Category Archives: Top Gear America

Top Gear Episode 8: Time Capsule [Review]

If you would have asked most people whether or not they had high hopes for the new season of Top Gear, dubbed Top Gear America, most would have said flat out “NO”. Now whether or not this is because of the rocky time Top Gear U.K. has had since Clarkson, Hammond, and May’s departure, or because of the overall lackluster performance of the now dead “Top Gear U.S.A.”, the BBC had an uphill battle to climb with TGA.

While there is far from a consensus on Top Gear America, we at AutoMoguls think it was a great effort for their first season. Episode 8, the season finale, was the peak of this effort.

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The episode takes us from gas guzzlers of the past, to the electric future. We start off with a trip down memory lane with our hosts as they showcase their very first cars, or in Antron’s case, motorcycle.

We get to see Bill’s 1966 Buick Special 4 Door,

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Tom’s Series IIA Landrover (66/67),

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and Antron’s 70′ Honda CT70.

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Bill also introduces us to his first love as well, the Plymouth Roadrunner.

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The final episode of season 1 then takes us on an electrifying journey (too many puns yet?) into the world of electric engine swaps into previously petrol powered (try saying that 5 times fast) cars.

Wookie showcases an electric engine swapped, wait for it, Ferrari 308 GTE.

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In stark comparison, Bill takes us down the hippie highway in an all electric 65 Volkswagen “Splitty”. Bill loves the VW so much he even goes so far as to call it his favorite vehicle of the season.

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Now if you can personally justify the $18,000 it cost to retrofit the old VW, that’s up to you!

Tom also brings us a truly fantastic, and one of the best segments of the season. Tom showcases a series of brilliant AMG vehicles. From the crazy 1979 500TE wagon, to the all new AMG GTR and GTC, we see it all. Throw in a bit of history and some good old fashion Top Gear hooning and the film is a clear winner.

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Make sure and keep an eye out for a cameo by a certain famous racetrack as well.

If the AMG marathon wasn’t enough for you, the episode also has a killer comparison on the Top Gear America track between the electric and a unmodified Ferrari 308 GTE which is a must watch. While the outcome is no surprise, it’s a great way to finish out the season one leader board.

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Top Gear America has certainly ended the inaugural season on a high note and we couldn’t be happier about it. While there are some obstacles to overcome and some naysayers to win over, Antron, Tom, Bill, and the BBC have a strong start.

We give the final episode of season 1, a 5 out of 5 stars.

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PS: Here’s the terribly embarrassing picture of a young Tom “Wookie” Ford.

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Top Gear America Episode 7: The Best [Review]

At this point in the season, with only one episode left to review, it’s safe to say that the new hosts of Top Gear America are finally getting their mojo. The awkwardness of the first episodes is dissipating and you can see some real chemistry starting to develop. It’s this chemistry that made the original Top Gear trio so special to watch and if they can get even a quarter of what those three had, then TGA has got a bright future ahead of it.

This episode’s theme is “the best”. To start the show, and for its longest segment, the fellas have the challenge of finding and competing in the best car they can buy for $7,000. I’d be surprised if some car enthusiasts of the 90’s/ early 2000’s don’t get a bit of nostalgia from from this bit. I know I did!7kcars

While the choices are a bit obvious, the challenges, including a drag race, street circuit, and track lap by the Stig, not to mention some unexpected trouble, make for some solid entertainment.

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The rest of the episode is surprisingly SUV focused.  Antron and Bill debate over what makes the best SUV while making their way to a gorgeous scenic view, showcasing a classic 1951 Chevy Suburban, a Cadillac Escalade, and a 1978 Jeep Wagoneer.

It’s a classic debate of old vs new, and in this case, I think old wins. Plus, you get more of Bill’s trademark Americana speeches, which I don’t think anyone has gotten tired of.

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Episode 7 also features guest star, Xzibit, who absolutely deserves a mention for giving us this seasons most exciting guest lap, so far.

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The episode wraps up with Antron reviewing the new Maserati Levante, Maserati’s foray into SUV territory.

