November 17th marked the premier of the beloved Top Ge… er The Grand Tour and the trio returned with a bang. Since Jeremy Clarkson’s removal from BBC last year, the whole car world, including myself, has been waiting to see what he would do next, and just how badly old Top Gear would bomb. Luckily James May and Richard Hammond also knew they would only be at their best as a trio so they followed suit. Here is my reaction to old Top Gear and episode 1 of The Grand Tour.
First of all, I want to defend the new, old Top Gear. I love Matt LeBlanc, I love Chris Harris, and I thought Chris Evans was pleasantly animated. They held on to the basic formula and kept producing a far above average car show. Now that Chris Evans has left and Matt LeBlanc has taken the helm, I expect the show to continue to be great.
Now, on The Grand Tour. Being Americans, we got the show a day earlier than Europe; suck it Brits! There’s a joke about British hosts doing an American show in there somewhere but I’m going to move on. The episode started with Clarkson leaving his old job in Britain, he hops in Ford Mustang Rocket, and heads through the desert with “I Can See Clearly Now” playing in the background. Once he hits the highway, two more special edition Mustangs show up behind him and, I promised I wouldn’t tear up, Clarkson looks out the window, smiles, and sees May and Hammond still with him. Hold on, there’s something in my eye.
For the rest of the show they don’t deviate too far from the tried and true formula of motoring television. They have a mobile tent instead of a studio that they go around the world in for each episode, they do a big car comparison/adventure with the three of them, there’s a news segment called “Conversation Street”, they have celebrities play a game called “Conversation Street”, they do an in-depth car review on their new track, and they replaced the Stig with a guy called “The American” who thinks every car that doesn’t have a V8 is communist.
I’ll admit, some new things felt forced but only because it was the premier and they had to introduce all of their new segments while making fun of old Top Gear at the same time. However, the show delivered on gags because they killed 3 celebrities, made fun of how Americans named parts of cars, and had an un-detonated WWI bomb under their track.
They also delivered heavily on the car comparison. FINALLY we got to see the Holy Trinity of car reviewers drive the Holy Trinity of cars: the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder, and Ferrari LaFerrari. The multiple drag races, tested them on the street, and finally did the coveted lap times. I won’t spoil the results but they did it with the same driver and the same tires on all 3 cars.
In the end, Jeremy Clarkson punching that guy in the face and getting fired from Top Gear is the best thing that could have ever happened to car lovers. We now have two great car shows because of it! The Grand Tour gives us the three guys we’ve known and loved for the past 10+ years and new old Top Gear gives us awesome car reviews and amazing cinematics. What a time to be alive.