The Truth About Cars » Top Gear http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 30 Aug 2015 16:08:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Top Gear http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Top Gear’s Three Musketeers Set To Return With New Series http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/top-gears-three-musketeers-set-to-return-with-new-series/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/top-gears-three-musketeers-set-to-return-with-new-series/#comments Sat, 20 Jun 2015 16:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095953 While “Top Gear” moves forward with new host Chris Evans at the helm, Clarkson, Hammond and May are closer to introducing a new show of their own. Jeremy Clarkson confirmed the news to The Sunday Times, the details of which are still unknown beyond speculation the new show featuring Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May […]

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Hammond Clarkson May

While “Top Gear” moves forward with new host Chris Evans at the helm, Clarkson, Hammond and May are closer to introducing a new show of their own.

Jeremy Clarkson confirmed the news to The Sunday Times, the details of which are still unknown beyond speculation the new show featuring Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will be on Netflix. Said details are projected to come in the next few weeks, with the first episode to debut before “Top Gear” returns after next March.

Meanwhile, May will host a two-episode series called “Building Cars Live” on BBC Two. The 90-minute episodes will be broadcast live from BMW’s MINI factory in Oxford, England, where he and co-presenters Kate Humble and Ant Anstead will follow the process of building a car from raw materials. The series will also air before “Top Gear” returns.

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New Top Gear Presenter Reveals Talent Search For Co-Presenters http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/new-top-gear-presenter-reveals-talent-search-for-co-presenters/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/new-top-gear-presenter-reveals-talent-search-for-co-presenters/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 18:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095273 BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans is the new lead presenter for “Top Gear,” but now he needs at least one other at his side, and it could be you. According to Top Gear magazine, the host began his audition search Thursday, which is open to any and all comers: The way Richard and James were […]

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Top Gear Talent Search

BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans is the new lead presenter for “Top Gear,” but now he needs at least one other at his side, and it could be you.

According to Top Gear magazine, the host began his audition search Thursday, which is open to any and all comers:

The way Richard and James were found was by auditioning, so what we’re going to do is hold auditions. Not just for famous people, ex-famous people, up-and-coming famous people, but for people who are watching the show.

Male, female, old, young, it doesn’t matter. The one thing that does matter is that you’ve got to have a real appetite for cars, and you’ve got to know something about cars.

You can be a mechanic, you can be an amateur racing car driver, you can be a guy who’s a fireman but who’s been building his own Land Rover in his shed for five years, but you’ve got to know about cars…

Those who wish to live the dream are asked to record a video clip no longer than 30 seconds, filmed from the waist up with “no stunts, no gimmicks,” just talking. Candidates must be over 16, but they can be from anywhere in the world.

Finalists will be invited to audition live before Evans and the show’s production staff, though the host offered no guarantees a member from the public would be selected, stating such a selection would “only happen if there’s anything good.”

Details on where to send the clip will be announced Friday.

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BBC Radio 2 Presenter Chris Evans New Presenter Of Top Gear http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/bbc-radio-2-presenter-chris-evans-new-presenter-of-top-gear/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/bbc-radio-2-presenter-chris-evans-new-presenter-of-top-gear/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 18:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094753 It’s official: BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans will now be the new presenter of “Top Gear,” an appointment supported by Clarkson, Hammond and May. Evans explained how he came into the new role during the June 17, 2015 edition of his morning show, Top Gear magazine reports, which began with a phone call last […]

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Chris Evans Circa July 2009

It’s official: BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans will now be the new presenter of “Top Gear,” an appointment supported by Clarkson, Hammond and May.

Evans explained how he came into the new role during the June 17, 2015 edition of his morning show, Top Gear magazine reports, which began with a phone call last Wednesday from BBC Entertainment chief Mark Linsey.

During the phone call, Evans learned Richard Hammond and James May would not be returning to the show after all following the dismissal of Jeremy Clarkson, and was asked if he would take up where they and former producer Andy Wilman left off. He had previously stayed out of what he called “a chess game” involving all three of his friends, preferring to let the matter resolve itself.

Once the situation changed, Evans deliberated with “TFI Friday” sidekick Will MacDonald his wife Natasha for a day on the proposal, deciding to accept the role after taking into account his long career in radio and television.

Prior to the announcement, Evans contacted his friends. May said he would “talk about things” with him over the next few days, Clarkson gave him his best wishes — and a piece of advice Evans couldn’t say on the air — and Hammond texted Evans was “designed and built” to host “Top Gear.”

As for who will join Evans when production begins in the next few weeks, he says one of his co-presenters would “definitely, 100 percent” be female, The Telegraph notes. His contract is for three years, and will pay £3 million ($4.7 million USD).

[Photo credit: Paul Williams/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Trailer For Final Top Gear Episode Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/trailer-for-final-top-gear-episode-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/trailer-for-final-top-gear-episode-unveiled/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 19:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1088417 Cue up The Doors, because the end is near: the trailer for the final episode of “Top Gear” was released Tuesday. The episode will be presented by only James May and Richard Hammond, with Jeremy Clarkson out of the picture following the “fracas” between him and producer Oisin Tymon earlier this year, The Telegraph reports. […]

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Top Gear Arctic Expedition

Cue up The Doors, because the end is near: the trailer for the final episode of “Top Gear” was released Tuesday.

The episode will be presented by only James May and Richard Hammond, with Jeremy Clarkson out of the picture following the “fracas” between him and producer Oisin Tymon earlier this year, The Telegraph reports.

The 30-second trailer — pulling footage from the two films which will comprise the final episode — presents the full trio tackling caravanning and racing to a dinner in the worst SUVs £250 ($382 USD) can buy. A second trailer shows trucks rolling down a muddy hill, and the lads travelling to a classic car show in affordable classic roadsters.

The BBC reportedly offered the remaining presenters a multi-million pound deal to stay on the long-running program, though the pair have stated they would be reluctant to return without Clarkson or show producer Andy Wilman.

The airdate for the final “Top Gear” episode has yet to be announced, but is expected to air on BBC Two in the next few weeks.

[Photo credit: Wapster/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Weekend Roundup: Top Gear Show, F1 Show and New Subaru Blue is All Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/weekend-roundup-top-gear-show-f1-show-and-new-subaru-blue-is-all-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/weekend-roundup-top-gear-show-f1-show-and-new-subaru-blue-is-all-show/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 14:45:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1086473 As Richard Hammond and James May wrap up the “lost episodes” of Top Gear sans Jeremy Clarkson, the three are rumored to be heading to Netflix with the unsuspended pair turning down deals worth 4 million GBP. Here’s what caught our eyes over the weekend. I Don’t Need A Monster Truck (WIRED) Small trucks were virtually […]

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Top-Gear-Live-Richard-Hammond-and-James-May

As Richard Hammond and James May wrap up the “lost episodes” of Top Gear sans Jeremy Clarkson, the three are rumored to be heading to Netflix with the unsuspended pair turning down deals worth 4 million GBP.

