Discover the Ultimate List of 10 TV Shows for True Car Enthusiasts (Plus, Beware of These 10 Phony Ones)

1963½ Ford Falcon Sprint

In the entertainment industry, one of the most valuable qualities for actors is conviction, the ability to make the audience believe in the reality the performer is conveying on screen. Reality TV became popular in the early 2000s, bringing shows featuring ordinary people in their daily lives, with some even having competitive elements. Surprisingly, some of these "real people" had natural talent and were able to captivate the audience with their genuine emotions and actions.

Unfortunately, for every genuine talent on a reality TV show, there were many who lacked the skills to impress the viewers, leading to poor acting and lack of believability. This created a negative impact on the audience, leaving a bitter aftertaste.

For car enthusiasts, we have compiled a list of binge-worthy TV shows that showcase excellent content, and we will also take a look at some shows that failed to deliver their promises. Check out our article on "5 Car TV Shows Worth Binging in 2021: 5 That Are Hard to Watch," where we have discussed the features of both types of shows and have provided insights to help you choose the right ones.

As of April 2023, we have updated our article to provide more information to gearheads who are searching for the best car TV shows available to them.

Constance Nunes in Car Masters

If you're in the mood for a car reality TV show, you might want to skip Car Masters: Rust to Riches, which centers around a car shop named Gotham Garage. Even though the cast is restoring vehicles to earn a profit, their restored cars often come out looking uncanny and absurd, lacking the skills and expertise to impress the audience. The closeup shots reveal the poor quality of their creations, which is nothing short of disappointing. Additionally, the cast members are not helping either, making it impossible to tune in for more. For instance, Constance Nunes claims to be a master mechanic, whereas the Caveman tries to do tasks that he isn't fully qualified for, and Mark, the shop owner, designs cars poorly.

Drive to Survive Poster

On the other hand, Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Netflix is a fantastic documentary series that delves into the dynamics and behind-the-scenes action of Formula 1 racing, highlighting the competitiveness of the sport. The show provides an inside look into the personal and professional lives of the current Formula 1 drivers, covering everything from their intense training regimes to their relationships with other team members. Overall, Formula 1: Drive to Survive is a must-watch for gearheads who are passionate about racing.

Caffeine And Octane Scene

If you're looking for a show that'll have your heart racing, filled with high-stake drama and a range of emotions, the one we have in mind ticks all the boxes. Follow the racers as they compete in a whole season's worth of action-packed races, all compressed into a handful of episodes. It's a must-watch for action junkies who can't get enough of thrilling races.

Lunchmoney Hotrod

Another car show that's caught our attention is Fastest Car, which features ordinary folks who've modified their cars to insane levels competing against a supercar. The show not only provides a definitive answer to the age-old question of whether it makes more sense to modify a regular car or splurge on a supercar but also digs into the personal stories of each competitor, taking viewers on an emotional rollercoaster ride.

On the other hand, Counting Cars has received a fair share of criticism for its inconsistencies and staged scenes. While it has an entertaining flair, the overly dramatized scenes take away from the show's authenticity and the mechanics' competency, sometimes resulting in on-camera bloopers. In contrast, some believe that a certain car show is a cut above the rest. It's a no-nonsense, informative program that provides raw, no-frills insight into cars, which is what true gearheads crave. After all, at its core, that's what it's all about.

A Shot of Top Gear PresentersDanny Koker and his crew beside a restored vehicle

This show boasts excellent production value and has been on air for a remarkably long time, first premiering in the UK in 2002 as a reboot of a program that originally aired in 1977. A notable feature of the show is the charming presence of Matt LeBlanc, famously known as Joey from Friends. It's hard not to enjoy his presence!

14 Completely Fabricated – Wrecks To Riches

Car shows often follow similar plotlines, and this program is no exception. Unfortunately, this show delivered the formula poorly, and most quickly caught onto that fact. It only ran for two seasons in a row before fizzling out. At the time, other shows were producing a higher quality of content, and the star of the show, Barry White, wasn't enough of a draw to keep things going.

Wrecks To Riches Build - 1969 Dodge Dart

Jay Leno's Garage

Jay Leno had a successful run as host of The Tonight Show, proving his talent for comedy time and again. But beyond his comedy career, Leno's love for cars shone through. His latest show, Jay Leno's Garage, offers viewers a glimpse at some of the most coveted cars. Leno even drove the iconic Batmobile from Christopher Nolan's Batman movies.

Jay Leno thinks the new Cadillac Escalade V is unbelievable.

12 Totally Manufactured - Overhaulin'


Viewers tune into car reality shows to see cars. If the show takes time away from the vehicles, then what are we watching? Viewers want to learn more about their favorite subject without caring for the hosts' attire or appearance.

For those in search of a female mechanic who can rival any male counterpart, Sarah Bogi Lateiner of All Girl's Garage fits the bill. Her team has no qualms about getting their hands dirty, and she's the real deal when it comes to working on vehicles.

