Top, Top Gear?

By now you’ve probably seen, or at least heard of the television show Top Gear; the marriage of entertainment and car-related information. Top Gear has been around for quite some time, and the most popular version – the U.K. version- is one the most watched t.v. shows ever. Recently, as with American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, America has decided to copy a successful U.K. show and make it “Americanized”. Birthed from this decision is Top Gear, the U.S.A. Version.

If you’re like me- and you most likely are not if you are on this website- you are more interested in the entertainment half of the show, than the car-related information half. Appropriately enough, I thought a comparison of the U.K. Top Gear and the U.S.A Top Gear was in order.

The U.K. version has three very cynical, middle-aged car enthusiasts/ journalist who spend 90% of the show providing backhanded compliments to the American auto industry. This, of course, is why we love it. Who doesn’t love an angry Brit? To make it even better, they are intelligent, angry Brits who spend their lives analyzing car performances. On the other hand, we have the U.S. version of Top Gear; this version features three hipsters with varying backgrounds and varying levels of automotive knowledge. One of the hosts is a popular actor/ comedian, which may turn off some hardcore auto lovers. The U.S. version is also lacking one of the distinctive ingredients that the U.K. version is
known for: its cinematography. Top Gear U.K. has some of the most interesting and awe-inspiring videos ever seen in a car-centric t.v. show. Sure, the U.S. version has mentionable cinematography, but not quite up to par with U.K. Simply put, the U.S. version doesn’t try very hard to distance itself from it predecessor . Most everything about the show, from its interviews taking place on bucket seats to its “boys will be boys” vibe screams “U.K Top Gear”. This is a difficult conclusion to come to, because I personally find U.S. host Adam Ferrara’s stand up hilarious . He’s just not that funny on the show, and if he were, perhaps it’d help the show be more popular.

Here’s the bottom line : both shows talk about cars, show exotic cars, and are all around entertaining. If you prefer a little cynicism with your car television show, watch the U.K. version. If you prefer good ‘ol boys living out their childhood dreams, watch the U.S. version. Personally, Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond – also known as the hosts of Top Gear U.K. – win by a crumpet, an annoyed and slightly arrogant crumpet.

In case you live under a rock, or accidentally stumbled across this site while online shopping, Top Gear U.S.A. is on every Sunday at 10:00pm on the History Channel. The U.K. version can be found on BBC America.

  1. I am wondering if it will be picked up for a second season, it was getting better towards the end, but still just felt like a bad copy of the UK version.

  2. Corey – I’d have to disagree. Top Gear USA is not UK and it never will be. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be every bit as good, it will just be different.

    Top Gear USA needs to appeal to Americans and I feel they’ve got a good thing going. Rutledge represents the southern half, Tanner the west and Adam the northeast. It will take more than a short season one before they mesh together well. It took Top Gear UK a decade of working with the cast to be as fluid as they are.

    That said, I think the last two episodes were much better than the first few. It’s progressing. The season finale is in a few days and I can’t wait.

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