Here’s what caught our eyes over the weekend.

gl_brown_ff-582x588I Don’t Need A Monster Truck (WIRED)
Small trucks were virtually the only good thing about the ’90s. Oh, and music. The music was good.

chris-evans-car-fe_2455765bTop Gear doesn’t need Chris Evans. It needs a woman (The Telegraph)
“Personally, I didn’t really care. Clarkson was finally off our TV screens. After 13 years of racist comments, general rudeness and physical violence (Piers Morgan also fell prey to his wayward fist), the BBC got some balls and sacked the man.”

Top-Gear-Live-Richard-Hammond-and-James-MayTop Gear’s Richard Hammond and James May to refuse £4MILLION return for show with Jeremy Clarkson (Mirror)
This time it won’t be “back to the studio” for the three Top Gear hosts. Instead, they’re off to Netflix.

604771ea1d4348e79a4cf5c178243e55F1 teams reject mid-race refueling plan (AutoBlog)
Risks outweigh benefits in F1’s latest idea to spice up the show.

Mazda BT50Facelifted Mazda BT-50 Pickup Gets The Kodo Look (CarScoops)
Mazda’s Hilux competitor is getting a facelift in the style of many of the brand’s other offerings.

15FordF150_16Ford running short of F-150 frames (AutoBlog)
Due to an issue with Ford’s frame supplier Metalsa, production has lagged and demand isn’t being met.

toyota-discontinues-trd-superchargerToyota Discontinues TRD Supercharger Program (AutoGuide)
Goodbye, TRD superchargers. Though, we can’t say you’ll be missed.

Benz to power houses too (Motoring.com.au)
Tesla isn’t the only automaker looking to bring electrons to your household outlets.

Finnjet_1800-700x454Finnjet, the only car with a chrome bill bigger than its gas bill, comes up for sale (Hemmings Daily)
Mother of Chrome God.

1966-Toyota-Crown-Deluxe-FrontEscalade V8: 400 HP 1966 Toyota Crown Deluxe (Bring A Trailer)
While I usually dump a bit on Japanese restomods, this one deserves your attention.

subaru-reveals-hyper-blue-color-01Subaru Reveals New Hyper Blue Exterior Color (AutoGuide)
New blue shade tries to out-Polestar Polestar.

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While You Were Sleeping: Oregon To Allow Lane Splitting, Australia Opening Borders and Andy Wilman Quits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-oregon-allow-lane-splitting-australia-opening-borders-andy-wilman-quits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/sleeping-oregon-allow-lane-splitting-australia-opening-borders-andy-wilman-quits/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 10:20:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053009 After their automotive industry has been slowly devastated over the last decade, Australia may open its borders to private imports of new and like-new cars. Top Gear producer Andy Wilman quits show (BBC) Goodbye, Andy. We’ll see you soon. Nissan Australia boss frustrated with uninformed politicians (CarAdvice) Holy shit, Australia has no idea what it wants to […]

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Pontiac G8 GT rear with Australian license plate

After their automotive industry has been slowly devastated over the last decade, Australia may open its borders to private imports of new and like-new cars.

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James May Bidding Farewell To Top Gear Unless Clarkson Returns http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/james-may-bidding-farewell-top-gear-unless-clarkson-returns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/james-may-bidding-farewell-top-gear-unless-clarkson-returns/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:17:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052281 Top Gear presenter James May is saying farewell to the show, as hosting it with Richard Hammond and a “surrogate” Jeremy Clarkson would be “lame.” May explained hiring a replacement for the dismissed host is a “non-starter” at best, as the chemistry that made the trio what it was would be hard to replicate without Clarkson, […]

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James May

Top Gear presenter James May is saying farewell to the show, as hosting it with Richard Hammond and a “surrogate” Jeremy Clarkson would be “lame.”

May explained hiring a replacement for the dismissed host is a “non-starter” at best, as the chemistry that made the trio what it was would be hard to replicate without Clarkson, according to The Guardian:

It has to be the three of us. You can’t just put a surrogate Jeremy in and expect it to carry on. It would be forced. I don’t believe they would be stupid enough to try that.

May added he’d like to continue working with the BBC on other projects and there may be a possibility of all three returning to Top Gear someday.

Regarding Clarkson’s dismissal as a result of the “fracas” between he and producer Oisin Tymon in March, the host says the BBC “haven’t completely closed the door on Jeremy’s return,” adding the broadcaster only decided not to renew his contract instead of outright firing and/or banning him.

Whether the trio would reunite for a production elsewhere, May did not rule it out, though non-compete clauses in at least one of the presenters’ contracts would make the jump difficult for now.

May also said he would be happy to film new studio and other footage for the remaining three episodes of Top Gear previously cancelled. The BBC says those three would air sometime this year, with this summer being the earliest.

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

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No Charges For Jeremy Clarkson Over ‘Fracas’ With Tymon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/no-charges-jeremy-clarkson-fracas-tymon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/no-charges-jeremy-clarkson-fracas-tymon/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2015 14:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039633 Former “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson may be out of a TV job, but at least he won’t be going to jail anytime soon. The Guardian reports no further action will be taken by the North Yorkshire Police regarding the investigation of the “fracas” between the presenter and producer Oisin Tymon, having completed all interviews […]

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Jeremy Clarkson

Former “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson may be out of a TV job, but at least he won’t be going to jail anytime soon.

The Guardian reports no further action will be taken by the North Yorkshire Police regarding the investigation of the “fracas” between the presenter and producer Oisin Tymon, having completed all interviews with those who witnessed the incident.

The end of the investigation follows Clarkson’s dismissal from the BBC after the media corporation concluded its own investigation into the 30-second fight over Clarkson’s claim of being denied hot food that took place at a hotel last month.

