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Auditioning for Top Gear USA

Frequent readers of this space know that we at Car Lust are huge fans of the UK-based but internationally recognized automotive show Top Gear. It's one of those rare shows that is so compelling, so funny, and on occasion even so touching, that it transcends its subject. My wife, for example, has an implacable lifetime immunity to the car lust virus, but even she enjoys watching Top Gear just to see where the blokes will be going and in what kind of madness they will be engaging. It's exactly the kind of show that we at Car Lust would make if we had the money and the talent to do so. In fact, I'm guessing that James May and I are both drones serving the same slow-driving, bad-car-loving hive mind.

Given all this, you'd think that we would be excited about the official announcement that the oft-rumored American version of Top Gear is going forward. Just just imagine a show in which the winning Top Gear formula of irreverence and a uniquely honest brand of automotive commentary was applied towards American vehicles. That sounds like a dream come true, doesn't it?

It's an interesting idea, but like many of the commenters on the Top Gear bog, I'm worried. I'm wary that Americanizing Top Gear will flatten out the simultaneously dry and over-the-top humor that makes Top Gear so special; that the wry insights will be dumbed down to match the perceived tastes of the American audience, and that the chemistry between the new presenters will be rather more forced than the effortless interplay that makes the original Top Gear so much fun.

I am open-minded about the idea of an American Top Gear, and I understand that it's unfair to expect it to be exactly the same as its legendary big brother. Clearly there's some potential here; the challenge featured in the first trailer appears to include such Car Lust fodder as a Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe and a massive Cadillac De Ville Coupe. If matched up with the right set of presenters, an American Top Gear could avoid the pitfalls I mentioned above and wind up as a pretty neat show.

Unfortunately, my biggest concerns involve the choice of presenters--rally driver Tanner Foust, NASCAR analyst Rutledge Wood, and comedian Adam Ferrera. I'm sure all three are decent guys, but I'm worried that they come off with so little personality in their Q&As (here are Foust's, Wood's, and Ferrera's). I'm even more worried that none of them has a background in automotive journalism as the three Brits do. That combination seems dangerous--the Americans might be able to replicate the antics, but without the chemistry or incisive, honest insights that the three Brits offer, I worry that the whole thing will all seem more like Jackass-style buffoonery than anything else.

As you might expect, I think all the American Top Gear needs is a little dose of the honesty and wit that all of you bring to Car Lust. So given that, I think we should all fill out our own Top Gear US Q&As and make a thoroughly pointless and irrelevant push for some Car Lust representation on Top Gear US. I'll start, but feel free to submit your own answers in the comment section.

Given some of the difficulty some have had with our comments lately, it might be a good idea to copy your selection into Notepad or something similar before submitting, so that if the Typepad comment system loses your comment it won't be completely lost in the ether.

What's in your garage? I have a 240-horsepower Honda Accord and a 110-horsepower Audi sports coupe; those two cars would both make a great deal more sense if I could somehow swap those horsepower numbers. Besides the cars, my garage also contains a bicycle that I don't ride and an oil spot that is positioned, purely coincidentally, underneath the Audi's engine block.

What's the fastest you've ever driven? I'm going to demur on that specific question, on the grounds that it may incriminate me. However, the least intelligent thing I've done in a car is traversing a full block of narrow, slick Seattle street nearly sideways in a Ford Mustang GT, crab-style, with full throttle and opposite lock canceling each other out nicely. I still shudder to think what might have happened had the rear wheels hooked up.

Who or what caused your worst car crash? The hubris of youth, manifesting itself in my misplaced faith in the combination of my Acura Integra's brakes and my reflexes. That didn't end well--twice.

What's your dream car? A 1986 Saab 900 SPG. It's outdated today, but at the time it was a slick, smooth, and sophisticated. It combined Saab character, contemporary muscle-car acceleration, the Jaguar XJ-S' penchant for high-speed cruising, and all the utility of a small station wagon. It was a world-class performance car with a hunchbacked profile and a whale-tail spoiler.

What was the first car you owned? My first car was a 1986 Toyota Celica GT hatchback, a lovely little car that I purchased for a mere $900 but that featured the best driver's seat I have ever had the pleasure to sample. Unfortunately, that car met a tragic end in 2000 when it was driven into by a 16-year-old girl who had only had her license for two weeks. It was a sadly fratricidal crash; the implement of my Celica's destruction was actually its big brother, a 1980s Toyota Supra.

What car do you hate most in all the world? The Saab 9-7X. As a Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV with a Saab badge, it was a cynically badge-engineered vehicle with no respect for the tradition of Saab and absolutely no honest benefit to offer the consumer. I saw a 9-7X on the road several days ago, and I was sorely tempted to immolate it.

