The presenters of car TV shows are an odd bunch—they have different tastes in vehicles, different attitudes toward certain rides—but one thing they can agree on is a love of all things motoring. Many of these famous presenters are huge celebrities because of their shows, and with that fame comes money, and with that money comes some of the coolest cars imaginable.
But almost every car TV presenter has an oddball choice in their garage that is seemingly a head-scratcher. To the owner, it’s usually sentimental value that keeps the car in the garage, but to the rest of us, it just looks bizarre. Why would someone have a Fiat Panda stowed way next to their Ferrari 458 Speciale? Let's find out.
Here are 15 car TV hosts who drive questionable rides.
15 James May (Top Gear, The Grand Tour) – Fiat Panda
James May has some pretty sweet rides, and even though he might be affably called Captain Slow by his costars Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson, he’s got some pretty zippy vehicles in his garage, such as a Ferrari 458 Speciale. The Fiat Panda is his daily driver, though, and has been for years. He loves this car because it’s great for public roads, and that it uses all of its power all the time.
14 Richard Hammond (Top Gear, The Grand tour) – 1963 Opel Kadett
Richard Hammond is incredibly famous and he owns some of the hottest cars around: a Jaguar E-Type, a 1950 Bentley S1, and a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. But one of his favorite cars is this tiny Opel Kadett, which isn’t powerful or valuable. He drove the car all the way across Africa in an episode of Top Gear, so it holds a lot of sentimental value for him. It was nearly lost in a river, but survived, and afterwards he had it shipped to the UK and restored, to keep in his garage.
13 Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear, The Grand Tour) – “The Excellent”
Probably the strangest amalgamation of cars belongs to Jeremy Clarkson, the foul-mouthed head of The Grand Tour and formerly Top Gear. This wacky ride fits right in with other weird vehicles of his, like the Hovervan and P45. “The Excellent” is built from a Land Rover Discovery chassis and a Mercedes SL. It’s road legal and drivable, but that doesn’t mean it should be driven. At least he usually has his girlfriend, Lisa Hogan, posing with it, rather than himself.
12 Jay Leno (Jay Leno’s Garage) – Blastolene Special
Jay Leno is one of the most ambitious car owners in the world. He owns approximately 286 vehicles (169 cars and 117 motorbikes), and many of them range in the millions of dollars. Perhaps his most questionable ride, however, is the Blastolene Special. Also known as the “Tank Car,” he regularly drives this monstrosity on the streets, displays it at car shows, and featured it on Jay Leno’s Garage. The vehicle weighs 9,500 pounds, which is 1/11th the original weight of the original tank from which the engine is used.
11 Richard Rawlings (Fast N’ Loud) –1968 Shelby Mustang
On Fast ‘n’ Loud, Richard Rawlings takes cars, transforms them into beautiful rides, and tries to sell them at auction. One car that never made it to auction because he liked it so much is this green 1968 Shelby Mustang, which is now featured on the front promos of his show. You can see that mechanic Aaron Kaufman isn’t too thrilled about the decision to keep it, because lifting and putting huge wheels on it like this really ruins the integrity of the original, vintage Shelby Mustang.
10 Danny Koker (Counting Cars) – 1965 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham
Danny Koker is another car-crazed celebrity who runs a body shop (Count’s Kustoms) and a reality show (Counting Cars). He owns around 58 cars, according to himself in an interview with The Globe and Mail. Now, owning a ’65 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham isn’t a bad thing—it’s an awesome car and a vintage of Americana. But what he’s done to it here undoubtedly takes away from the sentimentality and “classic” appeal of the vehicle, even though it still looks pretty sweet.
9 Mike Brewer (Wheeler Dealers) – 1960 Bedford CA Van
Mike Brewer is the well-known presenter of Wheeler Dealers, as well as being a journalist, producer, and overall car enthusiast. He’s featured some amazing cars on his show, so it’s no surprise he owns some cool ones: a ’76 Porsche 912 E, a ’68 Chevy Camaro SS, a 1917 Ford Model T Coupe, a ’67 Mustang Fastback. But he also drives humble rides such as a 1959 MGA, a 1972 Citroen SM, and this strange 1960 Bedford CA van.