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Top Gear Producer Bids Farewell, BBC Director Receives Death Threats http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/top-gear-producer-bids-farewell-bbc-director-receives-death-threats/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/top-gear-producer-bids-farewell-bbc-director-receives-death-threats/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033473 In the aftermath of “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson’s firing, the show’s producer bids farewell, while the BBC’s director receives death threats. In an email leaked to Jalopnik, executive producer Andy Wilman confirmed his exit from Broadcasting House, proclaiming that he and his crew left everyone “wanting more.” Wilman went on to praise the show […]

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media-bbc-new-broadcasting-house

In the aftermath of “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson’s firing, the show’s producer bids farewell, while the BBC’s director receives death threats.

In an email leaked to Jalopnik, executive producer Andy Wilman confirmed his exit from Broadcasting House, proclaiming that he and his crew left everyone “wanting more.” Wilman went on to praise the show as a whole, from the work ethic of the staff and the awards won, to the following “Top Gear” brought and the production values put into the show.

While Wilman has left the building, he did say the BBC will make certain that the show continues for anyone still interested in following suit, adding that he and the hosts “were only part of the show’s history, not the whole of it.”

Meanwhile, BBC Director-General Lord Tony Hall received security at his home in Oxfordshire after an alleged death threat was emailed to him from outside the United Kingdom, according to Scotland Yard. The threat came after the announcement of Jeremy Clarkson’s firing, a decision made after the investigation into the “fracas” between Clarkson and producer Oisin Tymon came to a close.

 

Edit: Looks like Wilman wasn’t actually leaving. Statement below.

Andy Wilman, Executive Producer, Top Gear, said:

 

“The email I wrote yesterday was not a resignation statement, and nor was it meant for public consumption. It was a private note of thanks to 113 people who have worked on the show over the years, but clearly one of those 113 is a bit of a tit, because they shared it with a website. I don’t get this modern obsession with sharing, linking, forwarding, re tweeting; whatever happened to a private moment? And if I were to resign, I wouldn’t do it publicly, I’d do it old school by handing in my, er, notice, to someone upstairs in HR. I work behind the camera and I wouldn’t presume for one moment  to think people are interested in what I do. Now, everyone back to work.”

 

A BBC spokesperson said:

 

“Andy’s email was intended as a heartfelt message to people who had worked with him and Jeremy, to recognise the fact that with Jeremy leaving it was the end of an era. It was not a farewell but a thank you to people who have been important to the show over the last 12 years. It was bringing down the curtain on the Clarkson era, not announcing his own departure.”

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BBC Won’t Renew Jeremy Clarkson’s Contract http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/bbc-wont-renew-jeremy-clarksons-contract/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/bbc-wont-renew-jeremy-clarksons-contract/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:30:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029321 BBC is confirming that Jeremy Clarkson has been dropped from Top Gear. Personally, I could not care less. Clarkson hasn’t been relevant since his columns became 75 percent irrelevant rambling, 25 percent slapdash car review. I don’t watch Top Gear for the same reason that cops and doctors avoid watching procedural dramas. I blame the […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

BBC is confirming that Jeremy Clarkson has been dropped from Top Gear.

Personally, I could not care less. Clarkson hasn’t been relevant since his columns became 75 percent irrelevant rambling, 25 percent slapdash car review. I don’t watch Top Gear for the same reason that cops and doctors avoid watching procedural dramas. I blame the show for spawning a breed of armchair automotive expert who ask for your opinion and then tell you why you’re wrong based on what Clarkson said about the car.

But you know what? He is probably the reason I went down this path. His books (Clarkson on Cars, Motorworld) contain some of the best auto writing of all time. Nobody has influenced the current crop of auto writers more than him. More importantly, Clarkson and Top Gear showed that American consumers were willing to pay $11.99 for a printed automobile publication – something that the buff books haven’t quite managed to do.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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BBC Cancels Remaining Top Gear Episodes Amid Clarkson ‘Fracas’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/bbc-cancels-remaining-top-gear-episodes-amid-clarkson-fracas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/bbc-cancels-remaining-top-gear-episodes-amid-clarkson-fracas/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1021041 In the fallout of “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson’s “fracas” with a producer, BBC has cancelled the remaining three episodes of the current series. BBC News adds that while Clarkson has been suspended after said fight with the producer “pending an investigation,” fellow presenters James May and Richard Hammond have not been suspended, per a […]

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Jeremy Clarkson circa late 2014

In the fallout of “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson’s “fracas” with a producer, BBC has cancelled the remaining three episodes of the current series.

BBC News adds that while Clarkson has been suspended after said fight with the producer “pending an investigation,” fellow presenters James May and Richard Hammond have not been suspended, per a statement by the BBC.

As for how Clarkson is handling the situation, he wrote in his column for The Sun:

I’m having a nice cold pint and waiting for this to blow over.

He has also taken to Twitter, discussing with Hammond and May what movies could be aired in place of this Sunday’s cancelled episode, and apologizing to Labour Party and opposition leader Ed Miliband about bumping Miliband’s “‘I’m a human’ piece” down from the top of the news headlines.

The suspension — of which over 250,000 fans are petitioning to have undone — comes after Clarkson was presented with a final warning last year by the BBC after footage of the presenter using a racist word in a nursery rhyme was found by The Daily Mirror.

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The Geopolitics and Ethics of the Top Gear Patagonia Special http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/geopolitics-ethics-top-gear-patagonia-special/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/geopolitics-ethics-top-gear-patagonia-special/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 15:01:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=976353 The only part that was not scripted was James May’s broken ribs. Much has been written about Top Gear’s Patagonia Special, which aired in Britain over the holidays. The show premiers on BBC America this week. Bloggers and journalists wrote, ad nauseam, about the authenticity of the inflammatory license plate and the barbarity of the Argentines. Nuanced […]

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top-gear-boys_3147410b

The only part that was not scripted was James May’s broken ribs.

Much has been written about Top Gear’s Patagonia Special, which aired in Britain over the holidays. The show premiers on BBC America this week. Bloggers and journalists wrote, ad nauseam, about the authenticity of the inflammatory license plate and the barbarity of the Argentines. Nuanced discourse? Not so much. Let’s delve deeper.

First, a little bit of background. The Falkland Islands is a remote British possession in the South Atlantic near Argentina. Argentina, which refers to the islands as Islas Malvinas, claims them as its own. In 1982, the military dictatorship in the South American country miscalculated Britain’s resolve and naval power and invaded the Falklands. Quickly, and tragically, the British fought the poorly trained and poorly commanded Argentines, killing over 1,600 soldiers. Argentina was humiliated and its people quickly realized that their leaders were incompetent. A paper tiger–disrobed emperor moment, if you will.

The Cliffs Notes version: Argentina was humiliated, and it was made worse given the pride and machismo of Argentine men.

