Thanks to YouTube, I’m quickly discovering who I really am as a car guy. I used to think that I was only interested in small and nimble sports cars capable of ripping my face off around road courses, but…a guy named Cleetus changed all that. Now, thanks to him (and his crew), I find myself getting really excited about ridiculously overbuilt (and sketchy) drag cars capable of ripping my face of on a drag strip. Is this the perfect intro for a Cleetus McFarland net worth article or what?
What I’m trying to say is that I’ve only been watching the Cleetus McFarland YouTube channel for years, and…I’m still addicted. Besides the humor (and his fearlessness when it comes to doing whatever it takes to set records at the track), I’m mostly interested in the business that he’s built for himself. With a massively successful YouTube channel, two full time employees, and the ability to draw large crowds at every event he attends…he’s a perfect role model for those aspiring to make a fun (and profitable) living working with cars.
By the way, if you’re scratching your head in total confusion right now, I’ve written a full article explaining who Cleetus McFarland is. I’d recommend reading that before going any further with this post.
Anyway, just like I’ve done with my net worth estimates for other large automotive YouTubers (Doug Demuro, TJ Hunt, thestradman, Tyler Hoover, and Adam LZ), I’m going to try and calculate Cletus McFarland’s net worth by having a deep look at 3 things:
- His annual income
- His annual expenses
- His assets
Once I’ve got the numbers all listed out, I’ll attempt to calculate a valuation. By the way, it’s really important to note that I don’t know Cleetus personally, so all I can really do is guess. However, he has mentioned some specific things about his financial situation in his various videos over the past several months – which is going to make this slightly easier than it was for some of my previous net worth calculations.
To begin calculating Cleetus McFarland’s net worth, let’s have a look at his annual income:
As far as I can tell, Cleetus McFarland only has two main sources of income (his YouTube channel and his merchandise line). There are also a handful of other smaller income sources (which I’ll list out below), but he is primarily a YouTuber and that’s how he earns his money.
- $900,000: YouTube ad revenue: Cleetus is averaging 750,000 views per video, which puts him towards the top of the automotive YouTuber food chain. TJ Hunt and Adam LZ can’t even pull in numbers like that, and guys like Matt Maran and saabkyle04 are even further back. Anyway, using the generic (but widely accepted) calculation of $1 per 1000 views, it’s not unreasonable to think that he’s earning almost $1 million a year in ad revenue from his videos.
- $100,000: sponsorships: The other major part of the Cleetus McFarland net worth calculation is paid sponsorships (sponsored videos). While other guys like TJ Hunt and thestradman promote sponsored content in nearly every video, Cleetus is a bit more casual in his approach to being paid to promote products. He does it occasionally – which is perfectly fine IMHO, since he’s very likely to be able to charge a premium thanks to his high view counts on every video.
- $50,000: merchandise sales profit: It’s hard to guess with any sort of accuracy as to how much Cleetus and his team are bringing in from merchandise sales on annual basis. However, based on the size of the storage room containing all his products (which can be seen in many of his videos) – chances are its a significant portion of his net worth. He seems to be promoting new products regularly in his videos, which also tells me it’s a thriving business that is generating a healthy profit after expenses.
- $10,000: appearances: If there’s one thing that Cleetus McFarland loves more than most any other automotive YouTuber, it’s attending (and hosting) events and interacting with his fans. Event promoters realize how well he can draw a crowd, making him a highly sought after “celebrity” for events all over the country (his involvement in Rocky Mountain Race week is one such example). While it’s hard to know exactly how much he gets paid for these appearances, it’s safe to assume it’s not much. I’m sticking with my $10k annual estimate for this.
Next up in the Cleetus McFarland net worth calculation: subtracting annual expenses
Unlike other automotive YouTubers such as saabkyle04, Matt Maran, and Doug Demuro, Cleetus McFarland has some fairly significant annual expenses needed to keep his empire afloat (very similar to high expenses impact Matt Farah and his net worth). Let’s break down the numbers:
- $300,000: employees: At the time of this writing, Cleetus has two full time employees on his payroll (Cooper Bogetti and James Taal). I’m just going to assume they are paid $150,000 apiece – which, in the state of Florida, is a very respectable income. Of course I have no proof of these numbers, but I’m confident that I’m not very far off. Maybe it’s $170k apiece. Or $100k. But let’s just assume $150k given how much Cletus depends on them (and how integral they are to the channel).
- $100,000: cars and car parts: It’s safe to assume that Cleetus gets most of his major parts for free (or at a major discount) just for promoting them on the channel. His partnership with Texas Speed is one such example, which provides him with engines for some of his project cars. However, the entire foundation of the Cleetus McFarland YouTube channel is building fast cars, breaking them, and rebuilding. This is a very expensive business model whether being sponsored or not, so $100k a year in parts is reasonable I think. We know the cars themselves aren’t expensive, as he prefers to buy dilapidated pieces of junk and rebuild from the ground up.
- $40,000: garage lease: I was incredibly shocked to find out that Cleetus doesn’t actually own the shop / garage space they are currently working out of (the one he shares with Jeremy of FasterProms). He mentioned it was a leased space in a recent video, and that he’s stuck in it for several more years. Is it safe to assume a $3500-4000/mo lease on a commercial garage / shop of that size? I think so.
