I'm a massive Wheeler Dealers fanboy. I'd hate to total up the hours I've spent watching countless classic cars rejuvenated back to their Sunday best after being swept up by the ever-enthusiastic Mike Brewer.

Being told that I'd get the chance to have a chat with Mike over the phone to talk all things Wheeler Dealers had me nervously excited, and yet 60 seconds into the conversation I quickly realised that he's a bona fide car guy who has simply been living the dream on our screens for the last 20 years.

With the new series of Wheeler Dealers having kicked off on Monday via Discovery Channel in the UK and the new season available on the MotorTrend App, we chatted about the magic behind his car-finding skill, his bromance with Ant Anstead, and even the cars he regretted ever setting eyes on.

The new season brings with it a British legend

If you have an account with MotorTrend or have Discovery Channel in the UK on your TV, you'll be able to dive straight into the new series. It's safe to say that Mike has stuck to his roots from the start with a car that has also got Ant's juices flowing.

"We’re currently in the middle of making an unprecedented 27 shows but we’ve finished a series that is airing right now. I always try to make the car choices as globally appealing as possible seeing as the show has over 200 million viewers across the globe and the Ford Capri fitted that bill nicely. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a Capri that was advertised in the wrong place online and the car happened to be 30 miles from the Wheeler Dealers workshop, I couldn’t believe it."

Speaking of which, here's the product of Mike and Ant's labours from the first episode of the new series:

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Mike keeps things old school

I always imagined that searching for the cars to feature in each programme would take a whole team of experts but it turns out however that Brewer does all the graft himself.

"It’s me that still finds all the cars for the show after all these years – I spend my life looking for cars,” he explains. “I’ve got a routine that I have every day – I wake up very early, I trawl through my normal places to go and look. I must admit that over the past few years it has become a lot easier as I have lots of people sending me cars from my networks and connections around the world, people that know me and know what cars I’ll like.

"Besides that, every day I’m trawling, finding cars. Just this morning I woke up and found a Datsun 2000 – I’ve been chasing one of them forever and I’ve finally found one in San Diego."

The key to finding bargains is finding paths less travelled

When I go looking for my next tragic project car, I'll almost certainly hop onto the likes of eBay or Gumtree, scouring the mass of rust and MOT failures for something that needs a little TLC. It only made sense then to ask Mike to pass on some of his bargain-searching wisdom.

"The number one rule is not to look in the obvious places, you need to go left-field, trawling through forums, car club websites and car social media groups,” he says. “Sometimes the cars aren’t even for sale, sometimes it’s someone struggling with a restoration and I’ll swoop in and see if they want to just sell me the car.

"I’ve had great success finding cars that way and it has never let me down.”

It also happens that Mike has found another loophole in the market, much in thanks to some rather loose grammar.

"You’ll be amazed how bad the spelling is on car adverts, a lot of people misspell things. If you want to find a Porsche, skip the ‘s’ and you’ll be amazed at what will turn up."

The scourge of rust no longer haunts the Wheeler Dealers workshop

"Here in California the cars are much cleaner, much drier and therefore much more solid – a much better foundation to work with. Take a Jensen Healey – in the UK, you can’t drink a bottle of water in one of those without fear of falling through the floor and yet I found one out here, sun beaten and absolutely solid with no sign of rust anywhere.

"That saves us a huge amount of days in the workshop where we’re not fabricating new floors and sills, we can just get straight on with the nuts and bolts process. We’ve restored 70-80 cars here in the US and I think I’ve mentioned the word ‘rust’ four times. That’s meant we can educate people in a different way, putting a lot more emphasis on the mechanical side of things i.e. how things work engineering-wise and why the certain part that we’re repairing is fundamentally important."

We all have our own Wheeler Dealers favourites and Brewer's is surprisingly an Italian

With years of experience restoring cars, it’s perhaps surprising that Mike’s favourite comes from a country whose cars tend to need more love than most.

"I have a couple of favourites from the shows actually,” Mike admits. “In the older series, it would definitely be the Lamborghini Urraco. I found it in a frozen garage in Poland and the car was locked up solid. We got it back to the UK and recommissioned it for the road, the mechanical fuel-injected Italian V8 was great to work on and I’m really proud of that show.”

Some of them were shockers however...

When you watch the finished shows, the beautiful shots and editing can make it all seem like the restoration process was a joy or that the presenters care for the cars once they're scrubbed up and ready for the road. Despite this, there have been a few blips that have ruffled Brewer's feathers.

"The first one was definitely a Chevrolet 210 which was an absolute nightmare. We took it back to England and it was a car that just didn’t want to be restored.

"Another was an AMC Pacer that I bought as a tribute to Wayne’s World, one of my favourite movies. It was a great little car but it was destroyed by Edd, he absolutely ruined it. He lowered it, put a vinyl graphic on it, funked up the interior; he ruined what was a really good car."

Mike daily drives a 911 SC because why the hell not

"It’s my alternative daily and I try to use it as much as possible. I also have a 1976 Porsche 912 back in the UK which is easily the most fun you can have in a little Porsche, it’s just incredible."

Considering the upward trend of classic Porsche prices these days, I pitched the idea of him bringing his duck-tailed stunner back over the pond – an idea that he's very much entertaining.

"The SC will almost certainly be coming back to the UK with me, I think I’ll be buried in that car, it’s definitely a keeper."

Ant and Mike are a proper power couple

Just by watching a few short clips of the show on Discovery's YouTube channel, you can see the genuine bond between Mike and his co-star Ant Anstead. The ex-policeman obviously brings some pretty insane technical skill to the show as well as a wavelength that Brewer shares.

"Me and Ant have been friends for 7 years now and we have a really close bond. Our friendship comes from our passion and love for cars, we’re just two car guys and our friendship is based on that.

"At the weekend I go to car shows and I inevitably bump into Ant because he’s also there. We’re two car guys who love what we do, love our passion and I couldn't ask for a better screen partner.”


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Comments (29)

  • I like Ed China, but I don’t like Mike he is a pain in the arse

      2 years ago
  • Yeh Ant is fine, really good replacement but Ed will always be the man. The show is a bit less technical than it was and it’s very much a before and after on the fixes. It’s a shame they deemed the days of filming required when Ed was there not worthwhile, continuing with when the show is a global hit. Bit like new new Top Gear, the essence of the show, has been lost a bit.

      2 years ago
    • How is it less technical? Have I been watching something else?

        2 years ago
  • Why didn't you ask about Edd? This show is not what it used to be. Please put Edd back.

      2 years ago
  • I stopped watching the show after Mike low balled a student out of her Volvo 850R,

      2 years ago
  • I’ve watched every episode of Wheelers but much prefer Ant..

    He just seems more interested to explain in greater detail what he’s doing.

    I particularly like the way he sketches out how things work for non petrol heads..!!

    So yes Ed was good but stick with Ant he’s so much better.

    As for WD it’s excellent tv, ok a little contrived but great fun.. keep up the good work you two.

    I met Mike once at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, we were queuing for pizza and I got chatting to him.

    Very grounded regular bloke..

      2 years ago