Why film an American version of Top Gear? The cynic in me would ask, "Why indeed?" But, more charitably, America has its own interesting set of vehicles and unique relationship with those vehicles, and that could represent some interesting new editorial ground to break.

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version? I'm tempted to answer that Top Gear US will be differentiated from the UK version by its relative lack of quality and popularity. In terms of style, Top Gear US can't ride as heavily on the charisma of its presenter--at least not at first, until the audience has become familiar with those presenters.

What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done? For sheer laughs, I'd probably choose the amphibious challenge or the Volkswagen Scirocco ad. For overall quality, the Vietnam special. But as a symbol of what makes Top Gear great, I'd choose the used Porsche challenge that appeared relatively early on--it featured some interesting cars, a lot of laughs, and some misadventures that didn't feel forced or staged. It was just another episode, really, but I was transifxed the first time I watched it.

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK? Richard Hammond is the funniest of the three, and Jeremy Clarkson is clearly the straw that stirs the drink--the show just wouldn't work without him. But my favorite is easily James May. I love his wit, his sense of history, his self-deprecation, and his sense of cars. He's the one of the three with whom I would most like to grab a drink.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US? In terms of artistic success, it just has to be honest. I'd love if it was as hilarious and truly moving as the UK series can occasionally be, but more than anything the American series has to find its own voice. That voice has to both tell the truth and be honest to what it is. The US series could fail by being uninteresting or by failing to bring in an audience, but the worst failure would be to either pull its punches to avoid offending automakers or to try too hard to strike the same tone as the UK series when it hasn't earned that trust or involvement from the viewers yet.

--Chris H.

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I could do it. I really can't help but to be honest. And I'd love the speed tests.

--Big Chris

What's in your garage?
I think the more appropriate question would be if I OWN a garage.

What's the fastest you've ever driven?
105 mph. With a minivan.

Who or what caused your worst car crash?
Thankfully I haven't been in a catastrophic accident (yet), I have been in many a close call (though that's a story for another day) with the worst crash being part of a chain accident. Thankfully, the airbags didn't go off.

What's your dream car?
1977-1981 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SE 4-speed with the WS-6 handling package.

What was the first car you owned?
1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

What car do you hate most in all the world?
Toyota Yaris. It pisses me off that poor people have to buy this half-assed performer with uncomfortable interior, and it pisses me even more that there are people who modify them and like 'em. They're not even truly ugly. It's like a mix of cute and ugly. Yet there are so many of them here that I may be slowly becoming numb to the feeling... until I see some douche that spent thousands of $$$ on wheels, exhaust, suspension, paint and sound system. >:(

Why film an American version of Top Gear?
Really. Why?

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version?
It's gonna be over-the-top, but it won't be the same. There will always be something missing. I think the mentality for this one is to view the thing as something that's similar in name only. Oh, there may be A LOT of host changes, like America's Got Talent... and American Idol... and...

What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done?
I'm not a loyal watcher, but for now it's the McLaren vs Veyron
comparison because it was so enlightening. Plus you should've seen my smile when the McLaren pulled out ahead first while the Veyron driver was freaking out!!

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK?
Doesn't the Stig count?

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US?
I seriously don't know. I'm really bad at gauging American tastes.

I'd also love the opportunity to co-host this show! Hopefully get to travel, meet lots of new folks, and play with some really exciting machinery, both new and old.

Lots of great questions here. I'll simplify these answers as much as possible:

What's in your garage?

http://www.carlustblog.com/2009/09/that-car-guys-cars.html

What's the fastest you've ever driven?

The fastest was 158 in a 40. On a motorcycle. At night. The dumbest was 108 on 6 inches of packed snow. It took a mile or two to get up to that speed, and a mile or two to slow down. But man, did we put out a big roostertail!

Who or what caused your worst car crash?

Thankfully, after driving a car since 1973, sometimes senseably, I've never had a crash. The closest was when a deer was knocked into my Ranger, but the insurance company calls that a comprehensive claim, so officially it's not an accident.

What's your dream car?

To drive? A mint condition Porsche 928. To ride in? http://www.carlustblog.com/2009/08/1969-lincoln-continental-executive-limousine.html

What was the first car you owned?

A 1972 Chevy Vega. http://www.carlustblog.com/2008/11/happy-thanksgiv.html I got it less than a year old, before it started self-destructing, and before anybody knew how awful these things would be.

What car do you hate most in all the world?

Probably a Honda Fit. A Prius comes in a close second, if not a tie. The Fit looks like such a weenie-mobile, with all the wrong proportions. (Note: The upcoming Chevy Spark and Nissan Joke ( ...er, Juke) make me wretch. I may do a post soon on these dreadful things.)

