This summer, we’re going beyond Top Gear. (Ok, we’re still watching Top Gear too.) But we’re also checking out some lesser known car shows from the UK and US, to shake up your TV watchlist and give you some restoration inspiration.
1. Wheeler Dealers
The original classic car renovation show; Wheeler Dealers was the first of its kind, and inspired loads of copy-cat shows from the US. Presented by Mike Brewer and Ant Anstead, the show saw the pair hunting out rare classics from around the globe, which they would then renovate and restore to try and turn a profit. All this was done with a limited budget, which made the show more believable, and also helped inspire car enthusiasts to try their own DIY car renovations.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your next car restoration or rebuild, this is the show for you.
2. Fast N’ Loud
Of all the car renovations shows to air in the US, Fast N’ Loud is easily one of the best. The show takes place at the Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas, Texas, following the team as they fix-up cars brought in by their regular customers and a few famous faces.
It might be light-hearted and entertaining, but Fast N’ Loud is also one of the most true-to-life depictions of car restoration, and there’s plenty of technical talk and genuine know-how to keep keen petrolheads interested. Some of the modifications featured on the show are hugely impressive, and they might just get you thinking outside the box when it comes to your own project.
A more serious version of the MTV hit show, Pimp My Ride; Overhaulin’ is a car makeover show in which people nominate a person who they think deserves to have their car overhauled by the specialists. It’s great fun watching the team renovate everyday cars while the nominee’s friends and family try desperately to keep it a secret, and the grand reveal is a real highlight.
The best thing about Overhaulin’ is that the final designs aren’t too whacky or out-there, with the crew focusing on basic fixes and restoration and giving you instructions to try them yourself.
4. Chasing Classic Cars
If you’re a great lover of vintage cars, we think you’ll appreciate the US motor show, Chasing Classic Cars. This was very much America’s first answer to Wheeler Dealers, with the presenter scouring the globe in search of the very best classics to tune-up and sell on for a profit.
What’s great about Chasing Classic Cars is presenter Wayne Carini’s genuine passion and interest in vintage cars, be they American or European, and his unwavering ambition to turn rust buckets into pristine collector’s items. Any car fan will love seeing these rare, old cars returned to their former glory.
5. Motor Week
It may not be the world’s most well-known car show, but Motor Week is the longest-running motoring programme on the tv, and we think, one of its best. It’s been on air since 1981, and continues to put out weekly programmes featuring motoring journalist John H Davies.
He travels the world to bring us news of the very latest cars and technology, focusing on new models and exciting new features. There’s no unnecessary stunts or window dressing here, making Motor Week essential viewing for anyone’s who’s passionate about cars.
6. Monster Garage
Easily the most outlandish and entertaining car show on our shortlist, Monster Garage sees two teams battling it out to design and engineer the most creative car restorations – think Scrapheap Challenge with a bigger budget.
The premise of the show is that the teams must alter their cars in such a way that they can transform into something else, for example, an original Volkswagen Beetle that doubles as a pop-up bar. As the teams are made up of expert car modification specialists, the results are always impressive and entertaining, and they might even help inspire your own makeover – because who doesn’t want to drive a restored ambulance that can pop a wheelie?
7. Jay Leno’s Garage
It’s no secret that Jay Leno is a huge car fan. His personal car collection is the stuff of legend, with the BBC Top Gear cast left speechless at the list of cars in the former talk show’s garage. Recently, Leno has let the public in on his obsession, with a new car show profiling some of the rare and exotic cars holed up in his LA mansion. It’s hard not to feel envious watching the chat show host wander through row after row of beautiful cars, but his passion and knowledge for every nut and bolt is immediately obvious.
Whether you love cars or you’re just nosey and like getting a glimpse into the homes of A-listers, Jay Leno’s Garage is the car show for you.
8. Top Gear
We couldn’t leave it off the list. While it may have struggled to find its feet in recent years, Top Gear is, for many, the ultimate car show, and we’re pleased to see it making a 2019 comeback with a line-up of new presenters, including Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff.
Featuring the very latest cars, a line-up of celebrity guests and guaranteed funny moments, the new series of Top Gear promises to be the must-watch motoring show of the summer. As every fan of the show will know, the team are often renovating and modifying their cars, though not exactly to a standard which you’d want to replicate on your own driveway.