The Best Car Content is on YouTube

These days the coolest car content is not in mags or on TV – it’s on YouTube!

By Shahzad Sheikh

Automotive YouTube Stars

Should I whisper this, or dare I just write it out loud? The much-anticipated and over-hyped Grand Tour was a bit of a flop really. The most memorable thing about it was the epic opening sequence of the very first episode.

It was certainly viewable, in places hilarious, and at times typically controversial, but overall it was a long way from Clarkson & Co’s peak at Top Gear when they wowed us with truly clever, entertaining and innovative automotive content – setting templates that others still try to emulate. The Grand Tour, however, had a paint-by-numbers feel to it.

The Grand Tour

And then there’s the twice reborn reincarnation of the vehicle they left behind, Top Gear itself: the flagship of automotive television. The first overcrowded and overexcited season was a disaster. But paring it right down and focussing on three main stars and on the cars themselves, for the second series, the BBC does appear to have rescued the show from the costly ‘cancelled’ heap.

LeBlanc, Harris and Reid are watchable, likeable and, more importantly, knowledgeable. But it is Top Gear with all the safeties back on – nothing here will shock or surprise. The trouble with these TV shows though is that everyone knows they are big budget affairs. So expectations are very high.

Top Gear Series 24 Episode 1 review

Ditch the TV shows, YT is the way

When it comes to YouTube content however, expectations are much lower. But that’s not to denigrate in anyway the many automotive content providers (of which we are one) that are on this free, easily and widely accessible online video content platform.

In fact without the huge budgets, overly scripted presentation and sometimes barely any professional quality production value at all – the YouTube videos instead allow for personality, engaging content and innovation to really stand out.

Motoring Middle East launches on GearOne TV

Top Five YouTube Car Channels

A very casual and quick canvassing of our readers on Facebook.com/MotoringMiddleEast suggested the following (in addition to our own channel of course!) are the top five most viewed automotive YouTube channels:

  1. Roadkill
  2. Mighty Car Mods
  3. The Smoking Tire
  4. Motor Trend reviews & head-to-head
  5. Salomondrin

Roadkill

These tally with my own preferences – apart from Salomondrin which I haven’t watched much of. I would add Harry’s Garage by Harry Metcalfe of Evo (pictured below) in there, on occasion Petrolicious and, whilst not strictly on YouTube but certainly online content, I’d try to squeeze in Comedians in Cars getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfield.

Harry's Garage

What makes these channels great?

Out of these – some of the biggest automotive video channels in the world – The Smoking Tire and Harry’s Garage are very much filmed on a tiny budget. At the other end of the scale, the Motor Trend reviews (Jonny Lieberman in a Lamborghini Centenario LP 770 pictured below) are about as good as anything Top Gear would do and Roadkill/MCM are somewhere in the middle.

Jonny Lieberman

As a highly esteemed journalist and serial car buyer I find Harry Metcalf (Harry’s Garage) incredibly insightful and informative, and will happily watch 30 minutes videos without pause. Similarly I think Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire does an excellent job of conveying first-time behind-the-wheel impressions and I’ll usually watch several of his ‘One-Takes’ in succession in one sitting.

Matt Farah

And despite never getting grease in my fingernails and not being particularly mechanically minded, I love watching Roadkill because of the authenticity and enthusiasm of its presenters David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan (as opposed to the shouty, showoffy nonsense of Gas Monkey Garage and shows of that ilk). Plus I adore the absurdity of the Roadkill cars and what they do with them, and the fact that they fail more often than they succeed in their endeavours.

Don’t print; Present!

But what it does prove is that for all the hype and adulation the high profile shows like Top Gear and Grand Tour soak up, the most interesting, entertaining and engaging automotive content is on YouTube. That’s also the place where automotive journalism really lives now, and we’ve taken up permanent residence there too: YouTube.com/MotoringMiddleEast (Do Please Subscribe!).

And whilst I actively discourage anyone from entering the field of automotive media in this day and age – read why here – if you resolutely will not listen to my dire warnings and are determined to jump into this arena, you’d better brush up on your presenting skills, because you’ll need to be a YouTube star!

Where do you get your automotive fix from? And what are your favourite YouTube channels? Tell us below

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