Ok, I love Top Gear. I still love Top gear, I miss it sorely. This is not a hate filled rant against the a former tall outspoken host of the show. Far from it, this is a love letter of sorts. Top Gear, in the guise that took over the world, has been around since 2002. It exposed a great deal of the world both inside and outside of the car community to great automotive television. I would say that before Top Gear, no one got it quite right. There was a disconnect somewhere in the production of car-based shows that missed a fundamental fact. Cars are fun; what’s more, doing fun things in and around cars with friends is even more fun. It is one of the most enjoyable things in life. That’s what we got when Top Gear starting running on all cylinders, from the first cheap car challenge to the last exotic car review. The show understood us, not just as “car” people, but the friendships we formed, the struggles we endured, the pain, the joy. We could laugh along, relate, make fun of, and sometimes really disagree with those three goofs on the telly. It was, and will forever be, one of my favorite, and I’m sure one of your favorite, shows on television.
So why is it a good thing that it went away?
It had become monolithic. How many people had written off a show like ‘American Top Gear’ or ‘/Drive’ or any of the hundreds of car shows that had tried to give us what we want. All because “oh it’s trying to be Top Gear but it’s not as good”. They weren’t as good as Top Gear because they couldn’t be Top Gear. They had to be something different. I doubt that even Clarkson, Hammond, & May could fully explain how they managed to catch lighting in a bottle. I promise you, when the new Amazon show comes out, it will be great. But it won’t be ‘peak Top Gear’ good. It will be different.
That’s why it’s good for the car world as a whole that we had the Fracas. We needed to let other creators have a shot at being themselves. It gave people who were having a need met by Top Gear an excuse to find new content, and even create new content, which we are doing here at RFD and the Untitled Car Show. I, being a semi-successful content creator on the Internet, can tell you that I try and keep an eye out for new content creators. Following the fracas they started popping up more often and it seemed the older creators had started making better content. We as a community searched out the good content creators and rewarded them for doing their own thing. “All cars go to heaven”, “Road Kill”,”RFD”, “Regular Car Reviews”. Not just videos but stuff like rallying a brand new EcoBoost Ford Mustang. They don’t quite fit in the cookie cutter mold of classic Top Gear, but the feeling you get watching them is the same. Great car content creators make a show that speaks to us on an emotional level because they understand us. They are us.
For those of you who don’t think you can emotional over a car, try fixing one, having one break down, drive one across the country. Now it’s more. We can get potty humor, weird builds, crazy road trips, information, whatever emotion speaks loudest to us. I would even argue that our friends at Jalopnik benefited from the loss. Great articles were always the bread and butter of the site, but there’s a YouTube account now. People want their drug, and Jalopnik can fill it with either median. It’s a bit of each part of the old top gear wether it’s Doug handing out crazy car buying advice, (slightly less crazy then Clarkson’s advice) or Jason doing a better job then James May driving weird cars and giving us a history and explanation as to why they’re so weird. Even Ralphel Orloves freak out at the Quail had a bit of Richard Hammond in it.
At the end of it all, the car community may have been fearful of a dark age after the fall of the mighty Top Gear Empire—which just like the Roman Empire wasn’t really a fall as much as a devision in to two new factions (one I’m sure will outlast the other, but I digress). Instead of a Dark Age we have a renaissance spreading though out the content creators. I say let’s enjoy it.
Ike is host of the Untitled Car Show, a podcast started in December 2013. Recently he started working with www.rightfootdown.com . Having been an amateur mechanic, and obsessive car guy. He attempted to break in for field of automotive journalism, only to discover he sucks at writing. That why he talks about cars! He’s driven a Dodge Challenger R/T across the country, blown a head gasket on a Volvo V70R, put 250k on a Saturn. He has owned 2 Dodge Challengers, a Fiesta ST, a Escape, a Volvo C30, a V70XC, a V70R, a 740; and a Saturn Ion . He loves driving and autocrossing. He can jerry rig with the best of them, and he wrote his bio in third person. He also has 2 dogs, 2 cats, 1 wife, and 1 kid.