Top 10 Car Shows on TV
When it comes to television, I think most of us gearheads would agree there aren’t enough shows about cars. In recent years though, we’ve seen a couple new networks like Speed and Discovery’s Velocity start to put more automotive content out there. History and Discovery do have quite a few shows dedicated to our obsession, so I thought I’d give you a rundown of your options the next time you’re looking online, on Netflix or on cable for something to watch.
10. American Chopper
I’ll start off the countdown with arguably the most dramatic show on the list. To the casual observer, American Chopper might just seem like a show about tattooed hot heads screaming at each other. To the gearhead, though, they just build badass custom bikes. The series started out with the father-and-son team of Paul Teutul Sr. and Paul Teutul Jr. working in tandem at Orange County Choppers in Newburgh, New Jersey. The two have since parted ways, but now compete head-to-head on a spin-off series called Senior vs. Junior on Discovery. If you love choppers or building bikes, there’s plenty of eye candy here when they’re not busy feuding.
9. Inside West Coast Customs
The shop made famous by MTV’s Pimp My Ride is still going strong. Xzibit may have moved on, but CEO Ryan Friedlinghaus is still pushing the limits of custom car builds, often times doing work for celebrity clients like Mark Wahlberg and Justin Bieber. Each client gets something unique to match their personality, lifestyle or brand, which makes every episode a new adventure.
8. American Restoration
This is a spin-off of Pawn Stars on the History channel, featuring cameos from the cast as well as that of American Pickers, Lance Burton, NASCAR driver Greg Biffle and even famed rocker Sammy Hagar. The show follows the daily operation of Rick’s Restorations, which specializes in fixing up old bikes, cars and every other kind of antique collectible. It comes in at #8 because it’s not specifically about cars or motorcycles, though most episodes feature at least one or two.
7. Fifth Gear
Now in it’s 21st season, Fifth Gear is the top rival to UK’s renowned Top Gear. It’s a little more sensible, and has a focus on useful and newsworthy information. They usually review more affordable cars than their counterpart. A couple of the hosts were once professional race car drivers, which allows for some pretty interesting insights. You can watch it on Velocity, Discovery’s repurposed automotive channel.
6. Car Warriors
Speed has some really great programs, especially if you follow NASCAR or Formula One. But it doesn’t stop there – I think Car Warriors is one of the hidden gems when it comes to car shows. Each episode features two competing teams racing against the clock to take identical cars – everything from Corvettes to VW Bugs – and soup them up in every way imaginable. Fans of Pimp My Ride might recognize Mad Mike, who judges the final products.
The premise here is all about surprise. Through some form of trickery and help from friends and family, the hosts go in and steal a car from the unsuspecting mark. They then have a week to rebuild and refurbish the car to turn it into a custom masterpiece. Usually the car is some kind of beat-up classic and episodes end in elation when the car, new and improved, is returned to the surprised owner.
4. Fast N Loud
I like this show because it’s fast-paced. There’s never enough time for picker Richard Rawlings and master mechanic Aaron Kaufmann at Gas Monkey Garage. Every episode is a race against the clock as Kaufmann often spends night and day in the garage, working non-stop to fix up all kinds of classics and antiques to flip for car shows and profits. Rawlings searches high and low for targets so you get to see a wide range of incredible and rare old cars.
3. Counting Cars
Fans of Pawn Stars will recognize “The Count,” Danny Koker – he’s the expert gearhead and self-proclaimed car addict they call in to appraise the vehicles people want to sell. The show follows his business at Count’s Kustoms in Las Vegas, a restoration company that specializes in old classics as well as motorcycles. If he sees a car he likes on the streets, he’s never shy about flagging the driver down to ask if they’re willing to sell.
Okay, so this show’s not entirely devoted to cars. However, there are so many great episodes that tackle driving myths that I decided to include it. The originality and entertainment value put it near the top of my list. The issues tackled include the driving ability of men vs. women, how to escape from a car under water, whether static or a cell phone can cause a car to blow up at the gas pump, how many phone books it would take to give a car bulletproof armor, whether a flying piece of rubber from a shredded tire can kill a man, and so much more. The show’s scientific approach makes it just as thought provoking as it is entertaining.
1. Top Gear
Is this any surprise? Top Gear is the ultimate gearhead show. Whether it’s the UK version or the U.S., the spirit and the enthusiasm are the same. The Brits are known for their wacky humor, but that doesn’t mean the American version is short on laughs. The key difference between Top Gear and Fifth Gear, described above, is that the former focuses as much on entertainment, competition and humorous banter as it does information. Between driving incredible, quarter of a million dollar cars at 150 miles an hour and performing stunts on a closed course, I’m usually left pretty envious by the end of every single segment.
I’ll close with this montage of Top Gear’s best moments. Enjoy!
Author Bio: Mike Martin is an industry blogger and consultant, offering tips, guidelines and entertainment pieces to auto enthusiasts and business owners alike. He has worked with State Line Nissan and a number of other Kansas City car dealerships.
Categories: Gear Grinding