Sneak peek into the junkyard of “Rust Valley Restorers” Mike Hall

April 18, 2024
10 mins read

Due to the success of the reality television series “Rust Valley Restorers,” car collector and restorer Mike Hall, enjoyed immense popularity in the car enthusiasts’ global community. One of the reasons he attracted so much interest was because of his “field of dreams,” also known as a junkyard, which contained over 500 classic cars in need of restoration. In 2021, he reluctantly arranged a public auction to dispose of his massive collection. He ran out of time to restore them all, and they were in danger of going under the crusher as he’d already sold the land where his cars were kept. This decision delighted his car-crazed fans, as many of them had been eyeing the vintage if rusting vehicles in his junkyard since his TV series was launched in 2018.

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A background on “Rust Valley Restorers”

In a remote settlement of Tappen in British Columbia near the Rocky Mountains, popularly known as Rust Valley, a five-acre property gained prominence because it was home to a junkyard and a car restoration shop. These along with its owner Mike Hall became the front and center of the Canadian reality-TV show called “Rust Valley Restorers.”

Mike’s attempt to sell his property went viral, and led to his own TV show

A story about a junkyard with over 400 abandoned classic cars for sale, along with his property, went viral in 2017. Mike was surprised when Matt Shewchuk, an executive producer from Mayhem Entertainment, one of the leading content producers in Canada, didn’t waste time, and offered a reality-TV show to him, saying ‘Hey, you have all those cars. Let’s do a show on that.’ The rumor at that time was that there weren’t any takers for the property that Mike was selling and so he immediately accepted the producer’s offer. Others said that filming the show gave Mike the perfect excuse not to sell his property – it was his second attempt to sell it, because he’d already put it up for sale in 2016, but no one made the right offer. The TV contract came at the right time, as it was a win-win situation for him – he achieved his long-time dream of restoring the cars, and at the same time getting paid while doing it.

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The premise of the show

By the time Mike Hall filmed the first season of “Rust Valley Restorers,” he was already past 60 years old, and knew that he was running out of time to make something out of his collection of abandoned cars. Car restoration enthusiasts knew just by looking at his junkyard that it would generate around a couple of million dollars if all those cars were restored. He opened up a car restoration business called Rust Bros, and each episode in the show featured Mike along with his best friend, Avery Shoal, and son Connor Hall, rummaging around the junkyard to choose the perfect cars to fix. They also accepted restoration projects from classic car owners. However, Mike had a couple of problems – first, he never restored a car with a limited budget, and so always ended up overspending. Second, he had a hard time letting go of the cars after they were restored. It was the job of Avery and Connor to stop Mike from overspending, and to encourage him to part ways with the restored car.

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TV debut and ratings

“Rust Valley Restorers” was co-produced by Mayhem Entertainment and Big Time Decent Productions Inc. The reality-TV show premiered on 6 December 2018, and its first season was composed of eight episodes. To the surprise of many people, including the cast members, it easily became one of the top five most-watched TV series in Canada. Mike said that it was probably because they restored cars for regular folks, although when the show became popular, he received plenty of offers from high-profile companies and individuals to restore their classic prized possessions; he refused them all. Apparently, he had a different perspective when it came to classic car restorations, saying that he preferred to restore cars that would be used on the roads rather than stored in garages or displayed. The cast and crew were rewarded with a 2018 nomination for the Canadian Screen Award for Best Direction in a Documentary or Factual Series.

Meet Mike Hall

The car restoration business usually involved several people, but in “Rust Valley Restorers,” the buck stopped with Mike Hall. Every single decision – about the car to be restored, the car part that should be used, and who to call if an additional hand was needed – went through him. Some people thought that with long stringy dreadlocks, round eyeglasses, and hippie aura, Mike had a laidback personality. He might be quirky at times, but he was a hands-on guy, and was dead serious when it came to car restoration…. well, most of the time.

