Top Gear US

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
Adam "The Wrecker" Ferrara, Tanner "The Driver" Foust, and Rutledge "The Expert" Wood.


"Top Gear is clearly in safe hands, even if they do insist on speaking in those stupid accents. Watching an episode from series 1 with Richard and James, we found ourselves in a genuinely heated debate about which of the presenters' cars was best. We were just three ordinary chaps watching a car show and loving it, which is exactly what Top Gear should be."
Jeremy Clarkson[1]
"I know, the rest of the world thinks Americans are arrogant. And, to be fair, fuck you."
—Adam Ferrara

Take a British show about cars, all kinds of cars, especially cool cars. Then transplant it to America, where the car isn't just a vehicle, but a part of the national identity, a symbol of personal freedom and expression, and an integral aspect of daily life for most of the country. What do you get?

The United States version of Top Gear.

The show was originally to be developed by NBC (with help from BBC America) but spent years in Development Hell before changing hands from NBC to The History Channel and finally premiered in September 2010. It recently completed its second season and has been renewed for a third. The show is hosted by rally-car driver Tanner Foust, racing analyst Rutledge Wood and comedian Adam Ferrara.

Tropes used in Top Gear US include:
  • The Ace: Rutledge and Adam see Tanner as this, since he's actually a professional driver and they're not. The penultimate episode of season 2 (appropriately titled "Beating Tanner") has them put Tanner through a series of crazy challenges in an attempt to prove that he's not as good as he thinks he is. Tanner succeeds at most of the challenges and in the process, sets the new world indoor speed record and gets to put his car (a rally version of the Ford Fiesta) atop the lap time board.
  • Actor Allusion: Adam provides one for himself in "Dangerous Cars" after Rutledge rear-ends his Pinto:

Adam: It's not a fire! Trust me, I played a fireman on TV. I know what fire is and I'll be fine!