Why film an American version of Top Gear?

Ummm... because most everything else on American TV today is rubbish? Reality shows, graphic crime scene programmes, not to mention the constant, irritating superimposed previews of what's coming up next plastered on the tube during the show. Put the ads on during the commercials, folks. During the show, that's MY time... I paid for it. Oh, and the network logo in the corner irritates me too.

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version?

I haven't seen it yet, so I really can only guess. My hope is that they travel all over our great land and expose the best of the American spirit. With all the (Dare I say it) political division in our country these days, we need something to bring us all back together. And if they do it and make us laugh, then so much the better.

What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done?

Season 9, Episode 3, I believe. You know, the one where they fly into Miami, almost get murdered, drive to New Orleans through the South, and nearly get killed by the rednecks. Oh, it also has Big Stig. Since I've lived in the South all my life, I can say that the episode's depiction of the area is RIGHT ON!

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK?

I can't give a favourite. Please let me say that the chemistry between the three of them is what makes it happen. The show just would not be the same without any one of them.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US?

If it gets renewed.

Cheers! ~TCG (Chuck)

What's in your garage?
88 Chevy S-10
96 Honda Civic
01 Dodge Caravan
82 Honda Goldwing
2 GT mountain bikes and 3 strollers.

What's the fastest you've ever driven?
145mph. I saw 162 as a passenger once. I had an 84 VW Rabbit up to 105 which is the scariest thing on this list.

Who or what caused your worst car crash?
One minor accident (crushed my truck door) that was 5% my fault, 95% old guy's fault. That's my only crash. And I've only ever had 1 speeding ticket, for doing 7 over in a 55. That's not to say I haven't deserved 77,000 other tickets...

What's your dream car?
Car? Singular? This IS Car Lust after all. If I had to pick just one, it would be the 1969 ZL1 Corvette Stingray Convertible. A very close second would be a 1969 AMC AMX with the 390 motor that pumped out 420hp.

What was the first car you owned?
78 1/2 Toyota Corolla with a 5 speed and 2 hamsters powering it under the hood. Yes it was a half year car. I don't recommend them.

What car do you hate most in all the world?
Ford Tempo.

Why film an American version of Top Gear?
Because taking driving cues from a group who live on an island smaller than some of our states doesn't seem to really be the wisest.

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version?
I don't have an annoying accent. We can shoot on location at thousands of amazing places in the US. Pair me and Chris Hafner as hosts with a rotating 3rd person and we'll do America proud. Plus we could visit all the diverse types of auto races in the USA and get to drive those cars too. Dibs on Sprint Car at Knoxville, IA.

What's your favorite (this is the USA, no "u") thing that Top Gear has ever done?
Taking the Veyron to Plaid Speed. Ariel Atom is a close second.

Who's your favorite presenter from the three guys in the UK?
Jeremy.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US?
It doesn't get relegated to Speed Channel. Long term would be that Jeremy Clarkson from UK begs to guest host on our version.

--Big Chris

What's in your garage? A variety of vehicles, that I appreciate for different purposes. A 95 Audi S6 Avant with the glorious 20v I5 turbocharged rally-bred engine with light modifications, a 1989 Prelude Si 4WS, and a 91 Civic LX for commuting. I also have a 68 Czech motorcycle, a drag boat from the 1970s with a small block chevy, a full suspension Specialized mountain bike, and a retro Peugeot triathalon road bike.

What's the fastest you've ever driven? I’ve hit a GPS verified 140mph in a modified Subaru SVX. I then slowed down to 115 and turned on the cruise control for a few hours. I love speed, and I eluding Johnny Law.
Who or what caused your worst car crash? An idiot who failed to use a turn signal, and drove into the side of my car. Had she been using a signal, I would have been aware that she was mentally deficient and trying to turn left from the right lane of a one way street.

What's your dream car? A Jaguar XJ220. No wait, a Lancia Stratos. No wait, a GC8 Impreza wagon with a full STi swap. No wait, a Renault Alpine A110. No wait, a Ferrari 355. No wait, a Detamaso Mangusta. Clearly, I have not made up my mind.
What was the first car you owned? My first car was a 1968 Dodge Charger 4spd that I acquired by working two jobs everyday during the summer of 96. It was loud, obnoxious, unreliable, and utterly fantastic. Unfortunately, I feel this will be my first and last musclecar, as the big name auctions have driven up prices to totally absurd levels. Musclecars are no longer “fun”, they’re now an old man’s hobby.

