A quick glance at the Christmas TV schedule is hardly something to brighten the mood in what has already been a pretty miserable year.
If “celebrity” versions of a dozen game shows, wall-to-wall soap misery and Mrs Brown’s Boys are the TV guide highlights, I dread to think what the shows to miss must be.
But for car fans, salvation is here in the shape of antiques expert Drew Pritchard and used car guru Paul Cowland who are back to save Christmas with a new series of Salvage Hunters Classic Cars.
As in previous series the format follows a familiar buy-it, fix-it, flog-it pattern but unlike so many shows with a similar setup Drew and Paul bring a warmth, charm and genuine enthusiasm to SHCC. They also bring a welcome focus on the craftspeople who help them breath new life into their chosen classics. Rather than pretending they do all the work in-house, the pair introduce viewers to the independent specialists around the UK whose unique skills support the classic car world.
Of course, a big part of the show’s charm is the cars, with previous series seeing Drew and Paul tackle accepted classics such the Jaguar MkII as well as more modern leftfield choices like the Renault Clio Williams. This new series is no different, with everything from a Citroen DS to a Ford Fiesta cropping up.
Series five of Salvage Hunters Classic Cars is making its debut on December 23 on the Discovery+ platform - a subscription service that gets viewers early access to a host of new shows as well as the Discovery back catalogue. From January 6 the show will return to its broadcast home of Quest, every Wednesday at 9pm.
Whether you watch on demand or on the broadcast dates, here’s a peek at what’s coming up.
Citroen DS/Lotus 7
The Citroen DS tops many people’s lists of desirable classics and Drew is no exception. But the rot-stricken example Paul finds isn’t exactly his dream car. Still, Paul’s confident that will enough effort the 1972 model is worth saving.
An easier task, in theory, is a well cared for original Lotus 7 which only needs some light fettling, until Drew starts drawing up more ambitious plans for the car.
Saab 96/Ford Cortina GT
A visit to a collector of quirky European cars sees Drew and Paul leave with a rare Saab 96 - a dream car for Paul. But Paul’s dream is threatened by Drew’s plan for a two-tone paint job.
In Scotland the boys visit another collection – this time of classic Fords. They come away with an immaculate looking Cortina GT ripe for a quick turnaround but when the engine suddenly expires, a new strategy is needed, involving a family business that’s been associated with performance Fords since the 1950s.
Paul heads off on his own the one of the country’s biggest classic car auctions and snaps up an MGA for a bargain price. That’s where the good news stops as the pair disagree on what to do with the car and Drew spends a fortune on bespoke finishes for everything from the wheels to the seats.
Lotus Elise/Ford Fiesta Supersport
Leaping forward a few decades, Drew and Paul pick up a bone fide modern classic in the shape of the Lotus Elise. Their car of choice is weighed under a catalogue’s worth of aftermarket accessories which they aim to remove but which leaves them with a hefty body shop bill.
That bill is nothing compared to the cost when Paul suggests they pay £11,000 for an old Fiesta. It may be a rare Supersport model - Ford’s first ever hot hatch - but Drew still can’t come to terms with the price especially as the one they’re looking at needs a full respray.
Lancia Montecarlo/Citroen 2CV Van
The series finale features two massively different models both of which bring out the aftermarket tuning fan in the pair.
Paul dreams of turning the Lancia Montecarlo - famously used as a rally car in the 1980s - into a full-on rally replica but Drew wants to restore the car to its original factory condition, despite the difficulty sourcing parts.
The tables are turned when the pair pick up a Citroen 2CV van which Drew wants to upgrade with a more powerful motor - a move that Paul dismisses as too complicated and expensive.