Quick Stats: Todd Hoffman, star of Discovery’s Gold Rush
Daily Driver: 2017 Ram 2500 (Todd’s rating: 9.5 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Breckenridge to Fairplay, Colorado.
Car he learned to drive in: 1980s Honda Civic
First car bought: 1980 Chevy Monza
Although most people think the gold rush has come and gone, Todd Hoffman never got the memo. Hoffman has shown that one can still find success in gold mining in this day and age—and have a hit TV show to boot.
When he’s not mining for gold and being filmed for Discovery’s Gold Rush, Hoffman always has a car project waiting for him. “I’ve got a lot of half-done projects sitting at home,” Hoffman tells Motor Trend.
In his projects, Hoffman seeks to preserve classic cars and their history yet adds newer parts below the hood. With his recent announcement that this season will be his last, Hoffman and his dad, Jack, might have more time to tackle car projects now that they won’t be on the show’s filming schedule.
1972 Chevy Camaro
Hoffman is proud of the restoration of his split-bumper 1972 Chevrolet Camaro. “I put an LS motor in it; it’s a resto mod.” he says. “The newer Camaros—you’re kind of sitting down in. It feels like you’re too deep into the car and the windshield’s too small.”
For Hoffman, he appreciates the better visibility of older Camaros. “They’re cool,” he says. “A lot better than the newer ones. I would never buy a newer Camaro, but I sure like the older ones.”
Hoffman bought the Camaro specifically so he could complete the project. “I found a project that was half done and was able to finish it,” he says.
He says although he was born in 1969, this 1972 Camaro isn’t really about nostalgia and the cars he grew up around. “I didn’t make out with a bunch of girls in the back seat of one of those,” he says. “It’s more like I just liked the look of it. The guy had started on the project, and I was able to make a good deal on it and finish the project.”
Hoffman also wanted something to be able to just cruise around in. “It’s got a 400-something-horse engine in it,” he says. “It’s more of a driver. I didn’t want it to be like a drag racer. Some of the parts are new, and some of the parts are old. And some of the parts are new but look old.”
Hoffman likes old cars because they’re good project cars to work on with his dad. “We like to fix up old trucks,” he says. “My dad’s doing a 1959 Chevy Apache truck. And I just finished a 1949 Chevy truck 3100 five-window, and I turned it into a lowrider.”
1949 Chevy 3100 five-window truck
“There’s a style that I like on the old trucks,” he says. “I like an old-patina truck that looks like it came out of the barn, has all the scratches and the old paint, but then it’s got brand-new running gear, brand-new engine, tranny, the interior’s all fixed up nice, but you leave the outside the way it was. The best of the old and the best of the new.”
Hoffman gives it a perfect 10 because he says it’s unique. “You do them differently, and you leave the old character,” he says. “You can see where some farmer welded on the bumper—he welded a little hook on there. You leave that kind of stuff.”
He loves the car’s lowrider vibe. “You hit the remote control, and you can lay it right on the ground, man,” he says. “The frame and everything—you can let all the air out and just lay it out on the ground. It looks cool. I chopped the frame, redid all the frame, put a new engine in it, new transmission and then a full Airtekk Air Ride system on it. … It’s kind of tricky. It’s not easy. There’s a lot to it.”
2017 Ram 2500
Hoffman’s 2017 Ram 2500 diesel can be seen on Gold Rush. He’s particular on this choice of vehicle as well as the differences between a Chevy and a Ram truck.
“I’m really happy with it,” he says. “I got the Mega Cab short bed, but I use it mostly almost like an SUV. But I like Chevy Suburbans for my wife and everybody else. I got the Longhorn edition, so it’s got lighter tan leather in it. It’s nice.”
Hoffman rates it a 9.5 on a scale of 10 and also appreciates the Mega Cab truck’s spaciousness.
“[With four big guys inside], it’s nice to have the back seats lean down,” he says. “The back seats have heaters. … If you’ve got a little bit of a beer gut, it’s always nice to kind of lean back a little bit.”
There aren’t too many things he dislikes about the truck. “It actually rides pretty good, but it is still a little bit stiff,” he says, adding that he is happy that the big diesel truck gets 17–18 mpg.
2011 BMW X6
“It’s fast, it’s sporty, but … it’s a small SUV—it’s only got four seats in it,” he says. “If you want to take another couple out and to get around town, it’s nice for two couples. What I’d like to buy at some point is a Porsche  Turbo, somewhere between 2013 and 2016. I like the Cabriolet [models]. That would be a wish.”
