Watch Out, ‘Top Gear USA’: 'The Car Show' Has Potential

By Zach Gale | July 14, 2011
The first episode of “The Car Show” aired last night on the Speed channel, and the results are in: It's no match for the original U.K.-based “Top Gear.” But after one episode of the highly anticipated car show hosted by Adam Carolla and Pulitzer Prize-winning auto writer Dan Neil, with John Salley and Matt Farah, it's clear the show has potential. The real winner in the rivalry between “The Car Show” and “Top Gear USA” is, of course, viewers. As with the “Fifth Gear” and original “Top Gear” shows, a little competition should only serve to improve the quality of the American car shows. As for “The Car Show,” the four hosts have a good starting point for the rest of the season, although, just like on “Top Gear USA,” the conversation sometimes sounded forced. Even so, “The Car Show” succeeds thanks to Carolla's energy and humor. Regardless of whether you find his humor crude -- at one point, he called Farah "Danica Fatrick" -- the host adds needed color to the show while Neil brings credibility.
The two hosts reviewed a Rolls-Royce Ghost (pictured at right) at Pebble Beach. Interesting camera angles combined with the guys' banter to make an entertaining segment. Fans of Neil's automotive reviews in the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal will recognize his odd automotive analogies. About the Ghost, Neil says, "Imagine going over Niagara Falls in an exquisitely appointed barrel."
Classic “Top Gear” style made its way into the one-hour show, too. Farah raced a small plane with a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, a car that can accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds. The car show crew awkwardly interviewed Nascar's Jimmie Johnson and provided bits of automotive trivia in a game show segment with two contestants and Neil. Quick quiz: On what vehicle was the Chevrolet SSR based? At this point, neither “The Car Show” nor “Top Gear USA” is must-watch TV, but we're guessing the original “Top Gear” wasn't either in its first couple seasons. Both American shows have potential; the one that improves more quickly will likely leave the other in its ratings dust. Did you see “The Car Show” last night? What did you think about it?