The marriage between TV and cars isn't necessarily an obvious one, but it seems that the only thing that auto enthusiasts like more than driving cars is watching shows about cars on TV. Automotive programming pops up on just about every broadcast and cable networks, and entire networks have been devoted to bringing vehicular entertainment to the small screen.
In the beginning, automotive programming was often very straightforward. Programs like "MotorWeek" on PBS featured road tests of new car models and basic maintenance information, and the BBC's "Top Gear" offered much the same kind of content on the other side of Atlantic. Both series are still on the air, although "Top Gear" underwent a redesign and relaunch after the turn of the century.
The rise of reality programming on cable TV was fortuitous for automotive programming. The combination of cars, motorcycles and reality-style drama resulted in popular series such as "American Chopper," which followed the exploits of custom motorcycle builders, and series featuring the building, customization and restoration of vehicles proliferated.
In addition to the documentary and reality genres, the televised presentation of motorsports has been one of the most popular genres of automotive programming for decades. Broadcasts of NASCAR stock car racing events are some of the most widely viewed sports broadcasts on television, and other racing series such as Formula 1 have smaller but equally dedicated audiences.