What car do you hate most in all the world? The 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. This car singlehandedly represents everything wrong with America, and GM. It’s fat, heavy, lazy, large, pointless, and inefficient. The styling is godawful, the headlights look like Kermit the frog, the fascia is completely generic, the taillights have nothing in common with the rest of the vehicle, and there are large arcs cut into the sides of the sheet metal, that don’t even line up at the same spot. The rear bumper is an uninspired melted blob, and at the last minute it seems they realized they’d forgotten about reverse lights, and shoved them into it when production was almost finalized. It’s like they had different design teams working on different aspects of the vehicle, and none of them talked to each other. On top of all this, they had at least 4 “Nascar” special editions, which clearly shows how ignorant the typical owner must be to purchase something with the performance of a cavalier with the efficiency of a camaro, and the handling of a park avenue. Way to go GM. Way to go.

Why film an American version of Top Gear? I think Top Gear largely ignores American automobiles, and showing some of the gems of the used market here would be extremely entertaining. Another reason would be the wide variety of climates, scenery, and culture. Imagine a full size truck comparison in New York City, a compact car challenge on the trails in Arizona, etc. Also, it’d be nice to show stars in reasonably priced cars that I’ve actually heard of.

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version? Well, for one, I think it isn’t going to be successful. I have a feeling the show will be dumbed down into a wreck as many used cars as possible type of challenge, while learning nothing. I feel that there will be no appreciation for older strange cars, and I feel that the show will push certain brands and products. The original top gear is broadcast on the BBC, which has it’s own funding through the British government, therefore the presenters can say whatever they want. This “American” version will undoubtedly piss off sponsors and advertisers who pay money to put their name on that channel, thus some of their opinions will be silenced and some things will be banned from discussing.
What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done? I thought the used Porsche challenge was excellent, as it was basically what Car Lust is all about. However, in terms of sheer audacity, nothing beats trying to launch a reliant robin into space. That was incredible!

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK? I don’t have one. What makes the show special is how different the three are, and how they interact together. Jeremy is a brash asshole, Hammond is a speed freak, and May is a classic English gentleman.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US? No sponsors. Not dumbed down into explosions and crashes to appease the masses.

All right, I'll bite...

==What's in your garage?==
A 2008 Kia Rio, a 2002 Honda Civic DX, and a 1964 Chevy C-10 pickup. I will note that, in the interest of fairness, I don't technically have a "garage", though, so these vehicles are parked at random locations around town.

==What's the fastest you've ever driven?==
Fast enough where I don't want my insurance agent seeing the answer. I will note that I routinely hit about 80 in rural parts of Nevada; in my defense, that's only five over.

==Who or what caused your worst car crash?==
A combination of ice, a twisty mountain road, and a complete lack of humility. I will note that the Lumina I rammed into a concrete wall at about 40 MPH was successfully driven home, even with a bent motor mount and a cracked battery. Of course, I didn't bother driving it after that.

==What's your dream car?==
I don't really have one dream car - part of the problem is I'm just as excited about insane dependability and incredible ruggedness as I am about straight-line performance and maneuverability. I appreciate the bulletproof dependability of a Mercedes-Benz W123 diesel and, in a sick sort of way, also appreciate the utter lack of performance of them. I also appreciate the wanton ugliness of mid-'70s Datsuns.

==What was the first car you owned?==
A red 1994 Dodge Shadow with a rather surprising amount of cargo room. That came in handy when I was moving to my college dorm room. It was also the first car I regularly worked on - since it was nothing more than a tarted up K-Car, it wasn't terribly difficult to figure out.

==What car do you hate most in all the world?==
The N-Body Malibu. In fact, I loathed that car so much that it's what my first post on Car Lust is all about. It was a poorly engineered, poorly built, poorly conceived abortion of an automobile that was ill-fit for personal or fleet consumption. When the revolution comes, I hope the accountants responsible for that thing are the first against the wall.

==Why film an American version of Top Gear?==
Because we need a humorous car show in this country. Heck, we just need a car show in this country that isn't a glorified tool informercial. How is it that the most automotive country on the planet doesn't have a single decent car show, save for an imported British show on extended cable? This makes no sense.

==How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version?==
I'm hoping the only serious difference will be in the cars and the abandonment of Clarkson's irredeemably irrational infatuation with Alfas. Realistically, though, I suspect much of the drier British humor will be abandoned, which will be a shame.

==What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done?==
I loved the Commie Car special - it showed with great humor and insight a part of the automotive world that Americans simply weren't exposed to. Unlike Europe, we weren't graced with Skodas, Trabants, Wartburgs, Ladas and the like, which almost seems like a shame. Almost.

==Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK?==
I'm all about Jeremy Clarkson. I'm a total shill for the guy. He's an automotive John Stewart, and, at least in my mind, that's a good thing.

