The Automotive Entertainment That Formed My Enthusiast Brain

It occurred to me the other day that the TV and movies that I grew up watching really helped formulate my obsessive car enthusiast brain. You know, the one that today keeps me from remembering basic things today but can recall that my 2001 Prelude had an H22A motor? These programs helped create various aspects of how I view cars and what I wanted to do with cars once I was old enough to drive. It also hit me that they fall neatly into several “eras”, each with their own theme. It then hit me that this sounded like article content. So off we go into my brain, I can’t be held accountable for what happens next.

1. The Cartoon Era


This one snuck up on me, in my early formative years I was really into airplanes. Top Gun, fighter planes, and the like. So when a new show about badass transforming robots came out, I was all in. I found myself gravitating towards Jazz, the Porsche 935 looking robot. Also on the list were the GoBots, which were a poor approximation of the Transformers, but at the time I recall not caring. Early day car love started to form.

2. The Scofflaw Era

I’ll credit this next bit with causing me to drive a bit too fast over the years. This was the scofflaw era, where the protagonist was sometimes a bit outside the bounds of the law. Many times their nemesis was actually a lawman himself, be it Roscoe P. Coltraine or Buford T. Justice. Then there were the epic cross-country journeys of the Cannonball and Gumball movies. The former was definitely more focused on entertainment than reality, but it was an Oceans Eleven level cast from that era. Regardless, amazing cars going fast and doing illegal things, this definitely made an impression. A number of speeding tickets followed.

3. The Fast & Furious Era

Like it or not, the Fast and Furious era helped formed many petrolhead brains. For me, the timing was pretty critical. When the first movie came out in 2001, I was driving an electron blue Honda Prelude. I sunk deep into import performance and, mercifully, into legal racing. The stories got more ridiculous and harder to believe over time, but I still watch to this day. Honestly, other than the 8th film, I pretty much enjoyed all of the Fast and Furious movies. Plus I took Paul Walker’s death harder than some actual family members.

4. The Reality Era

Finally, a dose of reality. The first time I saw Top Gear UK I was immediately hooked. Growing up on Brit TV and humor (thanks to me Mum), this just clicked. I used Final Gear torrents to catch up on episodes that I hadn’t seen and eventually started downloading Fifth Gear as well. I’m actually watching The Grand Tour as I type this. I even loved Top Gear USA, at least the one with Adam, Rut, and Tanner. Well, I liked it at first, loved it once they got out of the studio full-time. The other, more recent reboot wasn’t great, but the new, new, reboot that’s coming soon looks decent. These shows gave me a push to do this journalist thing and continue to motivate me to keep it rolling.

I also met Rutledge, a super nice guy.

Oh, one honorary addition to the list – Motorweek. This is likely one of the first “real” car shows I ever watched. It definitely formed some of my “car review” brain.

So those are the seminal entertainment moments, and I know I’ve forgotten some. Post your favorites in the comments and let us know what they meant to you!

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8 responses to “The Automotive Entertainment That Formed My Enthusiast Brain”

  1. Zentropy Avatar

    Same! We must be of a similar generation.

    1. William Byrd Avatar

      44 in September. I think…

      1. Zentropy Avatar

        Haha, 46.

  2. Hatchtopia Avatar

    Don’t forget Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers.

  3. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Don’t forget ‘Why I must drive a 450SEL 6.9 and an S8,( and a 605, XM, 407 and E34 M5)’ ,the movie Ronin.

  4. outback_ute Avatar

    Off the top of my head I’d add the A-Team (had the Corvette & van in Matchbox/Hot Wheels, also the General Lee) and Magnum PI.

    Movies – Italian Job (original), plus BMX Bandits that had a decent amount of car action when the ‘baddies’ were chasing the heroes.

  5. sunbeammadd Avatar

    Transformers was a bit after I’d grown out of Saturday morning cartoons and I’m not familiar with the other two. Speed Racer was the big one for me. Other car and bike-based cartoons I do recall – Speed Buggy, Hot Wheels (the late 60s/early 70s one) and Devlin.

    CHiPs would have been fairly influential as well as spy/detective type shows where cars featured prominently such as Get Smart, The Persuaders, The New Avengers, The Saint, etc.

  6. salguod Avatar

    Hardcastle and Mccormick, Knight Rider, CHiPs and The Rockford Files all had significant car content.

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