Even after almost 20 years of hosting "The Vintage Vehicle Show," Lance Lambert has never run out of material.
"The easiest thing is ideas and content," he says. "Everybody wants their car on TV."
The Seattle resident travels the country to spotlight vintage-vehicle collectors sharing their passion. "They have these cars because they love the cars," says Lambert, 64. "They like people to appreciate what they have. The show gives them the opportunity."
- "The Vintage Vehicle Show" airs at 6 a.m. Saturdays on KBTC and is available on Comcast On Demand. For more information, visit vintagevehicletv.com.
The show's appeal continues to grow. The weekly half-hour syndicated program is carried on 83 stations in the U.S. and in 27 foreign markets. Besides being a showcase for beautiful cars, it also has a comfortable feel.
"My favorite review of the show [was when] Drive Magazine referred to me as the Mister Rogers of automotive television shows, which I take as a great compliment," Lambert says. "I'm pretty knowledgeable about cars, and I like having guests who are knowledgeable about cars. And then what you end up with is just two people who are just talking about cars, having a good time."
Lambert's interest in vintage vehicles has "just always been there," he says. He was 14 when he wrote to Tacoma's Toppers Car Club and asked to join. He was rejected because he was too young, so he started his own group, Steeds Car Club, with friends. He continues to be a member of that club and dozens of others.
He was part of a local comedy TV show in the early '90s when he suggested to the producer that they do a show about cars. They shot the first episode at the former A&W on Aurora Avenue. "We decided to do another one and another one and another one, and 417 later, we're still doing them," Lambert says.
When he's not hosting the show, Lambert is emceeing at car events, appraising vehicles, creating vintage-vehicle DVDs and writing columns for automotive publications. "It hasn't made me a lot of money, but the bills are paid and I've had some pretty cool cars," he says.
"The Vintage Vehicle Show" isn't a big-budget venture. Freelance camera operators shoot the show, and then Lambert and co-producer Tim Stansbury spend about 25 hours editing it to 26 minutes and 46 seconds.
"It's more work than it appears to people," Lambert says. "All they see is me showing up at car shows, having a good time and being on TV. But behind the scenes, there's a lot of drudgery."
The show has plenty of rewards, though. Lambert has been able to feature some of his heroes, including car collector Jay Leno, customizing expert George Barris and automotive designer Chip Foose.
Lambert says his biggest honor was winning the 2010 Lee Iacocca Award, which recognizes outstanding classic-car enthusiasts. He couldn't believe he was in such good company, he says: "I thought they screwed up when I won."
Even after all these years, Lambert is still passionate about his work and excited to keep the show going.
"I still look forward to every time we shoot an episode," he says. "Whenever I'm coming back from a shoot, I realize once again that I have the greatest job in the world and that I'm the luckiest guy I've ever known."