The popular automobile TV series Top Gear premieres with a brand new American version on The History Channel on Sunday, November 21 at 10:00 PM ET. Co-hosts Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood recently held a conference call to discuss the new series and here's what the had to say:
The Camaro is being reintroduced into the American muscle car market again, I wanted to know your take on it and if it's a good thing or bad thing in your opinion?
Adam Ferrara: Any time you can get a muscle car back it's a good thing. It's a nice - it's a great car. Backing up is a little bit of a problem because it's tough to see out of it, the visibility. It's a little chopped for me. But other than that anytime I can get my hands on the muscle car I will.
Tanner Foust: That would definitely be Adam's take on it. I love the fact that we get these retro rods kind of back on the market. They're very cool. You can't really level out of the technology that's in them though. It's hard to get excited about some of the electronics and some of the go-fast bits on them. But any time you get something as American as a rumbling V8 and throw it out on the road so with the warrantee it can't be a bad thing. That's the charm of the muscle car. You know, there's no bells and whistles - - big engine, light car, go fast, straight line.
Rutledge Wood: It's cool that they tried to go back to sort of the roots in some of their heyday when they were a lot stronger as a company. So it's neat to see the Camaro on the road kind of - to reborn and to revisit those times. And it is a fun car to drive for sure.
Of all the exotic cars that you've been presented with and the really far out European brands, I mean real luxury cars, what are some of your favorites and what would you recommend to someone who has that kind of coin if they were going to buy a really high performance exotic car?
Adam Ferrara: I would recommend to someone that has the money to experience the experience of giving to another and purchasing me a Veyron. A Bugatti Veyron. That will really make you want to give to your fellow man.
Rutledge Wood: Good ploy.
Tanner Foust: Wow. I've always been a fan of Porsche's to be honest with you, and there something about them. I grew up when my dad had an old one in the garage. And there's something about them that's kind of multitalented. It's one of those cars that you can drive on a daily basis but it's also, you know, wickedly fast. It's like multi talented. And it's kind of good in any environment. And that's always been the car - I've never been a fan of, you know, people having garage queen exotics that didn't get driven. And while Ferraris are great and Lamborghinis are awesome and amazing there also, you know, they can get old to drive on a daily basis. So I think, you know, there something about a Porsche that lets you kind of live in it.
Adam Ferrara: Yes, they call that homelessness. If you're living in a Porsche you don't have a house.
Rutledge Wood: My favorite kind of exotic that I got to spend a little time in was a Murcielago Super Veloche Lamborghini. And I think the reason I loved it so much, as a product of the 80s I grew up with this poster of the old Lamborghini Countach on my wall. It was like '85...
Tanner Foust: The white one?
Rutledge Wood: Yes Tanner had same yes the white one.
Tanner Foust: The white one exactly sitting on the grass, yes I had the same one.
Rutledge Wood: Yes it just was this gorgeous car and it just reason up represented this impossible dream. And the fact that Lamborghini let me ride around in one of those for four days with these knuckleheads as it rode through the desert. It was the most fun I've probably ever had in the car.
Did you guys watch the other versions of the show? And like how did you get involved in Top Gear?
Adam Ferrara: Well I was a fan of the show and I saw a bunch of the episodes before because I was just - I was a fan before any of this even came up so I was really familiar with the show and the guys. And it came to me from History channel. I had done another show called United States of Cars which was a pilot that didn't get picked up. And they said, you know, were doing Top Gear and would you like to meet the guys? It was the wild most wild audition I ever had because I never went to a studio or a producers office. The call came in and we met in a parking lot. It was like a hostage drop, like a ransom drop. We had to meet behind the mall in a parking lot. And these two guys were in and Evo. And we just jumped in the Evo and just started tearing around doing donuts in the Evo. And Tanner was spinning us around and they had cameras set up. And we we're just having a good time with this car. And we found this couch in I think we tried to put Rutledge in the couch and see how close we could come with the car. And that's what everyone said cut, okay fine, thank you. So that's how I came to it.
