Bo’s Hot Rods & Restorations could be setting for reality show

Mar. 01, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

As filming concludes today at local car shop, two reality TV producers will fly back out west, trying to convince Hollywood to pick up a show about a group of local men and their work with fast, flashy cars.

Bo’s Hot Rods & Restorations, which draws orders from places as far afield as Hawaii, Norway and Australia to its Market Street location in the downtown Sanford area, is owned by James “Bo” Boyer. According to Marklen Kennedy and Matthew Borlenghi, who would serve as executive producers of the show about his shop tentatively titled Red Hot Rods, the combination of fancy cars and dueling personalities would make for compelling reality TV.

“It’s really passion-driven conflict,” said Borlenghi, best known for his role as Brian Bodine on the soap opera “All My Children” as the love interest of Kelly Ripa’s Hayley Vaughn. “They’re not just fighting for the sake of fighting; they’re standing up for what they think is best.”

Borlenghi said he thinks the conflicts between Bo and his son, Matt, as well as his new business partner, Jimmie Bullis, will make for riveting viewing. The father-son tensions revolve around a generational divide that was clear in the shop Wednesday even before the producers showed up, as Bo showed off the detailed ‘50s-style diner he built at the front of the store, playing a juke box, before walking back to the machine shop where Matt was blaring heavy metal.

Between Boyer and Bullis, according to the executive producers, the tension revolves around their business philosophy: Boyer is all about creativity and artistic expression, whereas Bullis is focused on the bottom line.

Borlenghi admitted that like all reality TV, some of the conflicts and other elements would be manufactured. But with unkind words for series like “Jersey Shore,” he said he’s against a show that’s completely scripted, and that he wants the attitudes, interviews and conflicts to generally be as real as possible.

He said he was drawn to the idea because he loves fast cars and motorcycles and knew that there’s a market for automotive shows. With the fact that the South is the setting for many of the most popular current reality shows (among them “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “Duck Dynasty” and “Swamp People.” Borlenghi said he surfed the web for an eye-catching Southern hot rod shop before finding Boyer and refusing to take no for an answer.

Boyer, 52, said he first thought Borlenghi was a scammer, responding to his emails with less-than-kind words. But after the producer was persistent, the Charlotte native, who speaks with a Southern drawl as thick as his beard, agreed to do the show. In addition to the office drama, Boyer and Borlenghi both said, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Boyer runs one of the best hot rod shops around. Cars from the shop have won several major awards and have been featured on dozens of magazine covers. Boyer said his employees have the tools and skills to make any part except for chrome and internal engine pieces, so custom-made cars are a specialty.

“You show me a picture; I’ll build it,” he said. “Not many shops in the country will do that.”

The shop is now working on two red Mustangs, an orange-and-cream Thunderbird, a green Nash and several others. There was one Corvette with tags from Fort Bragg awaiting an $8,000 paint job, but Boyer said most orders don’t come from locals. Still, anyone who wants engine work, paint, upholstery or even a made-from-scratch car is welcome.

“We do some $200 or $300 jobs, and we do some $125,000 jobs,” Boyer said.

With filming for a promotional piece wrapping up, Borlenghi and Kennedy said they’ll be able to shop it around to channels like Discovery, History or Spike in about a month. If it catches someone’s eye, they said, it will likely come on the air either in November or this time next year. Kennedy, who produces Showtime’s controversial “Gigolos” reality show, said he thinks a show about hot rods will resonate with viewers across the country, and it doesn’t hurt that the main characters are all passionate people.

“I think vintage is a way of life,” he said. “People who like this, it’s really just ingrained in them.”