==What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US?==
Don't get cancelled and don't get relegated to the "what channel is that?!" end of the satellite/cable lineup. The biggest problem with Top Gear UK here is distribution - it's hilarious and there are tons of fans here, but good luck finding it.

I can say why I believe the American version will never do well. Do you think the Americans could come up with anything as clever or pull it off with as much aplomb as Clarkson doing the auto skeet shoot, with a SPAS shotgun, 7.62-mm machine gun, and Gustav antitank gun? I'm afraid that Top Gear USA will become the automotive version of "Jackass" because that might be the demographic they'll want to play to.

I think the best thing they could have done (Or do) is to make their present program more accessible to us. After a few weeks, it should catch on, hopefully. This would be better than reruns of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "The Nanny," surely.

What's in your garage?

A 340hp Audi S4, a 140hp Yamaha FJR1300 and an embarrassingly underpowered Honda Shadow Spirit - destined for a satin-finish bobber job... someday.

What's the fastest you've ever driven?

130 in a Saab Turbo through the New Mexico desert. Most notable: 110 in a ‘67 225, chasing a Vette through rolling hills in southern Wisconsin.

Who or what caused your worst car crash?

An arrogant prick in a Monte Carlo, doing 60mph on a Chicago side street. T-boned and totalled my ‘69 Mach 1.

What's your dream car?

Bentley Continental Flying Spur/Audi S8/Lambo Gallardo/Range Rover Sport. A dream fleet, it seems. Anything with all-wheel drive and too, too, too much horsepower.

What was the first car you owned?

‘69 Mustang Mach 1 (see “worst Crash”, above)

What car do you hate most in all the world?

Prius. Nothing even comes close.

Why film an American version of Top Gear?

Because the original, as excellent as it is, has some political and cultural references that don’t translate well to the casual American viewer.

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version?

Hopefully just enough to address the reasons discussed above.

What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done?

The trek from the Amazon to the Pacific.

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK?

Jeremy Clarkson, the closest thing to a Libertarian the UK seems to have.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US?

When they don’t follow the confrontational reality show formula. Or any other American reality show formula, for that matter. Even if it bombs, I’d rather have an interesting show than another cookie-cutter mediocre waste of time.

What's in your garage?
1984 BMW 635CSi Euro-spec and 2006 Subaru Forester XT

What's the fastest you've ever driven?
140 MPH in a 2010 BMW M6 this Spring. And yes, that was on a racetrack, not the streets.

Who or what caused your worst car crash?
The most heartbreaking crash was when my 1999 VW GTI was hit by a drunk driver while it was parked, 2 months after I bought it. It never was the same afterwards.

What's your dream car?
Ferrari Testarossa. Call it cliche, I don't care. If you were born of a certain era, this is and always will be THE car to own.

What was the first car you owned?
1990 VW Cabriolet. I was and still am secure enough in my masculinity to appreciate this as nearly the hollowed Mk. 1 GTI with the bonus feature of a folding top.

What car do you hate most in all the world?
Hummer H3. The ultimate pretender.

Why film an American version of Top Gear?
Because the trend seems to be to take superior UK programs and water them down to US tastes since we can't come with ideas this good ourselves.

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version?
I expect the scenery in general to be a lot more boring. The main allure to me is the forbidden fruit cars I can't buy or even see in the US.

What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done?
"Cheap _____ Challenge". They're all reliably good, especially the '70s Supercar Challenge.

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK?
James May. The whipping boy of the show usually has the best insights when they give him a chance to talk.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US?
That I have a desire to continue tuning in after the first episode.

Adam Carolla made an NBC pilot for Top Gear USA a few years ago. He would've been a far better choice than any of these three guys.

What's in your garage?

99 Ford escort zx2 and 97 Jeep Cherokee XJ (but this one spends more time in my mechanic's garage than in mine).

What's the fastest you've ever driven?

Not a lot, probably 90 mph in European freeways.

Who or what caused your worst car crash?

Ice in Omaha.

What's your dream car?

I have the Cherokee, but I would like to have some American Iron, like a Challenger.


What was the first car you owned?

Ford Fiesta MK1, I loved that little bugger.

What car do you hate most in all the world?

Toyonda, overpriced dullness.

Why film an American version of Top Gear?
Everybody copies from another people.... it is OK.

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version?

At the beginning they will try to imitate the Brit's version, but I hope they can find their own style.

What's your favorite thing that Top Gear has ever done?

Anytime they get cheapo cars and do things with them... supercars reviews are kind of boring... they are always the same.

Who's your favorite presenter from the three guys in the UK?

I like all of them, but Jezza is the quintessential British a..h.le.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US?

If they can find their own style, it will be great.

