An Ex-Contestant Spilled The Truth About Pimp My Ride – And It May Tarnish Your Memory Of The Show

An Ex-Contestant Spilled The Truth About Pimp My Ride – And It May Tarnish Your Memory Of The Show

Back in the mid-2000s, MTV’s latest television project was taking the small screen by storm. Of course, we’re talking about Pimp My Ride, which captured the outrageous transformations of beat-up vehicles. But since the show’s conclusion in 2007, a number of former contestants have revealed some troubling stories about their experiences.

Enter Xzibit

Pimp My Ride made its American TV debut in March 2004, with rap superstar Xzibit fronting proceedings. And the format of the show was fairly straightforward: the host and his crew would make their way over to a young person’s home, where the individual in question would explain why their vehicle deserved an overhaul.

A Winning Format

From there, Xzibit would examine the contestant’s ride, reeling off the problems he could see. The rapper would then guarantee that the car would receive some major improvements. So with everything in place, he’d drive it to a local body shop where mechanics got to work. And the results were often insanely good, with vehicles showcasing the outrageous and the slick that perhaps only millionaires could dream of.

Surprising Experiences

Finally, once the work had been completed, the contestant would get to see their newly improved vehicle. Over the years, viewers were treated to some epic car transformations – and some truly memorable TV moments, too. But as we highlighted earlier, a few of the youngsters that took part have shared some shocking information about their experiences.

No Understatements Here

Over the course of Pimp My Ride’s six seasons, more than 70 episodes of the show aired on the small screen. And so, fans were treated to a whole host of different vehicle overhauls. Some of the finished products are, of course, more memorable than others, but one thing’s for sure: they were never understated.

From Boring…

For instance, one episode focused on a woman who wanted to transform her brown station wagon. The contestant was introduced as an aspiring nurse, and her ambitions were taken on board by the show’s body shop crew. And when the big reveal came, the once-boring vehicle was totally unrecognizable.

…To Bangin’!

First off, the nurse’s previously sludge-colored car had been given a brand-new paint job: the upper half of the station wagon had been sprayed white, while the lower section was now a dark blue. And the two colors were separated by a red line, which cleverly represented the readings of a heart-rate monitor. On top of that, the medical symbol of caduceus had been drawn on the bonnet.

Totally Unrecognizable

But the surprises didn’t end there. After showcasing the extravagant paint job to the contestant, Xzibit and his colleague directed her to the trunk of the car. And they touched upon the young woman’s desire to become a nurse, before popping the back open.

Sci-Fi Station Wagon

Incredibly, a large portion of the vehicle’s interior had been transformed into a lie-down area, somewhat resembling a CT scanner. But instead of a dose of radiation, music pumped out of the TV screens and speakers. Meanwhile, the bottom extended to the outside of the trunk – like an ambulance stretcher – with the push of a button. And if this weren’t cool enough, the car had been equipped with a “hip-hop” siren as well.

Rob’s Ugly Van

Another particularly memorable episode centered on a young man named Rob, who owned an old, beat-up van. Unsurprisingly, the contestant was desperate for the vehicle to get a new look. And while Rob got his wish in the end, few could’ve predicted just how far the show’s crew would go with it.

Pimped To The Extreme

Prior to Xzibit’s intervention, Rob’s van was a tired sky blue. When the body shop workers were done, though, the exterior had a new golden sheen. Plus, the vehicle’s grill was now covered in diamonds, adding to the lavish feel. And yet that wasn’t all, as the show still had a few more tricks up its sleeve.

Card Tricks

After unveiling the van’s new color, Xzibit and company directed Rob to the exhaust pipe. And with the push of a button, a deck of playing cards suddenly shot across the shop floor, drawing a big laugh from the host. But this was nothing compared to what was about to come: the entire van appeared to have been transformed into Rob’s very own mini casino.

