Television’s Most Iconic Car Shows Over the Years


You can’t argue that the British love their cars. Films like Fast and the Furious have become entire franchises, they’re that highly sought after, with car chases, street racing and heists filling our screens. Even the likes of Herbie, featuring the fictional Volkswagen Beetle, and the artificially intelligent supercar driven by David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight in Knight Rider had viewers glued to their TV sets. Other times, we would prefer to watch a more in-depth look at our favourite vehicles, or how we can enhance our driving experience. In this article, Lookers, dealers of the all-new Skoda Scala, explore some of the most iconic car shows to grace our television screens…

Fifth Gear

This motoring tv magazine series aired on Channel 5 between 2002 and 2011. It then switched to Discovery Channel between 2012 and 2014, before taking up residency on History in 2015.

The programme fills viewers in on the latest automotive news. It includes car reviews and how to get a second-hand bargain. Similar to Top Gear, the show incorporated a mix of high-octane features which were filmed across the globe.

Wheeler Dealers

This show sees car enthusiast Mike Brewer work alongside car designer Ant Anstead to revive old models to sell for a profit. Mike is tasked with hunting out the best deals for run-down classic cars before Ant has to work his magic to bring them back to life. Following a test drive, it’s then back to Mike to try to negotiate a deal with a new owner.

Currently into season 15, the programme scours the length and breadth of the United States to find the best deals and brings the viewer along for the ride.

Fast N’ Loud

This Discovery Channel delight follows Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman of Gas Monkey Garage in Texas as they hunt for run-down vehicles to restore for a profit. Unlike Top Gear, this programme, which first aired in 2012, is more suited to the reality TV genre. Each episode incorporates a skit along the episode’s theme — something which makes this show one of the most humorous of its kind in the car sector.

From the very first series, when the likes of a 1955 Chevy Bel Air was renovated, to Season 6 challenges such as converting a supercar for $300,000, the Fast N’ Loud crew have gained a loyal following of viewers.

Pimp My Ride

In a similar fashion to Fast N’ Loud, Pimp My Ride gathered a core of viewers due to exciting renovation projects. In the US, rapper Xzibit was the original host, while the UK version saw DJ Tim Westwood take up presenter duties. The show worked by members of the public appealing to the show to give their shabby vehicles a monumental makeover.

Throughout its lifespan, which began in 2004, the show wowed viewers with an influx of novelty additions, including a chocolate fountain, a hot tub, a flame thrower, and a fog machine. It wasn’t just the inside that was enhanced, either. Exterior was a main focus too, with garish colours and flame designs often on the agenda.

Unfortunately, at the risk of spoiling many childhood memories, many of the enhancements either simply didn’t work, weren’t road legal, or had to be taken out after filming ended.

Top Gear

Every week from 2002-2015, Jeremy Clarkson graced our screens in what is arguably the most popular car show of all time. While it is still bringing in viewing figures with new presenters such as Freddie Flintoff, it was the combo of Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May who captured the attention of the UK’s viewing audience.

Top Gear originated in 1977 as a conventional motoring magazine programme and slowly became the most watched factual television programme in the world. This was largely due to the influence of Clarkson, Hammond and May. Every time the trio got behind the wheel of a car as part of our favourite Sunday night viewing session, they appeared to have that motor’s future success in their hands. Top Gear’s Clarkson once described the new Ford Ka as looking ‘like a frog’. This saw sales plummet on the vehicle. And it wasn’t just cars that made a name for themselves. Top Gear saw the Stig gain worldwide recognition, as the unknown driver tested cars around their track.



Of course, there have been several other car tv shows over the years and it will be interesting to see how the world’s motoring programmes evolve and adapt as different driving laws and methods change in the future.



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