Monster Garage was a program running from 2002-2006 on the Discovery Channel hosted by West Coast Choppers' Jesse James (before his ill-fated marriage to Sandra Bullock). The premise was unique: Jesse and a crew of expert mechanics (a different crew each week) would take a normal car and modify it into a specific type of functional vehicle. The rules were that 1) the car must appear to be stock when the conversion was complete, 2) the crew may spend no more than $3000 (or $5000 starting with the third season) on parts, and 3) the crew only has a week to perform the conversion (one day to design, five days to build, one day to challenge an actual example of the finished product).
As the series went on, projects diversified into race cars and custom cars as well as the usual "monsters". Successful crews would be rewarded with a new set of tools. If a crew fails to complete the build, the car is destroyed in over the top fashion.
This show provides examples of:
- The Alleged Car: The DeLorean lives up (down?) to its reputation in the episode where the crew attempts to transform one into a hovercraft. Notably, it's the first car that has to be pushed into the garage.
- Alliterative Name: Come on, this is Jesse James we're talking about.
- Whoever he is, Simon Sternnote certainly qualifies.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: While it's reality television so there isn't that much of a fourth wall, Jesse does at one point muse on one of the aspects people on such shows generally don't discuss... the wording the narrator uses. (Specifically, he wonders what the heck the people doing the show think "it must look stock" means when you're building such a ridiculous concept vehicle.)
- Cool Car: A number of the featured vehicles start out as one. Some actually achieve coolness during the process.
- Donut Mess with a Cop: One episode had the crew (consisting entirely of police officers) converting a police car into a rolling doughnut shop. A police representative said the project was a good idea since it would keep police officers in their cars instead of having to stop to get refreshment "but it's still wrong."
- End-of-Series Awareness: One of the last episodes involves working on a car with extensive front end damage. After Jesse repairs it, he asks the build crew "Any of you guys hiring? I'll be out of a job in a couple of months."
- Flying Car: A two-part season finale had the crew attempt to convert a sports car into a sports car that could fly. They succeeded.
- Hope Spot: The build crew for the "Grim Ripper" are down to their last pulley belt for the hydraulic pump and the deadline is just minutes away. They get everything set up, start the engine, and test the equipment and...it works! The hydraulic arms start swinging away at whatever they'd be swinging away at. Then suddenly, the friction from the pulleys cause the engine to catch fire. By the time they put it out, the last pulley belt has burned and time is up.
- Relieved Failure: A meta example. After the "Grim Ripper" build failed (the first in the show's history), host Jesse James called up producer Thom Beers and told him what had happened. Beers replied "That's great!" and explained that the failure validated them.
- Rice Burner: Due to the rules of the show, this trope was inverted. For all of the modifications they did, the cars had to look stock, barring any obvious changes that were needed because of what kind of monster they were making that week. One such monster was the Honeybee Drift Car, one of the world's most uncool cars (Jesse liked it for that very reason), which was gutted and filled with the insides of a Nissan 350Z. At one point, they noticed the two cars had different track widths and the 350Z's tires would be sticking out of the Honneybee's fenders; Jesse said the whole point of the build was to keep the Honeybee's uncool look, while giving it the heart of a beast.
- Signs of Disrepair: Shows up in the opening to display the show's title. Until the sign in question is struck by lightning, it reads "Simon Stern's Garage."
- Wham Episode: "The Grim Ripper", which ended the show's perfect winning streak.
- Wham Line:"We didn't do it. This is the one that fails." from "The Grim Ripper".