As a car enthusiast, it’s hard to find good shows to watch. It’s especially difficult for those of us – me included – that have cut the cord. For numerous years, Netflix had episodes of the old “Top Gear” that I would constantly re-watch. Netflix, though, took the old episodes of “Top Gear” off and that left me searching for something else to fill the void.
If you have Netflix, you’re probably aware of the black hole that the subscription service can become when you try to find something good to follow. You end up spending more time trying to find something than actually watching it. A few days ago, when I was scrolling through the service’s expansive library, something called “Fastest Car” caught my eye.
Naturally, I thought this was a documentary on the race to make the fastest car. Bugatti may not be interested in maxing out the new Chiron, but other automakers are – like Hennessey with the Venom F5 and Koenigsegg with the Agera RS. I was looking forward to seeing behind-the-scenes footage of automakers building the cars. I also thought I’d see how vehicles have progressed over time to become better at hitting insane speeds.
That’s not what the show is about, but it’s not a bad thing. The premise behind it is pretty simple. Someone who owns – or has access to – a supercar races against three owners that have sleepers. For those not in the know, sleepers are cars that look like your everyday vehicle, but are hiding incredible performance underneath.
Rooting for the underdogs
It’s an original idea that I don’t remember watching before and it works. The show, despite having a really simple plot line, gets you hooked up to watch another episode. That partly comes down to the sleepers on hand.
While I enjoy reading about and watching supercars in action, I’ve gotten tired hearing about $350,000 cars that have 800 horsepower and can get to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds. Sure, they’re cool and seeing how far automakers are willing to push the envelope is always exciting. But I’m never going to own one of those models. I’ll probably never even drive one of those cars.
What I like is seeing how someone can take a regular car and transform into something that can take down the $350,000 beast. So I consistently find myself rooting for the sleepers. The show does a great job of giving you a look at their lives, and how they modified the rides to point where they’re able to take on a supercar.
A deeper story than just racing
It’s all touching and engaging. Some owners have really heartwarming stories about how one of their family members helped them build their vehicles and they’re continuing the legacy and others have real tearjerkers where they’ve lost someone and are building the car in their honor. While a few of the individuals have sleepers that other companies have built, the majority of them have played a large role in bringing beat-up, old cars to life.
The people behind these models also tend to be avid racers. They’ve all spent a long time at perfecting their vehicles, whether that’s in driveways or high-performance garages, to make their cars quicker and faster in a straight line. This, as one can expect, is drastically different to the supercar owners.
Unlike the individuals in the sleepers, the supercar owners haven’t done a darn thing to their vehicle. Some are exactly as you would expect, over-the-top drivers that are cocky as hell. Others, surprisingly, are really into the vehicle they have and respect cars in general. For the most part, though, they’re the stereotypical supercar owner.
Here’s how the show works. Sleeper-car owners get basic information on the sports models they’re going up against and then have some time to get their rides ready to race. Some use the time wisely, updating their vehicle to ensure that they’re ready to set a quick quarter-mile time, while others try to work out kinks that they have. There are some that I swear don’t do a darn thing except talk crap for the duration of the show.
After getting their vehicles ready, all four drivers meet up on an empty track to engage in a street-legal version of “Fast and the Furious.” They all buckle in and try to beat one another in a quarter mile. It’s exciting, because you would expect the supercar to absolutely demolish the sleepers, but that doesn’t happen all of the time. The winner doesn’t win anything besides bragging rights and street cred – if that still exists.
At the end of it all, the winners of each episode face off in one massive race to see if sleepers really are better than supercars.
All in all, the show is a really good way to spend 46 minutes of your time. But that doesn’t mean it’s faultless. One of the things that I absolutely hate with the show is the fact that a lot of the supercar owners don’t even know how to use or drive their vehicle.
There have been a few episodes where sleepers have taken on Lamborghinis. As we all know, supercars from the rampaging bull take off violently thanks to launch control and all-wheel drive. Yet, a few of the owners didn’t even know how to engage the system – one even watched a YouTube video seconds before the race happened.
The other issue is with the races themselves. A quarter-mile race puts the advantage in the hands of the supercars. Things like all-wheel drive, dual-clutch transmissions, and launch control mean that they’re going to win easily over that short of a distance. Lengthening the distance to half a mile would help make it more of an even race for the sleepers.
These, though, are minor quibbles for the show. It really does a great job of telling us just how much cars mean to some people, which isn’t an easy task. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to watch, leave behind and pickup again, and get into, the “Fastest Car” should definitely be on your list.