In this week’s episode of Top Gear on History; Adam Ferrara, Rutledge Wood and Tanner Foust set off on an adventure in the Deep South, to figure out which of their favorites is the best of America’s Biggest Cars. The prize would be to test drive the 2014 C7 Corvette Z51 Stingray. (Patience grasshoppers, I’m not going to rant about rigged challenges in the first paragraph. Oh wait.) There’s much to be said for this escapade and the least of which is that it wasn’t boring. The three assembled at a dock in Memphis, Tennessee on the banks of the Mississippi River, to await the arrival of their big old cars. America’s known for having made some of the biggest cars in the history of mankind, so there were more than enough models for the guys to choose from. However, their choices couldn’t have been better, especially considering how unsurprising and yet surprising they were.
Adam stayed true to form and brought a 1970 Buick Deuce-and-a Quarter, which could easily be the title of a Scorsese film. The car’s proper name is an Electra, but that sounds too much like the name of the mistress, of the male lead in a Scorsese film. His choice was an ode to his Uncle Tony. If you’ve seen or listened to his Funny As Hell show, then you know all about that scallywag, Uncle Tony. Here’s an uncensored clip for your enjoyment:
Bless Rutledge and his love of hip-hop culture. This dude was beaming with his 1976 Chevy Caprice Classic, lifted and riding on 24” tyres. A donk, everybody! This 6’3” white dude from Alabama gave mainstream America a darned donk. Indeed it was big, green and ridiculous, but he was so happy that you couldn’t help but like the donk too. Go on with your big, white and nerdy self, boy!
“Y’all just can’t handle a big girl like this. That’s your problem.” – Rutledge “Ridonkadonk” Wood
Speaking of white and nerdy, we finally come to Tanner. Oh my goodness, a 1974 Lincoln Continental Mark IV! The last time a car like this appeared on the show, it was turned into a poor man’s Popemobile. Here we saw its successor in the long line of moving land masses from the Lincoln Motor Company. It was white with a well-preserved yet tacky interior, but with a suspension that left Top Gear USA’s resident car snob impressed. It was hard to look at this car without the Super Fly soundtrack springing to mind. Of course, Tanner was driving the biggest of the biggest cars, and the overall prize was test driving the Stingray.
Eventually they got off their barges off of the actual barge and set off on a two-hundred mile road-trip to Nashville. It would make me very happy to see the raw footage from this particular incident because the little that made it into the show was hilarious. There was no set-up here. These dudes almost killed each other before the cars even made it to dry land. That’s all. (Wipes laughter tears, sips tea) Where was I? Ah, yes! Their first challenge was a simple drag race to see which car could maintain power. It wasn’t the slowest drag race we’ve ever seen but was very funny. Like children who prefer to play with a cardboard box than the toy that came in it, these long-past-juvenile delinquents were having a blast with the speed gun…and roasting each other to ashes. Having been one of three women working in a company with about forty-something dudes, I can tell you – men are cattier and more highly-strung than you could ever imagine; and after years of filming this show, these guys don’t hold back when it comes onto the insults. Sometimes it’s like they’re taking turns channeling Regina George.
“Look I mean this in the nicest way, you’re a fricking idiot. You’ve taken the worst possible choice and made it even worse. It’s even more horrible than it was before! You should just go home.” – Tanner “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy” Foust
Their second challenge was at a railway yard in Humboldt. Using the bumpy train tracks as a path, they had to carry a super-duper-sized BBQ meal, complete with dessert and sweet tea down the tracks and back. Whoever was fastest and had the most food remaining would be the winner. Mayhem ensued and a couple of the guys actually did end up ridin’ dirty.
The last test was to modify their vehicles in order to demonstrate how outrageous their cars were…in half an hour. They allegedly conjured up and executed these elaborate schemes all on their own. Even if you’re not playing my Top Gear Drinking Game, a shot of something might be in order because there’s no way sober people would, could or should ever believe this premise. This leads me to the next bit that might also require consumption of alcohol and/or cake to be accepted as spontaneous.
They performed one of the most elaborate stunts to date. As revealed by the goodly gents at Jalopnik, Tanner caught a skydiving Stig on the roof of his car. In a word, it was nuts. Tanner and his tongue were hanging out of the car window to properly line up with the descending Stig, while Adam and Rutledge looked on. I must admit that even my mouth was agape because it was so over the top, but absolutely perfect because it ensured that Tanner won the overall challenge. Don’t act shocked that I’m telling you this because it’s pointless for me to act like Tanner’s not going to win the chance to review the Stingray. Quite frankly, I don’t want to see anybody else reviewing that car. Unlike the one with the Aventador where he lost actually lost the challenge, but the powers that be cheated him into the car. This time around, they definitely did a better job of making sure that he won by a huge margin.
“That was outstanding! Say nothing.” – Adam “Pit Boss” Ferrara
Regarding the actual review, you can’t watch it just once. This is the kind of sports car review that probably had automotive executives, shaking their fists at the TV screen and screaming at minions, “Why the **** don’t our car Top Gear reviews look like that!?!” It seems that Top Gear USA is enjoying an increase in its production budget because this was special-effects heavy. The car itself has had motoring enthusiasts in (sometimes begrudging) fanboy/fangirl mode since its debut early this year. It grabs attention whether it’s on display at an auto show or the lead car for a pack of snarling racecars. You can’t not look at it because this is a Stingray for crying out loud; and Tanner got to beat the heck out of it on a track, as well as six blocks in Detroit, Michigan. The latter one course was very special because in it, he raced against himself.
Armed with an LED Under Car Lighting Kit along with some fancy camera tricks, he raced against himself to prove that a human could outdo the Corvette’s computerised driving aids. I won’t spoil this one too much for you because it must be seen to be fully appreciated. Some of my followers on Twitter were tickled by the idea of Tanner2 but is there a reason that The Stig didn’t race against him in real-time? (Have at it, conspiracy theorists.) In this episode, each presenter fully occupied his space in the Top Gear USA equation. They were evenly talented, funny, sarcastic, bitchy, brainy and brilliant at doing what they do best. I detected a couple reactions that may have been planned. The use of actual hip-hop music for the donk was most welcome. This episode was definitely one that should not only be re-watched (many times) but enjoyed.
Special thanks go to all who participated in the live-tweet for the show’s premiere on both coasts. For some reason, my DirectTV went crazy at 9:45pm EST and 11:55pm EST, so I disappeared on you guys at important times. Your patience with me was greatly appreciated. The hosts were online as well answering questions and joking around. If you want to know more about this episode and other behind-the-scenes stories about the show, check out my interview with the cast for My Life at Speed. The next episode is set to air on October 22, 2013.