On June 16th Amazon Prime released the latest episode of The Grand Tour, “Eurocrash.” With a runtime longer than every previous episode of the show (1 hour 47 minutes), “Eurocrash” sends the presenters to central Europe for a long road trip. This particular installment is a bit different than past voyages though: The connecting thread between the presenters, journey, cars, and the episode’s events goes missing.
It’s been nearly three years since The Grand Tour switched its format away from the elaborate traveling tent and to its all-special format. On Friday, Amazon released the fifth such special, and the first “post pandemic” episode (their term, not mine). In “A Scandi Flick,” the familiar trio heads across Scandinavia in three rally-inspired all-wheel drive sedans. It’s certainly not the show’s worst work, but it’s far from the best. You’ll need to suspend disbelief and leave your thinking skills in another room.
July 30th saw the streaming release of the third installment in The Grand Tour Presents series, Amazon’s installment rework of the formerly tent-based automotive series. Following up their “Seamen” premiere (which I liked) and “A Massive Hunt” ( which I didn’t), Clarkson, Hammond, and May get back to their basics of years ago with “Lochdown.” And there’s not a lot wrong with that.
After a COVID-induced delay of several months, Amazon finally released The Grand Tour’s new episode “A Massive Hunt” on December 17th. Its intended release date was the 18th, but someone at Amazon decided to foist the episode on an unsuspecting public a day early.
What a dumpster fire.
Movies and television have delivered countless heroes and villains, more than a few femme fatales of dubious loyalty, and still more ethically challenged antiheroes. Quite often, they do not take public transportation.
What’s interesting to note is that, when you think back to all the famous TV and silver screen characters strongly associated with a specific car, the star vehicle, more likely than not, sports just two doors. The mind immediately flashes to the famed Bullitt chase between two well-matched ’68 coupes. Magnum’s Ferrari 308. Rockford’s unusually powerful Firebird Esprit. Anything Don Johnson drove. Even Jerry Seinfeld’s Saab 900 convertible.
Yes, you could even throw in Uncle Jesse’s Ford pickup or Daisy Duke’s Jeep. With this mind, what four–door vehicle with an acting credit deserved to be remembered?
We’re not capable of brilliance 24 hours a day. The mind demands rest, nourishment, stimulation. And old cars. Wonderful, alluring, Eisenhower-era cars.
As sleep doesn’t come easily for yours truly, you’ll often find a YouTube window open on my computer late at night. Sometimes its comedy, sometimes it’s tornado videos, and more often than not — lately, especially — it’s syndicated reruns of an old show some nice fellow uploaded to the net. It’s not a groundbreaking, award-winning show. It’s not high-minded. There’s no identity politics. Complex plotlines and witty dialogue? Get the hell outta here, pal.
No, the sole appeal of Highway Patrol (1955-1959) is the cars. (That, and identifying the scenes where: (a) actor Broderick Crawford is drunk, and (b) Crawford doesn’t have a driver’s license.)
Smog-blanketed southern California in the late Fifties. Could there be a more glamorous locale?
Top Gear presenters Chris Harris and Eddie Jordan narrowly evaded injury when a pre-production Alpine A110 caught fire while the duo participated in last week’s Monte Carlo Rally. Apparently the two had been blasting down stage SS17 when the engine warning light came on. Sometime later, flames were seen beneath the vehicle and the two were advised to pull over immediately.
Fire crews were unable to control the blaze and the car ended up completely obliterated. Alpine and Renault have said they are conducting a full investigation to see what went wrong but are currently attributing the mishap to a “technical incident.” They are also suspending all testing of pre-production models until they can determine the true cause of the fire.
I’ve said before that automotive television is frequently terrible. Cars don’t have a lot of on-screen charisma without someone inside them, meaning most automotive presenters are forced into awkward acting attempts to “add drama,” despite not being actors.
The exception are shows that don’t rely on gimmicks and allow endearing hosts to be themselves. Top Gear has been a prime example of this since the mid-2000s, improved further by having presenters that act believably in unbelievable ways.
However, when the team that originally made it great left to create The Grand Tour, it wandered dangerously close to becoming an unintentional parody of the old show. Thankfully, most of the past month has been littered with news proving they’re shying away from hokey antics for more substantive programming.
