Jeff Allen bought his first car when he was just 13 years old.“It was a 1969 Z28 Camaro,” he remembers. “I just had to have it. But my father thought I was going to kill myself because it was too much car for me, way too powerful. So we sold it before my 15th birthday.”Most teenage boys would be devastated having to do that, but the $5,000 profit that Allen turned certainly softened the blow.It also was the beginning of a career. Today, Allen finds, fixes and flips cars with help from his team at Flat 12 Gallery in Lubbock.He’s also the star of his own reality show, The Car Chasers, which airs 9 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday on CNBC.Fans of the show, now in its second season, can meet Allen this weekend at the DFW Auto Show at the Fort Worth Convention Center.They can also register at the Car Chasers booth to win a 1965 Fastback Mustang that will be given away during the Season 2 finale Dec. 10.We chatted with Allen this week about his love of cars and his new life as a reality-TV personality. What is it about vintage cars that makes people so nostalgic?I think it’s that they have fond memories of their youth and high school. Maybe it was the car they always wanted but couldn’t afford then. These were cars that were immortalized on television and in movies and on posters. I have chased every car I ever had as a poster hanging on my wall.I think a lot of people do that. They get a little older and they start thinking, “I’m 35 now. I’m making good money. I want the car I wanted in high school.” I think that’s a big part of it. What decade of cars do you find yourself chasing most of the time?We’re seeing the trends change because the age groups are changing. A few years back, ’60s Camaros were doing over $100,000. Now they’re back into what I call the reality realm. For a nice one, you can buy one for about 40 or 50 grand now.But now we’re seeing the late-’70s cars starting to come up. And even cars from the ’80s. Like, there are so many people who want DeLoreans because of Back to the Future. We’re starting to see those cars get legs underneath them and be worth more money. Is it strange to be a reality-show star and to have a camera crew shadowing you?It is. But it’s getting easier now that we’re in our second season. It’s kind of odd to have a crew with you when you’re going in to negotiate a deal with people who have never had a camera crew in front of them. They get that deer-in-the-headlights look. Is there a vehicle that stands out in your memory as your biggest flipping success story?The one closest to my heart is when I found one of the original McBurnie Daytona Spyders used on Miami Vice. I bought the car for $15,000. I did nothing to it but clean it up, a lot of elbow grease, got it running, which probably cost me an extra $300, and I sold it to a museum that restored it for $50,000.It was one of those cars that I always wanted as a kid. But my wife, Meg, and I were like, “We can spend the money, we can restore this car. But I’m never going to want to drive it, never going to want to park it anywhere, going to need armed guards around it everywhere. So it’s better to let it sit in a museum where everybody can enjoy it.” You also provide cars to movie studios when they’re looking for authentic vehicles for films. Can you name some of the movies your cars have appeared in?From J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, the Corvette that you see young Captain Kirk drive off a cliff. That was from me. I provided two of the Rivieras for the movie Crank with Jason Statham. I provided 13 vehicles that were backgrounds for Mission: Impossible III. For the movie The Runaways, about the famous girl band, we supplied a total of 14 cars for that. When people meet you at the auto show, are they going to get the guy they see on TV?Oh, yes. I am 100 percent what you see on TV. I don’t hold back. I’m the overweight bald guy who couldn’t grow hair if you put Miracle-Gro on it. That’s me. But I have a passion for cars. And I’m very proud that we do a show that’s on the level and not make-believe.I’m also excited that CNBC has decided to give one of our cars away to some lucky contestant who enters the sweepstakes. They could have picked some run-of-the-mill car, but they didn’t. They picked an iconic Fastback Mustang.
The Car Chasers
• 9 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday
DFW Auto Show
• Fort Worth Convention Center, 1201 Houston St.
• 1 p.m.-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
• $11; $5 seniors, ages 6-12
• 214-637-0531; www.ftworthautoshow.com