The small village of Canning is about to get a whole lot bigger in profile, if not in size. Award-winning custom car artist Chad Hiltz is the star of Bad Chad Customs, which debuted to potentially millions of viewers on Tuesday, Jan. 1, on the Discovery Channel in the United States and shown in other countries around the world.
The show documents Hiltz’s unique, resourceful style of creating legendary, low-budget custom cars using ordinary materials and scrap metal.
“Why would I need to buy welding wire when I can use a coat hanger?” he says in one of the promotions for the show.
A Canadian airdate for the show has yet to be set, but Hiltz’s shop manager and fiancee, Jolene MacIntyre, said she doesn’t expect for it to be too far behind because of the speed everything has come together. She hasn’t even had time to plan their wedding.
“The whole journey has been quite a ride,” she told the Valley Harvester in the couple’s first official Canadian interview for the show. “We flew into Los Angeles to meet our producers, then the next thing we know we’re sitting down face to face with the execs from Discovery in a big boardroom.”
The couple have spent time in Los Angeles and touring car museums in California around their meeting, filming and promotion schedule, which included announcing the show at SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association), a trade show for automotive restoration, custom builds and accessories that’s held annually in Las Vegas. “It’s only now that we’re able to sit back and reflect on it all,” she said.
Most of the filming for the show took place last spring and summer in Hiltz’s Green Goblin Customs garage located on Hwy. 358, but there are other locations around Nova Scotia that will also be highlighted as builds are unveiled for local clients. In total, they filmed full time for six consecutive months that resulted in six one-hour episodes for the global network. Hiltz is no longer able to monetize on the Green Goblin name because of licensing issues, so the shop is in the process of rebranding to Hiltz Auto Co.
Cameras followed their team, which includes Hiltz’s son, Colton Hiltz, as an apprentice, longtime friend and builder Aaron Rand and mechanic Alex Gould, in and out of the shop as they worked to create one-of-a-kind creations under crazy deadlines.
“Chad has never done a build in a month before and we finished six,” said MacIntyre. “(His) vision and ingenuity are limitless. I’m really excited for our audience to see the process our team goes through from start to finish.”
The show is produced by the American division of Sky Ltd.’s Love Productions, which is appropriate considering love is basically how the couple got here. Hiltz and MacIntyre have been together for about three years, after he met her when she was a waitress at West Side Charlie’s in New Minas and asked her to put up a poster for the Rockabilly Weekend.
As a sign of affection, Hiltz began to build his sweetheart a ride modelled after the French luxury Bugatti and MacIntyre posted weekly videos of its progress on social media. About a year later, they were contacted by the production company.
“Since signing with Love, we have had 15 other U.S.-based production companies reach out from stumbling across our videos,” said MacIntyre, who studied kinesiology and got her business degree from Saint Mary’s University, where she also played varsity soccer.
It’s not a bad way to start the new year for a guy who got fired from every job he did previous to building his shop named after a Marvel character in 2007 and hosting almost 10 years of the Rockabilly Weekend every August.
“I thought I better do something I was good at because what I was doing wasn’t stimulating my old pumpkin. You know what I mean? When I’m working on cars, that’s my medicine,” he said.
The antique car show will also be featured in the series, so book your parking spot on the side of the highway early next August.
The couple hope to expand by opening up a themed diner, merchandise shop and an auto “drive of fame” featuring displays of some of his custom builds. “There’s never a day that goes by that we aren’t dreaming of the future,” said MacIntyre. “When we started posting videos on social media, we dreamed this.”
“It does really test who you are and what you’re made of, believe me,” said Hiltz. “I’ve always said, ‘It’s my dream and I will make it as big as I want to.’ But now, sometimes my dreams scare me and get me all funny in the stomach, but then I ask myself what else would I be doing? If I can become famous building cars in my garage, the world is endless for everybody else.”