Tanner Foust: Yes of course I was a big fan of the British show and also Fifth Gear. I enjoyed those. And growing up actually like elementary school years I lived in Scotland. And so I really kind of enjoyed the British sense of humor. I grew up on shows like Blackadder and the Young Ones. And the - so any chance I could get I would track down watching Top Gear. And then when I met the BBC world wide folks when they were coming together with the NBC show and got involved with that and shot the pilot and, you know, went through a whole casting process with that and, you know, did the same with the History show and was lucky enough to get, you know, involved in both and have some killer times. So I come kind of been from the driving standpoint as a racer and in some cases as a stunt coordinator, in some cases a safety guide making sure that Adam has buckled his seatbelt up completely before jumping has Cadillac. So a couple, you know, a couple different hats there. But, you know, that's - it's an amazing franchise to be involved in that's for sure.
Rutledge Wood: I've been watching the show for years and I actually remember hearing about that they had made a pilot for NBC and I knew Tanner was part of that. And, you know, obviously hope for something like that one day. And one day I got a call because I spent all my weekends on the road with NASCAR. And this person that was helping out said hey we want to know if you'd be interested in talking with producers for the show. It's called Top Gear. Have you ever heard of it? And I was of course like yes, I'd say that's the premier car show in the world. She said well the - they're working with the History channel and BBC Worldwide production is going to produce it. You know if you want to - would you like to maybe go talk to someone about it? And so the whole time I just kept thinking like this is going to be so cool to tell my friends that I got to go to the audition and stuff when I'm home watching the show. And then somehow I got picked to be on there. Then just like Adam said we were in a parking lot essentially with the Mitsubishi Evo and went and had a lot of fun and it just kind of all came together from there. And we spent probably I guess a solid six months altogether I mean we wouldn't go more than a few days without seeing each other. So we definitely - we had a lot of fun and it's been a great time so far.
In the promos and stuff I noticed you guys were all pretty excited about the Lamborghini. What else was the highlight for you?
Tanner Foust: I'm kind of into the exotic cars. And so Lamborghini was kind of up my alley. But I took a trip to England and I drove a norm (Morgan). And I mean it was simply unbelievable trip out there going through the English countryside and driving this car that, you know, side exhaust pipes in a land where a 1.3 L engine is kind of the performance package. And then you get into a 4.8 L V-8 out there. And that was really kind of an amazing car. It looks like a 1930s mix between like Dick Tracy and Margaret Thatcher kind of pulling together this really bizarre thing that I didn't expect to like but came away having, you know, one of the greatest trips ever.
Adam Ferrara: Oh for me it was the - it was actually getting air and that '76 Coupe Deville. We did a moonshine run and we had to test the endurance of these cars and they - I picked the '76 Caddy because listen to me, what else would I be driving? So we did the - it was basically like an offload off-road motorcycle course. And my - my head I knew this thing weighed 5800 pounds and I didn't - if I stopped I wasn't going to start again. So I didn't want to get it stuck so I just kept it moving. And I went up this incline so I just dropped it in low and I stepped on it just to keep the momentum going. And there's all kinds of violence and crashing because everything what's been smashing around. And then all of a sudden it got real quiet for a long time. And then it wasn't quiet anymore when I landed. And that was just - that feeling was great. It was like exciting and terrifying. It was all excited and terrifying and then got all I was all excited when I got out of the car. And then I saw Tanner's face and I was scared because all the blood was out of his face. And when Tanner Foust, the gold medal winning rally driver and stunt guy looks at you and goes dude, are you okay.
Tanner Foust: I mean that really was bad.
Adam Ferrara: I was kind of scared.
Tanner Foust: That was shocking. You bent the car. I mean it was a huge, huge dare.
Adam Ferrara: Yes it was fun too. And there's no - there was no safety belt in it. It was in 1976 seat belt. And the shoulder belt doesn't work. So Tanner pulls it tight, pulls the seat up so I'm locked in there, takes the belt, puts it under the head rest, pushes the head rest down, smacks me on the helmet goes you'll be fine.
