Tonight we have the premier of the revamped Top Gear America on BBC America featuring William Fichtner, Tom Ford, and Antron Brown. It seems that everyone is eagerly waiting to see how the BBC does with its new American line up. But are the British the only ones who can make a good car show? Can America make a good car show too?
Top Gear America via BBC America
Arguably, Street Outlaws, Fast N’ Loud, and Counting Cars are some of the more popular American car shows (in no particular order) currently on television. What are some of your favorites from the past and present?
Counting Cars via History Channel
Counting Cars is a 2012 spin off show from the ever popular program “Pawn Stars,” featuring Danny “The Count” Koker and his unique staff of mechanics and painters producing custom cars out of his shop in Las Vegas. The show is not only famous for producing some absolutely beautiful custom rides, but is arguably even more famous for the personalities of the characters employed on the show. With numerous guest stars such as Elvira, Ziggy Marley, and Judas priest and 141 episodes aired with more to come, it is undoubtedly one of the current great American car shows.
Fast N’ Loud via Discovery Channel
Fast N’ Loud is another 2012 American TV show featuring Richard Rawlings, the owner of Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas, Texas. The master mechanic is Aaron Kaufman, known for both being a mechanical genius and for the ‘exuberant length” of his beard. In 2016, the New York Times conducted a survey of 50 TV shows and reported that Fast N’ Loud was the favorite show among men, with an 83% “like” rating. With 111 shows spread over 12 shortened seasons, the show not only produces some amazing cars, it also incorporates intentionally-cheesy skits to augment the show; which is fairly unique in American reality TV shows. Undoubtedly, the skits on Fast N’ Loud were not originally intended to be in line with what the British are doing with The Grand Tour and Top Gear, but they could eventually evolve to become less-cheesy comedy, and more in line with the comedic car testing we find in the British car shows we love.
Street Outlaws via Drag Illustrated
Street Outlaws is a 2013 TV show that follows the illegal street racing scene out of Oklahoma City. Since its premiere, this show has become hugely popular; and either because of the show, or by pure coincidence, the street racing scene in America has exploded in popularity. In fact, numerous real-life street racing accidents on and off the show have forced the production of its formerly illegal street races onto closed-off streets, with the full cooperation of local officials. The show has now aired 84 episodes across 9 seasons and has even generated a spin off show called Street Outlaws: New Orleans which just started its second season. While most other American TV car shows seem to concentrate on the construction of cars and motorcycles, Street Outlaws is a show about car racing and the car culture surrounding that scene.
Battle of Bunker Hill via Haiku Deck
Other shows such as Overhaulin’; Pimp My Ride; Mud, Sweat and Gears; and of course American Chopper have all placed their own unique twist on to the American TV screen and some have even incorporated themselves into popular American culture.
So what do you think? Will the BBC successfully invade American television with the revamped Top Gear America, or will the American TV shows successfully hold the Brits back in 2017 just like we did 242 years ago at Bunker Hill in 1775? Are there any American car shows that can compete, or have the British already conquered the automotive television world and we just don’t know it yet?
Keep driving my friends!
My thanks to Larry for all of his amazing help with this article. Thank you Larry!