Actually, I would like to know how much of TG UK is staged? Probably a lot.

What's in your garage?

2006 BMW 325Ci and a 2002 Ford Taurus. As soon as I sat in the BMW and turned the key, I knew it was perfect for me. It immediately brought back great memories of my 91 318is (which we will revisit a couple of questions later). Bought it from a Toyota dealer with the transferable CPO warranty, and it has been perfectly reliable so far. The Taurus is my wife's car, she is small and likes the feeling of a big car. It's pushing 100K and is starting to nickle and dime us a bit.

What's the fastest you've ever driven?

110MPH in my 2001 Prelude. I would be scared to go much faster than that on a public road but I'd love to push the limits on a racetrack someday.

Who or what caused your worst car crash?

Lack of sleep caused my worst crash. Driving home in my 91 318is from my girlfriend's (now wife) house one night around 3AM, about 5 minutes from home after an hour drive. I fell asleep on a 4 lane divided highway doing about 55MPH. I drifted over to the right and hit a curb at an entrance to an office park. The deployment of the airbag woke me up and the car rolled about 5 times before resting on the passenger side with the engine still running. Tore up my left hand pretty good but other than that I was miraculously unscathed. The combination of the airbag, seatbelt and solid windshield/roof structure of the BMW saved my life.

What's your dream car?

There is no way I could pick one car but some include BMW E24 M6, 1977 Pontiac Trans Am SE (with upgraded drivetrain so I could actually burn rubber like Bo Darville), Singer Porsche 911 in Racing Orange, 1962 Ferrari 250 SWB. That should do nicely.

What was the first car you owned?

1986 Toyota Camry. A perfect example of how Toyota established their reputation for solid dependable cars. Did what it needed to do, and only got rid of it when the auto trans died at 90K (which kind of refutes the reliability rep, but whatever). Could it be that I miss that car?

What car do you hate most in all the world?
The current generation Chrysler Sebring sedan. How a car company could release something like that in today's market is mind boggling. It's the only car I've ever driven that actually made me angry that it existed.

Why film an American version of Top Gear?

While I'm a huge fan of Top Gear, sometimes the anti-US vitriol from Jezza can get tiring. Not all American reboots are disasters (see The Office).

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version?

It shouldn't be too different. It doesn't need to copy UK TG exactly, but it should retain the car enthusiasm that is the #1 key to the original. It needs to highlight the unique passion for cars that can be found all over the USA.

What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done?

Budget Supercars. It starts off on a high note with James' car arriving for the first challenge on a flatbed, and keeps getting better from there.

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK?

James May. I would love to have a pint (or three) with him. Plus his Toy Stories series is highly entertaining.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US?

They can't be afraid to criticize new cars, in between the reckless stunts. If I add it to my DVR queue, then it will be a success in my eyes.

Ditto on the Adam Carolla comment above.

I've watched a couple of episodes of Battle of the Supercars on the Speed channel, with none other than our mysterious Tanner Faust. On that show he is a dry, boring and uninspiring twit. All three guys on that show pretty much make me want to run them over with something heavy, like a BMW 7 series or the Lincoln Memorial.

Suffice it to say that I'm not optimistic about the starting line-up for USA TG. They should have done whatever it took to get Adam Carolla on-board, and maybe the occational Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld.

That said, we must remember that the current line-up at TG is not the original line-up. If USA TG can keep some steam they maybe able to pull something good out of the air with a change in the hosts. Time will tell.

Let's cut to the chase....I should be a host: professional TV news experience with a love of the offbeat and weird cars.
Come on, I have a Studebaker Avanti and a George Barris custom...and restored a Jeep. I've driven a Porsche Carrera 4, a Rolls Royce, been chauffered in a Daimler limo (owned by the Sheriff of Nottingham, go figure) and taken on a 0 to 60 to 0 thrill ride in a V-12 Ferrari. I've hung with Jill Hall, Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney, and Barris and Foose.
Once, I parked in front of an auto parts store in Abilene, Texas waiting for the owner of a McClaren F-1 to return to his car...just to say, Wow!

Most of all, I'm not a car snob. I've owned a new Mustang II (in college), a well-used sub 1-liter Toyota Starlet while living in England, and a new Mercedes....so I've seen both sides of the automotive world. Sadly, I know not everyone can afford a 3-series BMW...which many "experts" see as "affordable".
Unlike most car magazine writers, I know there is more to a car than just being able to drive fast.
Sure, I'd love a Dodge Daytona (the 1970 model, not the K-Car variant from the 80s) but I also appreciate a 1930 Packard cowl cowl pheaton or a '14 Stearns touring car.