  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • In the Continental Divide episode, when Rutledge says that the elevation is making him woozy, Adam comments that it's the only time Rutledge will ever feel light-headed (the size of Rutledge's head is a Running Gag on the show), and both Rutledge and Tanner think the joke is funny.
    • In the Death Valley challenge Tanner's vehicle is a Jeep with an abbreviated version of the classic soft-top known as a Bikini Top, when the first challenge turns out to be a drag race Adam asks Tanner if he's glad he brought his bikini-top which Tanner admits was actually funny.
  • Adorkable: Rutledge.
  • The Alleged Car:
    • In the Alaska Special, Tanner's Chevy allegedly had a diesel engine. The fuel gauge even said "diesel fuel only." It turned out to be a Chevy Small Block. He still won, and it was the only truck to finish.
    • The show has had some variation on "get a car for cheap/really cheap/obscenely cheap" as the central premise of an episode several times.
      • Rutledge got a Fiero/Ferrari mash-up kit car for a "$5000 luxury car" challenge that had a leaking problem and struggled to reach 55 mph in the speed test.
      • The "obscenely cheap" version saw the hosts buying cars for just $500. Adam's puke-and-blood stained taxi cab (Tanner and Rutledge's cars had their fair shares of bodily fluids as well) had what he described as "a several minute delay between steering input and actual turning."
    • Rick and Chumlee from Pawn Stars talked about the bad cars they had, including their first cars. Rick had a VW Rabbit. Chumlee had a '93 Geo Metro, which he says "three months later, I left it on the side of the road."[1]
    • When the hosts are required to buy each other crappy cars in the aptly-named "Worst Cars" episode, Rutledge buys Tanner a Yugo, which, for the unaware, is one of history's worst alleged cars. They made the above examples look like luxury supercars.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: There is some debate about how the three hosts match up to their British counterparts, but the most generally-agreed upon is:
    • Adam = Jeremy
    • Rutledge = Hammond
    • Tanner = James
      • That said, some would argue that not only is that list incorrect in every particular, but that one of the things that makes Top Gear US work is the fact that there's no attempt made to specifically mirror the UK presenting team.
  • Ambiguously Gay: One of Adam's favorite pastimes seems to be trying to paint Tanner as this.
  • Awesome but Impractical: In the Hollywood cars episode, Rutledge cuts the steering wheel on his Trans-Am to emulate KITT. He later discovers this makes it harder to steer through a race course. Subverted in that he wins the challenge anyway.
  • Beyond the Impossible
    • The second-to-last episode of season two (see The Ace above) has two examples:
      • Rutledge and Adam challenge Tanner to drift a series of unlikely vehicles, including a limo (with Rutledge in the back seat) and a bus. Tanner (debatably) succeeds in drifting all of them.
      • Rutledge and Adam then challenge Tanner to a race between them on Forza Motorsport 4 and Tanner driving the real thing. Adam, being the crazy driver that he is, somehow manages to flip his virtual car over, something that isn't supposed to even be possible with all the driving assists he was using.
    • During the Big Rig special, Tanner's trailer contains a set banquet table, complete with wine in the glasses. Tanner delivers the table with most everything upright, despite the tables migrating towards the front of the trailer, and one being rotated ninety degrees.
  • Big No: In the "Worst Cars" episode, Tanner lets one out when he finds out Rutledge got him a Yugo.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Tanner has a Verbal Tic of talking really fast when he's lying, and Rutledge and Adam have called him out on it.
    • In "Worst Cars," Adam attempts to drive up the auction price of his Mustang 2 by claiming that Eric Clapton had owned it. That allows him to come in second place behind Rutledge's Pontiac Aztek. Unfortunately, Tanner, whose Yugo came in last, told the buyer that Adam was lying about Clapton owning the car, and the buyer demands his money back, meaning that Adam actually ended up finishing last.
    • Rutledge gets shades of this when he buys a Corvair for the Dangerous Cars special. See Dan Browned below.
  • Bring My Brown Pants:
    • Two near examples in the Muscle Cars episode, both from Rutledge. First, during the slalom challenge, he had the electric muscle stimulator hooked up to his stomach. He was sure the shocks would cause him to soil himself. Then, when the hosts' cars ended up on a NASCAR track with several stock cars, Rutledge noted that he was so scared he nearly soiled himself.
    • Rutledge (again) mentions this when the hosts see the cars they're competing against in the demolition derby in the Dangerous Cars episode.
  • Captain Ersatz: Several vehicular examples.
    • In the Luxury Car challenge, Rutledge couldn't get the real thing so he bought a Fiero kit car made up to look like a Ferrari. His attempts to pass it off as a real Ferrari fell quite short.
    • In the Hollywood Car challenge, neither Adam nor Tanner could get their real cars (a Dodge Charger and a DeLorean respectively) on their afforded budget, so they bought a Plymouth Duster and a Nissan 200SX (respectively) made up to look like their more famous counterparts. Rutledge, on the other hand, was able to get an actual Pontiac Trans Am, though it wasn't the right model generation.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Rutledge's Members-Only Jacket he traded his Lexus for in the Used Car Salesman episode from season 1 makes a reappearance in the Hollywood Cars episode in season 2.
    • In "Limos", the obstacle course in the third challenge uses cars from "The $500 Challenge" (Tanner's Mercedes 190E, Rutledge's Ford Fiesta and Adam's ex-taxi Ford Crown Victoria), "Death Valley" (Rutledge's Chevrolet K5 Blazer) and "First Cars" (Adam's Dodge Aries K). Also, Rutledge's limo for that episode is the very same VW Rabbit Pickup from the latter.
  • Cool Car: Too many to list, as is expected for a show like this.
  • Cool Plane: The very first episode features Tanner and Rutledge attempting to evade an AH1 Cobra attack helicopter while driving a Dodge Viper SRT10.
  • Cutting the Knot: In the $500 car episode, there was the breaking in challenge. While Tanner and Rutledge used the coat hangers given to them to break into the other host's cars, Adam just got out a crowbar from his trunk and broke Tanner's window to break in.
  • Dan Browned: Rutledge buying a Corvair for the Unsafe Cars special. While it was ridiculed for being perceived to be unsafe, it turned out to be one of the safest cars of its time once anyone actually bothered to test it.
