Wheeler Dealers: Mike Brewer Know-How at Greystone Concours d'Elegance 2016

Wheeler Dealers host Mike Brewer chats with friends Jay Leno and Bruce Meyer.

Mike Brewer visits with friends at Greystone Mansion Concours

Beverly Hills CA, May 1 2016 - This year's Greystone Concours d"Elegance featured a special appearance and guest lecture by British Wheeler Dealers television personality Mike Brewer in the Greystone Mansion library. A Wheeler Dealers book signing was also hosted by Autobooks-Aerobooks.

Wheeler Dealers host Mike Brewer signs book

Wheeler Dealers Car Restoration Manual book signing at Autobooks-Aerobooks

Unfortunately co-host Edd China was unavailable due to prior commitments, but Mike can carry a room all by himself. His lecture could have been titled "How in the heck did we get here?" having provided the intimate brief history and genesis of Wheeler Dealers. Following are excerpts from Mike's story as unfolded in the mansion library darkness...

Mike Brewer: The phone rung and I picked it up and it was a young lady. She said “hello my name is Celia. I’m making a car program and we’d like to put a car dealer in this car program for Channel 4 television in England.” I said you got the wrong person for a start and the one you want has just gone to the toilet. [laughter] She said “actually do you work there?” I said yes I do. “Well I’m actually looking at your advert for your stock display. I am actually looking for a car as well as this program. What can you tell me about a Volkswagen Gulf GTi.”

So I said to this lady well it’s 62,000 miles one over from new. 3 door hatchback Volkswagen Gulf GTi 1.8 litre engine 176 horsepower. This thing will just pull your neck off when you put your foot down and you head towards the horizon. This car was actually deliberately geared so that by the time you get out of first gear you’re already doing 60 miles an hour and therefore beating the top speed of any other car in itself to north of 60 speed.

And she went “Oh my god you know so much about cars!” I didn’t know I knew this much about cars either. I know I learned it somehow through my dad, through my history and through my past. It just comes back out of you. So she said “We must get together. I must come down to the showroom and we must talk to you about this car show.” And I said well it’s up to you. If you want to turn up to the car showroom. I’d be pleased to see you. But in the meantime do you want to buy this Gulf? [audience laughing] She said “Not really but now I know who you are and I may come down and see you.”

So I went home that night and said to Michelle guess what happened today? I met the television people and they want to film me in a show they are making. They want to film me buying and selling cars. Michelle said “You don’t really want to do that.” And I said No not really. I have no desire to be on television whatsoever. None whatsoever! Not only that, remember I spent the last 10 years building myself up as a really honest and good little car dealer. I didn’t want to be betrayed on television as a naughty fly-by-night car dealer which is what Channel 4 was -- a channel with sensationalist establishment.

So I say to this lady that wants to put me on television we discussed it and we said no. Let’s not do it. It’s just not right. It’s not for us. We are car dealers and we should continue to do that, and trust me there was no better car dealer in London at the time than us two. We have a little system going between us, me and my wife, because we can talk and think like each other like you do when you’re together for a long time. We’ve pulled off some really wonderful little things.

I’ve got some amazing stories about us working together. Just fantastic. Things like I’ll be showing somebody a car and Michelle’s coming outside with a mobile phone going “I got somebody on the phone about that car.” [audience laughing] Okay well just give us second Michelle. I’ll say do you really want to buy this car because we’ve got somebody else? You do want to. Buy it? Come into the office we’ll take your money away. That’s great, thank you very much. [audience laughing] That’s the kind of stuff we’re always up to all the time. [audience laughing]

So we discussed it. I didn’t want to be on television. Had no desire. But a week later this young blonde lady turned up at the showroom holding a mini cam and she went “Hello Mike my name is Celia Taylor. I spoke to you from Channel 4.” I said hello. She said “Can I get you to tell me about Peugeot 205 GTi one of the most popular sellers? Can you tell me about Peugeot 205 GTi?” and [Mike makes a click sound] the camera started to film me talking about cars. [audience laughing] I’m thinking this woman’s a bit weird. [audience laughing]

She wants to film me talking about cars. So she filmed me talking about this car. She finished and once I finished talking about the car ( I gave her a full description all the way around it). She said “That was absolutely brilliant you know. That is so good and I’m going to take it back to my bosses and I think you should come and be on the show.” I said Celia I told you before I don’t want to be in this car program. What is the car program anyway?

