What Happened to Roger on Chasing Classic Cars?
Chasing Classic Cars, hosted by Wayne Carini, is a beautiful restoration program that, more than any other, demonstrates the passionate commitment it takes to restore an automobile. The program has been a staple fixture on MotorTrend TV, and for years, the program has followed host Wayne Carini and fellow employee/mechanic Roger Barr. Both men share a passion for old relics and watching them find and restore these beasts brought a little joy to everyone who watched.
Working together for many years, Barr quickly developed a fan following as the elder mechanic who could fix just about anything. In August 2017, Barr developed a severe leg infection while performing his duties at F40 Motorsports. While the details of the infection are unknown, the illness was serious enough to warrant hospitalization. He returned for a short period in November of that year. Still, according to his family, he reinjured the leg some months later, and the bacterial infection returned, requiring another long stint in the hospital. More than likely, due to the extent of the infection, his age at the time (82), along with the hazards of working in a full-time repair shop, the doctors likely advised him not to return to work. There have been a couple of reports on message boards that the shop simply could not take a chance on the increased liability of having Barr hurt again.
It might surprise you that Barr was not compensated for his appearances on the television show. (He was paid as an employee of the shop). Due to the popularity of the television show and the circumstances surrounding his departure, friends had to begin a GoFundMe account to offset some of the medical bills.
In 2020, Barr explained to fans that he had retired and that the only indication he received from the show concerning his status was through an email indicating his termination. Barr also contested the rumor that he had a sizeable nest egg saved up and indicated that he continued to work to put food on the table. Barr’s family continues to post photos and messages periodically on his FB page, showing that the Car Guru is still alive and, albeit retired, still has a passion for classic cars.
A Lifelong Pursuit of Classic Cars
Barr began his love affair by driving for the Porsche sports team during his military days. (He was an aviation mechanic). He would drive whenever he could, and apparently, Barr was a pretty good driver, winning National Championships in both Formula B and Formula Vee competitions.
Eventually, Barr opened a repair shop for foreign cars in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Once established, he would develop a relationship with Wayne Carini’s father (who owned a local body shop). The two men would refer business to each other and start a partnership that continued through the next couple of generations. Eventually, Wayne and Roger would develop a partnership resulting in the television show Chasing Classic Cars, which developed into a massive hit for the MotorTrend television network.
Initially, the television show was not a success for the network. After about eight years, the show began to take off, and the presence of Roger Barr was cemented into the minds and hearts of viewers. Over the years, Barr and Carini have worked on all kinds of vehicles, from Packards to more modern muscle cars and almost everything in between. The program takes viewers through the entire process, from finding and purchasing the cars to working through the restoration and occasionally selling them to potential buyers.
Most Memorable Restorations
Over the years, there have been several unique cars that the folks at Chasing Classic Cars have put their loving hands on.
1956 Baby Ferrari Racer
One of the most memorable collaborations that Carini and Barr did on the show was the 1956 Baby Ferrari Racer in the second episode of season six. The car was a toy car with a stunning design (it was based on the Ferrari 375MM Spyder) and was powered by an electric motor, seating two small children. Not many of these toys were made in the 50s and were primarily for affluent families. (There is a story that Dwight Eisenhower's grandchildren may have owned a pair). The restoration was partnered with Carini’s father, and the sale at Bonhams benefitted the charity “Autism Speaks” - a national organization dedicated to increasing the awareness of this affliction so many children suffer. The car sold for $18,000.
1921 Stutz Bearcat
One of the best, most well-preserved finds the duo made was the 1921 Stutz Bearcat. Housed in a garage since the 1950s, this original sports car was made as an everyman’s roadster, a version of the car that competed in Indianapolis and was sold to the general public. The car was not hard to get running (new pugs, wiring, and some cleaning). The car sat in Carini’s shop for about a year before winning the 2016 FIVA Award for best regularly driven car from the early 1900s. Eventually, the car would be sold to new owners at auction for a winning bid of $594,000, which was substantially more than the $30k it was rumored to have been sold for when Carinin found it.
1964 Shelby Cobra USRRC Roadster
This car was a rare Shelby built to racing specifications and was one of only 42 thought to have existed. The USSRC (United States Road Racing Championship) was created in 1962 by the Sports Car Club of America as the premier road race. Open to drivers worldwide, it quickly gained prominence among racing enthusiasts, and Carl Shelby was no exception. He designed this Cobra as a lean and fast race car (a 1964 Cobra won its first SCCA’s Midwest Division A Production Championship with Mack Yates - a Kirkwood auto dealer driving). Ford dominated the circuit for several years. The Shelby Carini and Barr restored was considered a prime example of racing history and one of the purest original roadsters ever.
The episode from 2011 found Carini very nervous because he had offered the car without reserve, which meant that he had to accept the winning bid. Much to his relief, the car sold for a cool $1.5 million.
About THE AUTHOR
My name is Matt and I've been around cars all my life! I have owned and worked on many different classic vehicles, so I started this site to share my experiences. If you're new to classic cars, then this website is for you.Read More About Matt Lane