    • The perception of the Corvair as unsafe has more to do with Americans at the time being unfamiliar with it's rear-engine layout and it's characteristics than any design flaws, both the ever-ubiquitous first-gen VW Beetle and the ever-desirable Porsche 911 use exactly this configuration.
      • On top of that, it was the first-generation Corvair that received those complaints, whereas Rutledge's Corvair was of the second generation that addressed most of the issues. And while it did have the handling issues highlighted in the episode, it was mainly because "poor handling" was mainstay of '60's Americancar engineering.
  • Day in The Limelight: "Rut's Show". Guess who takes the spotlight.
  • Death From Above: The Cobra attack helicopter in the first episode; it had a laser emitter with a receptor in the car; the receptor would emit an alarm tone when the Cobra got a kill shot on the car.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Adam is actually subtitled "The Wrecker" in the opening sequence. Notably, the actor/comedian is the only one of the hosts for whom cars and driving are a hobby, not a job.
    • One challenge in the Death Valley episode involves the hosts having to cross an asphalt road without their 4x4s' wheels touching the asphalt. Tanner uses some pipes and wood to build rollers and Rutledge creates a tread out of some carpet. Adam? He tips his Bronco on its side and drags it across. Add this to the fact that he managed to break the Bronco's rear axle during an earlier challenge and it's no surprise that of the three 4x4s, Adam's was the first to crap out. However, in Adam's defense, the reason his Bronco failed to complete the challenge was due to a flat tire and he left the spare behind to save weight.
    • His gamertag when playing Forza Motorsport was "KARKILLA."
    • In the Muscle Cars episode, Tanner and Rutledge noted that being hooked up to the electric muscle stimulator and being repeatedly shocked while driving actually made him a better driver.
    • In the Dangerous Cars episode, this is given plenty of discussion, including a list of some of the cars Adam had wrecked in past episodes. Then Rutledge attempts to train Adam to be a more careful driver. Only time will tell if it works...
  • Embarrassing Nickname: In the trucker special, the hosts give each other call signs. Tanner is "Tiny Dancer," Rutledge is "Bearded Lady" and Adam is "Mother Trucker."
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The Dangerous Cars episode contains three notoriously dangerous cars, one of which is an actual Pinto. The main challenge of the episode was driving the three cars in a demolition derby. Adam's Pinto ended up bursting into flames.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Adam and Rutledge's attempts to beat Tanner in "Beating Tanner" mostly failed. Not only was Tanner able to successfully drift several supposedly-undriftable vehicles (including a limo with Rutledge in the back) but he also set the world indoor speed record and achieved the fastest lap time on the track.
  • Handicapped Badass: In "Blind Drift", where Adam and Rutledge challenge Tanner to a drifting competition but ban him from actually driving, forcing him to teach blind comedian Brian Fischler how to do burnouts, donuts and handbrake parallel parking. Much to Adam and Rutledge's amazement (and dismay), Brian ended up winning two of the three events.
  • Insufferable Genius: Rutledge can lapse into this from time to time, except it's more insufferable than genius.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: Due to US licensing laws, most of the music that plays in each segment are cover versions.
    • The segment on the Subaru Impreza WRX STI includes a snippet that sounds a lot like the intro to Metallica's "One."
  • Midlife Crisis Car: Subverted. When Rutledge asked Patrick Warburton why he bought a early 90's Dodge Viper, Patrick said he got it for a very good deal and thought it might be nice for the weekends. It wasn't until he realized that his head was higher than the windshield did he realize what he bought.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • When Rutledge drove a Dodge Challenger in "Muscle Cars", he covered the grill with duct tape to make it go faster, just as Richard Hammond had earlier done in the British version.
    • The presenters also have an engine block table and car seat chairs.
    • Adam declared "I am the god of hellfire!" while in Texas, much as Jeremy had done in South America. Adam's usage of it was quite a bit more appropriate, though.
    • Tanner welds two more tires onto his Samurai in a manner similar to how Clarkson fixed the Reliant Robin's roller issue.
    • Rutledge yelled "Power!" while trying to get his Ford Festiva to keep going.
    • In the Limo Special, Rutledge's limo was two cars put back-to-front, just as James May's was. Tanner's limo was a ridiculously long red thing, just as Jeremy's was.
  • Not Bad: During the most dangerous cars episode, Tanner solves the problems caused by the '88 Suzuki Samurai's rollover issues by welding two metal support beams to the side at odd angles and stuck a tire on the end of them. When it works, Adam praises his unique approach.
  • Oh Crap:
    • In the "Dangerous Cars" episode, when Tanner flips his Samurai:
    • Later in the same episode, this is the hosts' collective reaction when they see the cars they'll be competing against in the demolition derby.
  • The Pete Best: Bruno Massel hosted the first pilot, and Adam Carolla and Eric Stromer hosted the second pilot with Tanner.
  • Pimped-Out Car: Goes hand-in-hand with Cool Car.
  • Promoted Fanboy: All three of the hosts.
  • Rule of Cool: The reason why most of the show happens. Why should you hold a race between a Ferrari and an airliner from Los Angeles to Las Vegas? Because it's cool, that's why.
  • Rule of Funny: The reason why the rest of the show happens.
  • Running Gag:
    • The size of Rutledge's head.
    • Rear-endings performed on junk cars.
    • Rutledge mentioning how he may have soiled himself when he's scared.
    • Rutledge's weak stomach.
  • Scenery Porn: Both the Alaska Special and the Continental Divide episode provide countless examples of how amazing the scenery in their respective locales are.
  • Serious Business: The hosts treat the trucks in the Alaska Special as this. The first host whose American-made truck failed (it was Adam) would be forced to drive a Toyota Tacoma (also known as the invincible Hilux from the British Top Gear), which is not given the same regard as it is across the pond. Being forced to drive the Tacoma is referred to as a "national disgrace."
    • The Tacoma is very much Lighter and Softer compared to the international Hilux, designed for a market that uses "small" pickups primarily as car substitutes. On the DVD commentary, the presenters make it clear that it really wasn't a very good truck.
  • Shout-Out
  • Trans-Atlantic Equivalent: Duh.