Let's celebrate the wonderful world of cars....let's worship the McClarens and make fun of Tarbants of the world.
But let's be inclusive and ditch Clarkson's anti-American bias (Speaking of the new Mustang he complemented it by saying you don't HAVE to be married to your cousin to drive one).

Let's make it fun (unlike PBS's ancient Autoweek) and cool.
To the producers...let's take lunch... :)

What's in your garage? A variety of vehicles, that I appreciate for different purposes. A 95 Audi S6 Avant with the glorious 20v I5 turbocharged rally-bred engine with light modifications, a 1989 Prelude Si 4WS, and a 91 Civic LX for commuting. I also have a 68 Czech motorcycle, a drag boat from the 1970s with a small block chevy, a full suspension Specialized mountain bike, and a retro Peugeot triathalon road bike.

What's the fastest you've ever driven? I’ve hit a GPS verified 140mph in a modified Subaru SVX. I then slowed down to 115 and turned on the cruise control for a few hours. I love speed, and I eluding Johnny Law.

Who or what caused your worst car crash? An idiot who failed to use a turn signal, and drove into the side of my car. Had she been using a signal, I would have been aware that she was mentally deficient and trying to turn left from the right lane of a one way street.

What's your dream car? A Jaguar XJ220. No wait, a Lancia Stratos. No wait, a GC8 Impreza wagon with a full STi swap. No wait, a Renault Alpine A110. No wait, a Ferrari 355. No wait, a Detamaso Mangusta. Clearly, I have not made up my mind.

What was the first car you owned? My first car was a 1968 Dodge Charger 4spd that I acquired by working two jobs everyday during the summer of 96. It was loud, obnoxious, unreliable, and utterly fantastic. Unfortunately, I feel this will be my first and last musclecar, as the big name auctions have driven up prices to totally absurd levels. Musclecars are no longer “fun”, they’re now an old man’s hobby.

What car do you hate most in all the world? The 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. This car singlehandedly represents everything wrong with America, and GM. It’s fat, heavy, lazy, large, pointless, and inefficient. The styling is godawful, the headlights look like Kermit the frog, the fascia is completely generic, the taillights have nothing in common with the rest of the vehicle, and there are large arcs cut into the sides of the sheet metal, that don’t even line up at the same spot. The rear bumper is an uninspired melted blob, and at the last minute it seems they realized they’d forgotten about reverse lights, and shoved them into it when production was almost finalized. It’s like they had different design teams working on different aspects of the vehicle, and none of them talked to each other. On top of all this, they had at least 4 “Nascar” special editions, which clearly shows how ignorant the typical owner must be to purchase something with the performance of a cavalier with the efficiency of a camaro, and the handling of a park avenue. Way to go GM. Way to go.

Why film an American version of Top Gear? I think Top Gear largely ignores American automobiles, and showing some of the gems of the used market here would be extremely entertaining. Another reason would be the wide variety of climates, scenery, and culture. Imagine a full size truck comparison in New York City, a compact car challenge on the trails in Arizona, etc. Also, it’d be nice to show stars in reasonably priced cars that I’ve actually heard of.

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version? Well, for one, I think it isn’t going to be successful. I have a feeling the show will be dumbed down into a wreck as many used cars as possible type of challenge, while learning nothing. I feel that there will be no appreciation for older strange cars, and I feel that the show will push certain brands and products. The original top gear is broadcast on the BBC, which has it’s own funding through the British government, therefore the presenters can say whatever they want. This “American” version will undoubtedly piss off sponsors and advertisers who pay money to put their name on that channel, thus some of their opinions will be silenced and some things will be banned from discussing.

What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done? I thought the used Porsche challenge was excellent, as it was basically what Car Lust is all about. However, in terms of sheer audacity, nothing beats trying to launch a reliant robin into space. That was incredible!

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK? I don’t have one. What makes the show special is how different the three are, and how they interact together. Jeremy is a brash asshole, Hammond is a speed freak, and May is a classic English gentleman.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US? No sponsors. Not dumbed down into explosions and crashes to appease the masses.

What's in your garage? A 1978 Mustang II with a new(ish) 5.0 liter EFI. It rawks,

What's the fastest you've ever driven? I don't know, the speedometer only goes up to 85.

Who or what caused your worst car crash? A sand dune creeping across the road.

What's your dream car? A 1978 Diamond Jubilee Edition Ford Thunderbird, suitably modified to blow the doors off of most anything out there and still look cool.

What was the first car you owned? A 1975 4-door AMC Hornet. It's probably still running, somewhere. . . . .

What car do you hate most in all the world? The Prius. Just looking at one makes me want to eat an oil-covered lesbian Jewish baby seal.

