Jason Aker became a known reality television personality through the automotive hit series “Fast N Loud.” While he wasn’t one of the original cast members as he didn’t belong to the core crew of Richard’s Rawlings customization shop, Gas Monkey Garage, the restoration expert quickly gained popularity after he was hired as the shop’s foreman. His expertise brought so much credibility to the show that fans thought that he should have his own garage, but then he’d already had one long before the show started to air on Discovery Channel. After the show ended, fans were curious as to what happened to Jason, and whether he was still part of Richard’s crew.
- 1 Get to know Jason Aker
- 2 Jason Aker and his time with “Fast N Loud”
- 3 A new journey with Barrett-Jackson Auctions
- 4 Established a new business venture
Get to know Jason Aker
His childhood and personal life
Jason Aker was born on 6 January 1974, and while there was no information on his growing-up years, it was generally believed that he was raised in Oklahoma City. He only said that his passion for cars developed a little later in life, and that he didn’t go through what most car enthusiasts had experienced growing up. He never had that bonding moment with his father tinkering with the family car in the garage, because his father was quite busy back then. Even with all the social media accounts that he opened up, he was still stingy in sharing personal information. Most of his posts were about the car builds that he did, or the car events that he attended. A few of them were personal posts centered on his wife, Apryl Courtney Aker, and two children, Savanna and Brett; he’s quite proud of what his elder achieved, as she was an honors student, and a membert of her school band. Fans commended him for taking time to be with his son, as they bonded together watching football, baseball and basketball games, despite his busy schedule, especially since he spent many months in Dallas filming for his reality TV series.
How did he start in the car restoration business?
Jason Aker started his career in the automotive industry in 1992, but fully developed his skills in classic car restoration when in 2002 he was thrown into the mix of managing a company called Worldwide Muscle Cars, located in Edmond, Oklahoma, with Mike McCullough and Steve Hudiburg. He never had a formal education from any vocational or technical school, or earned any ASE certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. However, he was fortunate to meet a group of amazing guys who were generous enough to teach him not only how to fix cars, but to do them the right way. The car dealership he worked for had about 40 Boss 429s and 400 Shelby Mustangs; this rare opportunity was his ticket to the world of classic car restoration, and up to this day, Jason is grateful for that. His first foray into restoring cars professionally was a 1967 Shelby, which jump-started his career.
Became a classic car restoration expert
Through the years he worked for Steve and Mike, he developed his expertise in restoring Shelby and Mustang classic cars. In 1966, another life-changing moment happened to him when one of his mentors, known Shelby restoration expert John Brown, asked him to be one of the judges for the Shelby Mustang entries in car shows around the country. Most of what he learned in this classic car industry was taught him by John, along with another mentor/judge Jason Billups. The two experts saw something in him that they unselfishly provided him with a wealth of knowledge, so that he could also someday impart the skills to others to continue the legacy of taking care of these vintage cars.
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Posted by Jason Aker – Gas Monkey Garage on Saturday, January 14, 2017
Two Shelbys that made his name popular in the classic restoration industry
In the automotive industry, the value of car restorers would be appraised through the quality of their work. The projects that made Jason Aker one of the best out there were his prized restorations involving two 1966 Shelby GT350s – the first had the serial code 001, and was displayed at a prestigious car event, the 2012Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance. This was considered a rare occurrence, since that particular car show never invited any Mustangs even up to this day, except for that year. It ended up winning the Triple Crown by getting the top awards in the Thoroughbred Class, the Shelby American Automobile Club’s Premier Award, the MCA’s Authenticity Award, and in Mustang Club of America (MCA).
The second Shelby GT350 was one of the four Shelby convertibles that were made in 1966. Apparently, car racer and designer Carroll Shelby was annoyed that a friend of his heavily leaned on the Ferrari brand, and when asked the reason behind it, he learned that it was because there was no convertible Shelby Mustang; this was how the Shelby convertible started in the market. Just as the first restored Shelby, this one was a Division 1 Gold winner too – it was sold for close to $700,000 when it was given up for sale at the Barrett Jackson Auctions in Scottsdale.