Adam: We could explain what Top Gear is, or you could watch this awesome Montage.

    • Arguably, one of the big reasons the US version's been as popular as it has is that it really does try to be as generally equivalent as it can. Including the attitude of "We are number one, every other show/car/country out there are number two or lower" that the original Top Gear had.

"I know, the rest of the world thinks Americans are arrogant. And, to be fair, fuck you."

  • Why Won't You Die?: Tanner says this word-for-word, stomping angrily on the roof of Rutledge's Corvair, when the Corvair somehow manages to survive the demolition derby in the Dangerous Cars episode.
  • With Friends Like These...:
    • During the Big Rig challenge the guys are tasked with performing a hill start without rolling backwards, and as a motivation they place their watches, phones and sunglasses behind the wheels of their respective trucks. Tanner manages to pull away without damaging any of his property, which prompts Adam to use his walkie-talkie to smash Tanner's phone into pieces.
    • During the race in the Dangerous Cars episode Tanner rolls his Samurai several times while taking a turn. Rutledge and Adam make sure to finish the race before going to check on him.
  • Wiper Start: In the Trucker episode, Tanner of all people has trouble figuring out the controls of his truck.
  • Women Drivers: Both played straight and averted.
    • Buzz Aldrin was the first celebrity to appear on Big Star, Small Car and had the slowest time through all of season one and most of season two. That was until Playboy model Bridget Marquardt came along and set a time 11 seconds slower.
    • On the other hand, for a good portion of season 2 and the beginning of season 3, American actress Arlene Tur had the fastest time on the board. However, while she placed first, in the course of doing so she drove over the checkered flag, a camera, and almost a cameraman. However, come season 3, she was bumped down by Patrick Warburton...
  1. It wasn't broken down; he just hated it that much.