North West River, Labrador. It's a town, and we're using that term a little loosely, with fewer than 600 people residing there. The nearest place of note is eight hours away by car, and the road that can take you there didn't even exist 15 years ago. If you want to go to a city, you're looking at a plane trip. North West River is about as far north as you can drive on the East Coast, and it's the end of the road.
When you're that far from civilization, you need to be a little more self-sufficient. You can't just order in a new piece of equipment, especially if you need it sometime within the year. Instead, you need to make it yourself using whatever you can find. That's what the crew of CRB Automotive does on Discovery's Last Stop Garage.
In the first season, they built things like a school-bus-turned-performance-stage, an asphalt recycling truck, and a fan boat. In Season Two, airing now, they'll build a jet boat for search and rescue, a food truck boat, and a new way of handling roofing. We talked cars with Collin Baikie, shop owner and pro-MMA fighter, and Ross Humby, gas bar manager and professional scrounger.
autoTRADER.ca: Tell us about your first cars.
Collin Baikie: My first car was, actually, I was 12 years old. I got a 1973 Dodge Charger. And I wanted to rebuild it, but it just had a little too much rust. But there was a lot of other good parts on it. I basically bought it just to say I owned a car. I was only a young kid. I was always fascinated by cars. So yeah, that 1973 Dodge Charger was definitely my first one.
Ross Humby: My first car was probably an old Chevy Vega. That I traded for a motorcycle that I had.
AT: Now, you've both been big into cars for a very long time. What was it like when you first got started?
CB: When we were 13 years old, when we were in high school. I actually purchased a car for $200 off of a friend. It was an old taxi. My parents were out of town, and I took this car for a ride with my buddies. We were pretty much beating it up. It was a really fun experience. I never told them (my parents) yet about that, so hopefully I won't get in trouble for it.
We used to buy cars and fix them up and we used to drive them up in the pits. Up in the hills. Drive them around and we used to do like derby cars. We used to drag race them. We used to, you know, just have fun. Everybody would hop in and we would go around the pits. Hitting these jumps and these bumps, and, it was a lot of fun.
RH: I grew up with Collin's father. We were best buddies all our lives. When we were small, when we were 15 years old, we had cars and we didn't even have to have a driver's licence in our town – because the town was divided by a river and you could only get over in a cable car. So there was no licence, registration, insurance, nothing needed on our side of the river. You could drive a car as long as you had one, that's all. They were all dirt roads.
AT: It seems like for a place as remote as North West River, you're able to find a lot of cars and trucks. Where are they all coming from?
CB: There are quite a few vehicles. A lot of them are older models. We're starting to see a lot of newer models now. But you know what? In Labrador, everyone's got a vehicle stored away in their backyard that they hold a lot of sentimental value for. And sometimes they don't want to get rid of them. But there is the odd time that they just want to sell it and get rid of it. When they're tired of looking at it as an ornament in their back yard.
In Labrador, we love when we have these old used vehicles that we find that are still good. Just because the chassis is rusted out, if the engine only has 50,000, that's a good sign. You know, if the oil looks good, then these parts are actually really good to use.
RH: In Labrador, we don't have a lot of salt. They didn't salt until the last couple years. So cars last forever. At least they did, once upon a time.
CB: Ross made a good point there. In Labrador, we do have a decent variety of vehicles. Especially there's a lot of things that are in people's backyards but we don't have rust. We don't really deal with a whole lot of rust. If you've ever heard "I've got a good ol' Labrador truck" because the chassis's just like it was brand-new. You know, I've got a 1985 K5 Blazer, and that thing is rust-free. Spotless. Purrs like a kitten.
AT: Ross, most of what you do on the show is looking for parts. What's been the biggest challenge for you to try and find so far?
RH: A lot of it has been hard to find. I don't know what's been the hardest.
CB: The good thing about Ross and my dad going scrounging is that they know where all the older stuff is. And me and Corey know where all the newer stuff is. So when we need something, if they're going to find an engine, they're looking at these old cars and they know people from like 20–30 years. So they've pretty much got that phone book in their back pocket. But me and Corey have the newer, updated version.
RH: Most things that we look for are hard to find. Lots of people want to hang on to things a long time there, just for sentimental value.
AT: You've made it clear on the show that not finding a part isn't really an option. If you can't find a part, how long does it take to get it? Where does it come from?
RH: It comes from Quebec, Toronto, somewhere down the road that's going to take days and days or weeks. Or be mailed in or shipped in or whatever. The closest place to us besides Goose Bay is like Churchill Falls; that's the next main place and it's like 500 km away. And they're really no better off than we are. They're a little closer to civilization but they've got no stuff more than we do.
CB: We get a lot of things shipped in by plane now. So it's not as long as it used to be. Before we might have to wait anywhere from two weeks to a month for a part. Now we can get one flown in within at least three days we'll have it at our door. It's not too bad, but if you're rushed and you need something done right now, and it can't wait, we've got to fabricate. Adapt, adjust, and overcome.
AT: But just because it can be flown in more quickly doesn't mean that overnighting parts from Toronto is an option.
CB: The shipping costs are really, really high. A small parcel could be up to $50 sometimes.
RH: A lot of times, the shipping costs more than the part. Costs a lot more to get it there than the actual part. It's not worth it a lot of the time. More worth it to look for it.
AT: You've done plenty of challenging builds on the show, and probably long before that. What's been the most fun build?
CB: For me, personally, it goes back to when we were kids. Like in high school. We actually had a snowmobile. We had three different snowmobiles and we made it into one snowmobile. We called it the YamaDooLaris. And what we used to do is we used to tie the throttle on it and let it go over banks and we used to record it hitting rocks. We would break it and then we would repair it and then do it again. But we would record it going down over this big hill, hitting things along the way. And then one time we tied the throttle on it, and it was coming over the bank and the handlebars turned right and it took like an S and hit my brand new Ski-Doo. I got in a lot of trouble.
For more of Collin and Ross's antics, the second season of Last Stop Garage is airing now on Discovery Canada. Well, not right, now, unless you're reading this at 9 pm Eastern on Thursday night. It's also airing online at discovery.ca.