Motoring mayhem is back on the air as Top Gear USA made yet another return to our TV screens on Tuesday night. The boys got all dirty and destructive in What Can It Take? The premise was delightfully simple and as is usually the case with such episodes, yielded unparalleled fun for the presenters as well as the audience. Adam Ferrara, Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust each chose vehicles that were at least twenty-five years old. Each of the vehicles would be put through a series of tests while suffering various forms of open sabotage. Since none of the cars from those eras had onboard computers or such technology, they should be able to function despite missing essential parts. Essential parts which would be removed as the episode progressed. The driver of the car which lasted through the entire episode would get to drive a brand-new Rolls Royce Wraith. The competition began when the cars were delivered to a dry lake-bed in the Mojave Desert and would end a mere eighty miles away.
“That’s easily the worst vehicle you’ve ever chosen for anything on this show.” – Rutledge Wood
Tanner was proud of his 1988 Honda Civic LX, while Rutledge went the sentimental route with his 1985 Mercedes Benz 300D Turbo Diesel; and Adam prepared for an invasion (as usual) with a 1978 Mail Jeep. At this point my money was on Adam because I remember our old Ford Cortina. Now that car was the cockroach of the automotive industry and rode more like a tank than a family car, as did most motors from that time period. The real question was: how were they going to rig the episode to get Tanner into the Rolls Royce Wraith? Before they headed out – fan belts had to go and the Honda’s alternator belt. I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t cringe at the idea of cutting either of those belts out of their daily driver. Yet these yahoos managed to drive twenty miles away for their next challenge.
“What makes you think I have a knife?”– Adam Ferrara
Do you know what’s more sad and creepy than an abandoned town in the desert? An abandoned waterpark in the desert. That’s where they raced along a slalom course without the use of power steering, or in one case – a steering wheel. It was great fun and I don’t even feel bad about the tree since it was already dead anyway. On their way to the next challenge, the show took an educational turn as we learned how to use eggs to temporarily fix a leaky radiator. It’s one of those rare times when a host can walk away from their car without worrying about sabotage from the others, because the car was already in awful shape. Oh, but that wasn’t the end of it! The trio arrived at a junkyard/Volkswagen graveyard (Red Bull GRC fans, insert joke here) where they removed unnecessary parts from the cars, before competing in a barrel race with what was left of the vehicles. After all this is Top Gear, are doors, bonnets, trunk lids and fenders really necessary?
The cars were little more than rolling frames by the time they were on their way to the final challenge. They didn’t even sound like cars any more. One of them didn’t even have a whole car. Spoilers be darned! Tanner Foust drove into legendary territory that night with his half a Honda. It was reckless, ridiculous and absolutely hilarious! Not that he hasn’t done crazy poop before but this was sublime. I dare you not to laugh when he drove past the other two guys, with half a car. Half a car! Can we say amen for front-wheel drive in this case? So gif-worthy, phew! I’ve got to move one now. (regains composure)
“I like to think about the spirit of the car first. It was a clean kill.” – Tanner Foust
The last indignity to be inflicted on the cars was to drain the oil and replace it with “alternative substances.” It’s beyond my comprehension how the two guys who know better weren’t fighting for the stuff that was animal fat as opposed to syrup and personal lubricant. However before I threw my house shoes I was still glad to see that we had a first time winner for the high-end car by the episode’s end. Honestly after seeing a massive burnout in the show’s opening I was completely sure that Tanner Foust was driving the car, but shocker – he didn’t win and as a matter of fact, lost worse than usual. The review was going along well until we were reminded that you can’t experience a Rolls Royce Wraith from the driver’s seat alone. It’s important, nay essential, to be driven as well do the driving; and for that you’ll need a chauffeur. Someone with recognized skills and preferably already on the payroll…oh wait.
Nicely played, Top Gear. Nicely played. In all it was a solid resumption to the series and felt like a very traditional Top Gear episode. I was particularly impressed that we saw the presenters performing modifications on the car themselves. Yes, it was crazy and the antics were turned up to eleven, but we got three guys having fun with cars and each other. That’s what we love the most. Thanks to the cast for live-tweeting the show and those who showed up for my Google+ Hangout fail afterwards. We’ll get this technology to work soon. I promise you that. The next episode will be the highly-anticipated “Need For Speed” in Germany. See you then!