Jason Aker and his time with “Fast N Loud”
This restoration expert never thought that he would appear in a reality TV show, but fate played it differently with him because he didn’t just appear as a guest, but was invited to take a spot as one of the main stars of the show.
A brief background on “Fast N Loud”
“Fast N Loud” was one of the most-viewed automotive reality TV series on Discovery Channel after it was launched on 6 June 2012. It featured amazing customization rebuilds of rundown cars handled by Richard Rawlings and his Gas Monkey Garage crew. It took Richard about eight years before Discovery gave them the green light to start filming – he wanted to veer away from the car shows that were full of machismo, which was great, but it mostly catered only to male gearheads, wanting a TV show that enticed the whole family by keeping it more women- and kid-friendly. His idea worked, and the show lasted for 16 seasons from 2012 to 2020, and only ended when Richard didn’t renew his contract with Discovery due to differences of opinion, and he decided to focus more on providing content on his YouTube channel.
How did he end up with the hit reality show?
During the early seasons of “Fast N Loud,” Richard needed help in restoring two Pontiac Firebirds, which Gas Monkey Garage described as their Holy Grail – the garage owner took a risk by investing time and money in accepting the challenge of restoring them with a strict deadline. The two Pontiac Firebirds with serial codes 001 and 002 were quite a handful, given the tough target date that they needed to deliver the finished product. It was through another restoration expert, Dennis Collins of Collins Brothers Jeeps, who recommended Jason to Richard for the work, as he witnessed firsthand Jason’s incredible skills on rare and high-end cars, and knew that he was the perfect extra hand for Gas Monkey Garage’s project. Jason was only supposed to make an appearance for an episode, or until the twin Firebirds restorations were finished, but Richard and the producers were impressed by his work attitude and skills, and he was offered a full-time job as the shop’s foreman, which was an ideal task for him, as he was quite methodical and organized.
Have you checked out Barrett_Jackson_Builds on Instagram yet? Be sure to follow so you don't miss out on current projects in the Barrett-Jackson Garage featuring some amazing in-house creations under the direction of Jason Aker!
Barrett-Jackson Builds IG: https://t.co/qXlFfYPOJd pic.twitter.com/muz5bA5bKS
— Barrett-Jackson (@Barrett_Jackson) May 20, 2020
Jason Aker’s favorite car restoration project in “Fast N Loud”
After Jason was given the opportunity to tear apart his first Mustang, he quickly fell in love with it, and which extended to all muscle cars manufactured in the ‘60s and ‘70s. His true passion was reserved for all the survival or original cars, but he never had a problem appreciating the newer ones; his main concern was that it was getting harder and harder to find original classic cars, which made him appreciate every time he was given the chance to lay his hands on something rare, and be part of the restoration team. For instance, one of his favorite restoration projects in Gas Monkey Garage was the Twin Firebirds. Some thought it was because of the rarity of the cars, but what made the experience extra special was that he worked with a team that he’d only just met. It was a group of experts hired to do a specific job, and who shared the same passion and dedication that led them to finish the project in less than 90 days. It was apparently an impossible feat, as everyone pointed out, but they were all proved wrong. It wasn’t only a huge deal on his part, but everyone on the team felt a great sense of accomplishment.
Stayed for six years and a half in the show
It didn’t take long for Jason to adapt to his new environment and the crew. The only complaint that he received was that he looked serious all the time – it seemed to them that he rarely had fun in the shop, which he disputed, saying that he actually had lots of fun watching the other guys’ antics. His biggest challenge was adjusting to the time frame for restoring cars. A Concourse deadline could take several months to a year, which was way different from the time-pressured Gas Monkey Garage builds. He said that there was extreme pressure, and the stress level could easily go up due to the unbelievable deadlines set in “Fast N Loud.” However, he was up for it, and adjusted his work habits to sync in with the rest of the team. Most of the projects that they did in the show had two to six week deadlines – there was no time to check the smallest details, which he said he badly missed, because it was one of the things that made the restoration process so enjoyable.