She said "Well there are 4 million people buying and selling cars and it’s going to be called Deals on Wheels. It’s on Channel 4.” I said well it’s not really for me. And she said “Well okay if you won’t be in the show could we lean upon you for some advice?” I said I don’t know anything about television. She said “You know a lot about cars.” I know enough. I don’t know how I can help you. She said “Could we just bring you in for consultation?” I said Well if you want. Really I don’t care.

So over the course of the next few months I got these random phone calls from producers and directors saying words like: “Hello is that Mike Brewer?” Yes. “Hello. We’re looking at an Austin Maestro would you consider that to be a good car?” I said not really. [audience laughing] One of the worst ones ever produced. Thank you very much. [audience laughing] That’s weird. What’s that phone call all about. [audience laughing]

“Hello is that Mike Brewer?” Yes. “We’re thinking about the Mini Mark I would you consider that to be a good car?” Yes, I consider it to be probably one of the best cars ever made. Thank you very much. [audience laughing] And that went on for about 3 months.

Three months later, this call from Celia comes. I said Hello Celia. I had to remind myself who she was. Celia who? “Celia Taylor I came down to film you with a camera.” Oh yes Celia. What can I do for you? Want some more advice on cars? She said “No, actually the reason I am ringing you is because we made the program. We’ve done it. We shot it. It’s brilliant. The show is great.” And I went good for you. “Would you like to come for a red carpet screening or something? We made the show and we’re thinking of bringing in a presenter for the show - to link the show together. You would just do the linking part - would you consider doing that?”

I said not really. I’m not really a presenter. And she said “Well would you think about it?” I said well okay. I’ll think about it and I’ll let you know. Now, this is a little bit of a weird one. At that time everyone in the world was buying handy cameras – little tiny video camera or handy cam. And it just so happened there was a little part of my brain saying I have a handy cam in my car showroom. And for some reason that night on the way home I put my handy cam on the passenger seat. I turned it on. I pointed at myself and thought I’m going to have to watch that  Jeremy Bubble Head. [audience laughing] You know him. You see him all of the time on television. [audience laughing]

So I drove home looking at this camera and I went [best presenter voice on] “Hello. Me. Mike. Yeah, I’ve got one good car here. I like it. It’s good. Really good. It changes gears. Look at the way it changes gears. This is good isn’t it? The steering is nice and tight. Steering’s good.”

I come home after talking to this camera thing and went in. I flipped on the camera screen and Michelle went “You know that’s really good. It’s really quite good. You should think about it. Maybe you should do this TV thing.” So I phoned this Celia up and said if you want me come do the screen test or whatever you call it -- this TV show. Maybe just maybe, I’ll give it a go. And she said “Yes. We’re holding it in East London in a car showroom in a week’s time and we’d like you to turn up.” So a week later there I am this fresh faced car dealer. Doing very well. With my beautiful wife and I. Got this amazing career and we’re doing brilliantly.

But now here I am a week later. I stood there in this East Car Showroom together with 7 other want-to-be TV presenters and I don’t want to be one. [audience laughing] They’re standing there with scripts walking up and down. Some of them actually had a little bit of makeup on. They all had a shirt and tie on. Some of them had a jacket on as well. I turned up in a white shirt, a pair of blue jeans and a pair of sneakers. They went through all these people. I looked like a member of the crews to be honest with you. Celia said “Let’s get Mike here.” So they got me in.

