It should be really obvious by now that I’m an automotive enthusiast with a bit of a YouTube addiction. Nearly everything I’ve written about this year has been based around all of the channels I’m currently subscribed to, and I’ve had a lot of fun writing about some of my favorite automotive YouTubers. However, there’s this guy named Scotty Kilmer that keeps popping up in my suggestions box, and…it’s incredibly annoying.
To be completely blunt, I have absolutely no interest in Scotty Kilmer’s videos. Yes, he talks about the things I’m most interested in (cars), but his quirky personality rubs me the wrong way. I’ve tried to watch his content. I really have. But as much as YouTube wants me to binge-watch his videos, I can’t last more than 20 seconds before hitting the back button in a desperate attempt to find something else to watch (such as Cleetus McFarland or Doug Demuro).
Despite my aversion to his hyperactive and “know-it-all” presentation style, I do admit that the entrepreneur in me is fascinated with the brand (and success) that he has built for himself. Not only does he upload a video nearly every single day, his viewership numbers (which I’ll dive into in a moment) are simply incredible. Never in a million years would I have thought that a loud and crude old dude yelling “old man” style rants into a camera would be so successful. It’s fascinating actually.
I spent the last two months digging up all the information about Scotty Kilmer that I could find. Here’s what I discovered:
- Scotty was born in 1954
- He started working on cars at 14 (on the weekends) at his grandfather’s Texaco gas station. His grandfather was a very introverted and strict individual, and while he wouldn’t teach Scotty explicitly, he let him watch. In other words, Scotty just soaked up as much as he could by watching his grandfather work.
- Both his father and grandfather were mechanics
- He got married in 1979. He and his wife (Leslie, a former teacher) have two sons: Wyeth and Riley.
- I was shocked to discover that he has a masters degree from the University of Illinois. I never would have thought that Scotty Kilmer was formally educated! Not only that, it’s a freaking Masters degree in anthropology of all things! I mean…can you imagine Scotty as an anthropologist?
- His first book, titled “Everyone’s Guide to Buying a Used Car” was published in 1994.
- Scotty Kilmer had a show on CBS (KHOU11 in Houston) for a while! It was called “Crank it up with Scotty” (which seems completely perfect IMHO). The show ran from 1994 to 2004.
- Scotty won an Emmy in 2004 for “Best Interactive Car Talk Host“
- He lives in Houston
- The very first Scotty Kilmer YouTube video was uploaded on August 19, 2007
- Not only does he upload to YouTube several times a week, he does a live Podcast on Thursday and Saturday called Car Talk. These are also uploaded to YouTube by the way, which increases his overall posting frequency. Let that be a lesson for all of you automotive YouTubers out there who are trying to find content worthy of uploading several times a week…
- In April 2019, Scotty Kilmer was #1 most viewed car channel on YouTube
- Scotty bought his current house in 1979. The house was built in the 40’s, and he paid $80k for it. The lot it is sitting on is currently worth $500k (as he mentioned in this video).
- Scotty is very proud of the fact that he doesn’t do sponsorships. All of his income comes from video ad revenue (Google Adsense).
- Scotty used a Panasonic HC-900M camera for the first million views on the Scotty Kilmer YouTube channel. He gave it away to a viewer in April 2019 in celebration of 200 million views.
- Ironically, Scotty Kilmer isn’t that much of a car guy (it’s a business, not a hobby). He’s more into motorcycles, and is very proud of his Triumph Thruxton.
- Scotty drives a 1994 Celica and a 2007 Toyota Matrix. His wife has a Lexus that he bought for $3000 (which had 60,000 miles on it).
- According to this video, the worst car that Scotty ever worked on was a Chrysler TC.
- You know those frightening cat pillows on the couch in the background of his videos? He got them from his daughter in law, who brought them back from Singapore as a gift. His wife hates them so he has to turn them the other way when he’s not filming. For what it’s worth, those cat pillows are one of the first things I think of when I think of Scotty Kilmer.
- Scotty isn’t much of a beer drinker, but he does enjoy German pilsners. Other then that, he considers himself a rum aficionado.
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Buy Scotty’s book!
Are you surprised as I am that Scotty Kilmer is a published author with a best-selling book? There aren’t very many other automotive influencers / YouTubers who have done what Scotty has, and I do suggest checking out his book to get a better sense of who he is (and where his roots are).
“Everyone’s Guide to Buying a Used Car” is written in the same style / persona he portrays on his YouTube channel, so…if you’re not into that sort of thing, you might not get a lot of use out of it. But for the rest of us, it’s a light-hearted (and useful) guide that I can’t recommend highly enough. Especially if you’re a huge fan of Scotty!
Just how successful is the Scotty Kilmer YouTube channel?