No regrets about being part of “Fast N Loud”
When things wrapped up and “Fast N Loud” ended, some people asked if he had any regrets about joining the show, as there were allegations that most of the car build-ups were fake, and the show was rigged as they all followed a script. Most reality TV shows suffered from the same allegations, but the difference in this show was that some of the cars that were supposed to have been sold after an episode was aired, ended up being in the background of some of the scenes in other episodes. Nevertheless, Jason said that he loved being in the show, and that he never regretted his decision in joining the Gas Monkey Garage crew. The only thing that he disliked about the experience was that it took away some of his precious time with his family, as they lived in Oklahoma City and the TV series was filmed in Dallas, Texas.
A new journey with Barrett-Jackson Auctions
Jason Aker said that he had been always fortunate that he met good people in the industry over the years. When “Fast N Loud,” said goodbye on TV, he was offered a job by Craig Jackson, CEO of Barrett-Jackson Auctions.
Head of the restoration division
He said his skills were noticed by Craig through the reality TV show, and when Barrett-Jackson built a new hot rod shop in the corporate headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, Craig immediately thought of him to lead the restoration division. Initially he was hesitant, not because he didn’t like the offer or the company, but because it was a 14-hour drive from his home in Oklahoma – however, it was one opportunity that wasn’t given to everyone. Aside from being able to continue working on classic cars in a top company, and co-ordinating the four Barrett-Jackson auctions annually, he was also given the chance to work on Craig’s personal car collection, so it was quite a thrill for him. As his OCD became even more pronounced as he got older, he worked at it by taking a notebook everywhere he went, and would list his tasks, writing down updates so he and his team wouldn’t get lost, with him having the tendency to jump from one vehicle to another quite quickly.
Teaching the younger ones
One of the many things Jason enjoyed doing in Barrett-Jackson Auctions was teaching the younger ones about restoring cars, just as his mentors had done with him, and was one of his goals in life. They accepted interns from McPherson College in Kansas during the summer season, in which they offered a Automotive Restoration Technology Program to future car restorers. He believed that the only way for the classic cars to survive and be appreciated by the younger generation was to ensure that the new car restorers were fully equipped with the right skills. If they had a slot open in the company, they hired exceptional people from the program, who spent time as interns in his department.
Established a new business venture
Having worked for Barrett-Jackson these past few years gave him an insight into the business side of car restoration, so honing his skills in handling the financial aspect of projects. This added knowledge led him to work on a new business venture with a new partner, Tommy O’Brien Jr., called Four on the Floor Garage in 2022. This time, Jason was back to his original love, which was restoring classic cars at his own shop, as when he’d started in the industry. The main services that his company offered to its customers were full classic car restoration, and classic car resto-modifications. They also included additional services which couldn’t be found in other shops, such as classic car brokerage, storage and evaluation services. He also planned to do podcasts and interviews about anything and everything about classic car restorations.
This 2023, many fans wondered why Jason doesn’t have his own YouTube channel from which he could easily provide content about his experience and personal projects – with his popularity and credibility, he would rake in thousands or millions of views. The main reason for it was that it would probably be in conflict with his job at Barrett-Jackson, as the company had already established its own YouTube channel. They recently started uploading a series of videos about the activities of their department, Barrett-Jackson Builds, with Jason as one of its main stars., and pretty comfortable with it, as he had years of experience doing the same thing in “Fast N Loud.”
Jason had always wanted to ‘pay it forward’ and share what he learned over the years. One of his greatest takes from working with a different set of people from various companies was that he gained so much knowledge by listening to others. Building those amazing cars didn’t rely on just one idea or one person, because it would always be a collective effort. No one had a monopoly on great ideas, and so he opened himself to learning from everyone around him, even the younger ones. He had a lot of faith in the new generation of restorers, and most of them only needed a boost in their confidence, just like others did for him 25 years ago.