Every car buff I know watches Top Gear almost religiously. When rumor of an American version of the show was first brought to light, everybody I talked to assumed that it’s going to be terrible. Phrases such as “poorly-executed ripoff,” “sacrilege,” and “shameless capitalism” were often used to describe what the American version would be.
Those are some pretty harsh assumptions, and I can’t say I wasn’t in the same boat. But after months of back-and-forth with details, the American version of Top Gear was official. Hosts Tanner Foust, Adam Ferrara, and Rutledge Wood took on the spotlight roles, and the show will first premiere on the History Channel on November 21, 2010.
History Channel was kind enough to send me the rough cuts for the first three episodes of Top Gear America. After watching them with an open mind, I’m happy to say it’s pretty damn good. Initially, I was afraid that the show would attempt to be just like the British Top Gear, copying the host’s styles and mannerisms.
That’s what Top Gear Australia did, and it turned out to be awful. Fortunately, Tanner, Adam, and Rutledge have their own personalities and provide a unique atmosphere. They’re a different kind of funny and charming, and a bit more in-your-face, as Americans tend to be.
In fact, the show overall is more aggressive and brash, and I like that. It’s also very proudly American. The first episode features a Dodge Viper, with which Tanner tears up the pavement. Then, in typical Top Gear fassion, the car is chased by a Cobra attack helicopter through a small town in Georgia. I won’t ruin it for you though, be sure to check out the premier on November 21.
The format is nearly identical to the British show, as expected. They have the car reviews, the challenges, our own Stig, a Power Lap board, and even the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment, but we call it “Big Star, Small Car.” It’s important to keep in mind that the show isn’t copying the other Top Gear…it is Top Gear. It’s just the American version.
One reason it’s particularly nice to have a version based here in the States is that the theme will be more relevant to us. Prices are given in dollars instead of pounds, all the cars shown are available here, and all the places they travel will be more recognizable. In fact one of the segments in the third episode was shot about an hour from where I live.
After the first show airs, be sure to come back here and let us know what you thought. And even if you don’t like the first episode, don’t give up. I think it gets better with each episode.