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While the segment ends with one of the Levante’s front tires going flat, I can say assuredly that Top Gear America hasn’t.

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We give Episode 7, four out of 5 stars.

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Top Gear America Episode 6: Outside The Box [Review]

You’ve been waiting and we’ve delivered. It’s the review of Episode 6 of the BBC’s newest iteration of Top Gear, Top Gear America.

This episode was probably the most eclectic of the series thus far, taking us from L.A. and low riders, to the desert in UTV’s, and even the cockpit of a BAC Mono. utv While Episode 6 is a bit all over the place and the segments don’t really fit together in any cohesive way, the episode is actually one of the best of the season. The fact that it’s so varied is what makes it great. There really is something for everyone.

The UTV segment, the first and longest, is funny, fun to watch, and was a solid version of the “Top Gear Challenge” we are all familiar with. Whether it was vehicles breaking, rolling, or jumping, TGA really tied the knot with this segment in terms of keeping it interesting from start to finish.

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Wookie even caught a bit of air at one point. Well done, Tom!

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From the desert, we move to L.A. where Tom takes us on another of his segments which are quickly becoming one of the best parts of TGA. This time, Tom rides along in a low rider through the L.A. streets where we learn about the culture, history, and pride associated with the low rider and low rider community.

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The segment really gives you a sense of how much these people care about their cars and how they represent something much bigger than just a car to them. It’s a pleasure to watch and learn about a group of people who care so much about their cars.

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Moving on, it wouldn’t be Top Gear America without one of Bill Fichtner’s gruff voiced car segments, and Episode 6 is no exception. This time Bill takes a departure from America made vehicles and instead, and uncharacteristically, showcases the BAC Mono.

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Bill does an excellent job, as usual and in classic Top Gear fashion, the cinematography in this segment is fantastic. Full of luscious greens and beautiful shot mirroring, it excels at really drawing you into the whole segment and leaves you wanting more.

Plus,  they of course get Bill to take the Mono through a drive through, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

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Episode 6 is rounded out with another unusual and modified vehicle, which I have a feeling may actually start being a regular occurrence on TGA, a 2,000 hp Toyota Land Cruiser. This particular Land Cruiser is the same one, in fact,  which recently acquired the title of “World’s fastest SUV” for going 230 mph. While it didn’t fair well on the Top Gear track ( big surprise) it was still fun to watch.

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Check out the full episode, including celebrity guest Chris Daughtry, and let us know what you think in the comments!

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We give Episode 6, a 4 out of 5 stars.

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Top Gear America Episode 5: Humble Beginnings [Review]

Episode 5 has aired and as always we have the review! Top Gear America has done a great job tying in their content with their title, Top Gear America, and this episode is no different.  In this weeks episode we have some segments based on, you guessed it, “humble beginnings”.

Bill Fichtner is back to giving us solid segments, a welcome sign for those disappointing by his work in Episode 4, with a video about NASCAR.

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While NASCAR has seen some rough times lately with dwindling followers and lost revenues, you wouldn’t guess it from the way Top Gear and Mr. Fichtner give it justice in Episode 5. With a bit of backstory about where the sport came from and where it is now as well as a bit of a throwback “NASCAR” competition between the hosts, the show does well and maintains an entertaining momentum continuing it’s overall solid performance this season.

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The guest on this weeks episode, another fairly random celebrity, is the singer Aaron Carter, brother of famed Backstreet Boy, Nick Carter. Aaron has some odd and fairly awkward interactions with the hosts, no surprise really since he seems to be almost a polar opposite of Fichtner in particular, but he puts down an impressive lap and has a lot of energy which was not a bad thing to bring to the table.

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The shining star of Episode 5, especially to the Gran Turismo generation, is no doubt the segment with Tom “Wookie” Ford and the legendary car known as Godzilla, the Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R. Tom absolutely nails it in this segment giving fans exactly what they want to see in a video showcasing what has been an idol to most for many years. It really shows that Tom has a passion for this car and I would go so far as to say this may be his best segment yet this season because of it. Tom if you’re reading this, you killed it and we want more!