Hit The Slots

And no casino would be complete without games. That’s right: the crew had installed an actual slot machine into the car door. Even more incredibly, Rob had to pull the machine’s lever, score a match with the slots on the screen and watch a number of coins fall in order to unlock his vehicle. Now that’s bling.

Hitting The Jackpot

At this stage, Rob got his first glimpse inside the newly decked-out van. And there the gambling theme carried over into the interior, as the carpet had its own craps table and dice stick. To round things off, a small white piano was fitted in the back as well with a padded seat positioned next to it. Presumably, Rob felt as though he’d won the jackpot.

Wild Paint Job

Meanwhile, a different contestant received a surprise when Pimp My Ride got hold of her car. Her name was Esmerelda, and she owned a convertible. After the crew finished working on the vehicle, it had a yellow paint job. Alongside that, a giant Tiki mask was drawn across the bonnet. But that’s not the half of it.

Beach Mobile

You see, much like the bonnet, the seat had a Tiki mask design sewn into it. But the real surprise saw a pair of extravagant binoculars screwed into the frame, allowing backseat passengers to look through them when the convertible’s roof was lowered. This was especially important for Esmeralda, who’d wanted to take the car to the beach more.

Tiki Vision

Once again, the Tiki theme had been implemented there, as the binoculars formed part of another large mask. Esmerelda subsequently tested them out, before being redirected to the rear of the car. From there, Xzibit and company unveiled one last alteration to the vehicle that caught the contestant off guard.

Pushing The Limits

Yes, after opening the trunk, Esmerelda caught sight of a fully-equipped snow cone machine. In fact, she went on to make her own slushy in the body shop, dousing it in red flavoring. While it might not have been as elaborate as the previous two transformations, it did outline how far Pimp My Ride was willing to push things.

All-New Paint Job

On that note, another memorable moment occurred when a skater named Mike handed his van over to the show. Prior to that, the vehicle had a white paint job, with pink lines wrapping around the lower half. Following some time in the shop, though, the exterior was spray painted blue and orange.

The Bread Seat

In addition to that, the driver’s seat was given an overhaul. For you see, Mike’s van was a bread truck, so the crew reshaped the chair into two giant slices of white bread. And if that wasn’t enough, they installed a skater’s ramp at the back of the vehicle as well.

Viral Van Makeover

To round things off, the body shop workers placed some large speakers inside the van, fitting them in front of the ramp. Once the transformation was complete, Mike couldn’t contain his excitement alongside Xzibit. Highlights from that particular episode were uploaded to YouTube by MTV, with the video earning over 96,000 views.

Not Everything Was As It Seemed

So as you can see, Pimp My Ride was responsible for some stunning pieces of work during its run. Regardless of the vehicle, each motor was given an overhaul that left viewers speechless. However, as we touched upon before, not all was as it seemed behind the scenes.

Not The Best Time

As it turned out, a few of the young contestants didn’t have the greatest time on the program. Jake Glazier, who appeared in the fourth season, was one of them. His feelings were shared by two other guys named Justin Dearinger and Seth Martino, who featured in the show’s final season.

Behind The Scenes

Following the trio’s respective appearances on Pimp My Ride, they each took part in their own “Ask Me Anything” threads on Reddit. But in an effort to learn more, the HuffPost website contacted all three of them for an interview in February 2015. The news outlet also spoke to one of the show’s executive producers, hoping to get his reply to the stories.

YouTube / Howfinity

Just For The Cameras

To begin with, Dearinger revealed that certain accessories in his car were taken away after the filming stopped. The crew had originally installed both a “drive-in theater” and a champagne “pop-up,” yet those two items got scrapped for safety reasons. Meanwhile, one of Martino’s upgrades proved to be a big disappointment.

Practical Issues

Indeed, the body shop crew stuck a “robotic arm” inside Martino’s motor during his episode. But the contraption could only be operated via a laptop computer, so it ended up being quite useless in the end. On top of that, the LED bulbs that had been fitted into the vehicle’s chairs were problematic as well.


