Every real car enthusiast has a list of good and bad car-themed TV programs. If you consider yourself one, but you still haven’t made a selection, we have prepared a list of the best TV shows about cars that could help you make a final choice.
Shows About Cars in the Era of Reality TV
One of the things that marked the beginning of the 21st century was the expansion of reality television. The bright side of it is that it has shown all the remarkable things “real people” can do. By following the trend, even some programs about vehicles are reality series, and they are popular too.
Unlike the reality stars that have managed to create and maintain the quality of their appearance, a lot of them did not make it, and neither did their shows. The competition is fierce, and the audience sometimes cruel. Also, to some, advertising was more important than quality. Still, there are series that have repeatedly confirmed their quality and remained popular among viewers.
10 American TV Shows for Real Gearheads
From first car-themed TV programs, mostly focused on sharing up-to-date news about all sorts of vehicles, to modern productions, series about four-wheelers have become the most popular screen format for millions of gearhead viewers. Some have lasted for a season or two, while others, like MotorWeek, have been on the screen for decades. Either way, their popularity continues to grow, forcing networks to compete in producing the best ones.
Jay Leno’s Garage
Hosting The Tonight Show, Jay Leno entertained audiences for decades. Thanks to his remarkable sense of humor, Leno has become one of the most popular comedians and TV hosts of modern times. However, those who have followed his work know that he is also passionate about vehicles. On his latest TV project – Jay Leno’s Garage, he mostly showcases some of the most sought four-wheelers known to man.
Fun fact: Jay Leno drove the car from the Batman Trilogy, a vehicle known as The Tumbler, aka the Batmobile.
Pimp My Ride
Despite being marked as one of the most overly produced programs, Pimp My Ride undoubtedly had fantastic content. Hosted by the musician Xzibit, it showed some of the most remarkable modifications seen by TV audiences. It was the show that people hated because they liked it.
Chasing Classic Cars
The goal of the show is to make a profit from restored old, classic vehicles. But there is a catch – no matter how hard the modifications were, the profit is not always garnered. The show has its passionate audience, mostly among true gearheads.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
If you like four-wheelers and talk shows, this program is the right for you. Just imagine Jerry Seinfeld riding around in high-performing or classic vehicles and having a fantastic conversation with remarkable people of today. Plus, you get to see stunning shots of the four-wheeler and a dose of laughter.
Even though the show ended in 2016, it remains a positive look at the automotive industry. The host Jesse James has earned the respect of gearheads due to everything he has accomplished as a mechanic.
Fast N’ Loud
One of the things most respectable about this show is the transparency. The creators of Fast N’ Loud don’t hide that episodes are often scripted. Still, they showcase some extraordinary four-wheelers, and that’s enough to give them a thumbs up.
Aired in 1981, MotorWeek is the longest-running show on TV and considered to be the West’s response to Top Gear. The show gives information and up-to-date news about rare and ‘everyday’ vehicles. It is now 39 seasons long and still a real treat for all automotive enthusiasts and gearheads.
What happens when you put family members, all mechanics with complex tempers, on a TV show? The answer is – American Chopper! Besides getting the job done flawlessly, the guys have often had real arguments that led to the break of family relationships during the show’s run. The last episode aired on February 11, 2010, and, in the meantime, the family has worked things out.
With 3.1 million viewers, the first episode, launched on History Channel, has become the highest-rated channel’s debut. American Pickers is a reality television series that follows two guys, Mike and Frank, who travel around the world to ‘pick’ or buy antique and rare items for their collections, for clients, or resales. Their remarkable finds have attracted millions of viewers, making this series a real treat for all automotive enthusiasts and gearheads around the globe.
First released in 2018, Fastest Car was one of Netflix’s first car-themed TV programs. The show mainly focuses on drivers and the way they manage to control some of the fastest four-wheelers in the world. Vehicles, including Ford GT, Ferrari 488, Lamborghini Aventador, and McLaren MP4, were involved in the first series and ensured the success of the first season, making it clear that there will be season number two.
Opposite of the Best TV Shows About Cars Are “Fake” TV Series
Real car enthusiasts are not a spoiled audience, but they know what they want. If you say that you’re giving them a show about four-wheelers, they want to see a four-wheeler. Otherwise, they’ll call your show fake. Trust us; some series prove that.
Which Ones and Why
- Overhaulin’ takes time away from shooting vehicles and makes every true gearhead take the remote and change the channel.
- Counting Cars – With so many staged and overdramatized scenes, the show, instead of showing the real side of the car industry, repeatedly confirms its status of a reality TV program.
- Misfit Garage – There is a story behind this show that made the audience lose trust in it. Before they started, a few of the mechanics were on Gas Monkey Garage, and after being publicly fired from it, they started a new show. However, many believe that the firings were staged so that the fired mechanics could begin Misfit Garage.
- Inside West Coast Customers – The show looks like a revival of series from the past, but not in a good way. All we can see on this show is an old tiered system polished up for a new generation—no new techniques, nothing innovating, just a show that’s not for real car enthusiasts.
- American Hot Rod – Some might say that this show was a response to American Chopper. If that’s true, American Hot Rod pales in comparison to American Chopper. The show was unbearably staged and overdramatized.
The One and Only – Top Gear
Created by Andy Wilman and Jeremy Clarkson and launched on BBC 2 in October 2002, Top Gear is probably one of the most respected series in this niche. It is the relaunched version of the 1977 show but modified and upgraded. Still, the main goal is the same – to inform and entertain.
Since the reboot, the show has had several hosts, including Matt LeBlanc, who has become a frequent presenter. And you know what? The audience loves that!
Not just Top Gear, but most of the programs cover all sorts of topics, from giving tips for buying a used car and where the best custom car shops in the USA are to sharing car driving tips for beginners. Some of the series even cover topics about car shipping. Therefore, you can learn about the difference between open and enclosed trailers, or get useful car shipping advice.