Then, we have Top Gear. It is an irreverent, vastly entertaining BBC series about cars. The show tries to come off as improvised and unpredictable, but is in reality heavily scripted. Its star, Jeremy Clarkson, has famously insulted virtually every ethnicity, nationality, celebrity, and political party under the sun.

Last year, Top Gear went to Argentina to shoot a special. Clarkson drove a Porsche 928 with the license plate “H982 FKL”. Argentine nationalists took this as a big F*** YOU, as they interpreted the plate to read “1982 Falklands”. This was made worse by the fact that the show was filming in Tierra del Fuego, an Argentine province which includes the Islas Malvinas.

As the Top Gear crew with the offending Porsche 928 entered Tierra del Fuego, enraged Argentines threatened violence, threw rocks at the crew, and chased them out of the country.

I watched the special for the first time last weekend, after the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. These thoughts came to mind:

  • The license plate: I am convinced that Top Gear knew about the significance of the Porsche license plate going into Argentina. The license plate might have been a concoction of the BBC art department. Or, it might have been a real license plate that was truly registered to the Porsche. No matter its provenance, Top Gear knew it would piss off the locals. Shit stirring was its intent. It just underestimated the extent to which the shit was going to be stirred.
  • Humiliation: As Americans and Brits, I humbly ask you to stand in the shoes of the Argentines. Imagine yourself from a country that was never a world power, that was not always a democracy, that does not have a .900 batting average when it comes to wars. In a time of turmoil and doubt, you were certain of only one thing– that your military was strong. One of the few sources of the military dictatorship’s legitimacy was its perceived strength. That belief was shattered when the British, whose seat of power was 13,000 kilometers away, kicked the shit out of your proud sons in uniform. You’re down. And with the current Fernandez regime, the economy is not so hot. Inflation is high and so is underemployment. This is a perfect recipe for nationalism and blind rage. How would you feel if a bunch of rich Brits, and one clown, came to your ‘hood with a car that coincidentally reminded you of the year in which your country was brought to its knees and your brother lost his life for a meaningless regime’s hubris?
  • Freedom of speech: Every country has its own norms and laws. Some we agree with, others we can live with, and still others are downright barbaric. But there is the notion of a universal right to freedom of speech. Of course Clarkson and Top Gear had the right to put H982 FKL, or even 1982 FALKLANDS, on a license plate. It is their right, no matter where they are on this planet.
  • The ethics of courtesy: While Top Gear had every right to say what they wanted, was it right, was it ethical, to say what they said through the license plate? If I go to your house, can I just start insulting your wife and kids? If I visit your church, can I just start insulting your god and your beliefs? And from an ethical point of view, is it right to inflame the locals if there is a chance that the locals might rise up (reasonably or not) and physically harm your film crew?
  • Charlie Hebdo: And that leads to the insane tragedy that took place in Paris last week. We all agree that the cartoonists had every right to draw insulting works. We all agree that to react with assassinations is absolutely unacceptable. It is downright evil, let alone misguided. But as I watched the BBC crew getting pelted with rocks, I guiltily thought– those people had it coming. Was I wrong? Is it a matter of gradation? Is it a matter of absolutes?

As a postscript, I want to disclose a little bit of my personal background. Some bona fides, if you will. I was born and raised in Taiwan and Japan, countries that have lost wars and lived through humiliating times. I majored in Latin American Studies, focusing on the military dictatorships of Cold War Latin America. I have also traveled by bus, albeit briefly, through Chilean and Argentine Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. And most importantly, I am a long time fan of Top Gear.

Image source: The Telegraph

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The 1980s: When Worse Was Better http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/the-1980s-when-worse-is-better/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/the-1980s-when-worse-is-better/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 21:06:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=764417 With the wife and kids out of the house on Sunday I finally had a little private time. Naturally, I did what a lot of men do when they find themselves home alone – I caught up on the current season of Top Gear. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the world’s most […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

With the wife and kids out of the house on Sunday I finally had a little private time. Naturally, I did what a lot of men do when they find themselves home alone – I caught up on the current season of Top Gear. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the world’s most popular television program. On the one hand I am generally unimpressed with lengthy reviews of million dollar hyper cars or high end luxury cars, the seats of which my ass will never grace, but I do enjoy the challenges and the occasional look back at cars of the past. Naturally, I was quite taken by this season’s premiere episode, a modern day test of the hot hatches of the 1980s.

For those of you who are too young to remember, the ‘80s was the greatest decade ever. Beginning with the official death of Disco on July 12, 1979 and ending only with the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind on September 21, 1991 it was a decade that lasted almost 13 years. That’s astounding! Moreover, blah blah blah, Reagan, blah blah blah, MTV, blah blah blah cellphones the size of bricks instead of the size of a suitcase. Yeah, it was great. We had some things and we did some stuff but the best part was the cars.

Click here to view the embedded video.

In the Top Gear episode, our trio of aging heroes set out to prove that the small, sporty cars of their (our) youth were better than the youth oriented small cars of today. To support their claims, they are each given a small sum of money and are told to bring back an aging hot hatch. Because it’s Britain, the only car I could actually recognize was Jeremy Clarkson’s VW Golf GTI, but all three seemed to be small, “sporty” and, compared to today’s cars, terribly lacking in options or sophistication. They then put these cars through a series of “tests” in that special way that only Top Gear UK can manage and the results are a lot of fun. If you get BBC America, I highly suggest tuning in and watching the fun for yourself.

The episode put me in an introspective sort of mood. I lived through the entirety of the 1980s, actually beginning my first year of high school in the fall of 1979, but I was not a creature of the ‘80s. My tastes ran towards ‘60s muscle cars, ‘70s hard rock and that special sort of Pacific Northwest fashion sense that Nirvana made a grungy part of the ‘90s. Still, by the end of the ‘80s, with the arrival of my own Tuuuuurbo Dodge I had adapted enough that I at least (sort of) fit in.

Photo By T Kreutzer

It turns out that, like our Top Gear hosts, I miss those days and I find myself spending a good deal of time looking back at the cars of that era. I have this nascent idea of bothering poor unsuspecting people on Craigslist by posing as a buyer for their old car and then writing articles about my test driving experience, but of course, I have a problem in that, first, I’m not very good at telling lies and, second, cars of that era are a might thin on the ground in the Western New York region. Perhaps I will try this ploy once I relocate to less salty climates but for now I am stuck living in my own memories.

