It’s a TV show. From America. About Cars.
Jeremy Clarkson said that anyone could make a car show to rival Top Gear. Some claim it can’t be done based on the international spin-offs not reaching the same success as its parent. I loved Top Gear. I’ve watched every aired episode since it changed to the longer format. However, I do think that the show peaked a couple of years ago. Most of the show’s pieces were rehashes of old segments, and the show had dwindled to a drama of three middle-aged men that also happened to drive cars.
As a viewer in the United States, I was excited when Top Gear USA was announced, but I quickly saw that it lacked the same chemistry between hosts the original touted. Brainstorming led to a list of ideas they could implement to make the US version of the show more interesting to American viewers. Well, now the ante has been upped since Top Gear UK is most likely doomed to be more closely related to its international cousins.
Without further ado, here is my proposal:
The Stig rarely made his presence known on Top Gear UK towards the end and was a bit of a mockery once the “trio” rose to international stardom. Our show has four presenters as well, but each presents equally as their outside schedules allow.
The retired professional racer.
This person represents the interest in professional racing from an insider viewpoint. Their expertise also plants him or her in a comfortable seat behind any hypercar steering wheel revealing its weaknesses and strengths. Someone similar to Fifth Gear’s TIff Needell.
The female professional racer.
This up and coming/current racer also has the ability to share the female perspective of the passion of cars and driving. She also provides a balance between ‘Pro’ and ‘Joe’ presenters, something Top Gear USA failed at. I could create a long list of potential names for this position.
This presenter is not a professional driver, but he knows his way around a car and a toolbox. This presenter also has the experience of tuning cars to high performance standards and driving them. This person reminds me of all the hosts from shows on YouTube such as Roadkill, Mighty Car Mods, etc.
This is the car geek. She or he knows all the stats, numbers, and media buzz for any notable car worth presenting on the show. Every now and then, they have actually test driven cool cars during their editorial career.
Have four candidates in mind? Leave your foursome in the comments below.
Remember, it’s about group chemistry; no drama queens or divas!
A show of this scale should follow the same one-hour format and have 13 episodes per season/year. Instead of the traditional spew of information from the car’s sales brochures like on MotorWeek, segments would test a vehicle in entertaining, practical tests or challenges that substantiate their selling points or get the presenters to defend their opinions of the vehicle.
“Crosstown Traffic” / Mode of transportation race:
These races would pit different transportation means against a car, such as the train, bus, bicycle, ferry, plane, etc. Each edition could take place in one of the many big cities in the US: e.g. Crosstown Traffic – Chicago. Oh. And then there’s the business of that Jimi Hendrix song. How’s that for a theme?
Cheap car challenge:
The presenters are each given a small budget to purchase a used car and compete in various challenges to see which presenter brought the best car.
A “Foreign” Trip:
This a road trip to a location outside of the traditional broadcast region of the show. The show’s actual budget would dictate the possibility of such travel; however, within the US they could venture to scenic highways or locales for an epic road trip. The US has more miles of road than the UK (some 16x more.)
2 Bits and a ¼ Mile:
This is the celebrity appearance part of the show. Each guest is given an opportunity to share his or her ‘2 bits’ in an interview, while also required to post a time for a quarter mile. There are two methods to travel the quarter mile distance: drag strip or oval dirt track. This gives a unique American touch to the show. Professional drivers (probably NASCAR drivers because it’s the US) would be required to do a dirt track lap with a special lap time board for friendly competition. Drag racing and dirt track racing are definitely American!
This would be the chance to highlight a particular car for each show. Traditional family sedans, or whatever the current best selling family automobile is, would also be thrown in the mix here, and reviews can include more than one presenter. Autocross is a sport that provides a suitable means of putting vehicles through their paces, and provides a lap time for comparison. Autocross is also portable, track = big parking lot with cones.
Head to Head/ 2-on-2 challenge:
This is the team chemistry part of the show, and where the four presenter lineup shines. Two comparable cars are selected, and the presenters are paired off for each vehicle. They are then presented with a set of challenges with the duo’s pride and car’s reputation on the line.
This is a round table moment for all the presenters to sit and talk about what excites or enrages them in automotive news or discuss events in Motorsports. Since many other segments are “on the road,” the staging should be a road side diner, or if possible at an actual truck stop.
Celebrity Ride Along:
Our presenters are not the only personalities that love cars. There may be a celebrity who wants to participate in the show in more than a “2 Bits and ¼ Mile” segment. They most likely also have a unique vehicle they’d like to showcase. In this segment a presenter would ride along on a road trip with the special guest in their vehicle. The premise of the road trip could be for any myriad of reasons; “hitch a ride to the studio”, “bringing the talent” to a car event, even a “celebrity 2-on-2 challenge”.
There you have it. There’s room for additional segments or unique combinations of the ones I suggested. Is there a specific challenge or road trip you’d like to see?
Since Top Gear is no longer top of the list, what car show do you watch to fill the void?