Rutledge Wood: It's a little bit hard to choose. I do want to say for the record that if you're not excited driving a Lamborghini in which we certainly were, you should definitely not be part of Top Gear because those cars were just everything that is wonderful about the impracticality of cars in one expensive package. They were just insane. But I think for me one of the craziest moments was we did a race from Miami to Key West to see what was faster, whether it would be faster to take a car, a boat, or plane. And I got put in this (John Z) speed boat that had 1400 hp. And I did 100 miles an hour on the water. And 100 miles an hour on - in a boat on the water is the kind of fast that it learned. I said hey, do you guys have a life jacket for me? They said yes except you won't need it. And I said well what do you mean we're not going to wreck? And they said no, no. If we wreck we're all going to die. So for me that was as a guy with two kids and a number nervous mom, that was probably the most frightened I was on the show. And these two know I am not a strong swimmer so I think the producers think it's really funny to mess with each of us in those different ways. So it was a lot of fun.
Real quick for each of you, dream car, what is it?
Adam Ferrara: I want a '57 Starfire Olds.
Tanner Foust: I would take a Zonda. I just love the fact that Pagani is, you know, it's what happens when you're OCD brilliant, wealthy and a fan of cars all mixed together and it's a Zonda I think it's an amazing...
Adam Ferrara: I like the exhaust on the Zonda always reminded me of the Batmobile, those four little exhausts out the back and that big circle.
Tanner Foust: Right.
Rutledge Wood: In all I'll say this, I'm from the South so I don't want to get shot for my answer because it's...
Adam Ferrara: He doesn't want a dream car, Rutledge has dream parts he wants.
Rutledge Wood: Yes exactly. I'd like to set of the - like an old set of BBS wheels I can put a wire lip on possibly yes, let's make fun of me for that you jerks. Let's see I would say I'm about to obtain somehow one of my dream cars because I'm trading my friend Kyle Petty the car that his dad gave me for his '69 Charger. Has a 383 in a four speed. So I never thought I could get that and he said he'd trade for it. But I think the Ferrari Enzo would be on that list for me. It's so over the top and such a piece of art when it's parked that moving is just - it's a magical thing.
Really quick, has there been any talks about a crossover episode with the British version? I know that the Australian version did it?
Tanner Foust: I saw the German version did it too at one point which was hilarious. They like put stacks of cars on top of each other.
Adam Ferrara: I don't know. I think if there is going to be a British-American meeting I think they hang a lantern in the North Church. I think that's how they'll signal us. You know we'll know they're here.
Tanner Foust: I say we meet them at the Alamo. We just go old school with it.
Adam Ferrara: Old school, right.
So when you are reviewing your car how honest are you allowed to be?
Adam Ferrara: They haven't told us to hold back anything. So whatever - if we're supposed to not say something we don't know about it. They said to be completely honest, just watch your language.
Tanner Foust: Which Adam has a problem with frankly.
Adam Ferrara: Well look some stuff is (shit) all right? Sometimes (shit) is the right word.
Tanner Foust: I mean you guys have over in the UK that we don't have is that your profanity is so eloquent and it goes under the radar whereas here we just have, you know, six or seven real solid once. And you can only say the F word so many times before it just doesn't have any meaning. So, you know, that's the one thing that we have is we just have clever ways to say...
Adam Ferrara: But it even sounds good. To our ears it sounds good. When James May pulled up to review a car and the Pagani and the Zonda pulled up and he just went oh (cock). That's great to an American.
So because Top Gear UK is always making sure fun of US cars are you guys going to make fun of UK cars?
Adam Ferrara: Did we do any...
Tanner Foust: Some of us did.
Tanner Foust: I drove the Morgan and I didn't want to make fun of it. I didn't go out there with that intention but I thought that it was inevitable. But I ended up really liking it. And so it was a little bit of a surprise and I think it was because I drove it in England. If I would've driven the car in the States it would've been a mess. It would look - it would have been like a - it would have looked like a cartoon car driving down the road. But over there it was absolutely King of the Hill, you know?