8 Matt LeBlanc (Top Gear) – D6M XL Bulldozer
Matt LeBlanc is an oddity. Everyone loves him from his time as Joey on Friends, and even as a presenter of Top Gear once the three Brits were booted. Most of the cars he drives are fast and sporty, like a rare DeTomaso Pantera, a Porsche Carrera 4 GTS, and an amazing Porsche 911 GT2 RS. But he also owns a D6M XL Bulldozer, which he uses on his California ranch to create motocross tracks. He loves to dirt bike, so it makes sense, but it’s still a strange ride to see in his garage!
7 Chris Harris (Top Gear) – 1957 Citroen 2CV
Chris Harris was Matt LeBlanc’s co-host on Top Gear starting in 2016. In the British world, he’s almost as famous as Joey, which is saying a lot. He also owns some pretty cool cars, like classic, rare BMWs and Ferraris and Porsches. And then there’s this 1957 Citroen 2CV, a strange Beetle-looking car with low power (15 horsepower from its 0.4-liter engine!) and a top speed of 53 mph. But the car is still part of Harris’ dream garage, so go figure.
6 Tanner Foust (Top Gear USA) – Porsche 76 912V
Tanner Foust was a professional race car driver before he was a presenter on Top Gear USA. So he knows a thing or two about fast cars. This entry isn’t for his awesome Porsche 76 912V, but rather his strange dream garage that allows him to display the car on every floor of his house. The focal point of Foust’s home is a BendPak car lift that cycles through the different levels of the house, so he can even see it when he’s in the bathroom!
5 Chris Evans (Top Gear) – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Car
Chris Evans owns one of the most eclectic and awesome car collections around. He owns some of the rarest Ferraris that are worth millions each. He also owns the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car from the 1968 film. It features a Ford Racing 3.0-liter V6 engine and a dashboard from a WWI British fighter plane. Its brass fittings and cedar boat deck are lifted from Edwardian motor vehicles. It’s over 17 feet long, and he loves to parade around in it—there’s no shame in Evans’ strange game.
4 Chip Foose (Overhaulin’) – “Hemisfear”
For all the cool cars that Chip Foose helps develop and build on Overhaulin’, his pride and joy sure is questionable. The “Hemisfear” is a Foose-designed custom car that took him 16 years to realize from concept to development to production! It was unveiled at the 2006 SEMA Show, and there have been five built, each with a base price of $298,000. To us, it looks like a Plymouth Prowler with a little snazzier of a setup and nicer wheels. Definitely put this one in the odd category.
3 Jesse James (Monster Garage) – Ferrari California Coupe
Jesse James is another one of those reality TV presenters that you’re not really sure what he does. Besides being the host of Monster Garage, he does have some cool custom cars. Unlike many others, he opts for more traditional upgrades that aren’t overly flashy (usually). The reason this Ferrari California Coupe is mentioned isn’t because it’s a cool car (though it’s a “starter” Ferrari), but because it’s his ONLY unmodified car in his garage, which is strange.
2 Rutledge Wood (Top Gear US, Lost In Transmission) – 2004 Volkswagen Jetta Ute
Rutledge Wood has been on a couple of TV shows, most famously the US version of Top Gear. The car he drives when he’s not on set is this bizarre 2004 VW Jetta Ute. It’s a Jetta that’s been converted into a small pickup truck. It gets 40+ mpg, which is good (he even boasts 30 mpg on the Autobahn), and it’s engineered with aluminum bed panels and a fiberglass body, but the Smyth Jetta/Golf truck conversion is still a questionable ride.
1 Bogi Lateiner (All Girls Garage) – Volkswagen Golf
Sarah “Bogi” Lateiner is the head honcho and lead mechanic of All Girls Garage, which is exactly what it sounds like. Bogi is a self-described car hoarder, and she still owns her first car, a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle. But that’s an awesome classic, unlike the Volkswagen Golf she owns (but recently sold), which has 130,000 miles on it. It gave her seller’s remorse to get rid of it, but she’s probably better off without it, especially considering some of the awesome cars she works on.
References: carthrottle.com, motor1.com, grandtournation.com