Compared to modern performance cars, the cars of the 1980s are pitiful pieces of machinery. The turbo Dodge I recall so fondly had a peaky turbo, suffered from massive amounts of torque steer, and blew a head gasket at just 90K miles, but it was light, flickable and, punched way above its weight. The 200SX Turbo I lionized at the beginning of my tenure here at TTAC was much better composed than my Shadow and was a speedy little thing but it turns out that it had just 120 horsepower – that’s actually 2 horsepower less than dowdiest little car Nissan makes today, the Cube. I could find other examples too, I am sure, but there is no point in beating a dead horse there is only one right answer to the question at hand. Today’s cars are far, far better in every way.

But the right answer is, I think, wrong. What we had then may have been technically worse, but it was also so much better. In that same way that a modern jet fighter can outperform a P51 Mustang the new cars have it all over the old ones, but ask any pilot which bird he wants to strap himself into and the vast majority will choose the old one. So it is with cars. I might lose a contest of seed and handling, but at least I’ll go down fighting with a smile on my face. And that’s what it’s really all about anyhow.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Tokyo Motor Show: Are The Japanese Really Back? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/tokyo-motor-show-are-the-japanese-really-back/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/tokyo-motor-show-are-the-japanese-really-back/#comments Mon, 25 Nov 2013 15:30:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=663562 Three of the world’s most important auto shows began last week. Since my invitations to the various press events must have been lost in the mail I, like virtually everyone else in the world, followed them over the internet. I’m OK with that, really. I hate fighting the crowds and by the time a show […]

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Three of the world’s most important auto shows began last week. Since my invitations to the various press events must have been lost in the mail I, like virtually everyone else in the world, followed them over the internet. I’m OK with that, really. I hate fighting the crowds and by the time a show closes high resolution photos of the most important cars are always all over the world-wide-web, anyhow. With the photos are the journalists’ impressions. Some are good and some are bad, but they all make me think. For example, there’s this article from the Top Gear website on the Tokyo motor show that asserts, on the strength of the cars at this year’s show, “Japan is back.” Hold on – Really?

To be sure there were some important and exciting cars at this year’s Tokyo motor show. Honda showed us a new NSX and the S660 sport compact that compares favorably to the Beat kei class sports car that Honda produced back in the last century. Nissan showed us the amazing three-seat, electric “Bladeglider,” a hotted up Nismo GTR and the retro themed IDx. Toyota’s performance car offerings came in the form of the Lexus RC and a convertible FT86. While Toyota ripped the top off of their Toybaru twin, Subaru went the opposite route and gave baby some back with their Cross Sport. So far as I could glean, that was about it for cars intended to stir the hearts and minds of enthusiasts. That would have made for a pretty small show though, so augmenting the really interesting stuff were was a whole slew of hybrid/electric/gas, etc SUVs, sedans and city cars intended to appeal to the masses.

Click here to view the embedded video.

From my perspective what we got are some new toys of the uber rich, two small cars that my all-American ass won’t fit into, a couple of modifications on a car I probably won’t buy anyhow and one wanna-be-retro Nissan that might actually have some possibilities if they don’t screw it up with a powertrain that serious enthusiast wouldn’t want. The emphasis on products with hybrid or alternative energy powertrains and other technical innovations says some good things about state of Japanese industry and the many different body styles on display indicates that the Japanese have noted the success of Korean cars’ design language and are finally looking somewhere other than Mercedes for inspiration, too. Good news for sure, but does any of it mean Japan is back?

For me, the glory days of Japanese cars happened roughly between 1985 and 1995. The cars of that era had good, solid lines and, while the designs weren’t daring, they did have their own unique sense of style. There was technical innovation too and it came wrapped up in practical packages. Real performance was offered across all the price ranges and the variety of new cars was enormous. There was something there for everyone and if you could not afford a Twin Turbo Supra or a Turbo 300ZX, you could, at the very least, take home on of the good looking down-market alternatives: the AE86 Twin-Cam Corolla or the 200SX Turbo. Today, that wide aray of choices is no longer a part of Japan Inc.’s current line-up.

I’m not sure why that is, but in the process of writing this article it suddenly hit me that the cars on display at this year’s Tokyo motor show says something about how our society has become ever more divided over the past couple of decades. It doesn’t take an economist to point out that the rich have gotten richer and the rest of us poorer. The market reflects that reality. The rich get supercars, those of us in the middle get family trucksters and the odd toy while the unwashed masses receive battery powered practicality. The choices are gone and fun is being increasingly reserved for those who can afford it. It wasn’t that ay 20 years ago and the sad truth is that Japan isn’t anywhere close to being back. But then, none of us are, are we?

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast, he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Aston Martin V12 Vantage Loses A Pedal, Refuses To Die http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/aston-martin-v12-vantage-loses-a-pedal-refuses-to-die/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/aston-martin-v12-vantage-loses-a-pedal-refuses-to-die/#comments Wed, 29 May 2013 11:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=489874 Despite a wistful tribute to one of the most outrageous sports cars on the planet, Jeremy Clarkson was wrong. We will see another car like the Aston Martin V12 Vantage. But something is missing. The V12 Vantage S gets a 50 horsepower bump and a 37 lb-ft boost in torque. Final power figures are 565 […]

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Aston Martin Vantage. Photo courtesy Aston Martin.

Despite a wistful tribute to one of the most outrageous sports cars on the planet, Jeremy Clarkson was wrong. We will see another car like the Aston Martin V12 Vantage. But something is missing.

The V12 Vantage S gets a 50 horsepower bump and a 37 lb-ft boost in torque. Final power figures are 565 ponies and 475 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is now 205 mph while 60 mph comes up in 4 seconds. A 7-speed automated manual is the sole gearbox option – unfortunately, the three-pedal gearbox goes bye-bye.

In a way, Clarkson was right. The lack of a manual gearbox means the end of an era – as far as I know, there are no more V12 powered sports cars available with a real manual gearbox. But in the grand scheme of things, I am ok with it. It’s a small price to pay. When every supercar is employing some kind of hybrid system or turbocharged engine, we have a real, honest to goodness naturally aspirated V12 crammed into Aston’s smallest bodyshell. My guerrilla antics with the V8 Vantage means that I’ll probably never drive one of these, barring a sudden Powerball win or the kind of marriage that necessitates a pre-nup. But I’m glad that it exists.

