Popular car builders explain why it’s so hard to run a YouTube channel | Taza Khabre

Key findings

  • Buying and building cars for YouTube content is expensive and requires careful financial consideration.
  • YouTube’s algorithm forces content creators to constantly buy new cars to increase views.
  • Balancing content to satisfy current audiences and reach a wider audience is a major challenge for creators.


Despite the seemingly inevitable slow crawl towards the demise of the internal combustion engine, there is no shortage of automotive content on the internet that car enthusiasts can spend hours on. From supercar reviews, barn finds, classic car restorations, crazy vehicle builds, street, track and drift cars and more, there’s probably never been a better time to be a car enthusiast – at least in terms of content.


However, as anyone who has worked on cars will tell you, it is an expensive hobby. Turning this hobby into a job is certainly a risky endeavour, but the reasons are not as simple as one might expect. Peter and Dave were in charge Speed ​​Academy YouTube channel for over nine years, and despite some moderate success, mostly construction JDM project cars, everything is not as simple as it may seem from the outside.



Buying and building cars is an expensive process

Key details of Automotive YouTuber Challenges

  • Peter and Dave from the Speed ​​Academy YouTube channel talk about the reality of running a full-time automotive YouTube channel
  • The main challenge is trying to make it a financially viable business with high overheads for vehicles and parts
  • YouTube’s algorithm rewards quantity and novelty for a series of videos on the same growing topic, meaning car mod channels that focus on one car are struggling
  • Keeping your existing audience happy while trying to reach a wider audience is also a challenge, as some videos cost too much or don’t generate enough views to be viable for production
  • As with any other business, there is a lot of work behind the scenes that the audience doesn’t see that takes time and money


The most obvious and ultimately major challenge is the financial aspect of buying and building multiple project cars. YouTube is not so much a job for content creators as it is a business, so every financial decision needs to be considered very carefully.

In addition to the financial investment in the search and modification of cars, it is also a very time-consuming process that requires regular learning of new things. There’s also YouTube’s algorithm to consider (more on that later) and balance the cost of the project with what type of content will drive growth and generate revenue.

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Peter and Dave say they’ve been looking to buy an Acura NSX for several years, and while they could afford the initial overhead of buying the car, getting all the parts for the project would be expensive and more than likely reduce the car’s resale value. In addition, it is necessary to make the video interesting, as well as provide valuable information for the audience.


Fortunately for Peter and Dave, their platform of over 600,000 followers means they’ve been able to attract numerous sponsorship deals over the years. Not only does this offset the cost of some replacement parts, but it also provides an additional revenue stream, which is important since YouTube’s AdSense revenue is only $1.61 to $29.30 per 1,000 views. according to Business Insider.

YouTube’s algorithm may download content creators

Not only is it expensive to buy cars, but YouTube’s algorithm seems to encourage content creators to go down this path in order to reach a wider audience with their videos. As an example of this, Peter and Dave refer to Tyler Hoover of Hoovies Garage.


Tyler’s Buy, Inspect, Fix and Flip model means he has a constant rotation of new cars and, as a result, new content that the algorithm likes. However, the Academy of Speed ​​model, where you buy one car a month and decide to modify the car from start to finish within a month, doesn’t rank as high in YouTube’s “new” algorithm.

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YouTuber Adam LZ seems to understand this well with something of a hybrid model as he also has an ever-changing fleet of vehicles as well as building various car projects. However, over the years, LZ has built a large team so that multiple cars can be worked on at the same time and the content changes from day to day.

Another advantage of this model is that LZ can release content very regularly. While YT’s algorithm isn’t as focused on daily uploads as it used to be, it still rewards frequency. This means that channels with faster, effortless content or channels with dedicated editors and videographers can quickly create a lot of content and support the algorithm.


A balance between satisfying an existing audience and reaching a wider audience

A purple 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec with Adam's LZ front end
via Adam LZ (YT)

An interesting aspect of many persistent YouTube channels is the dichotomy between how the creators and the audience see the channel. Almost all of us think of YouTubers as a source of entertainment, but one that delivers content and interacts directly with the audience, unlike a TV network or something that acts as a barrier.

However, as mentioned, being a regular YouTuber is essentially running a business, and content needs to be catered to build as large an audience as possible. Peter and Dave say some long-time fans have been asking for more track day content, as it was once the mainstay of their channel. However, the two explain that such videos simply don’t generate views compared to construction or street riding videos, so it becomes difficult to justify financially.


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Track videos are also much more intensive to shoot and have a much higher chance of things going wrong. An example of this is Peter’s E92 BMW M3, which spun a rod bearing after the crankshaft began to starve of oil and began to weld to the block, resulting in the car needing a brand new engine at a cost of $10,000.

YouTube requires a lot of work behind the scenes

Unscrewing the rods on the BMW S65 4.0 L V8 engine
via Speed ​​Academy (YT)

Perhaps one of the most underrated challenges of being a content creator is the work that happens off-camera. While we’ve already mentioned the time it takes to source cars and parts, there’s also the accounting aspect of running your own business, as well as trying to negotiate sponsorship deals and brand relationships to keep parts and profits coming in.


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Planning ahead is also essential as David and Peter have to spend a lot of time researching what parts to buy and how to install and repair parts to prevent the channel from stalling. There is also the time involved in editing a video, which can take tens of hours depending on the type of video. Sure, some YouTube channels have dedicated editors, but that’s an extra expense, and some content creators don’t like to hand over creative control.

Perhaps the main point that Peter and David want to make is that running a car YouTube channel is hard work. That being said, there is also an element of luck. Some channels like Speed ​​Academy, which have been polishing videos for years, haven’t seen as much growth as some other channels. Despite all the challenges, Peter and David say that automotive content is in a golden generation, and while the YouTube space is very competitive, they still love what they do.

Sources: YouTube @ Speed ​​Academy, Business Insider

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