Why film an American version of Top Gear? Because the Brits just don't *get* the inherent wonderfullness of a 380-hp pickup truck.
How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version? Probably a lot less funny, but have more cars of interest to Americans.

What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done? The roundup of Communistical cars. I believe James May saying "So now we see, Mister Clarkson. . ." in his best Russian Bond villain voice. is perhaps one of the funniest moments ever filmed.

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK? James May largely because we were both cut from the same nerdy cloth.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US? Different enough from the original that you know it's not just a knockoff, funny with an American twist, and not a transparent excuse for product placement. Oh, and if they hire Jill Wagner as a roving correspondent. In a bikini.

Well, you Yanks have your work cut out for ya. Let's see if you guys can even match the awesomeness of this trailer:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP2BsgJsSFk

Fun game!

Current Cars: 2005 RX-8 6MT, 1999 Miata (track car) and 2004 CR-V EX.
Fastest I've ever Driven: ~90 on the highway. the tracks and auto-x events I have done with the Miata haven't gotten above that.
Worst car crash wasn't that significant. Rear-ended in stop-and-go traffic by some cell-phone-jabbering bint in a Tundra - my Ford Ranger was pretty much unscathed although insurance replaced the bed.
Dream Car? Hard to say as I tend to have realistic goals. A current-gen Corvette Z06 I could see myself owning some day.
First Car? 1982 Honda Accord 4-dr sedan; 5spd. Received along with my driver's license in 1995. Dubbed the 'Blue Rattler' by my friends, it self-destructed over the next two years.
Most Hated Car? Well, the Crosstour makes me want to stab out my eyes, Oedipus Rex-style, every time I see one. In general, big fat softroader SUVs (like an H2) are probably the worst all around.
Why Top Gear USA? If they spend as much time dealing with the oddities and wonderful, strange artifacts of the last 110 years of automotive history (and less on current supercars) then it will justify its existence.
Favorite BBC Top Gear? I tend to love their cheap car challenges the most. Or the British Leyland episode. Or the Botswana/Vietnam/Bolivia specials...
Favorite presenter? You need all three to make it work, but I think Jezza is the most essential of them.
Success definition for TG USA? Little to no mention of NASCAR, no glowing reviews of terrible GM crap because they pay the bills via advertising, and a tone similar to BBC (and not, say, 'Jackass') will get things off to the right start.

Why would I watch a pale imitation of the real thing? Derivative shows are so very often dreck and drivel compared to their forebears.

I'm coming a little late to the party, but here goes---

What's in your garage? -- 2009 Hyundai Accent, 2008 Volkswagen GTI, 2007 Mazda 5, 1948 Frazer Manhattan

What's the fastest you've ever driven? -- I once got the CRX up into triple digits on a straight, smooth, and very unpatrolled stretch of US 40 in Licking County, Ohio.

Who or what caused your worst car crash? -- Hydroplaning.

What's your dream car? -- Either a meticulously-restored dark blue 1984-85 CRX with a few go-fasters slipped into the engine bay, or an Avanti in stunning pastel turquoise with a manual transmission and some suspension tweaking

What was the first car you owned? -- 1978 Chevrolet Monza

What car do you hate most in all the world? -- 1978 Chevrolet Monza

Why film an American version of Top Gear? -- Why not?

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version? -- It probably won't be as fun.

What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done? -- Jeremy Clarkson's review of the history of the British auto industry

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK? -- Clarkson, for his Monty Pythonesque wit.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US? -- When they start promoting the Top Gear/Hannah Montana crossover episode, or the Top Gear guys are asked to be guest judges on American Idol, you'll know you've arrived.

What's in your garage?

197 HP Honda Civic Si sedan 200 HP Acura TSX 194 HP BMW 325is

What's the fastest you've ever driven?

154 mph in a 928S

Who or what caused your worst car crash?

I reached for something under the passenger seat in my Audi 4000CS quattro and drove through a guardrail and off a 32 foot cliff.

What's your dream car?

Lamborghini Muira SV

What was the first car you owned?

'71 Plymouth Scamp. First car registered in my name was an '88 Ford Festiva

What car do you hate most in all the world?

Any BMW from the E65 745i on.

Why film an American version of Top Gear?

Lack of good ideas about how to make a show about cars.

How is Top Gear US going to be different to the UK version?

Perhaps even worse?

What's your favourite thing that Top Gear has ever done?

Giving Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz the keys.

Who's your favourite presenter from the three guys in the UK?

Hammond is the least of three bores.

What will be your definition of success for Top Gear US?

First episode of season 2.

There is a sweet trailer & teaser out!
http://top-gear-usa.blogspot.com/2010/10/sneak-peak.html

Doesn't look like the show will be too bad :-?

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