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Autobiography Of BS, Now Available On Dead Trees http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/autobiography-of-bs-now-available-on-dead-trees/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/autobiography-of-bs-now-available-on-dead-trees/#comments Fri, 17 May 2013 14:06:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=488775 Those who frequently demanded that the Autobiography Of BS © is turned into a book or a blockbuster movie see themselves a little closer to their declared goal. The series will be a monthly feature in Top Gear Deutschland, a very glossy magazine and spin-off of the TV series. The BBC-inspired buff book already hit […]

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vw_propagandaThose who frequently demanded that the Autobiography Of BS © is turned into a book or a blockbuster movie see themselves a little closer to their declared goal. The series will be a monthly feature in Top Gear Deutschland, a very glossy magazine and spin-off of the TV series. The BBC-inspired buff book already hit the stands in Germany, and arrived in my Japanese mailbox today.

The series begins with a German version of How I Lied about the Golf, germane due to the fact that the Golf will be 40 next year, and also due to the fact that it just entered its 7th generation.

The historical relevance of Golf & BS has been acknowledged by Volkswagen’s Heritage Dept. and documented  on the Volkswagen-Classic website.

Top Gear prominently features what Volkswagen wisely decided to sidestep:  That internally, the success of the Golf was very much doubted before the launch in early 1974, and that its triumph was a streak of luck, albeit one paired with a very good car.

The magazine can be bought for €5. The movie rights are still up for grabs. Please peruse our comment function.

vw_propaganda

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Tesla Suit Against Top Gear Thrown Out Again http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/tesla-suit-against-top-gear-thrown-out-again/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/tesla-suit-against-top-gear-thrown-out-again/#comments Tue, 05 Mar 2013 13:45:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480165 A U.K. court dismissed a libel lawsuit from Tesla against the BBC show “Top Gear,” Bloomberg reports. The case had been thrown out  before. Tesla appealed. In the show, Jeremy Clarkson said the car would only run for 55 miles on a full battery. Tesla said he lied, and that the breakdown was scripted. Three […]

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A U.K. court dismissed a libel lawsuit from Tesla against the BBC show “Top Gear,” Bloomberg reports.

The case had been thrown out  before. Tesla appealed.

In the show, Jeremy Clarkson said the car would only run for 55 miles on a full battery. Tesla said he lied, and that the breakdown was scripted.

Three judges dismissed the appeal today, saying they were not persuaded that “the case which Tesla seeks to make has any real prospect of success.”

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Great News Everyone! Dacia Sandero To Cost £5,995 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/great-news-everyone-dacia-sandero-to-cost-5995/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/great-news-everyone-dacia-sandero-to-cost-5995/#comments Tue, 16 Oct 2012 19:05:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463852 Great news everyone! The Dacia Sandero will apparently cost £5,995, or about $9,600 in its cheapest trim level, when it goes on sale in the UK tomorrow. Full pricing and specs will be released Wednesday, but with the Duster SUV retailing for £8,995 (just under $15,000), the smaller, less prestigious Sandero could conceivably occupy the rock-bottom price point. […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Great news everyone! The Dacia Sandero will apparently cost £5,995, or about $9,600 in its cheapest trim level, when it goes on sale in the UK tomorrow.

Full pricing and specs will be released Wednesday, but with the Duster SUV retailing for £8,995 (just under $15,000), the smaller, less prestigious Sandero could conceivably occupy the rock-bottom price point. The Telegraph, claims that the cheap sticker is accompanied by improved interior materials and lots of borrowed switch gear. It would be easy to make jokes about how French quality is an improvement from Romanian quality, but our own Marcello de Vasconcellos drives a Brazilian-spec Logan (the sedan version) and assures us that it’s muito bem inside and out.

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Judge Bricks Tesla’s Lawsuit Against Top Gear http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/judge-bricks-teslas-lawsuit-against-top-gear/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/judge-bricks-teslas-lawsuit-against-top-gear/#comments Thu, 23 Feb 2012 15:47:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=432438 Not a good day at Tesla: As if it’s not enough that the blogosphere is aflutter with bricked roadsters and unauthorized GPS tracking, on top of it we have fresh news from England that Tesla’s suit against Top Gear has been  thrown out. In 2008, Top Gear had said that the Tesla Roadster would only […]

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Not a good day at Tesla: As if it’s not enough that the blogosphere is aflutter with bricked roadsters and unauthorized GPS tracking, on top of it we have fresh news from England that Tesla’s suit against Top Gear has been  thrown out.

In 2008, Top Gear had said that the Tesla Roadster would only get 55 miles instead the 200 miles Tesla had specified. To underscore that point, a Tesla Roadster was pushed into a garage.

Tesla brought suit for libel and malicious falsehood. Last October, British Justice Tugendhat disallowed the libel claim and asked that the malicious falsehood claim should be amended if it were to be allowed to proceed.

Tesla’s lawyers handed in an amendment. Justice Tugendhat read it and ruled today that Tesla’s second attempt to formulate their malicious falsehood case on damage was so “vague” and so “gravely deficient” that “it is impossible to say that it has a real prospect of success or is in respect of a real and substantial tort.”

Which, to use the term du jour, bricked the lawsuit. The incriminated video has been “removed by the user.”

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Top Gear Shoots In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/top-gear-shoots-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/top-gear-shoots-in-china/#comments Mon, 05 Dec 2011 19:34:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=421499 Chinese media are going wild because BBC’s Top Gear has landed in China. Jeremy Clarkson and James May arrived in Beijing for filming a new Top Gear episode which will be on TV in next year’s season. Judging from the pictures take on-scene, the shoot seems to center on two topics, and both may make […]

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Chinese media are going wild because BBC’s Top Gear has landed in China. Jeremy Clarkson and James May arrived in Beijing for filming a new Top Gear episode which will be on TV in next year’s season. Judging from the pictures take on-scene, the shoot seems to center on two topics, and both may make the Chinese car industry lose the ever so important face.

The first episode appears to be May in a JAC Binyue and/against Jeremy in a Greatwall Haval M2.

The second item seems to be about copied Chinese cars. There is a Shuanghuan Noble (Smart), a Shuanghuan SCO (BMW X5) and a Lifan 320 (Mini). On some other pictures Clarkson and May are looking curiously at an old Chinese 3-wheeler. Top Gear always had a thing for 3-wheelers. Possibly, they will blame China for copying a Reliant Robin

A Land Rover Discovery camera-car has Shanghai-plates on it. And the press caught the Top Gear protagonists indulging in that great Chinese pastime: Smoking.

Lifan 320. Note Mini scale model on the roof. May having a smoke.

Clarkson having a smoke.

Shanghuan SEO on the left.

Guangzhou Auto Trumpchi, there seems to be a camera behind the window, not sure whether it is part of the show.