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Another highlight of the Episode, is the showcasing of the Audi Vets to Techs program and the new Audi R8 V10. It’s great to see a company providing such a valuable service to veterans and to tell an audience as massive as Top Gear’s about it.

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In addition, we get to see The Stig take the R8 out on the Top Gear America track and set the first Top Gear lap time to ever include a passenger in the car, a veteran and member of the Vets to Techs program to boot. A tip of the hat is most appropriate to Top Gear for this one.

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Episode 5 is definitely a big step in the right direction for Top Gear America. We’re happy to give this weeks episode a 4 out of 5 stars.

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What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments!

Top Gear America Episode 4: Drive of Your Life [Review]

If you’re still with us watching Top Gear America, we’ve made it to Episode 4. This episode has some clear highs and lows, some winners and some losers.

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The show starts out with a strong segment. Wookie is challenged with learning how to drag race from none other than his co-host Antron Brown, at the legendary Doug Foley Racing School, in Mooresville, NC. For fans of drag racing, it’s a must see, and the entire part of the show is done well. We get to see a more natural Antron in the depth of his element, and the level of comfortability in this setting really shows.

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Now, if only he could bring just a bit more of that back into the studio.

TGA follows up this segment with a rather random celebrity guest, Haley Joel Osment. While Haley looks like a young, up and coming Santa Clause actor, with the personality to boot, be sure to stick around for his hot lap because it is legendary. We won’t tell you why, but it will definitely go down in history as a Top Gear best, and we’re talking all Top gears.

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Unfortunately, Episode 4 also features the first truly bad film done by the current favorite host of TGA, Bill Fichtner. In what could’ve been a great segment, Bill reviews the new Cadillac CTS-V and instead of it being exciting, or even mildly interesting, all we get are a few straight line shots, boring music, and a disappointed Bill. Hopefully, this won’t become a trend for Bill.

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The final segment of the show features Wookie once again in action. This time he’s learning to drive the new Dodge Charger police vehicle. The segment also briefly features the Fiat Abarth 124 Spyder. Fans of the show will appreciate the dry British humor and the well shot slow-mo bits which have become a staple on Top Gear, but overall the segment is a bit rushed and feels choppy.

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While there was certainly some great high points and hilarious bits of laughter, Episode 4 was overall down a bit from Episode 3, so we’re giving it a 3 out of 5 stars.

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What did you think of Episode 4? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Top Gear America Episode 3: Life On The Go [Review]

So we’ve made it this far. While Top Gear America has received poor reviews overall, we at AutoMoguls still feel that the BBC is on the right track this time. Episode 3 improves on the previous two, and while it still feels a bit forced at times, it seems like TGA is finally picking up some positive momentum.

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Episode 3 takes us on a wide array of adventures this time. The main segment features a classic Top Gear challenge in which the hosts must go off-roading and camping with a minimal $3,000 budget.

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The celebrity guest, a surprising high point for TGA, continues to shine with an appearance by legendary comedian Russell Peters.  Russell brings some great jokes as well as some hilarious back with Antron and the rest of the crew that really helps to keep the viewers entertained.

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A great and fairly unusual appearance for Top Gear, Ep.3 features a tuned vehicle, and if the tuning wasn’t enough, it’s also a minivan. While it may sound off-putting at first, give the segment a chance and you’ll see it’s actually quite good.

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The real highlight of Episode 3 comes about three-quarters of the way through with a segment featuring the one and only Magnus Walker. If you don’t know about this guy, can you really call yourself a car guy/girl? In what seems like a clip taken from any number of Magnus Walker featurettes, Magnus and his cars shine like always. If you only watch this episode for one reason, it will be this segment.

Overall we would give Episode 3 of Top Gear America a 3.5 out of 5.

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What did you think of Episode 3 of Top Gear America? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Top Gear America Episode 2: Movie Magic [Review]

This weeks episode of Top Gear America is all about famous cars, what makes the “coolest” car, and look at some amazing movie tricks.

The first scene features one of the most iconic movie cars of all time. The classic 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt.   The segment, done by William Fichtner, much like in the first episode, is fantastic. Fichtner seems like the most natural person to pair with a vehicle like the Bullitt Mustang and the entire film is just that, natural, authentic, and a pleasure to watch.

