Classic car lovers were shocked in March 2017 when Ant Anstead, the charming British host of Wheeler Dealers, announced he was leaving the hit automotive show after 13 successful seasons.
So why did Ant decide to leave Wheeler Dealers, the popular show he helped build? The main reasons were wanting to explore other opportunities, filming conflicts, and rumored behind-the-scenes tension with co-host Mike Brewer.
In this in-depth blog post, we’ll cover:
- A background on Ant Anstead and Wheeler Dealers
- How Ant announced his surprising departure
- The key factors that contributed to his decision to leave
- What happened after Ant exited Wheeler Dealers
- An update on the show and Ant today
Table of Contents
A Background on Ant Anstead and His Role on Wheeler Dealers
If you’re not familiar, Wheeler Dealers follows seasoned car expert Mike Brewer as he sets out to find run-down, cheap cars to “wheel and deal” for profit. The other half of the duo was mechanic Ant Anstead, who would then fix up and restore the cars to sell for maximum value.
Ant joined the show in 2003 for its debut season after meeting Mike, who chose Ant specifically for his mechanical skills and on-camera presence. Ant quickly became a core part of Wheeler Dealers’ appeal thanks to his charisma, humor, and rapport with Mike.
As an auto electrician by trade, Ant brought over 20 years of hands-on mechanic experience to the show. He had never been on camera before, yet evolved into a natural, engaging host able to explain even the most technical details to viewers.
Ant starred on Wheeler Dealers for 13 seasons and nearly 200 episodes until 2017. His chemistry with Mike and mastery of exotic sports cars, classics, and quirky repairs were a huge draw for viewers. So why would Ant walk away at the peak of the show’s success?
How Did Ant Anstead Announce His Departure From Wheeler Dealers?
Announcement of Departure
In November 2020, Ant Anstead surprised fans by announcing his departure from Wheeler Dealers after three years as the show’s expert mechanic.
He revealed the news via his social media accounts, stating it was an incredibly tough decision, but felt the time was right for him to move on from the show and explore new opportunities.
The announcement came right after filming wrapped on season 16, which had debuted in 2020. At the time, Wheeler Dealers had been successfully airing around the world for over a decade.
Ant expressed his gratitude to the crew, production company, and fans for the incredible experience working on Wheeler Dealers. However, it was clear Ant was ready to take on new challenges outside of the franchise he’d been committed to for so long.
What Led To Ant Anstead’s Decision To Leave Wheeler Dealers?
Though Ant left on good terms, his choice to walk away from hosting duties surprised many viewers. What wasn’t being shown on camera? Here are the main reasons rumored to have contributed to Ant leaving a show he seemed to genuinely enjoy working on:
Desire To Explore New Career Opportunities
One major factor was simply Ant’s desire to take advantage of other opportunities coming his way. He had been locked into hosting Wheeler Dealers for three years, which required a major time commitment.
With the show a proven success, Ant understandably wanted the flexibility to pursue new projects. In particular, he had begun co-hosting another car restoration show called For the Love of Cars.
Having been tied to Wheeler Dealers for so long, Ant likely craved the creative freedom to expand his career into new shows, books, and business ventures. The timing was right for him to take the leap.
Filming Conflicts Impacted His Scheduling
In addition to generally wanting more time for passion projects, scheduling conflicts began impacting Ant’s ability to juggle filming for multiple shows.
Around 2017, he began co-hosting For the Love of Cars, a restoration show based in California. At the same time, Wheeler Dealers was still filming primarily in the UK at Ant’s workshop in Hampshire.
Jet-setting between the UK and California to film two car shows simultaneously eventually took its toll. The packed filming schedule left little room in Ant’s calendar for much else.
Leaving Wheeler Dealers provided Ant the flexibility to focus his time on projects based mainly in California, without the constant back-and-forth travel to England.
No Confirmed Tension With Mike Brewer
While never directly confirmed, there were no reports over the years suggesting there may have been any off-screen tension between Ant and his Wheeler Dealers co-host, Mike Brewer.
Mike came from a used car sales background, while Ant was the practical mechanic – a classic TV odd couple pairing. Their contrasting personalities were a big part of the magic of Wheeler Dealers.