Shanghuan SEO.

Old Chinese 3-wheeler.

 

May takes a look at the engine.

Clarkson in Greatwall Haval S2.

Land Rover Discovery camera-car with Shanghai plates.

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Jeremy Clarkson Is A Pig-Ugly Homophobic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/jeremy-clarkson-is-a-pig-ugly-homophobic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/jeremy-clarkson-is-a-pig-ugly-homophobic/#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2011 21:46:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=421189 We at TTAC get our fair share of complaints once in a  while. (They usually start with a “b” and end in “ias.”) We are nothing compared to Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear.  The likewise UK site Carbuzz chronicled the biggest complaints against Clarkson.  According to The Guardian, “Clarkson, who flew out to China to […]

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We at TTAC get our fair share of complaints once in a  while. (They usually start with a “b” and end in “ias.”)

We are nothing compared to Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear.  The likewise UK site Carbuzz chronicled the biggest complaints against Clarkson.  According to The Guardian, “Clarkson, who flew out to China to film a new series of Top Gear as the row erupted on Thursday, issued an apology.”

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Tesla Loses Top Gear Libel Suit, Still Pursuing “Malicious Falsehood” Charge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/tesla-loses-top-gear-libel-suit-still-pursuing-malicious-falsehood-charge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/tesla-loses-top-gear-libel-suit-still-pursuing-malicious-falsehood-charge/#comments Wed, 19 Oct 2011 17:46:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=415246 Earlier this year, when Tesla sued Top Gear for libel (allegedly committed way back in 2008), I argued that Tesla was likely to lose the case. And sure enough, The Guardian reports Electric sports carmaker Tesla Motors has lost a major part of its high court libel claim against the BBC’s Top Gear programme, but […]

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Earlier this year, when Tesla sued Top Gear for libel (allegedly committed way back in 2008), I argued that Tesla was likely to lose the case. And sure enough, The Guardian reports

Electric sports carmaker Tesla Motors has lost a major part of its high court libel claim against the BBC’s Top Gear programme, but is still suing the corporation for malicious falsehood over an episode that showed the company’s Roadster model running out of battery in a race.

Ruling at the high court in London on Wednesday, Mr Justice Tugendhat said that no Top Gear viewer would have reasonably compared the car’s performance on the show’s airfield track to its likely performance on a public road.


Judge Tugendhat ruled

In my judgment, the words complained of are wholly incapable of conveying any meaning at all to the effect that the claimant [Tesla] misled anyone.

This is because there is a contrast between the style of driving and the nature of the track as compared with the conditions on a public road […] are so great that no reasonable person could understand that the performance on the [Top Gear] track is capable of a direct comparison with a public road

Which is remarkably similar to the argument I forwarded earlier this year:

Since even Tesla has admitted that the first-gen Roadster wasn’t a track car, wouldn’t it have been even more misleading for Top Gear to depict it as a car that is capable of driving its entire claimed range in hot-lap driving?

Justice Tugendhat is expected to rule on the “malicious falsehood” complaint later this week, but don’t be surprised if it’s thrown out. And even if it isn’t, one wonders why Tesla went to all this trouble. Their claim in court is that the 2008 broadcast continues to impact their business because of its availability via download, DVD, and syndication. But really, that can’t be than the negative publicity generated by Tesla’s belated and highly-public attempt to sue the world’s most popular motoring show.

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Do Electric Car Companies Have A Sense Of Humor? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/do-electric-car-companies-have-a-sense-of-humor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/do-electric-car-companies-have-a-sense-of-humor/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 18:58:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=405496 The first time Top Gear “tested” an electric car, it depicted Tesla’s Roadster running out of electricity and being pushed from the track. Tesla immediately pointed out that the batteries “never fell below 20%” during the test, a charge the British motoring show addressed by claiming that its review offers a fair representation of the […]

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The first time Top Gear “tested” an electric car, it depicted Tesla’s Roadster running out of electricity and being pushed from the track. Tesla immediately pointed out that the batteries “never fell below 20%” during the test, a charge the British motoring show addressed by claiming that its review

offers a fair representation of the Tesla’s performance on the day it was tested.

Tesla responded again, and then three years later (as the Roadster was headed out of production) the EV maker sued the BBC and Top Gear producers. An online war of words erupted, with Tesla coming away looking rather foolish. And guess what? Now it’s all happening all over again… and this time, the most EV-committed global automaker, Nissan, has taken the Top Gear bait.

In the video above (if it hasn’t yet been pulled), Jeremy Clarkson and James May drive a Nissan Leaf and a Peugeot Ion (a rebadged Mitsubishi iMiEV) and run out of electricity. Comic antics ensue. Nissan though, wasn’t amused (and apparently hadn’t heard of the Tesla debacle), and so Executive VP Andy Palmer rang the Times of London [sub], which dutifully ran a piece with the headline “Clarkson didn’t give our electric cars a sporting chance.”

Having had some practice with this very scenario, Top Gear producer Andy Willman fired back at the Top Gear blog, laying out a four-point defense:

1) We never, at any point in the film, said that we were testing the range claims of the vehicles, nor did we say that the vehicles wouldn’t achieve their claimed range. We also never said at any time that we were hoping to get to our destination on one charge.

2) We never said what the length of the journey was, where we had started from, nor how long we had been driving at the start of the film. So again, no inference about the range can be gleaned from our film.

3) We were fully aware that Nissan could monitor the state of the battery charge and distance travelled via onboard software. The reporter from The Times seems to suggest this device caught us out, but we knew about it all the time, as Nissan will confirm. We weren’t bothered about it, because we had nothing to hide.

4) The content of our film was driven by the points we were trying to explore. As James stated in the introduction, you can now go to a dealer and buy a ‘proper’ electric car, as in one that claims to be more practical and useful than a tiny, short-range city runabout. That’s what the car company marketing says, and that’s what we focused on in our test: the pros and cons of living with one as an alternative to a petrol car.

Ask any fan of Top Gear whether its tests (with the possible exception of test track laps) are any more “real” than, say, professional wrestling, and the answer will be “no.” Top Gear is a scripted show, more allegory than documentary… and as long as they don’t explicitly present EV segments as scientific range tests, where’s the lie? If Top Gear were really “journalism,” they would have tested the Tesla with less than a 20% state-of charge (for starters). Nissan complaining about its treatment in this segment is akin to the the American Kennel Club complaining that Top Gear treated sled dogs unfairly in the Polar Special because the presenters were allowed to modify the Toyota HiLux the dogs were racing against. In the very electric car segment that Nissan’s Executive VP got so steamed about, the lads were also scolded for parking in handicapped spaces, for crying out loud. That says everything you need to know about how seriously Top Gear should be taken as journalists.

