There are many TV shows geared around vehicles, from the imaginative to the unbelievable, below is a selection of the best car based TV shows out there.
Although only 5 episodes were made in the TV series, Herbie is known all over the world having featured in 6 films over nearly 40 years. Easily recognizable with the his red, white and blue stripes and sporting the racing number 53, Herbie is a VW Beetle that can drive himself when needed, and often triumphs in the face of adversity in races that he features in.
9: Driving School
For the British readers; Driving School was a TV Series in the 90s following wannabe drivers during their lessons through to their driving tests. The most notable learner was Maureen, who failed her theory and practical tests several times, and even went on to release a cover of the Madness single “Driving in my car” due to her new found fame thanks to the TV show. She eventually passed her test in an automatic car.
8: American Hot Rod
American Hot Rod was a reality TV series that followed Boyd Coddington’s custom care business, which built Hot Rods to order. 5 Seasons were aired, covering their restoring vehicles to tight deadlines; which often caused friction between members of staff, resulting in a number of staff leaving to join their competitors.
7: American Chopper
Ok, so this one is about bikes – American Chopper is another reality TV series in a vehicle workshop; however this one is about motorbikes; following the family run Orange County Chopper business, creating custom motorcycles. Each episode usually consisted of a heated argument between the family members, much to the viewer’s amusement, however due to regular disagreements; Paul Teutel Jr has left OCC and started his own firm. The new season will be billed as father v son as they go head to head with their rival businesses.
6. Speed Racer
Speed Racer is the English adaptation name of a Japanese Manga/Anime called “Mach Gogogo”, in which a young boy wants to become a racing driver, against his father’s wishes.
Speed Racer enters a race to win money for his father, to help him create his own engine design company. Picker up dangerous driving habits in the Mach 5 built by his father, Speed Racer inadvertently smashes the windscreen of the Mach 5, after a gang try to steal the windscreen as it contained details of a new engine in it, hidden by his father. Speed is told to quit racing but ignores his father, and begins a series of racing adventures.
52 episodes were created, along with a feature film created by the Wachoswki brothers (famous for creating The Matrix trilogy); however the film flopped at the box office.
5. Fifth Gear
Channel 5’s take on BBC’s Top Gear; Fifth gear includes some former presenters of the BBC’s show, including Quentin Wilson and Tiff Needell. The show is a car review show, highlighting the pros and cons of both affordable cars and high priced sports cars such as Ferraris and Porsches. It doesn’t however include the challenges that the Top Gear presenters are given, which have reinvented the show.
4: Knight Rider
Any TV show that features a talking car has to be included in this list. Knight Rider featured a car called K.I.T.T which has the ability to drive itself using Artificial Intelligence as it’s control system.
The car could also communicate with Michael Knight using a voice synthesizer, and was fluent in Spanish and French. The car also included features such as a turbo boost, a silent mode to avoid detection, oil jets which released oil slicks to get rid of pursuing vehicles, a tear gas launcher and an eject button if it was ever needed. The original model was sold for $150,000 in 2007.
3: Top Gear
Top Gear was a magazine style vehicle review program, which ran from 1977-2001. It was re-launched in 2002 with a more laid back, humorous style which now includes races between the competitors along with challenges such as driving from Bolivia to Chile, using locally bought off road cars, or an American road trip across four states using a car they had bought for under $1000.
The presenters were chased out of one town after the locals took exception to the graffiti added by the presenters. The show also includes a feature called “Star in a reasonably priced car” in which a celebrity has to race round a track in the shortest time, pitted against other celebrities who have taken the challenge the previous week.
The team also attempted to destroy a Toyota Hilux to prove it’s strength, and failed using the following methods: dropping it from a crane, setting it on fire, crashing it into a tree, hitting it with a wrecking ball, leaving it out at sea, and putting it at the top of a block of flats that was eventually demolished using explosives. The Hilux emerged from the rubble still able to drive, much to the disbelief of both presenters and viewers alike.
Top Gear currently broadcasts to around 350 million viewers worldwide and various local versions have been created.
2: Pimp My Ride
Pimp My Ride was hosted by X to the Z; Xzibit. The show involved the participant presenting their worn down, old car before handing it over to West Coast Customs, who normally gave it new body work, a new interior, a new paint job, a host of modifications and an over the top In Car Entertainment system. To top each car off, there was normally a surprise addition such as an Xbox and TV screens fitted into the car, or a pool table on a pickup truck, and on one occasion even a fireplace was added to the boot of one car.
The before and after shots of the car were unbelievable, giving the owner a road worthy car that not only drove safely but looked the part too, with chrome alloy wheels, custom made leather interiors and some graphics down the side of the car to make them unique.
Many international versions of the show were launched, including a cringe worthy UK version presented by Tim Westwood.
1: The Intercept
You may not have heard of it, but The Intercept is by far and away the craziest game show ever; aired in Russia. In almost a real life version of Grand Theft Auto, the participant has to steal a car and evade being captured by the Police for 35 minutes; if they do they win the car. If they failed, they were arrested for theft of a motor vehicle.
What they didn’t know was that there were 6 police cars carrying 14 officers on their tail, and the car was fitted with a tracking device so the Police always knew where the car was.
The show was created by the State Traffic Police to show that the criminal always gets caught, and only a small handful of people have ever won the car, with one participant managing to evade capture for a few hours through the streets of Moscow. Other less successful but still rather inventive entrants tried to get the car onto a raft in the Moscow River, or trying to hide it on a train. At it’s peak The Interceptor recorded 85 million viewers, which dwarfs the record 37.7 million viewers for American Idol, so it has to be number 1 in this list.
Written by Anthony Haslam , part of the car hire team at travelsupermarket.com