However, their differences in backgrounds and dispositions did not create any real-life friction, according to multiple sources. There were no indications of any disputes over filming or mechanic work.
Again, Ant and Mike always kept things professional on-air. But there were no behind-the-scenes tensions that contributed to Ant’s eagerness to pursue solo projects away from Wheeler Dealers.
What Happened After Ant Anstead Left Wheeler Dealers?
Continuation of Wheeler Dealers
Wheeler Dealers continued following Ant’s departure, with host Mike Brewer staying on. Mike truly was the founding force behind Wheeler Dealers, so it made sense he would continue spearheading the show.
The big question was: who would replace Ant as the show’s mechanic? For season 14, Mike was joined by new mechanic Ant Anstead, known from other British automotive programs.
Ant stayed on through 2020 then also departed the show. Starting in season 16, experienced car builder Marc “Elvis” Priestley came aboard as the new Wheeler Dealers expert mechanic and has remained in the role.
Ant Anstead’s New Television Projects
As hoped, Ant capitalized on leaving Wheeler Dealers by focusing energy on other automotive TV projects. He continued his role hosting For the Love of Cars for a few years following his exit.
In 2017, Ant also debuted a new show called Wheeler Dealers: Dream Car, in which he helped people find exotic car bargains. The show only lasted one season on Velocity UK.
Later, from 2018 to 2020, Ant hosted Wheelers Dealers: Dream Car Revisited. This show featured Ant tracking down owners of exotic cars previously purchased on Dream Car to see how they were getting on with their vehicles.
Most recently in 2021, Ant began hosting Celebrity IOU: Joyride on HGTV and Discovery+, in which he works with Hollywood stars to gift customized car restorations to deserving people in their lives.
Expansion of Ant Anstead’s Career
In addition to new TV projects, Ant has been able to pursue other professional and creative interests since leaving Wheeler Dealers.
He launched his own automotive-themed product line called The Driver’s Club, offering apparel and accessories inspired by classic cars and the open road.
Ant has authored several books including Cops and Robbers, a crime novel published in 2020. He also found love, marrying TV host Christina Haack in 2018 before eventually separating in 2021.
The freedom from Wheeler Dealers allowed Ant the time and flexibility to grow his career in new directions aligned with his passions.
Wheeler Dealers Today: Status Without Ant Anstead
Given Ant’s integral role and long history on Wheeler Dealers, how has the show fared since his exit? Let’s look at an update on the current status of Wheeler Dealers:
The show is still successfully airing today, now in its 19th season as of 2022. Mike Brewer continues to helm each episode, tracking down bargain finds and negotiating deals on run-down classics. Master mechanic Marc “Elvis” Priestley has settled in as the new workshop expert leading restorations. Many viewers initially took time to warm up to new mechanics Edd and Elvis after losing Ant. But both brought fresh energy and insight to the show. Ratings dipped temporarily after Ant’s exit but have rebounded in recent seasons, indicating Wheeler Dealers has survived his departure. The show’s format continues successfully combining Mike’s sales savvy with a mechanic’s masterful restorations of coveted cars.
So despite losing one of its original stars, Wheeler Dealers remains a popular staple car show thanks to Mike Brewer’s vision and the talented mechanics who have stepped in during its run.
When Ant Anstead announced his departure from Wheeler Dealers in November 2020, many wondered if the show could continue successfully without him. Now 19 seasons in, it’s clear his legacy lives on.
Though Ant moved on to new projects, his three-season run helped build Wheeler Dealers into an influential automotive TV show with a winning formula.
Ant also deserves credit for taking a chance on hosting an unknown show back in 2017 which ended up completely changing the trajectory of his career. Wheeler Dealers helped introduce his talent to the world.
The reasons behind Ant leaving back in 2020 were understandable – wanting flexibility for new ventures, dealing with filming conflicts, and reportedly some tension with Mike Brewer off-screen.
Yet despite rumors of any behind-the-scenes issues, Ant has always spoken highly of his experience working on Wheeler Dealers. He deserves to be remembered as a foundational force that made the show a success.
Mike Brewer’s persistence coupled with talented new mechanics helped ensure Wheeler Dealers would continue successfully after Ant’s surprising exit. But Ant’s wit, wisdom, and warmth during those first three groundbreaking seasons won’t soon be forgotten by the show’s many fans.