Automotive television is, at best, a mixed bag. At worst, it’s a cultural wasteland of gimmicky programing that persists only because of our deep love for cars, bolstered by a handful of engaging personalities. Suggesting that I am generally dubious of any new car-related entry into the entertainment landscape would be a gross understatement. So, when the rebooted Top Gear America aired over the weekend, my expectations were already incredibly low.
I suppose the nicest way to phrase this is by saying it did not exceed those expectations.
While it attempts to capture the magic of vintage Top Gear in much the same way the current British version strives to, the first episode fell far short of the mark. Whether that’s down to the hosts not having adequate time to develop legitimate chemistry or a systematic flaw in the show’s design remains to be seen. But something is definitely wrong here.
Episode One felt extremely awkward, although not entirely hopeless. And I’ve reminded myself that I didn’t much care for Richard Hammond the first time I saw him on the screen, either. Fast forward 15 years and I enter into a panic every time he’s in a scrape, terrified that God might take that adorable little man away from me.
One of the great things about childhood is the feeling that unlimited possibilities will arrive the moment you turn 18. Rich and famous? Adventurer? Carefree private eye who lives in a trailer by the beach? All of those future lifestyles exist in the realm of possibility when you’re a kid.
You’ll make it happen one day. First, you just need to grow up.
Adulthood, of course, has a way of stepping in and saying, “Whoa there…. whoa, whoa, whoa. Easy now. Have you thought about coding? Plastics? Think, son — what about your retirement?”
Adulthood is one giant buzzkill after another.
Onlookers outside Detroit’s Cobo Center took part in a great American pastime yesterday. That is, thrilling at the impending destruction of an airborne 1969 Dodge Charger.
You know the one. Orange, Confederate flag emblazoned on the roof, once the star of a popular TV show that was serviceable in its first season, but then got really stupid. There’s a pull, an irresistible force that compels us to find old B-body Chargers — ideally a ’69, sometimes a ’68 but never a ’70 — and launch those nose-heavy suckers to a frame-twisting death.
It’s the only classic, lusted-after muscle car that we associate with low-altitude flight and, for some reason, we continue to applaud the torture and destruction of the remaining examples. Why?
Smoke and mirrors – but sometimes also steel. In the odd world of movies and television, things are not always what they seem: the fake blower on the Mad Max Pursuit Special, the digital tire smoke from the Merc’ 6.9 in Ronin.
It’s always a bit disappointing when you meet a hero car to learn that, behind the polish, it’s all hat and no cattle. But not with these two beasts. These are the real deal: guts, dents, motor, and chrome. One’s a modern hearthrob, the other’s a lantern-jawed archetype that even today outshines its modern co-stars.
One Ford product, one vehicle cranked out by the General. Black paint, V8 rumble, and more character than the small screen can contain. Here are their stories.
Daewoo never had much of a presence in the United States, though I do see the occasional Nubira in the junkyard. That’s too bad, because Korean-market Daewoo ads of the 1970s and 1980s have some of the manliest/cheeziest voiceovers in car-advertising history. Let’s take a look at some examples of the genre.
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- ToolGuy "Mr. President, no government agency, no think tank, and no polling firm knows more about the automobile customer than us. We talk to customers every day. As retail automotive dealerships, we are agnostic as to what we sell. Our business is to provide customers with vehicles that meet the needs of their budgets and lifestyles.”• How many lies can you fit into one paragraph?
- Spamvw Three on the tree, even Generation X would have a hard time stealing one of those.
- ToolGuy This trend of cyan wheels needs to end NOW.
- Kwik_Shift Interesting nugget(s) of EV follies. https://x.com/WallStreetApes/status/1729212326237327708?s=20
- SaulTigh I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you really cared about the environment you'd be encouraging everyone to drive a standard hybrid. Mature and reliable technology that uses less resources yet can still be conveniently driven cross country and use existing infrastructure.These young people have no concept of how far we've come. Cars were dirty, stinking things when I was a kid. They've never been cleaner. You hardly ever see a car smoking out the tail pipe or smell it running rich these days, even the most clapped out 20 year old POS. Hybrids are even cleaner.