Fans of Top Gear may be excited to learn that the American version of this iconic show will be returning this fall. MotorTrend announced in August that it was in the process of casting for Top Gear USA. In the meantime, the MotorTrend streaming service has seasons 2 through 25 of Top Gear UK and airs a new episode every Tuesday night.
Top Gear USA versus UK
Top Gear began in the UK in 1977 and was originally a show for discussing road safety. However, it didn’t really take off until host Jeremy Clarkson joined in 1988; Clarkson brought an outspoken, controversial style to the show which eventually forced him to depart in the late 1990s. This led to another slump in ratings until Clarkson was able to rejoin in 2002 after the show moved to the BBC. He was joined by hosts Richard Hammond and James May, and the UK version of the show is still ongoing, with 27 seasons so far. In fact, in 2013 Top Gear UK was recognized by Guinness World Records as the most-watched factual TV show in the world.
Top Gear USA has been less lucky. The American version of the show went through a few failed iterations before landing on the History Channel in 2010. Hosted by Adam Ferrara, Rutledge Wood, and Tanner Foust, Top Gear USA attempted to put its own unique spin on the iconic show, a move that proved risky despite the show’s many fans.
A history of cancellations
Top Gear USA first aired under the name Gear. It was picked up by NBC in 2008 and was originally supposed to feature the original UK hosts. However, the success of the UK version and Clarkson’s reluctance to leave the UK for filming led to NBC scrapping the idea and searching for new hosts instead. The network hired Foust, as well as Eric Stromer and Adam Carolla.
Within less than a year, however, NBC’s hesitance toward airing the show forced the BBC to pull it back and begin searching for a new home, which it found on the History Channel in 2010. In this version of Top Gear USA, two new hosts joined Foust. In its first season, it struggled to find its footing, remaining in the shadow of the well-polished Top Gear UK. Throughout the years, however, Top Gear USA gained its own following; when the UK version went through controversies with Clarkson, Top Gear USA offered viewers a less dramatic alternative.
Even so, Top Gear USA only aired for six years on the History Channel before being canceled in 2016. This left many fans wondering whether the show would ever get picked back up, or whether Top Gear UK was now the only option. The BBC immediately began looking for a way to restart the American version, but it remained in limbo for several years.
A new home on MotorTrend
After gaining the rights to air the UK version of the show, MotorTrend announced that it was partnering with the BBC to create a brand new version of Top Gear USA. This version of the show will have new hosts and will air on the MotorTrend streaming app. It joins MotorTrend’s extensive collection of Top Gear episodes, including Top Gear UK India Special, Top Gear: Extra Gear, and MotorTrend’s exclusive compilation of the Best of Top Gear.
Although Top Gear USA has had a few false starts, this partnership between MotorTrend TV and the BBC might be its chance to finally shine. Fans of the previous iterations can keep an eye on MotorTrend’s social media for updates on casting and air dates.