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Jay Leno Drives Into Car Show Traffic Jam; Here’s the Five Best Shows

 Jimmy Fallon races Jay Leno on 'The Tonight Show' at  NBC Studios in 2004. Jimmy may get another shot on Jay's new car show. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Jimmy Fallon races Jay Leno on ‘The Tonight Show’ at NBC Studios in 2004. Jimmy may get another shot on Jay’s new car show. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Jay Leno, a well-known car buff, has found a passing lane back into television with his own CNBC car show. But he’s steering into a traffic jam of car shows on cable television. Here are the five best. Can he stay on the track?

Ok, we promise to drop the car analogies, but Leno’s new show is no laughing matter.

NBC basically killed two birds with one stone. Jay stays in the NBC fold and away from competing networks without returning to a celebrity talk show.

Plus, he’ll give a much needed boost to CNBC, a financial network with a sketchy reputation for being in the pocket of big business and Wall Street.

The show is expected to be called “Jay Leno’s Garage.” He’s got a really big one filled with collector cars, which he’s featured on his Emmy-winning web series.

“This show will be about anything that rolls, explodes and makes noise,” Leno said in a statement.

“We hope to highlight the passion and the stories behind the men and women who made the automobile the greatest invention of the 20th century.”

Which is great, except for the fact that cable television is already teeming with car shows, from public television’s “Motor Week” to “Graveyard Carz.”

In fact an entire cable channel, Velocity, is dedicated to anything with a motor and wheels. So where will Leno fit in? Here are the five best shows on television at the moment.

TopGearLogo1. Top Gear: This British television series, primarily about cars, is the most widely watched factual auto television show in the world. It’s known for its quirky, humorous and sometimes controversial presentation of car news. The series is carried on cable television systems in the United States through BBC America. It just wrapped its 21st season.

Overhaulin-Logo2.Overhaulin’: The show is billed as an automotive reality TV show. It’s bounced around the cable dial, airing on TLC, then resurfacing on Velocity and Discovery after a four-year hiatus. Automobile designer Chip Foose and Chris Jacobs are the stars. Family members nominate so-called “project cars” for an overhaul without the owner’s knowledge. Foose goes to work, turns them into supercars and returns them to the owners in a surprise unveiling. Half the fun is the tricks they use to get the owners to give up their cars.

PimpMyRide3. Pimp My Ride: MTV produces the show, which has a definite hip-hop theme. Each episode focuses on a junker that the crew restores into a customized ride fit for a pimp. The show currently airs on MTV2 and MTV Europe. Trick My Truck is a related show that airs on Country Music Television. The show skews to younger viewers who favor custom cars.

chasingclassiccars4. Chasing Classic Cars: Wayne Carini host this Velocity show and brings his own blend of expertise and eccentricity to the segment. A well-known car collector, he also bills himself as a car archaeologist. He deals in mostly high-end collectible cars wherever he can find them. One of his shows featured the sale of a ’60s era Ferrari that fetched more than $22 million at auction. He’s a familiar face around the Pebble Beach Concours D’elegance, the most elite car meet in the country.

MotorWeek5. MotorWeek: The longest running car show on television appears on public television stations. It premiered in 1981 and is now hosted by automotive journalist John H. Davis. The show test drives more than 150 cars a year from high-end exotics to family sedans. It rates the cars on a number of factors. Master technician Pat Goss provides practical advice.

Leno is respected in auto circles as a knowledgeable collector and has his high profile working in his favor. He hosted a well-received special on CNBC called “Jay Leno’s Garage: The Ultimate Car Week.”

His online series has more than 1 million subscribers, so that should give him an edge at the starting line. (sorry) The show will air in 2015, according to NBCUniversal.

Let us know your favorite car show and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest on television.


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