Although many parts of the country are in the throes of an Indian Summer, we must still wrap our minds around the fact that winter is coming (Yes. That was a nod to Game of Thrones fans). For the car enthusiast, this means many of our favorite motoring activities are put on hold. We’ll be covering up our modified track day monster and its P-Zeros in favor of a winter warrior with all-wheel drive. Many of us will go to iTunes and load up on our favorite shows to binge watch ad nauseum. During the long period between November and spring – even with an abundance of turn-key TV – boredom is sure to ensue. That is unless you go to YouTube.
Take heart! You don’t have to be confined to a limited library of network productions or impatiently waiting for the next installment of Top Gear or The Grand Tour. When some of the best automotive viewing is available at the click of a mouse. Everything a car aficionado could want is accessible and there’s something for everyone. As I try to remember where I put the turkey baster and dust off those ornaments, I am also setting up my computer for hours of octane-filled splendor. I submit to you a few of my all-time favorites, in no particular order, for a long winter’s viewing.
Test Drive Now featuring Steve Hammes
I love a car show that features a host who is a “regular guy”. I appreciate all the polish and professionalism, but I want to also feel like they are discovering the car as much as I am. Steve’s car reviews cover everything from how many horsepower to how many cup holders and he does it with sharp wit. He may be a regular guy, but he’s no slouch when it comes to his knowledge. His voice isn’t overbearing and along with facts and figures, he focuses on aspects of each car that the consumer is sure to appreciate in daily use. Although it is a bit far-reaching, his piece on the new Acura NSX is worth the watch.
Driven Car Reviews with Tom Voelk
Formerly of the New York Times, Voelk has come down from the ivory tower and launched out on his own partnership with the publication – and rightfully so. He’s a smart and savvy journalist who adds his own touch of humor and spice to his reviews. Whether it’s a super exotic or a humble hatchback, Tom will tackle it. Every car goes through his signature “TP Test” where he loads the cargo bay with packs of toilet paper to display volume. It may seem corny, but after a few episodes you begin to look forward to it (and it is sorely missed in this Ferrari test). You’ll also enjoy his new use of a drone for excellent camera shots. Stepping out on your own is always a risky move. Voelk has made the right move for fans of this channel.
Our friend, Craig Cole is a prominent fixture on this channel. With features like “The Skinny“, Cole add facets to the channel that don’t allow it to get stale. You never know what’s coming next. All jokes aside, the reviews are concise and wonderfully informative. If you are enjoy the auto industry, you will enjoy the AutoGuide channel. It’s intelligent and professional without being too high-brow. Below, you can see the video that solidified my love for Cole’s irreverent humor.
With a vast group of learned auto reviewers in their ranks and the occasional schoolboy antics featured in their “Will It Drift?” series, Autocar never ceases to entertain. You will love how a British accent makes everything sound so much more important. You will also love how you can go back several years and see how capable these people are at flogging every generation of the Porsche 911 since their inception. Exotic cars never looked better on winding roads as you can see in the feature below.
Brian Chow has introduced us to his beautiful family (the adorable Brooklyn has starred in more than her fair share of reviews) as well as a plethora of great cars. His descriptions of features and feel in plain language is a cue that every producer should pay attention to. The description he gives for this channel aptly fits his mission:
“For years I’ve read reviews, watched videos, cruised forums in search of reviews on everyday items… I have started the channel “Everyday Reviews” to give back and maybe help some others out as they’ve helped me.”
Motor Trend Channel
Being part of a highly respected automotive publication helps out just a little when you are creating a video medium to showcase your reviews. However, when going from print to production doesn’t always translate well. While the cars are the stars, the wit and banter between Jason Cammisa and Jonny Lieberman don’t play second fiddle by any means. Their mutual respect for one another’s automotive knowledge comes across the screen. Liberman’s bombastic commentary is complimented by Jason’s narky delivery. Pay close attention to their work on Head-to-Head and Ignition titles as well as Roadkill with David Freiburger. I respect their contributions to the channel and so should you.