Adrienne Janic in a car


For unbiased automotive news delivered by experts in the field, look no further than MotorWeek, the longest-running car show on television. The show provides the latest news and information on rare and everyday cars, akin to a 60 Minutes for automotive enthusiasts.

This specific show is like most credible automotive magazines or TV programs in that it delivers exactly what you want to know without any unnecessary bells and whistles. It has been broadcasting for an impressive 42 seasons on PBS, since it first aired in 1981, and is widely regarded as the American version of Top Gear.

John Davis of MotorWeek



This show definitely has a Hollywood vibe, and it's not afraid to show it off. It's no secret that it's staged and as bogus as possible when you check out how it all came to be. Some of the mechanics featured on the show were previously associated with Gas Monkey Garage, but after being terminated, they created an entirely new garage, Misfit Garage, and consequently this program. However, many people believe that the dismissals were just a strategic ploy used to release these "cast members" for a new show. We think they've lost all credibility because of it.

Tom Smith and Jordan Butler

Chasing Classic Cars/Facebook

This program is more of a documentary than a classic TV show. It has an authentic feel that's evident from the beginning to the end. The host, Wayne Carini, is a seasoned veteran who does his job flawlessly, and the search for these rare vehicles is spellbinding to watch. The story is similar to other shows, where the aim is to restore old cars and make a profit, but the bottom line isn't always successful regardless of the hard work put into the modifications, and that's where the reality element comes into play. Additionally, the automobiles portrayed on this program are typically very scarce, making it an added bonus for car enthusiasts everywhere.

West Coast Customs

West Coast Customs

For us, this TV show is pretty much a rehash of car programs from the past. As motorheads, we enjoy watching programs that challenge and teach us new techniques or even inspire us to rework our own garage vehicles that have been forgotten. However, the producers of this program refreshed the tired old format for a newer and younger audience, where celebrities come to have their cars reimagined, bringing the Hollywood veneer a little too close to home. It makes us ponder why these personalities opted for Ryan Friedlinghaus and his team instead of the more experienced mechanics in Burbank, California.

Jerry Seinfeld

This show, featuring comedian Jerry Seinfeld driving around in classic or high-performance vehicles with his colleagues and interviewing them, is an innovative idea. If somebody had presented such an idea twenty years ago, they would have been mocked by many. However, a generational shift changes everything, and this program is a real treat for any motorhead. It offers fantastic automobile shots, great conversations, and excellent laughs. We recommend this show to anyone interested in cars or chat shows. Moreover, it's always a pleasure to see Jerry on the screen in any setting.

Vegas Rat Rods

Ranked as the sixth most inauthentic show on our list, Vegas Rat Rods, featured on Discovery Canada/YouTube, impresses with its camera work, showcasing the immaculate vehicles against beautiful backdrops and landscapes. However, we feel that the show is overproduced, overshadowing the builds themselves. Sometimes, less is more when it comes to display and projection.

Monster Garage

On the other hand, the TV show Monster Garage and its star, Jesse James, as seen on American Chopper, present a no-frills approach that earned them a spot among the industry's original heavyweights. James deserves respect for his accomplishments as a mechanic and TV personality, despite the occasional negative media attention. Monster Garage stands as a positive representation of the automotive industry.

Meanwhile, American Hot Rod, which aired from 2004 to 2008 in response to American Chopper on Discovery Channel, fails to impress in comparison. It falls short by trying to copy its predecessor, even when it comes to the scripted arguments between the show's star, Boyd Coddington, and fellow cast members, passing off rehearsed performances as genuine outbursts.

American Hot Rod

D Magazine made an exception by including a scripted reality show in its list, praising the transparency in the show's episodes for not hiding the fact that they are scripted. Furthermore, the vehicles showcased on the show are exceptional, and the camera work does justice to them. Despite the scripted nature of scenes, the characters show a credible amount of conviction, adding to the show's appeal and worthiness of viewers' time.

Fast N'Loud

2. The Faux-show - Auto Warriors

Receiving some notable guests during its brief time on air, this show failed to impress critics and viewers alike. Although it had an intriguing premise, which has been likened to the Food Network's Iron Chef, where chefs competed to create five dishes within an hour and then had their food judged, Auto Warriors was solely geared towards mechanics. So, instead of culinary battles, the contestants had 72 hours to restore a specific car. Alas, the show failed to live up to expectations, leaving the audience feeling underwhelmed. Unfortunately, time constraints always resulted in less impressive cars than what viewers had hoped.

Car Warriors Cast

Cleveland Scene

While this reality show may not cater primarily to auto enthusiasts, it's worthwhile to reflect on some of the rare vehicle discoveries made over the seasons. These spectacular finds are sufficient to astound and excite any automobile enthusiast. For instance, the show uncovered two 1954 Nash Healeys, a 1935 Auburn Phaeton 653, a 1914 Merz Cycle car, a 1910 Royal Pioneer motorcycle worth $55,000, and a comprehensive collection of Harleys, Indians, and other vehicular accessories such as vintage leather license plates and unique signs.

American Pickers Stars

Sources: Wikipedia, IMDb, and Motor Trend.

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