The car they wanted me to talk about I knew very well. It may mean nothing to you people here. It was a Nissan Bluebird. Now a Nissan Bluedbird is a big boxy sedan car from England. And they were absolutely hopeless. Absolutely horrible. And I remember listening to these other hosts these other want-to-be TV presenters, standing there saying “This Nissan Bluebird. One of the finest cars ever manufactured in Great Britain. Actually made in Sunderland in Norberg. This is a wonderful car. Handles like a Duchess’s tea toy.” [audience laughing]

And I’m watching these people spout on rubbish about this car thinking wow I haven’t even thought about what I’m going to say. What am I going to say when I get there. When it’s my turn? This is absolutely genuine. And when they said it’s your turn then I walked over to front of this car. Some guy puts his hand up my shirt for the very first time and puts this microphone on me. He then said “the director.” This little Scottish guy leaned in behind the camera (he was the director and behind camera at the same time) and went [Mike Brewer puts on a Scottish accent] “Hello. Okay tell us everything you know about the Nissan Bluebird.” [audience laughing]

I said right. Everybody else was gone by the way. Okay I’m on now. Right now. I’m never going to see these people again. So why not make a giant tit out of myself and get out. [audience laughing] So I said right. The Nissan Blue Bird - the only time I ever want to see one of these cars is if I was at the night club. Fall out at 2 o’clock in the morning so drunk that I get in one these as a taxi to take me home [audience laughing] because there is no other reason anybody would want to put themselves in that car. [audience laughing] No other reason at all.

And I could see that when I said that, just very much like this room here, people’s shoulders picked up - it’s a long day, they started to laugh. I thought I made them laugh; I’ll carry on. [audience laughing] So as you can see this car has got, what we call in the trade, a Torvill and Dean steering wheel. Now you might not know what I mean? But Torvill and Dean were famous Olympic ice skaters. I said look at the steering wheel. It looks like it’s been used by Torvill and Dean. Because its really smooth. This car only shows what? 34,000 miles. I think you’ll find it to be 234,000 miles because somebody’s been gripping onto this wheel a lot for 34,000. 

They said “Wow you seem to really know your stuff about these cars. Um, give us a second.” And they, literally this is actually true, they went to the back of the room [MB whispers incoherently like a group discussion] [audience laughing]  “Yes, okay Mike you’ve got the job. We’d like to talk about when you can start.” I went I beg your pardon! Time out. This is a bit of a problem for me. I just walked up because you asked me to. I don’t think I can do this. If you think I can do this on television, you’re out of bloody luck. I can’t do this - I was just me playing me. “No, no, no. You are pretty fearless and we want to put you in this show. We want you to present this show for us.”

So I went well, how would that work? "We’ll send you a contract. We’d like you to sign the contract and we want you to turn up at the destination of our choosing. And we’re going to make a show together." This is 1997; I went yeah okay, all right. So I went out - went to my Motorola 800x phone. You all remember those - big brick with radio aerial sticking out on top. [MB makes bad reception sounds] “Michelle, Michelle these people want to put me on television.”

Michelle says “You’ve obviously got something. Why don’t you go for it?” So me and Michelle had a brief meeting with them, and they said they were going to give me the job for sure.

to be continued...Wheeler Dealers: Mike Brewer Know-How at Greystone Concours d'Elegance 2016 Part 2

Pictured below: 1955 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible; 1960 Facel-Vega Excellence; and 1955 Morgan 4 Passenger Drophead Coupe at Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance 2016

Related: 50 Shades of GreystoneGreystone Mansion Concours d'Elegance 2016 Awards; and Autobooks-Aerobooks: Wheeler Dealers Feeler

by Randy Berg

1955 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible at Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance
1960 Facel-Vega Excellence at Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance 2016
1955 Morgan 4 Passenger Drophead Coupe at Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance 2016

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