For Spokane resident Grant Ogren, his 1937 Dodge is more than a car – it’s a member of the family.
Ogren – with his vehicle, Charlie – was among 70 car enthusiasts selected for the Discovery Channel’s new unscripted reality series, “Sticker Shock,” billed by its creators as the “‘Antiques Roadshow’ for cars.”
Filmed in an old Firestone tire factory in Los Angeles, the show features a variety of cars including hot rods and a 1950s dairy delivery truck.
“(The cars) in that building have somebody’s family history or some kind of story” behind them, Ogren said. “It was a surreal experience that these were all part of somebody else’s life and not just cars.”
As might be expected, Charlie has a tale to tell.
The car was purchased by Ogren’s great-great uncle, Charles Mohr, in February 1937 in Los Altos, California. Mohr owned the car until his death in the late 1950s. Ogren’s grandmother, Barbara Stubblefield, bought the car from Mohr’s estate for $50 in the early 1960s and used it as her main mode of transportation until she purchased a new car in 1964.
Charlie sat in the garage, the car’s condition deteriorating due to lack of activity, until Stubblefield had it restored for $15,000 to the original color and condition. The process took three years and was completed in 1987.
The restoration was completed just before the 50th anniversary celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge, and Charlie – one of 100 cars in the grand parade – hit 76,500 miles while driving across the bridge.
“Not a lot has been done since then, but he still runs perfectly,” Ogren said.
Stubblefield and her husband, Bert, took Charlie to car shows, picnics, parades and special events. The car was featured in the Oakland Tribune’s Wheels section in 1990 and in a Maxwell House coffee commercial in 1994.
Ogren eventually inherited the car and in 2013, shipped the car from California to Spokane.
Ogren’s niece, Becky, was married in Oak Harbor, Washington, in 2014. Ogren drove Becky and her husband, Seth Miller, from the wedding reception.
“(Becky’s) way of having my grandparents included in the wedding was to have Charlie there,” he said.
Ogren drives Charlie once a week from his home not far from Spokane International Airport to brunch, and occasionally participates in car shows, weddings and parades in Spokane.
“Charlie has always been a part of our life,” he said. “I feel like I’m just the caretaker for now.”
The 12-episode series premiered April 30. Charlie’s story and appraised value will be shared with viewers Wednesday.
Ogren said a friend emailed him casting call information and recommended he submit Charlie for the show. After sending pictures and video of the car to the Discovery Channel in January, and following Skype interviews with the show’s producers, he learned he and the Dodge had been selected for the show. The Discovery Channel paid to have Charlie shipped to Los Angeles, and filming began Feb. 22.
“They did an on-air appraisal and talked about the story of the car. It was not necessarily what it was worth dollarwise, but how much it was worth to me,” he said. “The story was what was important. It was a very cool experience.”
Scottsdale, Arizona-based restoration and auction consultant Addison Brown – who appraised Ogren’s car – said the vehicle’s design is art deco with unique features, such as the antique hood ornament.
“The art of the car was very, very fascinating for me,” she said.
Brown, who has been buying and selling classic cars for more than a decade, said “Sticker Shock” is completely unscripted and the appraisers weren’t given any information prior to filming.
“We weren’t swayed on values and came up with our own personal opinion on the value,” she said. “It was all live, and the stories the owners told were also unscripted. It was all very real.”
Brown initially thought the show’s primary focus would be just appraising the vehicles, so hearing each car’s history was a nice surprise.
“The highlight of my day was meeting all the people and getting to hear their story,” she said. “All the people on the show had such a cool history and lineage. It’s amazing how cars carry the memories of family and experiences … cars like (Ogren’s) really built the character of the show.”
Ogren said participating in “Sticker Shock” was exciting because it allows Charlie to be shared with a broader audience.
“Charlie is to be enjoyed. That was my grandparents’ wish – that he wasn’t used for scrap or put away in the back of a garage,” he said. “I love showing off Charlie. The car is a very big part of my life.”
“Sticker Shock” is produced by Tod Mesirow, whose other shows include “Monster Garage” and the “Ultimate Car Build Off.” It’s hosted by Dennis Pittsenbarger and features a team of four expert appraisers: Brown, Randy Carlson, Nick Smith and Todd Wertman.