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The special guest for this week’s episode is one of the stars of The Blacklist, Ryan Eggold. The show continues the awkward guest drive in by The Stig, but the interview itself is quick, to the point, and a huge improvement over Top Gears of the past.

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The second segment of the show features an Italian beast and the America drag racer, Antron Brown. Antron has chosen to showcase the beautiful Lamborghini Huracan Spyder. With the amazing sound and stunning good looks of the Huracan there’s very little not to like about this film. While Antron is still not the greatest presenter, always coming across as trying just a little too hard, the segment itself is still very good. With little in the way of scenery to distract away from the Lamborghini, it’s all eyes on the bull.

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As the segment progresses we’re introduced to an even more amazing machine, a $250,000 camera which is placed on a crane, which is then attached to a blacked-out, 580 horsepower, Cadillac  CTS-V wagon called the Ultimate Arm. The film rig is exceptionally high end and able to capture the highest quality video in almost any condition.

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filmrig12 But wait! That’s not all that’s in this segment. There’s an even cooler Ultimate Arm! This one, an off-roader with a 650 horsepower motor, allows for the same amazing film capabilities in rough and uneven terrain without breaking a sweat.

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What? Two amazing film cars and a Lamborghini Huracan Spyder aren’t enough for you? Well how about a professional dirt bike rider as well!  Top Gear piles on the action with the film buggy chasing down and filming this pro rider and of course, it looks amazing.

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The show isn’t done with the Huracan though, The Stig takes the Huracan (albeit the all-wheel drive model) around the all new Top Gear test track. So is it faster than the NSX from Episode 1? Any bets? Spoiler alert! The Huracan manages to set a blistering lap time of 1:10:47! Nearly three seconds slower than the Acura NSX,! Ok, so night quite blistering, but still pretty quick. Are you surprised?

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Fichtner is back in another segment following The Stig’s lap. This time he shows us an American classic, the 1955 Cadillac Convertible. Will does an amazing job of taking us down memory road. He gives us a bit of personal backstory, some American history, and as is quickly becoming tradition, an amazing narrative overall. The segment is a must see for anyone who’s a fan of classic cars, Americana, and beautifully restored Cadillacs.

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Carrying over from the initial interview, the show continues with the rest of Ryan Eggold’s interview before his lap in the Top Gear Honda Civic. Ryan gives an excellent interview and we’re sure all fans of Top Gear and The Grand Tour are really going to appreciate the new interview format that Top Gear America has decided to go with. It’s the direction the BBC (and lets be honest, Amazon) should both have gone long ago.

Ryan’s lap starts off pretty rough, but comical, and he doesn’t improve much through the rest of the lap. He does deserve praise for keeping a smile on his face the whole time, but a racecar driver he is not. While there isn’t much to learn from his technique, his segment is a must see for a good laugh.

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Picking up with the next scene, we have all three hosts in a classic Top Gear challenge segment learning to become 70’s stunt drivers. It’s a bit odd not seeing or hearing about the producers forcing the hosts to complete the channel, but new fans of the show won’t know any better.

Their first challenge? Complete a bootlegger turn. A bootlegger turn is one where you drive straight, pull the e-brake to lock up the rear tires, turn 180 degrees, and power out back the way you came. All three hosts manage to get this one done. This segment is great thanks to some humor, a lack of that “overly-scripted” feeling, and obviously, car stunts.

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Moving on to the second stunt, the boys now have to complete a reverse 180 flick. This stunt is when you put the car in reverse, drive at speed, crank the wheel from 3 to 6, and turn it around putting the car into gear and drive away.

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The final stunt of the segment calls for the hosts to drive down the street and perfectly slide into a parallel parking spot without crashing into the barriers on either side which are of course, baskets of fruit. While this may sound like a good premise, unfortunately the stunt is underwhelming which makes for a rather disappointing end to an otherwise solid episode.

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Top Gear America is still up and running strong and it looks like the first episode may not have been a fluke after all.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know in the comments!