Tag Archives: antron brown

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.

bullittmustang

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.

ryan1

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.

huracan

huracan2

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.

filmrig1

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.

filmrig3

filmrig4

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.

dirtbike1

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?

stig

huracantrack2

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.

classic2

classic1

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.

ryan2

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.

stunt1

stunt2

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.

stunt 3

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.

stunt4

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!

Top Gear America: Episode 1: Made in America [Review]

Recently Top Gear has had a bit of a rough go. From the separation of its famed hosts, Clarkson, Hammond, and May, and their subsequent success on Amazon’s, The Grand Tour, to the utterly disappointing performance of replacement lead host Chris Evans, which saw the follow up season of Top Gear U.K.’s ratings take a nosedive to their lowest level ever, with only 1.9 million viewers turning in to the season finale.

After Evan’s departure, Top Gear has continued to have a tough time overall, with generally mixed reviews at best, so the question was, will the replacement for Top Gear U.S.A, aptly named Top Gear America, be any better?

It’s with a sigh of relief that I can confidently say, “yes”, it is in fact better. Not only is it better than Top Gear U.S.A, it’s quite easily better than the current iteration of Top Gear U.K.

hosts1.png

Featuring three new hosts, NHRA Top Fuel champ, Antron Brown, British motoring journalist, Tom “Wookie” Ford, and actor, William Fichtner. The hosts clearly fill archetypes any Top Gear fan will instantly recognize. One surprise is the chemistry the hosts seem to already have. While far away from the classic trio, they are themselves easily outpacing the current U.K. hosts. Maybe the BBC sent them all away on a team building expedition before filming.

The premier episode features the typical Top Gear segments we’ve come to know and love. There’s an adventure/challenge feature, a celebrity guest who drives a reasonably priced car, and a couple of reviews.

The adventure segment takes our new hosts south of the border to Mexico. Their challenge, to drive two Baja Beetles 212 miles from Mexico, back to the U.S.A, in the spirit of the famed Baja 1000 race.

baja1.png

While the script seems a bit forced at times, the segment is actually really well done overall. There’s the great cinematics that we’ve all come to expect from Top Gear, fun action clips, and a some good humor, even if it is a bit forced, such as where one of the Beetles “runs out of gas” or really without giving too much away,  the entire premise of the segment.

The review of the new Acura NSX is a shining feature in the new Top Gear America’s roster. While recent reviews on both Top Gear U.K. and Top Gear U.S.A, before it ended, were pretty bad, if not outright unwatchable, Tom “Wookie” Ford does an excellent job giving the NSX a well deserved review. No condescension, no ridiculous out of left field opinions, and no unnecessary hype. While the back in the studio follow up has the scripted me vs you opinions built in, it does little to take away from the actual segment.

nsx2.png

nsx1.png

Top Gear America’s celebrity segment is now far improved from even the classic Top Gear.  This episode features professional baseball player (now retired) C.J. Wilson. The segment was brief, to the point, and very well done. The chemistry between the guests and the host was there, and the questions related to the show. We didn’t see any of the over the top nonsense from recent episodes of  Top Gear U.K. and none of the crazy celebrity “appearances” that many hated in The Grand Tour’s Celebrity Brain Crash.  The actual lap on TGA’s new track, located in Las Vegas, Nevada, using a 2017 Honda Civic, was done right as well. Although it lacked any drama, and the track itself is a bit underwhelming overall, it set a good direction for the show and Top Gear as a whole.

civic1.png

The other segment of the show, a review of the new Ford Raptor, was done by William Fichtner. I’ll go ahead and say it now, William is the absolute star of the show and does the segment, and the whole show, masterfully. Whoever managed to get him to do the show deserves a raise because he really does carry the show. Fichtner may be the first solid lead on any Top Gear since Clarkson.

truck1.png

Fichtner manages to capture some of that original Top Gear essence that I think we’ve all been missing since the trio’s departure. The soulfulness, the genuineness, the style that Top Gear so desperately needed, and used to have in excess. If you watch the new episode for one reason, it should be his segment on the Raptor.

raptor1.png

So, Top Gear America is off to a great start. Where does that leave us now? The Grand Tour premiers with its second season on Amazon Prime soon and if there’s any indication based off last season, it’s going to be a hit. Top Gear U.K. is still struggling to regain ground, but may very well be recovering, and  as for Top Gear America, it just may be the BBC’s new shining star.

truck2.png

Hopefully they can keep it up, all of us in the automotive community need a good show like this. Let us know what you thought of the episode in the comments, and be sure to like and share!

Stay tuned to Automoguls for reviews of every new episode all season long, as well as reviews of The Grand Tour, Top Gear U.K, and much more.

Image Source: BBC America