This week’s all-new episode of Top Gear on History, sought to provide a public service. They were going to convince us which chosen model is America’s Toughest Car. These vehicles were all at least twenty years old and cost a maximum of $2,000. However, they would go through a series of brutal tests that were specifically designed to kill them. The survivor would be the winner and the prize was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Truth be told, it’s the kind of opportunity that most people wouldn’t want and that’s to be on the business end of the US Army’s 101st Airborne, but first things first – the introductions! The guys congregated in a San Bernadino junkyard which was a most suitable meeting point considering what they were driving. Honestly, I think that’s where they bought the cars, or they might as well have.
“You have air conditioning, Rutledge, you bastard?” – Tanner Foust
Rutledge Wood decided to put all his eggs in a basket made from Swedish steel with a 1990 Volvo 240 DL Station wagon; because nothing says survival like a Volvo. Adam Ferrara believed that bigger is better and tougher, so he selected a 1992 Chevrolet Caprice. However, Tanner Foust arrived in a 1987 Toyota Corolla which was the oldest car of the three, but has actual endurance racing pedigree. No really, Toyota Corolla did race in the Dakar Rally, way back when it actually ended in Dakar, Africa; and here’s a video to prove it:
The first test was a drag race, which was less about the cars’ toughness but more about their crappiness. It was hilariously humiliating for two dudes, but paled in comparison to what was in store for them next at the San Bernadino Sheriff’s Training Facility. One thing that really cracked me up happened as they guys were driving along. The music cut until the Volvo came into the shot. It was a brilliant way to wordlessly emphasise how slow the station wagon was. I loved it and kudos to whomever thought it up. At the shooting range, each host was armed (yes, armed) with a Mossberg Bullpup 12 Gauge Shotgun. They each got to fire three rounds at each other’s car to inflict body damage only. What could possibly go wrong? Luckily, not a lot but these guys had a really good time shooting at each other’s rides. Rutledge was certainly more comfortable with the firearm than in the Small Cars episode but Adam and Tanner very good. The cars didn’t fare too well but they weren’t too hot in the first place.
“I bet that door still opens, you jerk.” – Rutledge Wood
As if being riddled bullet holes and having windows shot out weren’t bad enough, each of the cars had a special test of build quality. This entailed a high explosive incendiary device placed in each back seat to be detonated by their driver. Whichever car’s engine could still start after all of that would move onto the next challenge. There was tough talk all around until they had to sit in the burned out shells of their cars. Surprisingly enough, all three moved on to the crash test. You’ll notice that the driver’s seats were all covered with what appeared to be towels taped down with duct tape. Oh yeah, that’s as fancy as they’re going to get with these wrecks, or rather about to be wrecked because the crash test was up next.
“It smells like marshmallows, Tandoori chicken and dead yak.” – Adam Ferrara
They replicated a proper crash test with an improper 15ft car drop from a crane. Fans of Top Gear UK…chill out. You should be used to this by now. Tanner expected the Toyota Corolla to bounce after landing on its right-side passenger door. That didn’t happen, and not for Adam’s Caprice either. However, Rutledge’s Volvo had a spectacular descent that was worthy of gif makers everywhere. Incredibly, unbelievably, implausibly, the three cars crawled very slowly to the Glen Helen Speedway for their final contest. They had to do as many laps possible on a dirt course, after all the oil had been drained from their cars. To call the circuit bumpy would be a tremendous understatement. Naturally it quickly deteriorated into a demolition derby, but in the end one dude reigned supreme and his car was found to be the toughest. Okay, not really because I can tell you that a thirty-year old Ford Cortina or Datsun 120Y could have slayed any of those cars easily in this toughness competition. Oh, and one more thing. Adam Ferrara’s retaliation against Tanner Foust was the wildest piece of footage! We may never know how it ended and that’s the way they should play it.
The opportunity of a lifetime that I mentioned earlier would be to race a Mercedes Benz G63 AMG against the US Army’s 101stAirborne Division “Screaming Eagles” in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. If you’ve seen this show before, then there’s only one person you’d want to see behind the wheel of an SUV facing off against the Army. However, I’d like to focus on the Army instead of the Top Gear host driving to avoid capture. You know that old saying that the Army can’t take a joke? Well, these guys weren’t in a joking mood. They appeared to treat this TV show’s challenge with the same seriousness as any military exercise. Strike, part of the second brigade combat team, had research and planned how they were going to hunt down the co-host. They rolled out a shadow drone, Kiowa Warrior helicopters, Oshkosh M-ATV’s and big dudes with guns. As PR stunts go, this one was Army strong and quite thrilling. In all, it was a fun episode with some boyhood and girlhood fantasies fulfilled. Next week’s episode, RV’s is the much-anticipated foray into the NASCAR stratosphere at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Next Tuesday can’t get here fast enough for me.