Two car guys from Prosper are about to hit the airwaves and they’re taking Prosper along for the ride.
Jim Bussell and John Dishong haven’t been friends that long, but they have both been car lovers since they were teenagers. Jim has enjoyed working on cars and has always been a huge Chevy Corvette fan, having worked on three Corvettes from the time of his college graduation to moving to Prosper. He had a 2008 convertible ‘Vette that he sold around the time tragedy struck with the death of his oldest son, Trent Pinkley.
“I said, ‘you know what? We need to just start having fun playing with cars,’” said Bussell.
With that proclamation, Jim and son Chance Pinkley traveled to China (Texas, that is) and bought their first car to work on together. For Jim, it was a good chance to spend some quality time with his kids Chance, a member of the state-title winning 2008 PHS football team, and 16-year-old Walker Bussell, a junior at Prosper High School, and teach them the value of patience at the same time. And, as anyone who has ever worked on a car is surely aware, patience truly is a virtue. Life lessons.
“But at the same time, I’m getting to spend all this time with the kids,” said Jim.
Enter John. Having met through a mutual friend, Jim and John quickly bonded over their love of cars. It didn’t hurt that John also had a home mechanics’ dream garage complete with a car lift.
“We’re like inseparable teenage friends now,” said Jim with a laugh, estimating that he and John spend three days a week together. “We’re car freaks; we love to tinker with cars.”
The duo combined to buy, fix up and sell a couple of cars, one of which was posted on CraigsList. Shortly after that posting went live, Jim received an email wondering if he would be interested in being on a television show. Naturally, he was suspicious.
“I thought it was a complete scam,” Jim said.
However, thinking that there was nothing to lose since the sender only had the CraigsList email address, Jim submitted his story. He got a response back, and in short order the TV production company set up a phone interview. Jim then explained in greater detail his history, including Chance and John.
The producers loved it. They informed Jim that a show was in the works for the History Channel about car guys, told him it was called Car Hunters and they wanted to center each 30-minute episode around a duo searching for their dream car. Jim and John were interviewed, as was Chance via Skype, and subsequently each of the two men were scheduled for their own 30-minute episode. John was joined by his good friend Harley Jeanise, of Celina.
The mens’ episodes were shot in early and late January, and each had to commit three 18-hour days shooting their respective episodes. It was at this point that the men learned that there had been more than 300 applicants for 16 shows.
“We felt like we killed our interview,” Jim said of his and Chance’s interview. “They really liked the fact that Chance was in it because we were the only father-son group that was going to be [featured].”
Much of the shooting features Prosper prominently. All the drivealongs were shot in Prosper for Jim’s episode, along with shots of the water tower, back roads and schools. Prosper is shown extensively in John’s episode, as well.
“My [test drive] was actually down by the police department,” said John.
The concept of the show is that two buyers go and look at three different cars. One of the behind-the-scenes secrets of the show is that the men actually already owned one of the cars they were looking at, though which one will be revealed at the end of the episode. Two of the cars were complete surprises for Jim, Chance, John and Harley. The crew would set up the lights and cameras and send the men outside before they could view the prospective car. They wanted an authentic reaction. These sellers, it should be noted, were authentic and were picked off of for sale listings in the area.
This took John to downtown Dallas and West Fort Worth for his test drives and shoots. Jim and Chance’s test drives took them around Prosper, Irving and Mesquite. Those test drives featured a multitude of GoPro action cameras mounted in and on the car and an actual camera car leading them on the drive. This last vehicle drew its fair share of attention while on the road.
“The interesting thing is you spend all day over there and a lot of things are shot out of sequence for efficiency sake. Then they catered in lunch at the seller’s house. We did everything three times. ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ They would say, ‘Okay, go back to your car and do it again and we’ll do wide-angle shots,’” John explained. “And on the way over to the location they gave you a fact sheet… and said, ‘learn about it and show us.’ We had to kind of be informative while we were shown the car, and luckily, I go back with cars and Harley is a true car nut; he owns Lone Star Performance in Addison. He’s Mister Hot Rod.”
Each group had its own budget. The budget for John’s episode was $12,000 and producers purposely wanted to get a car that was way out of that target price range and one that was on the cheaper side as a candidate for restoration.
While each group was paid a small fee for its appearance, no one involved did it for the money. They spent 54 hours filming for each 27-minute show, and Jim and John each got to involve their children as John’s son Alex (a 2015 PHS grad) was a small part of his episode.
“This would be hard to do for a living,” said Jim. “You start as soon as the sun comes up and shoot as long as you possibly can. And you don’t realize how much you have to repeat yourself, over and over and over [for the cameras].”
“I found that there was a lot of downtime, and I’m a Type A guy so that just drives me crazy, sitting around waiting for people. But there’s a lot of just waiting,” said John. “And I found it challenging that you’ve got to be a quick thinker, quick speaker, and I’m an engineer so I’ve got a filter. I was probably pretty reserved out there.”
While no one involved will miss the hours, nor some of the peculiarities of recording real life for the cameras, Jim, John and Chance all agreed that they were glad to have had the opportunity.
Jim and Chance’s episode was set to air May 3 at 9 p.m., while John and Harley’s episode is scheduled for May 17 at 9 p.m. A show teaser, featuring clips from all four men’s episodes, can be seen at http://www.history.com/shows/car-hunters.