Overhaulin'

OverHaulin

5 Seasons | 2004-2008 | Watch Overhaulin on Amazon Instant

Easily my favorite car show. Ever. Each episode of OverHaulin, as the name suggests, follows the progress of a complete overhaul of a vehicle by some of the industries most gifted experts. Each build takes place over just a single week, and with the help of an insider family member or close friend is executed as part of an elaborate prank on the car owner who think their vehicle has been stolen, vandalized or in some way lost.

Foose Design drawingThe show centers around car design icon Chip Foose – a legitimate mad genius of car customization with unique vision, impeccable style, insane work ethic and a genuine nice-guy demeanor. No seriously – he’s genuinely the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.

Chris Jacobs leads the prank team periodically harassing the car owner through the week long build posing as everything from a local police detective to a shady tow truck driver.


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PRO: Each build begins with a pranked car owner having his hoopty swiped. Through-out the show they do a great job of showing you the plan, and keeping you involved along the way. You get the sense that if you pay attention to enough shows you’ll really learn something.

CON: Each build begins with a pranked car owner having his hoopty swiped. Yah. It can get a little redundant after a while.

Note: Best yet? The show has been picked up 7 years later and has begun airing new episodes – Overhaulin on Velocity/Discovery


Street Customs logo

Street Customs

2 Seasons | 2007-2009 | Watch West Coast Customs – Street Customs on Amazon Instant

West Coast Customs logo

Ryan Friedlinghaus founder & CEO of West Coast Custom brings you inside his shop to watch the crew do their magic.

The West Coast Customs team works on a pretty wide variety of vehicles and performs a wide variety of customization from mild to wild – from simple paint & interiors for a pair of daily drivers, to installing a skate ramp inside a Mercedes van.

Each episode of Street Customs is a non-stop joy ride of modern car customization with plenty of  insane modifications and more than enough shop drama. As the show progresses you’ll quickly gravitate towards a favorite crew member – for me it’s Ish, master of the interiors, and your least favorite crew members – Rorey (c’mon bro).


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PRO: The drama. After a while you feel like you know some of the crew as you become almost as  invested in their experience as you are the cars they work on from week to week.

CON: The drama. A little goes a long way and after a while you’re wonder why someone doesn’t just smack Rory up side the head with a spare muffler.


1966 GT350

American Muscle Car

3 Seasons | 1998, 2000, 2006 | Watch American Muscle Car on Amazon Instant

While the visual style, sound track and directing of American Muscle Car feel pretty dated, the cars showcased in each 22 minute episode are timeless Americana. With 38 episodes across 3 seasons the episode list reads like a veritable who’s who of American steel.

Most episodes focus on a single particular year, make & model vehicle, with a few episodes comparing a few similar years, or similar models from sister makes. Each show is a bit of an education, and has plenty of great shots of the star cars.


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PRO: Each episode takes it’s time sharing a bit of historical context, some engineering highlights, and plenty of great video of incredible American Muscle.

CON: The quality of production and in particular the aged video doesn’t read as well as one would like. This combined with the significantly dated looking visuals and sound track really detract from the show’s focal point – the cars.


Top Gear

16 Series | 2003-2011 | Watch Top Gear on Amazon Instant

Picture of Jeremy Clarkson, on the set of Top Gear

One of the most popular and longest running car shows, Top Gear stars Jeremy Clarkson and his crew putting luxury cars to the test in a show that seems to be more of an excuse for Jeremy & his pals to play with cars than about anything seriously informative. With periodic celebrity guests, and segments clearly written for laughs, it has the feel of a late night talk show filmed out of a high end garage.

One show might give us a detailed peek at an insanely expensive sports car complete with discussions about the specs, close up reviews of various features, test drives with candid commentary about the vehicles performance & handling.

While the next show they spend a majority of their time doing something silly like driving the worlds smallest production car down the halls and cubical passages of BBC HQ to drive home just how small it is.

Every episode there’s plenty to watch, loads to discuss, and tons of car-guy goodies. This show is definitely worth a watch.


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PRO: I genuinely love watching Top Gear. I spend equal amounts of time laughing at the crew’s antics and drooling over the incredible automobiles featured on the show.

CON: It’s hard to take some of the comparisons seriously – McLaren F1 vs. Toyota Corrola. But then again, that’s one of the show’s charms as well.


Knight Rider Pontiac Trans Am

Knight Rider

4 seasons | 1982-1985 | Watch Knight Rider on Amazon Instant

Knight Rider (1982 TV series)

If you’re unfamiliar with Knight Rider, stop what you’re doing, click the link and watch the first episode then come back here. It’s cool… I’ll wait here.

There was a time in my life when Knight Rider was the absolute coolest thing I’d ever seen. Rewatching it even now it almost drips with 80’s swagger as a pre-Baywatch Hasselhoff pilots what is arguably history’s coolest car into battle against whatever bad guys are ignorant enough to be misbehaving in his city.

KITT, the famously verbose 1982 Trans Am sported a slick black shell, oscillating red grill light, and an AI twice as smart and only half as creepy as HAL. For most of us, the Hoff was just one of the other actors, the real star was KITT. In fact I personally named 3 bikes and a go-cart after KITT.


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PRO: Pure 80s goodness. Children of the 80’s will be reminded fondly of the endless supply of shallow bad guys hoisting an equally endless supply of uzis (an 80s villain favorite)

CON: If you’re not really the nostalgic kind, you may find the acting, dialogue and story quite dated. The visual effects aren’t going to knock your socks off either.


Ferrari Testarossa Miami Vice

Miami Vice

5 Seasons | 1984-1988 | Watch Miami Vice on Amazon Instant

Don Johnson epitomizing the dress style that b...

While not strictly car focused, not a single episode of Miami Vice failed to thrill car lovers. With Ferrari’s ripping through Miami’s mean streets and Maseratis gliding up to a hot club – it was definitely a decade of European sports car love.

Despite what the credits say – Crockett’s iconic white Ferrari Testarossa  (a personal favorite of mine during those years), black 72 Ferrari Daytona Spider (which turns out is not really a Ferrari at all) and Tubbs’ 64 convertible Cadillac DeVille were the unofficial stars of Vice.


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PRO: Some of the most iconic 80’s steel & fiberglass. Vice gave me us one of our first glimpses at Lamborghini Countach, Masarati Quatroporte II & Biturbo, and DeLorean (later popularized in Back to the Future).

CON: The cars rarely get enough screen time to count as a real-car show. Some episodes bring on American steel, but the abundance of European sports muscle may be a turn off for hot rodders.


Ferrari 308 GTS Magnum P.I.

Magnum P.I.

8 Seasons | 1980-1987 | Watch Magnum PI on Amazon Instant

Thomas Magnum P.I.

Also not strictly a car show, Magnum P.I. stars Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum a former Marine & Vietnam vet turned private investigator.With a pinchant for helping damsels in distress and out of luck underdogs, Magnum pits his wits against the baddies for the sake of unlucky old friends and plenty of beautiful ladies.

While less attention is paid to cars in the Magnum series, there are a slew of great vehicles featured. The primary car star of the show is Magnum’s own set of wheels, a sleek red 1977 Ferrari 308 GTS. The 308 spends most episodes careening topless along Hawaii’s winding coastal highways.


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PRO: While not very practical, the sleek 77 Ferrari 308 is a beautiful, sexy sports car – and a joy to see in action during nearly every episode.

CON: This really isn’t a car-centric show – apart from the 308, not a lot of attention or screen time is given to cars in general.

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