Not his first intro to reality-TV show

“Rust Valley Restorers” viewers were surprised to learn that it wasn’t Mike’s first foray into the world of reality-TV. He was seen in a few episodes in the earlier seasons of “Highway Thru Hell,” a popular TV show about heavy rescue truckers on the Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia, clearing it from any obstruction to ensure that the vehicles on the road continued moving. One of the most significant moments Mike had in that show was when he and his crew were called in to remove huge boulders, which fell from the slopes near the road after a nasty winter storm.  He expertly showed his skills in dealing with unstable slopes, and blasting a huge chunk of rock into manageable pieces, so that the heavy rescue truckers could easily remove them. At that time, he was known as “Rasta Blasta.”

A blasting contractor and steep slope stabilizer

Before Mike’s name became synonymous with car restoration in Canada, he was a blasting contractor with a business he established called Chimera Springs Roadworks Ltd. His company provided solutions to construction challenges including unstable slopes or rugged terrain that needed to be controlled. He was skilled in drilling, blasting, rock scaling, and slope stabilizing. It was reported that most of his million-dollar fortune came from accepting these contracts.

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Personal life and family

With very little information about Mike Hall that could be found online, it was evident that he was quite a private person. He was born in Saint Boniface, a bustling district in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada but was mostly raised in Kamloops, British Columbia, to where they relocated due to his father’s acceptance of a new job with CP Rail. His father had a lot to do with his passion for collecting and restoring classic cars, apparently developed while watching his father work in their garage when he was growing up.

When it came to his own family, he rarely mentioned them in the show; even his son Connor, who was also in “Rust Valley Restorers,” never said anything specific about their family. They would reminisce about their time together when Connor was growing up, but the narrative was always limited to the two of them. However, there were very few times that Mike would slip up, during his funny bantering with his best friend, Avery. For instance, he mentioned that his car collection, which was previously stored on their 26-acre farm property, drove his wife crazy. Viewers immediately assumed that he had a wife, and that she was Connor’s mother. However, in another episode that featured the wedding of one of his crew members, he casually told Avery that weddings were a huge deal, and was the reason why he’d never married. This declaration confused fans, who wondered if he was serious or just being playful.

Mike’s junkyard, also known as the “field of dreams”

Over the years since the premiere of his TV series, his collection of 400 rusty classic cars grew to around 550 by the time he decided to put the whole lot on the auction block in 2022. Here are some of the fascinating moments surrounding the auction:

EG Auctions handled the selling of Mike Hall’s 550 cars

Auction day finally arrived and Mike struggled to say goodbye to his field of dreams, hoping that it wouldn’t be the biggest mistake he’d ever made. Todd Schwindt, the President and CEO of EG Auctions, came to personally organize the auction, as well as assure Mike that everything would go smoothly as planned. Todd wanted everything cleaned in the junkyard as much as they possibly could, so it would be easy for the buyers to choose a car and pay for it.

Mike couldn’t sleep on the eve of the auction

Mike repeatedly asked himself, ‘What have I done?’, as he tossed and turned while lying in bed trying to get some sleep the night before the auction. He couldn’t believe that he’d agreed to auction his entire car collection, which he considered as his legacy. He said, ‘Basically, this is the largest financial gamble I made in my entire life. Flip a coin – heads I win, tails I lose.’ Avery said that Mike never attended an auction in his entire life and didn’t have any idea how it was run. He thought that it was risky because they didn’t decide any reserve option, and everything could be sold at any price. His best friend might end up with ten dollars a car.

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700 online registered online buyers

Todd informed Mike that at 8 pm on the eve of the auction, his company had already recorded a huge number of registered online buyers, breaching the company’s record of 600 registrants from a previous auction. By the time the auction started, around 700 online buyers were standing by, live streaming the event. Mike said that even if he wanted to cancel the event, he could no longer do it. With the kind of interest that they garnered, EG Auctions was confident that they could sell most of the cars that day.

