Amid rumours that the Grand Tour won’t be renewed for a fourth series and after a less-than-inspired “isn’t Japan weird?” episode of Top Gear we thought it was time to take a look at what else is out there for the petrolhead TV viewer.
Whether you’re into drooling over shiny and rare vehicles or like to see how the oily bits work, there’s something out there for you. Here are a few of our favourites.
Car SOS – National Geographic/More 4
This is a show for fans of cars and feel-good stories alike. In each episode car nuts and engineering whizzes Fuzz Townshend and Tim Shaw take on an unfinished project – ranging from Aston Martins to VW Beetles.
These are cars that have lain untended, sometimes for years, due to ill health or other unfortunate circumstances affecting their owners. Working in secret, the team restore the car and explore the model’s history before an always-emotional reveal to the unsuspecting owner. Tim’s hammy banter with suppliers can be wearing but this is one of the few shows that gets the blend of technical detail and staring at shiny cars just right.
Jay Leno’s Garage – NBC/Youtube
Jay Leno made his name and his money presenting a late-night chat show on America TV but he’s now just as well known for his staggering collection of cars, bikes and other vehicles.
This US show, available on its own Youtube channel, sees Leno guide viewers around his own spectacular collection as well as meeting the owners, designers and engineers of some of the rarest and most eye-opening cars out there.
Leno’s connections mean he’s gained access to everything from the hidden vault of classics beneath the Petersen Automotive Museum to Steve McQueen’s 1950 Jaguar XKSS.
It’d be easy to hate someone with such an enviable collection but Leno’s TV host charm and the sheer variety of vehicles he covers make this series all too easy to binge watch
For the Love of Cars – Channel 4/All4
Another UK show where the focus is on fixing up classics, albeit with a financial goal in mind. Everybody’s favourite naughty copper Philip Glenister and restoration specialist Ant Anstead pick a classic model in need of rescue before bringing it up to showroom standard and putting it up for auction. Each episode examines the car’s place in motoring history and meets enthusiasts as well as tracking Ant’s efforts in the workshop. Previous models have ranged from a 1947 MG TC to a 1985 Rover SD1 police car and a 1981 DeLorean.
Wheeler Dealers – Discovery
If one helping of Ant Anstead isn’t enough, then head over to Discovery’s Wheeler Dealers. Taking over from Edd China for the 14th series Ant is the grease monkey to Mike Brewer’s trader. It’s a similar format to Ant’s other show, with Brewer sourcing a clapped out car that he reckons he can turn a profit on and handing it to Anstead to fix up. Unlike other shows, Wheeler Dealers doesn’t just tell you what work’s been done, it also tells you how much it all costs, giving a better idea of just what goes into such restorations. And, being set in the USA, new episodes feature some cars you don’t see on UK-based shows.
Fully charged – Youtube/FullyChargedshow.co.uk
Not technically a TV show but with a TV star at the helm. Fully Charged is a web series fronted by actor and presenter Robert Llewellyn which focuses on electric vehicles. In it he and co-presenter Johnny Smith cover everything from roadtesting the latest EVs to discussing how we’ll get the renewable energy to power them. But it’s not just for dedicated eco-warriors – the enthusiasm and knowledge of the pair plus the variety of topics covered make it an intriguing watch for anyone with an interest in the future of motoring.
Cop Car Workshop – Dave
A fly-on-the-wall series following the Vehicle Maintenance Unit of Cheshire Police. The show tracks workshop chief John Heussi and his team of engineers as they maintain, repair and develop the force’s fleet of nearly 1,000 vehicles. As well as repairs on a perpetual cycle of mangled Astras and Beemers, the show follows the crew as they convert standard road cars to meet officers’ needs and design, development and build specialist vehicles such as riot vans, dog vans and even boats. It also takes a look at how the completed vehicles are used and abused by officers on the beat.
Top Gear America
Not to be confused with the defunct Top Gear USA, this is the Beeb’s second stab at putting an America spin on its hit show. It treads a similar path to the UK show with road trips, daft challenges and celebrity guests, all fronted by the very un-American but very charming Tom Ford, along with film star William Fichtner and drag racing champion Antron Brown.
It’s not that big a detour from the UK show – there’s a star in a reasonably fast car, tests of weird and wonderful motors and even their very own Stig – but for a literal change of scenery you could do worse.
Finding full episodes in the UK is tricky at the moment but the old Top Gear USA made it to our screens so there’s a good chance we’ll see this new version at some point soon.