Rutledge Wood: Well I was going to say I don't think we have any sort of underlying theme of our dislike towards the Brits or anyone else. We are a loving, kind people. But I've may have gone over the line slightly in proclaiming that all Brits were liars after (unintelligible). The speedometer grossly overstates a number and makes people think the car might accomplish such a thing. And I basically inferred that all British people were liars because the car was a liar.
Tanner Foust: Yes exactly. And I don't think, you know, there's some good stereotypes that we could make back but were big people. We can handle it.
So of course Top Gear UK has a big kind of a non-motoring fan base. How do you guys appeal to an audience outside of a sort of gearheads?
Adam Ferrara: Well I hope they can see the fun we're having. One of the things I love about the UK show is those guys are having fun, you know? It's that part of thing - you know, it's just the enjoyment of those guys being together. And the cars that they're driving just makes the show for me. So I'm hoping that that excitement and the genuine fun we're having transfers to the audience here. And I know a lot of people who watch the UK show aren't really gearheads. They just like the show and like the guys.
How would you sum up the first season? How do you sum up how it's gone?
Tanner Foust: Well I hope we get to do it again because I really had a good time. I really had a good time just sleeping on the ground in Alaska with these idiots and riding around in $1 million worth of Lamborghinis and interviewing the stars. I enjoyed all of that and I really hope that that transfers to the audience and we get to do it again.
Rutledge Wood: I think we have put together a really fun show about three guys in cars and it's going to be right at home on the History channel. And, you know, I always said that the level of success would be if we could take people like (Colleen) who maybe weren't into cars, didn't really care about it whatever, and help them have fun and watch what cars represent to other people it would be a success. So I hope that's what we can do.
Tanner Foust: I had the pleasure of sitting down with Andy Willman, you know, one of the creators of the UK show. And like he said, the show is just really a glimpse into the male mind. So it really is just a couple guys just having a good time, you know? We're just enjoying ourselves. And there will take some time to get the characters and to - you know, with the UK show I know it took a few years before people understood exactly, you know, the different characters involved. And so hopefully we get to do this again and kind of keep the ball rolling because I think it only gets better.
Do you guys have a favorite like guest star who's come and done the big star in a small car?
Rutledge Wood: You know I'll say this. We had some great ones. And honestly they were all Super fun people. I loved every minute of it. Bret Michaels is like one of the kindest people you'll ever meet, just super nice. I think for me to get to meet Tim Allen and get to talk to him was so just monumental. Because in the hierarchy of car guys he is so high up there for a man that has - I mean he's had more shoes - I mean he's had more cars than people have shoes in a lifetime, you know, just he changes them. He'll get something ridiculous and then like no I - that was cool. I want to get something else now and was just such a kind guy. I knew Adam knew him from doing comedy for years but, you know, they were some really great, great people.
Adam Ferrara: Yes it was. Michelle Rodriguez was really fun. She's a - she's from Jersey so that was fun. She was a lot of fun. Everyone really was excited to be there. Buzz Aldrin was excited. Bret Michaels as you said brought pictures from all the cars he had. Ty Burrell was a really - was really fun. And everyone was generally excited to go around the track and to be part of it with us.
What's going to make this show better than the previous versions?
Rutledge Wood: I think the three of us will greatly attest to it and something that hopefully will people will see is that what makes the show different is that it's about cars that we have here and roads that we have here. We knew we couldn't try to fill those roles and be those people. So we didn't attempt that because you'd fail at that. But we all attacked the show the same way anybody would. It's this childhood dream realized that the fact that they let us go do things that don't make any sense was amazing.
In terms of like your selected cars it's going to be more American type cars. Is it going to be like vintage cars, new cars? Because I see guys with their Lamborghini and (unintelligible) and obviously European my favorite. But, you know, what in the next seven episodes coming up what kind of cars can I expect to see? Is it going to be mostly American or a variety?
Adam Ferrara: I know and we're going to have three pickup trucks for our finale. We took those to Alaska.
Tanner Foust: Yes that's our long road trips. We'll really enjoy that.
Adam Ferrara: Yes that one was good. And I don't know if you saw the GM challenge. We all picked three out of production American cars and put them to that test.
Top Gear premieres on Sunday, November 21 at 10 PM ET on The History Channel.