If Mike Brewer and Edd China ran Wheeler Dealers as a business

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Mike Brewer and Edd China are the kings of fixing and flipping cars. Their mutually beneficial “arrangement” represents the ideal situation which one could ever hope for when it comes to fixing cars. Mike scours the classifieds in search for a bargain, travels to inspect the vehicles and then haggles the price down before delivering the car back to the workshop – charging nought for his time. Edd then offers his workshop, tools, skills and time all free of charge to help get the cars back in tip top shape, before passing them back to Mike to sell.

But lets inject a bit of reality into the equation here – could Wheeler Dealers really operate as a real business? Firstly, lets assume that Edd already owned the workshop and every single tool he ever needed or used on the programme, including that lovely two-post hoist. Let’s also assume that the electricity came free from the sun, the local Council forgot to charge rates, and Mike had one of those government travel allowances to fuel his car as he sourced vehicles and parts from across the UK.

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In their first year, Mike and Edd purchased and fixed up a total of 6 cars, spending a total of £6,232 in the process. They then managed to sell all 6 cars on to receive a total of £7,750. That’s an overall profit of just £1,518, and things didn’t get much better from there.

In their second year, Mike and Edd flipped an additional 6 vehicles – only the overall profit dropped to £956.50. The third year, after completing their 18th car in total, they made just £203. If they were attempting to run Wheeler Dealers as a business of any form, the writing would have well and truly been on the wall at this point.

Luckily, in the fourth year things improved, and the pair took home £4,524, then £7,730 in the fifth year – but that could only be described as chump change once it was divvied up between them. All of that time, all of that effort. In fact, after 12 years in the business and after flipping a total of 121 different vehicles across multiple countries, Mike and Edd made a total of £246,418 – or an average of £2,036 per vehicle. Divide their profit up and they made an average of just £10,267 each, per year.

The profit margins are depressing and they show that Wheeler Dealers could never be a profitable business in the real world. But you know what? Mike and Edd have shown us that you can indeed make money from flipping cars, providing you have the knowledge to choose the right vehicle and then have the skills needed to repair it. You just won’t make enough money to make a living – so don’t quit your day job just yet!

Luckily, Wheeler Dealers is such a good show that I’m willing to dismiss reality and watch the masters at work.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Well, hang on… In some series they were starting with an opening that shows Edd working on some modern cars – so let’s assume he (or they, as they are friends) was/were making money out of that too. Afterall it’s a workshop, it has many purposes, not only fixing Mike’s finds I’m sure.
    Then, it’s a TV show – now that’s gotta cost something, right? Assuming thet they are just lucky, skillful chaps that got their way into TV business based on their everyday job, gain some good ratings – voila – they must’ve been paid for that pretty good too.

  2. It’s a fantastic show and my son and I watch episodes every night, so much better than a lot of the staged shows coming out of the US. The flaw in the process is that they don’t allocate any cost at all to the labour. Unless, as the writer says, Edd owns everything and does this ‘part time’ the profit is overstated every time. Edd will often say ‘if you took this to a garage it would be 200 pounds’ so they do try to include this in the discussion. Edd is very talented and well beyond the skill level of the average garage mechanic. So if they make a $600 pound profit but spent 20 hours on the car then it isn’t a real profit.

    But, this is television (assumed they get paid well for it), it’s fantastic entertainment, they pick a fantastic selection of cars and I really enjoy the process of watching the buy, the fix and the sell. Best car show on TV in my opinion!

  3. I think it could be profitable depending on the actual man hours it takes to flip each car. If they kept the pipeline constantly full with Edd and his team working full time, and Mike constantly buying and selling multiple cars at a time from their “lot”, it could make some profit. But the contribution margins per vehicle are very tight and it’s probably not enough to fund the man hours it takes to flip each vehicle.

  4. It has some kind of “Laurel and Hardy” feeling. One is talking, mostly rubbish, and the other does all the important work.

  5. Given what happened to Edd’s MOT business just before Christmas last year, he appears to have been taken in by Mike’s Cockney economics. Edd and his wife are more than £600,000 in the hole. Needs to start charging for his work on the show now. Those economics are the same as writing for Hollywood. You do all the work, the executives take all the profit. Given your screenplay is meant to be the foundation of the project like Edd’s pro bono work, you know when you have been tangoed – the colour of Mike’s tan.

  6. Here in New Zealand Edd’s tips are like having a pal in my shed. Mike’s shown UK an Auto paradise.
    No doubt the economics of motor vehicles are about saving costs rarely making £.
    Just a wish would love to see a Bentley (but would it go on the hoist?) 2.4 ton I believe.

  7. I still cannot beleive that anyone – viewers, critics, or auto-journalists alike – don’t understand the premise of WD… for God’s Sake its not complicated! It could be ANY two guys who have their own jobs and make their own livings and get together to buy, repair, enjoy and flip cars ON THE SIDE. While it’s nice not to LOSE money, thats not thier primary purpose. I do the exact same thing, buying cars that need restoring, doing tons of “free” labour, enjoying the process and a few weeks of use, then selling them on. Mike and Eds show two friends can split the process into the parts they enjoy and have a laugh while not LOSING any money at it. It’s just that simple.

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