- Current subscriber count (as of October 2019) is 2,700,000
- He averages 1,300,000 views a day across his entire channel
- He’s currently growing at the rate of 2,600 subscribers a day
- Each video averages approximately 75,000 views
- Based on his viewership data (and the formula of $1000 per 1,000,000 views), I’d estimate that Scotty Kilmer is earning $30,000 a month from YouTube ad revenue. Other YouTubers such as thestradman, TJ Hunt, and Doug Demuro earn more, but its still a very respectable number. For the record, $30k a month is approximately what streetspeed717 is earning these days.
- The Scotty Kilmer’s YouTube channel is expected to reach 4,000,000 subscribers by September 2020. And assuming he’s still making videos for a while, he’s very likely to be at 15,000,000 subscriptions by 2030.
How the heck did Scotty Kilmer become so ridiculously successful?
As I noted at the very top of this article, I’m not much of a fan of the Scotty Kilmer YouTube channel. However, I appreciate (immensely) the success that he has built for himself and I’ve got nothing but respect for him in that regard. How did he become so successful uploading crude (and sometimes obnoxious) videos to YouTube? Well, based on what I’ve seen him do over the years, I’ve got several ideas:
1. He’s got a very unique personality
Love him or hate him, Scotty is one of those kinds of guys who isn’t afraid to tell it like he sees it. If he doesn’t like something, he’ll very enthusiastically tell you why. If he really likes something, he’ll tell you that you’re stupid for not agreeing with him. His is a very abrasive personality, and it’s not for everyone.
However, it’s this loud and unique personality which is his biggest asset. As a matter of fact, I’m willing to bet that a majority of his audience watches him for the entertainment factor alone. Not for the things he teaches us about car repairs.
On the flip side, I’m also willing to bet that a large part of his audience is subscribed to him because they hate the things he says. I mean, a major part of the Scotty Kilmer schtick is the shock factor. People tune in just to listen to his crazy rants (no matter how baseless they may be). That’s my opinion anyway.
I say this because I am a content creator myself, and I know what happens when voicing strong opinions. Some will agree. Some won’t. But even those who don’t keep coming back for more.
2. He’s extremely motivated and persistent
Ok. Be honest. How many other people over the age of 70 do you know of who creates and uploads YouTube videos several times a week? The Scotty Kilmer YouTube channel is run with more passion and energy than than many other automotive channels these days.
For example, ChrisFix uploads videos only once a month (if that). But Scotty is right there hanging with the frantic upload schedules of Adam LZ and TJ Hunt. As a matter of fact, he’s currently uploading more frequently than guys like James (thestradman), Matt Maran (subaruwrxfan), and Kyle (saabkyle04)!
What’s even more incredible about his posting schedule is that he’s been doing it nonstop since 2007. No, his videos aren’t very technical and there’s not much editing involved – but it’s still a ton of work nonetheless and amazed that he’s been able to do it for so long.
3. He’s living proof that ANYONE can make a living sharing knowledge (no matter how little knowledge that may be)
Now, I’m not saying that Scotty doesn’t know anything about cars, but…he’s definitely not the best automotive mechanic on YouTube. Far from it actually! However, there’s nothing wrong with that, and he’s done very well for himself to share the knowledge that he has gained over the years.
Everyone on this planet has knowledge about something that others would love to learn about. Scotty capitalized on this years ago (starting with his television show), and it’s exactly what has made the Scotty Kilmer YouTube channel so successful. His videos are short, to the point, and fairly easy to digest if you can handle his abrasive and loud personality.
4. Having a TV show in a large metropolitan area for over 10 years definitely helped ignite the growth of his YouTube channel
“Crank it up with Scotty” was a fairly big hit in Houston from 1994 to 2004, and when he finally made the decision to transfer from television to YouTube, it was extremely likely that he brought a large number of viewers with him.
So – if you’ve ever wondered why it was possible for the Scotty Kilmer YouTube channel to blow up so quickly (when so many other more competent car mechanics struggle), this is very likely one of the reasons why. I’m not criticizing him for this at all by the way. As a matter of fact, it was a very smart business decision for him to leverage the audience he already had to accelerate the growth of his channel. As an entrepreneur myself, I fully subscribe to the idea that as long as it’s legal, it’s OK to do what you gotta do to get ahead.
Love him or hate him, he’s arguably the king of automotive YouTubers
Finally, to wrap this up, I think it’s fitting to mention the importance of recognizing the success that Scotty Kilmer has found. Love him or hate him, he’s bigger and more popular than most any other YouTube channel in existence at the moment, and that is a fairly significant thing.
He’s criticized a lot for the things that he does and says. However, when I look at his numbers and realize how so far ahead he is of everyone else, all I can wonder is that maybe he is right and everyone else is wrong?
Scotty is a very successful business man and mechanic. Yes, he may be a little rough around the edges and annoying to some (including me), but he’s obviously doing something right. I’m incredibly proud of his success. He’s made a lifetime career out of what he loves doing so much ( working on cars and helping others) and for that I can find no fault.