Television has an uncanny way of taking everyday things and making them truly larger than life. This idea is epitomized by the countless programs where true gearheads take cars (from your average run-of-the-mill models to ultra rare supercars) and put them to the test for your enjoyment.
Although automotive television exists in many capacities, from purely informative to purely entertainment, these ten programs have stood out the most. If you're serious about cars, you should be serious about these shows.
10 Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
Jerry Seinfeld is a famed gearhead, so getting a man as iconic as him to drive around in classic cars and discuss them (amongst other things) with some of the most famous people on Earth is a no-brainer.
Most episodes begin with Seinfeld explaining the vehicle he's in and its significance, then picking up a famous friend and going to an interesting spot in one of America's biggest cities, often times to discuss the car again in further detail. The show is a rare symbiosis of comedy, visual appeal, and automotive information, earning it a spot on this list.
9 Fifth Gear
Famed British automotive program Top Gear became the catalyst for a handful of not-so-successful spin-off programs involving cars. However, the one that enjoyed the most success was Fifth Gear.
The show was hosted by famed names in motoring such as Tiff Needell, a former Le Mans winner, Jason Plato, a Touring Car champion, and Tom Ford, who then went on to join the Top Gear America team when that show was launched in 2017. Fifth Gear was also very well-known for its shoot-out style races between vehicles that competed with each other on the market.
8 Monster Garage
Monster Garage was the mad scientist car makeover show run by exceedingly creative mechanic and overall gearhead Jesse James. The beauty of the show --and what differentiated it from other car refurb programs-- was what James and his team would do with the vehicles that they brought in to the shop.
Oftentimes, cars or trucks would come in and be transformed into something entirely different, things that normally wouldn't even make sense for the vehicle at hand. James was a master at making viewers rethink the possibilities of customization, even on the most boring of vehicles.
7 Pimp My Ride
Although the terms by which vehicles were redone for Pimp My Ride may not be traditional in any sense of the word, the show has managed to carve out its niche in pop culture history, as well as automotive television history. Originally aired on MTV and hosted by rapper Xzibit, Pimp My Ride was a show based on extravagance.
Vehicles were not brought in to the show to be buffed up with power and supplemental add-ons, but to be retrofitted with massive speaker systems, exterior lighting, interior work, and even televisions and gaming systems in the back seat. Despite not being a true "gearhead" program, gearheads can appreciate the light-hearted nature and early 2000s vibe of the show.
6 Chasing Classic Cars
If the hunt is just as much your speed as the task of restoration itself, Chasing Classic Cars is the right program to watch. Host Wayne Carini travels the United States in search of increasingly rare vehicles, some of which may not have been seen or driven for decades.
The show leads him to some interesting places and showcases some lesser-known cars of the 20th century. On finding his desired vehicle, the show transitions to Carini working to transform the car from whichever sorry state it was in to a presentable roadworthy machine.
5 American Hot Rod
American Hot Rod walked the perfect balance of reality television and informative automotive programming. Based on Boyd Coddington's California workshop where he builds, restores, and custom fabricates hot rods and classic American sports cars, the show became an immediate staple of the automotive world.
While many reality television shows have difficulty avoiding deviation from the main plot due to the overbearing personalities of its characters, American Hot Rod was able to stay the course and keep the show predominantly auto-based.
4 Motor Week
Perhaps the least entertaining program on the list, the reason for its high ranking and the notoriety it enjoys as a show is due to the fact that host John H. Davis has consistently provided the facts for nearly forty years.
His straight-to-the-point reviewing and warnings of issues and pitfalls with specific cars have been helping Americans make educated automotive purchases for two generations.
3 Jay Leno's Garage
Originally a YouTube show that was eventually picked up and turned into a full-fledged television program, Jay Leno's Garage follows Leno, one of the most respected classic car collectors in America, as he seeks to dig deeper into interesting automobiles (and even learn a bit about them from those who had a hand in creating them).
The show is based out of Leno's expansive, museum-like warehouse where he stores and displays hundreds of rare and unique vehicles. Although sometimes entertaining famous guests, Leno has done a great job of keeping the focus of the program off of him and on the cars, which are a passion of his.
2 Top Gear
Probably the most famous motoring television show to ever exist, Top Gear set the precedent for every modern automotive show to follow.
Rebooted in its most famous iteration in 2003, but originally started in the 1980s, Top Gear was Britain's flagship automotive program, combining real-world facts with out-of-this-world tests and trials done to cars that most could only dream of driving.
1 The Grand Tour
The new unofficial king of the automotive television landscape is the highly successful Top Gear spin-off, The Grand Tour. With the same ethos as Top Gear (except with even fewer rules and regulations and a seemingly bigger budget), the show is a true celebration of excess and doing things with rare and ultra-fast vehicles that virtually nobody else on earth would dream of doing.
This exact formula is what makes this show so wildly successful, and is the reason why it and its parent program are the most copied automotive shows ever.