“There were plenty of things wrong with [the car],” Martino recalled to HuffPost. “[The LED lights] would get really hot if left on so I couldn’t drive with them on. They took the gull-wing doors off because the pistons used to lift them, kept them from putting seat belts in the back, which was highly dangerous.”

The Engine Still Needed Help

The issues with Martino’s ride didn’t end there, though. He continued, “There wasn’t much done under the hood in regards to the actual mechanics of the vehicle. For the most part, it needed a lot of work done to make it a functioning regular driver, which they did not do.”

Like Driving A Boat

“[The crew] added a lot of extra weight but didn’t adjust the suspension to compensate,” Martino explained. “So I felt like I was in a boat. And every time I hit a bump, the car would bottom out and the tires would scrape inside the wheel well.” Due to that, the former contestant claimed that his vehicle couldn’t operate for longer than a month.

Personalized Service

In the end, Martino eventually had to buy a brand-new engine to fix the issue. Off the back of those comments, the show’s co-executive producer shed some light on what happened after the cars were fixed up. According to Larry Hochberg, he would personally get involved if a vehicle previously worked on by the show experienced problems. This included taking MTV’s own tow truck to meet the former contestant.

The Cars Were Old To Begin With

But in Hochberg’s mind, certain problems couldn’t be avoided. He told HuffPost, “It’s not accurate to say that we didn’t work on the mechanics of the cars. [Yet] some of the cars were so old and rusted that they would have mechanical issues no matter how much work you put into them.”

Bursting Into Flames

Glazier and Dearinger were in a similar position to Martino, as they experienced issues of their own. The former offloaded his car a few weeks on from the transformation due to mechanical complications. As for the latter, his extravagant vehicle caught fire on the road following years of required touch-ups.

“Now Do It Again, Please”

Away from the mechanical problems, other issues came to light too. For instance, Dearinger and Glazier recalled that the show didn’t like their initial responses when the vehicles were unveiled. They subsequently had to act more enthusiastic in front of the camera, even though they’d already seen the end results.

Ramp It Up For The Cameras

Glazier revealed to HuffPost, “I remember this very clearly. Big Dane, [a] very big dude, he like puts his arm around my shoulder, kind of walks me around the shop for like ten minutes and he’s like, ‘Listen, we put a lot of work into this. We expect you to be a little more f****** enthusiastic.’”

Covering Costs

Alongside the fake reactions, the timelines in the episodes were also deceptive. For you see, the vehicles were often in the warehouse for several months, as opposed to a few days. Unsurprisingly, that led to additional issues for the contestants. For instance, Martino was stuck with a rental car that he himself had to finance, until MTV covered the costs some time later.

Not-So-True Extremes

Furthermore, Glazier and Dearinger claimed that certain aspects of their stories were embellished by the program. In the former’s case, his car was littered with cigarettes when he revealed that his grandma was a smoker. As for the contestant from the sixth season, his vehicle was made to look more beat-up than it actually was.

Fat Shaming

However, Martino arguably got the worst of it, as he explained on Reddit. “I know I’m fat,” he said. “But [the show] went the extra mile to make me look extra fat by telling the world that I kept candy all over my seat and floor, just in case I got hungry. Then [they] gave me a cotton candy machine in my trunk.”

Relying On A Cliche

Martino then told HuffPost, “At the time, I didn’t question anything because it was an exciting experience and I just kind of went with the flow. I know it is kind of mean, but I think they just wanted to put a cotton candy machine in a car and used the fat guy as the opportunity to do it.”

Keeping A Positive Outlook

Despite the aforementioned negativity, Dearinger and Glazier both shared a fondness for their time on the program, which shows no sign of coming back. Indeed, the latter admitted that he “missed it for many years.” Martino was a little less enamored after what happened to him, but he still tried to put a positive spin on things.

Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience

“The whole situation was definitely not what I hoped for,” Martino told HuffPost. “And there were times I wanted to give it all back because of how frustrating it was, but now I look back and laugh. I have this really cool story that only a handful of people can say they experienced.”