Skip to main content
road sage
Open this photo in gallery:

Matt Sager (left) and his team (from left) Steve Sager, Dave Mischuk, Jessica James and Lee Brandt look for hidden gems of the antique car world through remote parts of Canada on Lost Car Rescue.JJ Topham/Handout

Everyone loves searching for buried treasure. To car lovers, this means hunting for “barn cars,” vintage automobiles that have been sealed away in dusty sheds or garages or put in the back of fields waiting for the savvy collector to come along and save them. Lost Car Rescue, which starts airing its second season Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on The History Channel, gives a northern spin to this quest. Instead of scouring barns, Matt Sager and his team fly over Canada’s northern fields and forests in search of classic cars.

The first season of Lost Car Rescue was a soothing, visually engaging peek into the wealth of mislaid automobiles rusting away in Northern British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Northern Ontario. Throughout the 20th century, these remote communities were powered by the automobile and there was nary a car-crushing facility to be found. The result? Old vehicles left in fields and being gradually consumed by the climate. Sager hunts these automobiles using his fleet of vehicles, which include a 1946 Dodge Power Wagon, a 1988 Freightliner and a 1948 Stinson plane. In each episode the big rig must be filled with valuable finds.

Sager’s team consists of his brother Steve Sager (“the wrench”), Dave Mischuk (the auto body expert), Jessica James (the pilot) and Lee Brandt (the tree-hugging crane operator). Together we can call them, “The Team That Gets Along Quite Well.” They really do. Most hidden-treasure reality TV shows (think Storage Wars, Pawn Stars) rely on stock characters bickering and backbiting. Sager’s team are the kind of folks you’d expect to spend their summers searching the Canadian wilderness for a missing 1942 Chevy – chilled-out.

After Matt pays $1,800 for a Saab 93 from the 1950s, Dave tells the camera, “It’s not my type of vehicle. I’m an American type of car guy. But Matt knows the market better than I do.” That’s about the most extreme example of acrimony on display in Lost Car Rescue. It’s endearing. Part of the show’s charm is the intense sincerity of affection the cast has for vintage cars. Why snipe at one another when you have a 1940 Hudson Coupe to find?

Each episode begins with the team heading to a remote destination with a few clues as to the whereabouts of rare antique vehicles. While Matt and Jess fly over the territory, Dave and the others go barnstorming. At some time in the first 10 minutes, the team finds themselves walking up a country lane where they meet a property owner who invariably looks like a character from a Netflix true-crime series who is either going to a) murder them or b) take them out to enjoy some of the world’s best barbecue. First impressions, however, are deceiving and (spoiler alert) they’re all fine people.

You don’t have to be a car nut to enjoy Lost Car Rescue. The hunts have enough twists and turns to interest those who don’t know the difference between a 1969 Volkswagen Van and a 1971 Chevelle. The addition of the aerial element is a major plus for the show’s appeal. The viewer feels like a member of the team as they converge from air and land. If there is a season three, they should add in a guy with a boat or (ideally) a guy named Cort with a Jet Ski. The barnyard bartering is fun. If a vehicle owner says a car has sentimental value and they won’t sell, Matt and the gang walk away. If not, they start chipping away on the price.

Another of Lost Car Rescue’s charms are the rescues themselves. Vehicles are stuck in every imaginable sort of muck. They are encased in rickety barns, surrounded by trees, and perched upon high hills. None of this deters Matt’s team. Armed with their fleet of vehicles, they set their minds to the task and get the job done with a minimum of discord and a maximum of Canadian can-do spirit.

If you love classic cars, it’s compelling stuff. We’ve all driven by an open field, spied a wreck in the distance and thought, “I wonder what make and model that is?” Lost Car Rescue answers the question.

In the premiere episode of the second season the team head to Rainy River in Northwestern Ontario. It’s got everything you’d expect an episode of Lost Car Rescue to have. Cool cars rusting away. A 1946 Dodge Power Wagon, a 1988 Freightliner and a 1948 Stinson plane. Car owners in fields. A town with a name that could be lifted from a Stephen King novel and most importantly, cars being rescued from oblivion. So, put up your feet, twist open a quart bottle of Mobil 1 98HC63 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil and enjoy.