His last car restoration project before the auction

Less than 24 hours before the auction, Mike was under pressure to get the part he needed to finish one of his last car restorations for the season. It was a welcome distraction from what he felt would be a chaotic day for him. The client wanted their old rusty 1964 Pontiac restored to a flashy yet classy vibe – the client’s wife wanted to look their age when they drove around, and at the same time let their children enjoy the classic car while they were still young. A third-row seat was essential to the car, because of the number of children that his clients had. Mike might forget where he placed the car keys that he was holding a minute ago, but when it came to cars, his memory was quite sharp. He remembered that a co-collector had a station wagon with a car seat that would be a perfect fit for the Pontiac, so the car was restored before the auction started, and the client was quite satisfied with the result.

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The 1971 Camaro that Mike didn’t want to let go

Since the first season, Mike had been urged to restore the 1971 Camaro. It took him two more seasons to finally say yes to it, but then didn’t want to sell it to anyone after it had been restored; he had always intended to keep it for himself. However, when the EG Auctions CEO asked to have it included in the auction to attract more buyers who were interested in high-end cars, he reluctantly gave in. Apparently, a car buddy of his gave the engine to him, and that buddy had died of a terminal illness a couple of years later. Mike became emotional so he couldn’t continue with the story. However, that friend also believed that they didn’t own the cars, but were merely caretakers. Todd, who handled many car auctions, knew where Mike was coming from, and promised Mike that he would find a good home for it.

Connor and Avery had to drag Mike to the auction spot

It was sad yet hilarious at the same time that Connor and Avery had to physically drag Mike to watch the auction. He said that while they were walking into his field of dreams, he started to have a panic attack. He felt that his guts were being ripped apart especially when he heard the auctioneer announcing the details of the auction. Both his son and best friend ensured that he wouldn’t be alone during the event, constantly reassuring him that it was the right thing to do.

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The auction was a success

At the end of the auction, Todd Schwindt of EG Auctions informed Mike that it was a huge success. While some of the cars were sold for just a couple of hundred dollars, some were sold for more than $20,000. Before the auction, Todd predicted that the total sales would go for $500,000, and Mike said it would probably fetch about $650,000 but they were both wrong. The total tally went up to $750,000, and it was only for one day. It was an amazing result considering that the location of his junkyard was somewhere in a remote area in British Columbia, but car enthusiasts from all over North America came to purchase their dream vintage cars. Mike said that it was such a bittersweet moment for him, as he watched car aficionados like him snatch them up just as he would have done if it wasn’t his collection, and he knew just by looking at their faces that his cars had found good homes. ‘There’s a lot of cars I’ve had for 30 or 40 years. It’s time for somebody else to take care of them.’

All but 50 cars were sold

Mike Hall planned to keep only 10 cars for himself, but he ended with 52, which he said wasn’t bad at all. There were still plenty to play with in his garage but it was a huge relief that his huge collection didn’t occupy his mind anymore. However, he admitted to Avery that he might have lied about the total number of cars that he kept in his collection. Losing 500 cars in one day was a bit overwhelming for Mike, but at the end of the day, he achieved what he should have done many years ago.

Mike Hall’s car addiction continues

One of the advantages of Mike having his car restoration business documented, was that almost everything about it was caught on camera. Each time he wanted to look back and see his field of dreams, he only needed to stream a video online. His son Connor even had a short video about his car collection posted on Instagram, when he was informing everyone about the auction.

Before the fourth season of “Rust Valley Restorers” ended, Mike Hall was seen accepting a delivery in his shop – another rusty classic car. Avery wasn’t surprised anymore, because he knew his best friend better than anyone else in the world. Mike couldn’t resist not buying, especially now that he had let go of his previous collection. It was just a matter of time before the car master restorer found new land, and filled it with a new collection, although some were curious if he would later end up acquiring some of the cars he’d sold at his own auction.

Olivia Wilson

As the Freelance Writer at Net Worth Post, I steer producing riveting stories about the lives and triumphs of influencers. With an unwavering commitment to precision and a flair for weaving compelling tales, I guide our content creation, from the depths of research to the pinnacle of narrative excellence. My responsibilities encompass the full spectrum of editorial management, including the meticulous investigation, narrative development, and upholding the integrity and high standard of our output.

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