But I would argue that there’s a calling that’s even higher than the exalted “journalist”: the comedian. Whereas the journalist has only a noisy commitment to objectivity, a tenuous concept if ever there was one, the comic lives by a far stricter code. With no platitudes to hide behind, the comic has no choice but to point out all that is strange, awkward, unspoken and unrecognized in the world. And Top Gear’s producers realize that audiences aren’t hungry for literal, documentary-style automotive tests verite. What they want is an allegory that helps them understand the truth that’s being left out in the tsunami of EV enthusiasm. And, as Willman points out, a lot is being left out:

In the story in The Times Andy Palmer, Nissan’s Executive Vice President, was quoted as saying that our film was misleading. Well with respect to Mr Palmer, Nissan’s own website for the Leaf devotes a fair amount of space to extolling the virtues of fast charging, but nowhere does it warn potential customers that constant fast charging can severely shorten the life of the battery.

It also says that each Leaf battery should still have 80 percent of its capacity after five years’ use, and that, to a layman, sounds great. But nowhere is it mentioned that quite a few experts in the battery industry believe when a battery is down to 80 percent capacity, it has reached End Of Life (EOL) status. Peugeot, for example, accepts 80 percent capacity as End Of Life.

Now I also know, to be fair to Nissan, that when you go to buy a Leaf they do warn you about the pitfalls of constant fast charging. But the website is the portal to the Leaf world, it’s their electronic shop window. Is it misleading not to have all the facts on display? I’m only asking.

In the world of PR, journalists are expected to objectively repeat what a company’s representative tells them (specifically about the kinds of issues Willman raises) and test their cars under OEM supervision. Comedy, on the other hand, asks Clarkson and company to portray the reality of carbon-age men fumbling to come to grips with strange new technology. Which approach produces the more truthful “review”? More importantly, having the advantage over real journalists, why can’t EV companies just laugh at the comedians?

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The Race To Monte http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/the-race-to-monte/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/the-race-to-monte/#comments Sun, 03 Jul 2011 09:55:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=401523 To celebrate the nuptials of the Princess and the Prince of Monaco, here one of the Top Gear classics: Aston Martin DB9 against public transport.  London to Monte Carlo.  Who gets there first? Car or train? At the risk of ruining the plot, remember what Jeremy Clarkson said: “I think the important thing we proved […]

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To celebrate the nuptials of the Princess and the Prince of Monaco, here one of the Top Gear classics: Aston Martin DB9 against public transport.  London to Monte Carlo.  Who gets there first? Car or train? At the risk of ruining the plot, remember what Jeremy Clarkson said:

“I think the important thing we proved today. No matter how good public transport is, not matter how much it runs like clock work, it will never be a match for a car.”

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Tesla Vs. Top Gear: The War Of The Blogs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/tesla-vs-top-gear-the-war-of-the-blogs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/tesla-vs-top-gear-the-war-of-the-blogs/#comments Sun, 03 Apr 2011 19:26:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=389685 Compared to smothering hugs, ample booze and possibly a little deniable blackmail, suing a media outlet rarely is the best way to perform the skillful art of public relations. This is what Tesla is finding out right now. Most likely after throwing words of caution by its own PR folk to the wind, Tesla decided […]

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Compared to smothering hugs, ample booze and possibly a little deniable blackmail, suing a media outlet rarely is the best way to perform the skillful art of public relations. This is what Tesla is finding out right now.

Most likely after throwing words of caution by its own PR folk to the wind, Tesla decided to bring a defamation suit against the BBC’s Top Gear. According to Tesla’s own blog, Top Gear perpetrated “serious and damaging lies,” such as claiming that “the Roadster’s true range is only 55 miles per charge. “ Of course, writes Tesla’s Communication VP Ricardo Reyes in the blog, Tesla is “not doing this for money. As the world leader in EV technology, Tesla owes it to the public to stop Top Gear’s disinformation campaign and provide the truth. “

Top Gear has its own blog. In it, Top Gear’s Executive Producer Andy Wilman answers with some counter battery fire. Normally, says Wilman, when a suit is brought, both sides keep their respective mouths and blogs shut while “brainy people wearing wigs” (lawyers wear wigs in the UK, at least in court, sometimes … never mind) argue over the matter. “Tesla, however, doesn’t seem content to wait for the legal eagles to settle matters,” says Wilman. “On the contrary, it’s been very busy promoting its side of the argument through the media.”

Tesla’s PR agency PHA Media even contacted the British TV program “The One Show” and invited them to “have some fun with this.” Too bad The One Show is a show of BBC One (hence the name), and it just so happened that Top Gear “accidentally received” the email. Which allowed Top Gear to have some fun with it.

No longer bound to the “pre-legal etiquette of keeping schtum until we get our day in court,” Wilman then provides a point for point rebuttal. The core is that Top Gear “never said that the Tesla’s true range is only 55 miles, as opposed to their own claim of 211, or that it had actually ran out of charge. In the film our actual words were: ‘We calculated that on our track it would run out after 55 miles’.”

That 55 miles number did not come from Top Gear’s “heads, but from Tesla’s boffins in California. They looked at the data from that car and calculated that, driven hard on our track, it would have a range of 55 miles.” (Before lawyers prepare another defamation suit: “Boffins” is nothing bad. In British English, it stands for people engaged in technical or scientific research. At worst, “boffin” could be understood as “geek.”)

Tesla concedes that Clarkson said: “Although Tesla say it will do 200 miles we worked out that on our track it would run out after just 55 miles.”

I guess even a wig-wearing judge will give this one to Top Gear. (Note to Tesla: When quoting from videos, QUOTE VERBATIM.)

As for the rest, if you are interested in a lot of he said, she said, here is Tesla’s blog, and here is Top Gear’s rebuttal.

Again, if Tesla would ask me for advice (I’m sure they won’t) I’d tell them to quietly settle. Each blog on the planet that writes about that stuff will do what we do, and link to Youtube. There, at the times of this typing, the Tesla segment already had racked up 336,139 views. (Not counting other clips of the same segment floating around in various digital formats.) If what is said there indeed is lies, then this is how lies multiply.

Should Tesla win, and the segment is blocked from retransmission, that Youtube flick will become a collector’s item. And what will people remember? That the Tesla is running out of battery mighty fast. Which  Tesla most likely does not want them to remember.

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