Cars with Jan Coomans. Seven car channels worth watching during lockdown — according to me

русская версия | english version
Cars with Jan Coomans. Seven car channels worth watching during lockdown — according to me

One of the effects of spending unprecedented amounts of time at home is that you might be looking for ways to expand your usual supply of anti-boredom ointments. So as a public service I’ve decided to list a couple of YouTube channels that I rate very highly for providing us car folk with the kind of quality content that is few and far between these days.

Most of these channels do make use of the English language, but even if you’re as bad at it as I am at Russian (for which I apologize) they’re probably still worth your time. Heck, I’m certain that the top automotive aficionados among you already know some of these — but I’d be pretty surprised if anyone knew all of them.

Now, personally, I’ve always thought of the UK as the Mecca of car journalism. It’s not that other countries don’t have any good journalists and publications, but the sheer number of UK-based publications and the influence they’ve had on the medium as a whole are probably unmatched. That said, a large portion of print media has struggled to make a smooth transition to the digital era, and this has left the door open for some relative newcomers to swoop in and show the old boys how it’s done. An excellent example of that is the first name on this list, which is otherwise not ranked in any particular order.

Carfection is exclusively YouTube based, but unlike many it has been pushing the quality of its videos to a level where you’d actually prefer to see it on a big screen. They’ve snagged some fairly well known journalists too, such as my personal favourite Henry Catchpole. It’s not easy to strike a balance between giving the viewer the right amount of technical details without turning the whole thing a bit boring, but Carfection strike a great balance. And with a genuine, not exaggerated, level of excitement. It makes it all very real to me, a breath of fresh air in the era of fast food like blogging and “influencing”. And, like I said, much of their content is still good to watch even if you turn the sound off.

Carwow is completely different, but still in a good way. Its business model is not so much about monetizing car content as it is about promoting their car price comparison page and app, but the net result for us viewers is the same anyway. Their usual reviewer Mat Watson tends towards the funny and not-too-serious end of the spectrum at the best of times (when actually reviewing a car) but their now famous drag races can sometimes descend into outright hilarity.

Bad Obsession Motorsport deliver the kind of car content for which you’d create YouTube all over again if it didn’t yet exist. Two guys in a shed have been mating the drivetrain of a 90s Toyota Celica GT-Four (the turbocharged all-wheel-drive road car version of the epic Group A rally car) into the shell of an Austin Mini for about 7 years now. Seven! And it’s still as gripping and funny as when they first started. Called “Project Binky” the whole process involves equal amounts of impressive manufacturing and engineering with a Monty Pythonesque sense of humour and inside jokes. At this point, the project even has its own IMDB page and should be required viewing for anyone who has ever thought of picking up a spanner. Especially now that, after nearly 30 episodes, they are finally close to actually finishing the darn thing.

Best Motoring are legends. Japanese legends, but legends nonetheless. This is also one channel where a lack of English is of no particular detriment to the experience because even the few videos that feature English subtitles are pretty much as unintelligible as the others which are strictly Japenese. It honestly doesn’t matter, because most of it is just brilliant. A bunch of Japanese racing drivers taking a bunch of road cars onto a race track and racing each other semi-seriously. Stuff that you just don’t see anywhere else. Who in their right mind would actually let a bunch of man children (which all racing drivers are) race cars like a Ferrari F40, and F50, and a Porsche 991 GT2, and a Nissan GT-R plus others against each other. On a reverse grid too, putting the most expensive and most powerful car at the back so they need to overtake all the lesser ones. Just think of the size of the heart attack your insurance agent would have if you proposed such a thing. But, somehow, it all worked for Best Motoring. Most of this content is set in the 90s and early 2000s so there’s a great nostalgia factor here as well.

Thesmokingtire is American journalist Matt Farah’s personal take on things, which is a very different perspective than you get from the usual European angles. Most of the time, he just takes out a car for a drive on Southern California’s famous driving roads up in the hills armed with one or two cameras and virtually no editing. By now, Matt has compiled such a vast number of videos on his channel that you can afford to only click on the cars that really interest you and you’ll still have hours and hours of stuff to watch.

Harry’s Garage is the channel of Harry Metcalfe, a pretty big (father) figure in the English car press as he formed EVO magazine in 1998. His stake in that has long been sold, but aside from farming (about which he has a YouTube channel as well) he now collects the kind of cars that most of us could only ever dream about. As you’d imagine, Harry shies away from most of the modern stuff in favor of cars that were built in his heyday as a car journalist. So we’re talking about models like the Ferrari Testarossas, Lamborghini Countach and other exclusive oldies but he still also takes the time to road test modern cars and give his expert — but exceedingly modest — opinion on them. The production quality of the videos isn’t nearly as polished, because it’s basically just him doing it, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who better knows what he’s talking about than Harry.

Chris Harris on cars on cars can be seen as a more modern and full-HD version of the above, with the slight caveat that all these films were made before Chris Harris became one of the presenters of the BBC’s Top Gear TV show. But these are still some of the greatest driving films ever made, by someone who manages to both drive sideways and tell and interesting but above all honest story at the same time. He’s not shy to call out a car manufacturer for making a dud, which is of course something of a luxury that is only afforded to the biggest of journalists. Most of all though, Chris just manages to articulate the points of a car that matter most to enthusiasts, even if perhaps he does spend a bit too much time going sideways in clouds of tire smoke. You’ve got to get those views somehow.

24 апреля 2020
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