- $500,000: Freedom Factory: This is his by far his most significant expense. Maintaining (and repairing) an old racetrack is not cheap, and a significant portion of income from the Cleetus McFarland brand goes to keeping the Freedom Factory running. For example, he mentioned that just replacing the bleachers alone would cost nearly $100,000. Ouch!
- $50,000: merchandise inventory/processing/expenses: I’ve talked to many other people over the years who seem to think that merchandise sales are a huge part of the Cleetus McFarland net worth calculation. While I tend to agree, I’m of the opinion that it’s not as big as an income source as most would think. I’d imagine Cleetus and his team spends upwards of $50k a year in purchasing inventory (and processing) for his merchandise line. It’s a very manual (hands on) business as well, so it’s not definitely not as lucrative as earning money from video ad revenue or sponsorships.
- $50,000: personal expenses: at the time of this writing (August 2019) Cleetus does not own a home. He’s currently renting, which makes his monthly living expenses lower than other more established automotive YouTubers such as Doug Demuro. However, he has mentioned in several recent videos that the reason why he isn’t spending so much on cars is because he’s getting serious about buying some land with a house and a garage on it – which is a very smart thing for him to be focusing on IMHO. The Cleetus McFarland net worth will be skyrocketing to the next level once he purchases some appreciating assets!
Does Cleetus have any significant assets to add into the equation?
Other than his YouTube channel and his fleet of cars (which changes all the time), there are two other significant assets that make up a majority of his net worth:
- His home (and the property it sits on)
- The Freedom Factory
Calculating the value of both his home and the Freedom Factory is difficult, but I’m going to make a guesstimate anyway since I’m confident that I can get relatively close to actual values:
- His home is likely worth $500,000 based on it’s size, the amount of land it sits on, and it’s location (near Clearwater, Florida). I’m assuming he paid for this in cash.
- The Freedom Factory is likely worth $1.5 million. I estimate this considering that he paid a little under $1 million for it and has made significant improvements to it since then. Let’s assume that he has 50% equity in it so far.
Also, for being a die hard car guy, Cletus doesn’t seem to cycle through different cars very often – he gets a lot of mileage out of each one he purchases (pun intended). As far as I can tell, the overall value of his fleet never strays far from what I estimate to be $100,000 in overall value.
Based on the above information, I estimate Cleetus McFarland’s net worth to be: $1,200,000
You thought it was going to be well over $2 million didn’t you? FYI, $1.2 million is being generous! Despite a very healthy income, Cleetus is crippled by a handful of rather significant expenses which brings his overall net worth down to a level much lower than other automotive YouTubers.
These expenses (employees, property, cars, etc) aren’t necessarily bad in my opinion – after all, everything that he spends money on makes his channel incredibly interesting. And it’s very likely one of the key reasons why he has a very impressive view count on every single video he uploads to his channel.
However, not knowing how much equity he has in his appreciating assets makes it difficult to put a high valuation on his brand. I also need to state that even though his YouTube channel is producing a considerable amount of money every month, I don’t consider it to have a value over the $1 million mark.
Why? Well, if he were to sell it (and not be a part of it any longer) – would people still watch? The reality is that his channel has little value without him being at the center of it, which means he could never sell it for a large sum of money. This is precisely why it’s difficult to consider it as major of an asset as most might consider it to be.
What are some things Cleetus could do to increase his net worth?
- Paying down debt (*cough*Freedom Factory*cough*) would be a good start.
- Purchase (and modify the heck out of) the latest / hottest cars. One of the problems I see with the Cleetus McFarland YouTube channel is that the content is focused entirely around what HE enjoys. It certainly seems to be working for him, but guys like TJ Hunt and thestradman prove very well that purchasing the newest and most sought after cars (such as the C8 Corvette, Mark IV Supra, etc) and heavily modifying them is driving *massive* traffic to their channels.
- Cleetus certainly has no problem driving traffic and views, but…can you imagine if he took some of the latest and hottest cars and did his usual thing to them? His builds are like none other, and I have no doubt that we’d be talking about Cleetus McFarland’s net worth as being in a league of it’s own (in the automotive space) if he focused less on older cars.
- He needs to do more sponsored content. Well “need” is probably the wrong word since he’s making a pretty good living for himself, and he seems like the kind of guy who would rather not annoy his audience with unnecessary ads. However…for someone of his caliber with the kind of reach he has, his value to a sponsor must be extremely high.
- Knowing what I know about sponsored content (I’ve been involved in video sponsorships in the past), he could easily double his monthly income if he worked with a partner for most every video. Just imagine what that would do to his net worth!
- Maybe he needs to start an automotive parts company? One of the most interesting things about Cleetus (to me anyway) is is incredible knowledge of building insanely fast cars. He personally wrenches on all the cars he owns, and he’s got encyclopedic-level knowledge of what what into each of them.
- Based on how admired he is for building really fast and reliable race cars, wouldn’t it make sense for him to partner with an automotive parts company to develop a line of products with his name on them? To me, this seems like the logical next step in the upward evolution of Cletus McFarland’s net worth.
- He needs to branch out beyond YouTube in my opinion, because there’s no telling how long that ride is going to last.