CNET On Cars / ROADSHOW
Nobody tells it like it is quite like Brian Cooley. He’s definitely an experienced car guy who is tech oriented and not the other way around. His short reviews have been transformed into great half-hour vids that are top notch in their production and execution. Not enough credit is given to the entertainment news-style that has been adopted here. It’s quite the left brain network with right brain creativity.
Jay Leno’s Garage
Unlike his television series (which I adore), Leno takes an in-depth, unpolished and sometimes awkward look at each car. The videos reveal his deep passion, astounding knowledge and vast collection. Being Jay Leno doesn’t hurt when garnering sneak peeks and exclusive models from celebrities and industry movers and shakers. We always knew that Leno was the consummate car enthusiast, but his “Restoration Blog” and “Jay’s Book Club” reveal his inner car geek as well.
The CarBuyer channel approaches the seven-year itch, but loses no steam. If you want a look at Euro-exclusive models and like to see your favorite cars in right-hand drive, this is the place for you. Don’t worry. The “Big Bottle Test” is still there. Car Buyer has long been a great resource for consumers and with James Batchelor now at the helm, it easily continues to be.
CarWow (Matt Watson Reviews)
Matt Watson was an original car reviewer for Car Buyer, but has since moved on to a YouTube channel all his own. Fortunately, he has taken his sharp car-sense along with him. Matt speaks quite fast, so keep the mouse on the slider to review what you may have missed. It ain’t easy packing all that info in 6-8 minutes along with a section of nice drive shots. With Car Wow, I am personally glad to see that Matt – although a little older – is still a relevant part of the auto reviewer game (Now where’s Rebecca St. James?).
Drag Battle, Track Car of the Year and the famous EVO Diaries make this channel more than just a few more British ‘blokes’ tooling around in the hottest sports and GT cars. For years, EVO has been a credible automotive authority. It is even better as a YouTube channel.
This is not a channel for people who like cars. This is a channel for people who love cars. There’s a weekly video and ample stories that romanticize man’s relationship with the automobile. Every video features a classic car and the passion its owner has for it. If you have an affinity for vintage automobiles, this is the place for you.
I met Ron Doron at the Chicago Auto Show a couple of years ago and to this day. I remember him as the most ingratiating gentlemen in automotive journalism. Although his outer appearance is that of a man who can real you in half, his mellow nature comes across all his car reviews. Humility and knowledge set The Driver’s Seat apart from many others in this industry. The footage and camera angles work well with the commentary and only add to the reviews. This is definitely a YouTube series for viewers want to make an informed purchase.
The Smoking Tire
How can we compile a list like this and not include Matt Farah? Easy. You can’t. He’s very honest, very forthright with his opinions and never afraid to tell you what he thinks. He’s the car guy that you could watch football and drink beer with. His series gives you a windshield POV with excellent and involved commentary. Let’s face it, everything he drives, we want. Everything we want, he drives. He graciously allows us to live vicariously through him in each “One Take” video he produces. He’s come a long way from The Car Show, but to validate his credibility, you should go back and take a look at his Garage 419 series which endeared him to enthusiasts.
An ‘honest john’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a truthful, trustworthy, or sincere man”. However, it is also type of surface-to-surface ballistic missile. I think this channel combines the best of both. Appearing like a disheveled college student in one installment and a refined member of Parliament in another, Mark Micheal’s opinions are as strong as his accent. This guy pulls no punches, hence the name. He also gives a nod to pop culture with mild political insults, gentle misogyny and humorous elements that are exclusively British.
Honorable Mention goes to:
The longest running automotive television magazine and the show that many of us grew up watching. John Davis and his impeccable crew predicted trends, uncovered blunders and broke news for over three decades. Their YouTube channel is for people who might miss the weekly show. Just think, they were in their stride when the Pontiac J2000 was a new car…Sheeesh!
The Fast Lane Daily
Derek D. did a Herculean job of bringing us the best daily automotive news program filled with breaking news and snappy humor. His poignant farewell broadcast was evidence that this is more than just a business for him, it is truly a passion. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the show will be revived or picked up again very soon.
There you have it! Enough great automotive viewing to get you through a long winter. While these are some of the best, there is a myriad of videos out there- both old and new – all yours for the clicking.