Shifting Gears with Aaron Kaufman: ‘Bearded Wonder’ building his dream cars and having more fun doing it

Aaron Kaufman in the premiere of Shifting Gears with Aaron Kaufman
Aaron Kaufman talks to automotive journalist Jim Allen in the premiere of his new show Shifting Gears on Discovery

Shifting Gears with Aaron Kaufman is here! After months of waiting, the “Bearded Wonder” and former Gas Monkey mechanic is back on Discovery with his new show.

Fans were left stunned at the start of last year when it was announced Kaufman was leaving Fast N’ Loud, parting with ways with Gas Monkey Garage’s Richard Rawlings to pursue his own dreams.

At the time viewers let it be known that they desperately wanted him to return with a new show, but he kept quiet about any future plans on TV until fans finally got what they wanted last October when Shifting Gears was announced.

The clincher for Kaufman as to whether to go ahead with a new series was likely that the show would allow him just do what he wants to do rather than build cars for other people and under time pressures that he didn’t enjoy.

As Kaufman says at the start of the Shifting Gears premiere: “I’ve been building cars for other people for far too long. Now I’m taking things in a different direction.

“At my new shop Arclight Fabrication I’m designing after-market truck parts, building unique vehicles that I’ve always wanted to build and I’m having more fun doing it.”

What will Shifting Gears with Aaron Kaufman involve?

Shifting Gears will follow Kaufman, now his own boss, and his hand-picked team of builders focusing on builds driven by passion.

After quitting Gas Monkey, Kaufman set up new shop Arclight Fabrication in Dallas, Texas, to make aftermarket parts for the F100 market. But on top of that he started taking on builds that he’s always dreamed of doing, involving all sorts of different types of vehicles.

According to Discovery, Kaufman will often be seen stretching himself out of his comfort zone and extending his skill-set into areas he’s never ventured into before.

The show will then follow the team as the test the vehicles they create in some of the harshest conditions known to the auto world, even risking the vehicles’ destruction in the process.

As the season kicks off, we get introduced to Arclight Fabrication’s first major build — trying to turn a rare International Scout into one of the toughest Ultra4 trucks ever dreamt up.

The ultimate aim is to enter it into the legendary King of Hammers event, which is known as the toughest one-day off-road race on the planet and includes a combination of high speed racing in the desert with high-precision technical driving over rocky terrain.

In the clip below, Aaron brings in automotive journalist Jim Allen — an authority on the International Scout — to look over the stripped-down vehicle before the build begins.

Allen jokes of Kaufman “desecrating” such a rare vehicle: “My first thought when I saw the Comanche torn down is that ‘I wonder if his beard is long enough for me to strangle him with it!”

But he adds later: “There are a lot of Scout owners who are purists, but I think they might just let Aaron live because he’s going to keep the essence of the Scout while modernizing it and making it sort of a ‘super-Scout’.”

Shifting Gears with Aaron Kaufman cast

Kaufman’s hand-picked team of builders are Josh Freeman, Jonathan Rodriquez, Jason Bowman, Jeremy Webster and Jonathan Mansour. Each of them brings a different set of specialized skills to Aclight Fabrication.

Mansour, a long-time friend of Kafuman, is a parts expert, Freeman is a custom fabricator, Bowman is a former aircraft mechanic turned classic car fabricator and engine expert, Bowman is a talented sheet-metal worker, and Webster is an “electronics master”.

Watch Kaufman introduce them in the intro for Shifting Gears below!

Watch the Shifting Gears trailer

Shifting Gears with Aaron Kaufman premieres tonight at 10/9c on Discovery, and then airs Mondays at 9/8c from next week.

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