Hoffman loves his X6, giving it a 9 on a scale of 10, and says it’s nice even though it’s six years old. “It’s a V-8 twin-turbo, and I don’t know why, but I like that little SUV,” he says. “That’s what I drive around when I’m at home and not mining, and then my [truck] when I’m at the mines.”
There is one slight drawback about the BMW. “The head room—as you’re getting into it, you’ve got to squat down,” he says. “I’ve had a couple buddies who could barely get into it.”
For fans wondering what Hoffman will do with his time without a TV show, he already has a full life even without a show. “I’m trying to work on my cars, I’m trying to stay married, I’m trying to be a good dad, and then I’m trying to sing,” he says. “I have five songs on the Internet. I’ll record a song and shoot a music video.”
One of the songs is a poignant rendition of “Sound of Silence,” as well as a cover of “Don’t Let the Sun.”
Car he learned to drive in
Hoffman learned to drive in his mom’s little 1980s Honda Civic. His dad taught him in it on the streets of northeast Portland, where he grew up.
“It was a stick shift, and it was hard to learn how to drive in it, but we were pretty poor, man, so we didn’t have a lot of fancy cars and fancy things,” Hoffman recalls.
Although it was hard to learn on the manual Civic, it was easy on Portland’s suburban streets. “You try to start out driving in the neighborhood and then work your way into the busy city, but back then Portland wasn’t that busy,” he says.
First car bought
After gold mining in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1985, Hoffman came home with some money that enabled him to buy a circa 1980 Chevy Monza for $1,500. Hoffman says that only a few folks are left who even know about the Monza.
“You never see them on the road,” he says. “It didn’t get me very many dates, but it got me through high school.”
Hoffman would often try to take the eight-cylinder Monza to its limits when he was on the freeway. “I was young,and it was awesome,” he says. “Why did any of us do that stuff? It was a horrible car to go 115 mph in. I’m surprised I’m alive.”
Favorite road trip
“I hate saying this: I have a big RV, a diesel pusher, and it’s fun to get the guys together and go on a road trip,” he says. “It’s fun to drive. It drives like a big Cadillac, but it’s 30 feet long. People don’t think that’s cool, but it’s fun when you pile in the guys and go for a roadie with your RV.”
He’s driven the motorhome all the way to the Yukon to mine for gold. “I like when we were all caravaning up to the Klondike,” he says. “It was fun. Now we mine in Colorado. The beauty up in the Rockies far surpasses the Klondike and whatever’s up north.”
Hoffman particularly likes the drive from Breckenridge to Fairplay, Colorado. “The drives up here are just phenomenal,” he says. “You go up over the Continental Divide, and you come down into the Breckenridge ski area. It’s not a long drive, but it’s a good drive.”
Discovery’s Gold Rush, Fridays at 9 p.m.
Although much of earlier seasons were in Klondike, the current and final season is about finding gold back here. “I’m trying to mine gold in the United States,” he says. “People don’t think that you can do that anymore and it is a real thing. I’m trying to make a living, I’m trying to get as much gold as I can, I’m trying to feed my family, I’m trying to get as much gold for my guys, and in the meantime I’m getting followed around with this camera crew, and it’s just kind of odd. My son is 18 years old, and he’s kind of slowly taking over, and it’s been very fun to work with my family and watch my son. It’s pretty cool.”
This season takes place in Fairplay, Colorado. “There’s some very difficult things that they’re going to watch, but overall it’s how one group of guys deals with adversity, and do we conquer adversity, or do it let run over us?” Hoffman says of this season. “There’s some crazy stuff. We actually put a guy in jail. Probably one of the most insane seasons we’ve ever shot.”
Hoffman sees the show as always being educational, and this season that means seeing more equipment and different equipment to find gold. “Guys love it,” he says. “It’s a worldwide hit.”
In his folksy manner, Hoffman reflects about what he most enjoys about the show. “You know what I like? It’s getting gold, because I don’t know if you’ve noticed what’s going on in the world,” he says. “We’re on the edge of nuclear war with North Korea, and that weighs on the mind of every man or woman at work or home. When there’s adversity in the world, gold goes up. Why? Because it’s a safe haven.”
He said it’s good to have gold in the bank. “It’s a worldwide currency, and you kick the tires on gold,” he says. “That’s why I got into it, is I believe in gold and I want to get as much as I can for my family because you never know what’s going to happen out there.”
Gold Rush airs Fridays at 9 p.m., with the season finale on March 9.