Just like any car, rare or exotic cars are sometimes involved in a crash, whether on the track or just in a random traffic incident. Many of those cars are written off for the scrap yard because the cost of fixing them makes repairs prohibitively expensive. But Alex from popular YouTube Channel ‘Alex Rebuilds’ sees things differently and has been buying up supercars at the salvage auction and restoring them to their former glory.
Alex, you’re currently rebuilding Vipers and R8s, but how did you come up with the idea and how did you get started?
It all started back when I was 15 or 16 years old. All my friends were tinkering with cars, so I joined in and started buying up cheap cars and doing little jobs on them, trying to fix them or make them a little better and sell them for a small profit to make some extra pocket money. It all kind of snowballed from there.
You have a very popular YouTube channel with over 250,000 subscribers. Why did you decide to make videos about your work? I can imagine it adds a lot more work to your restoration process.
I thought it would be interesting just to record the process of rebuilding these cars, so I decided to set up a YouTube channel to share some of the videos I was making. At first, most of my viewers were friends of mine but gradually it started to grow into something more. It wasn’t until I started posting videos of my rebuild of a Dodge Challenger Hellcat with over 700 horsepower that things really started to get going. When I made those videos, I gained momentum very quickly. It does add a lot of time to the building process as I mainly fix the cars on my own, so I have to move the camera a lot to make sure I get the shots right.
Are all cars “fixable”?
Technically, I would say yes. Take chassis damage, for instance, something that is usually assumed to mean that the car should be written off immediately, but actually it can be fixed quite easily. It all depends if it’s worth spending the time doing the work and whether the parts are readily available. One of my most popular builds was a Dodge Viper. The car was a total wreck and had chassis damage. What I did was order a new frame and rebuild the car onto the new frame from the first bolt. It was surprisingly “easy” as all of the parts are just bolted on to the frame.
Nowadays there are more and more electric vehicles around, and some of your peers on YouTube are rebuilding Teslas… Does that bring any extra challenges?
I haven’t done a Tesla or anything like that. I suppose it’s a challenge to learn about them and how to work with those high-voltage motors. However, I am rebuilding an Acura NSX, which is a hybrid. It’s a totally different thing, but it’s a start. I learned all my skills on the job through trial and error, so I don’t see why I couldn’t get the hang of rebuilding an electric vehicle or why I should rule out something like a Tesla. It’s not something I plan to do but I could definitely see it happened sometime in the future.
At the Motul Petit Le Mans, you showcased one of your latest creations: a gorgeous Audi R8. What’s the story behind that car?
It was a salvaged Audi R8 with major damage on the right side-panel. It must have had a crash on a track or something. I rebuilt it and one of the reasons I think it looks so good is because of the Vorsteiner kit that’s on it. The kit itself is a bit of a weird story. The car used to have it fitted previously, but for some reason it wasn’t there when I got it from the auction. But it looked so good that I ordered and fitted a new one.
Do you keep any of the cars?
No, unfortunately I can’t. In order to sustain the business and the platform, the cars always have to go. The Audi displayed at Petit Le Mans had already been sold. The longest I ever keep a car for is about a week or two.
Do the owners ever contact you to buy back their cars?
Yes, they do. And actually, I always try to reach out to them and most of the time they really love the story and follow the process closely. But actually, they don’t buy back their car simply because there are often many months in between the accident and the cars being sold to me at auction, so most owners will have already bought themselves a new car in the meantime.