Top Gear USA: American Muscle
|Topics: Top Gear
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June 5, 2014
Season 5, Episode 1
Episode aired June 3, 2014
After a DVR error delayed my watching of this episode, I thought that perhaps the ol' DVR made another error as the episode seemed to jump into the action in such a way that made it feel like I missed the first couple of segments. But the intro reassured me that I hadn't.
I kinda like this jump-right-into-the-action idea, as it really sets a good pace and it might help capture some new audience members who hang over from whatever show is on before Top Gear. Despite a painful first season, this show has grown and adapted into something very different from its origins and what its name implies but now stands on its own as a very good, often very funny, automotive program.
This week, the guys had to take resto-mod cars through some challenges and the two not eliminated got to race at the NHRA Gatornationals in Florida.
Rutledge's car was a bit bland in the paint department, but the 1972 Charger was definitely a good choice for not being a predictable Corvette, Mustang, or Camaro.
Speaking of predictable Mustangs, Tanner's 500 horsepower Eleanor Mustang was a bit lacking in the power department for a "muscle" car, and a bit gaudy in my opinion, but this car went over well with my wife.
The other predictable car, Adam's 1968 Camaro, had a proper restomod engine swap pumping out over 700 horsepower. The roll cage ruined the "resto" part of the equation, but probably necessary with that power. Why put six figures into a non-stock build if you're only going to take it a little bit out of Hyundai Genesis territory? This was, to us, unquestionably the best car there.
The laugh-out-loud moment of the show was in that Camaro's introduction, when Adam compared its engine noise to Chewbacca. Top Gear needs to make a short clip of this so that it can be shared with the world!
The rest of this is a major spoiler, and I recommend you watch the episode first.
Of the off-track challenges, let's skip right to the flies. Seriously, a box of flies? That had to require a bit of explaining when the cars were handed back over to their owners. I wonder if there are still flies occasionally buzzing around their interiors? And it's not like it was a Ford Focus they picked up from Hertz, these were lovingly, expensively, crafted cars seemingly on loan from private owners. Who DOES that to a car like that?
Once the challenges were over, and Tanner & Rut were the picks to go drag racing, their cars were swapped for a drag pack Dodge Challenger (Rut) and a factory racer Mustang (Tanner).
Drag racing really isn't "my thing," but the black, Viper-engined Challenger with huge Hoosier tires was just cool as hell. Dodge ought to play up its drag racing history more in its mainstream marketing. A street legal "drag pack" Challenger with a regular interior, Hemi V8, and fat street slicks would be a wonderful sight at so many cruise nights.
Of course Tanner was going to win the best-of-three race, but the really impressive driving was by Rutledge, getting a little overenthusiastic launching into the third race and scraping the back bumper in a wheelstand, but still keeping it off the wall. I thought he was going to land on the wall, and when he didn't I was sure he was going to spin it. Neither happened.
Exhibition races are about putting on a show, and Rutledge definitely brought the entertainment to that event as well as the program this week.
Best Car, Street: Adam's 1968 Camaro
Best Car, Strip: Drag Pack 2011 Dodge Challenger
Best Driver: Rutledge Wood
Show Rating: 7/10. I'd watch that again sometime.
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