TopGear USA Names New Host Adam Corolla

adam corolla, topgear USA, Gear, NBC, host, presenter, newAs Jalopnik reported last week Adam Corolla has been named the first host of TopGear USA in it’s newest iteration of GEAR on NBC in 2009. (per an announcement on his radio show and some pix with TG cars, see K Nob left.) I have read all kinds of mixed reviews online and heard people’s opinions on this pick and here are my thoughts to add to the fray:

1. I don’t know Adam Corolla from a bag of rocks but a lot of people seem to know him from The Man Show and they seem to think he is funny and willing to get shoved in frozen lake for a laugh. (which sinefeld and leno wouldn’t do) This is encouraging. He doesn’t have a persona that is so well known it is career limiting (being typecast) yet people are pretty sure he can do (or has done) Improv in his day and has some snark. This was a big qualifier for this job. I am sure they did some pilot episode recording or something to compare the candidates on film (per Richard Hammond’s book where he mentions his interview & audition) and I bet Adam probably does ok in the snark category. (he also seems to do well in the 1991 wardrobe category) This is probably the most important part of the selection process.

2. Many people seem to be up in arms about the TopGear USA show needing to be an exact replica of the TG UK show down to the exact personality traits of each host. (presenter) They say they need an overbearing stubborn tall guy, and an emotional and hyper short guy and a long haired geeky guy. This couldn’t be more wrong. You need some great personalities, some strong opinions and some great improv and mucking about to make a great show. You can’t re-create the actual people and their attitudes over here that Jeremy, Richard and James have in real life. That would be monkey-stupid and not at all viable. The mix should be diverse but the personalities all will be different.

2.5 I have also read that people think Adam Corolla doesn’t have a car background. He must have some car knowledge though or else they wouldn’t have selected him. I would guess that you would have to have all of the following skills to host: know how to drive a manual transmission well enough to talk to the camera and drive at the same time, know some basic autocross skills for the lap times and tests, be familiar with fancy and race type cars so that you know how to power slide and such. I would also hope the person genuinely enjoyed power sliding and pushing a car’s limits. I think a lot of the technical things that Jeremy, James and Richard say are discussed with the producers and prep people of TG to give them some topline analysis from the team of research geeks behind the scenes. Hopefully NBC’s GEAR will have a team of car geeks behind the scenes too.

3. Some people are complaining that the show will be all about NASCAR and that will suck ass. Yes, that would technically suck ass if it happened, but I think the show will have diverse talent and diverse activities all around the different car type groups. (Imports, Domestics, Pony Cars, Muscle Cars, Roadsters, Trucks, Minvans, SUVs, Street Racing Mods, Low Riders, Classics, Really old Classics, Classics with wooden wheels, Green Ecological leaf-eating Cars, Exotics and Supercars. And hopefully there will be some fun crossover with the auto racing sports in this country Indy, CART, NASCAR, Funny Cars, F1, Unlimited Fuel Dragsters, Autocross, Sprints, and Demolition Derbys at the county fair. (please use the last one I beg you) The content is usually based on a couple things:

    A. Supercars awe inspire us all, so cover as many of those as possible and make the editing and camera work turn it into car pron. This keeps the 10-50 yr old boys happy, and the beauty of the cars even makes it interesting to some of us women. We also enjoy the speed.

    B. People need practical every day cars reviewed in a non-sleep inducing non-autoweek way. This means everything from the YuGo to the Mercs. (by merc I mean Mercedes not Mercury, I can’t believe I just said that) I can’t believe MOTORweek is still on TV. I want to shoot my television when I run across that show accidentally.

    C. Challenges building things and Road Trips through other countries are the comedy and entertainment portion of the program. Do the ridiculous, seriously. Do the serious, ridiculously. And please Fork it up in ways we never thought possible. The only difference here is that it should require less passport use in the USA. Route 66 anyone? Highway 1 PCH?

    D. Weird sometimes stupid stunts. Jumping minivans and seeing how long a car runs with all the coolant drained out of it. endurance, destruction and general stunt-ness is needed here. These segments are short on time and long suspense and hopefully provide either humor or carnage or both. (ala the car chases in the blues brothers movie)

    E. The Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment. It allows the BBC to make some marketing money and it gives us some interesting non-car related person in an autocross race situation. This either ends up being impressive or rediculous, it works great either way. I recommend a Chevy Malibu as the car here. It’s so average it hurts. It will also be painful seeing George Clooney actually sit in one instead of the fancy schmantsy things he is used to.

But the question I want answered that no one was asking is: Did Adam Corolla get the job just because he was named after a cheap econo-box Japanese car? If so it’s a really bad pun, and I wouldn’t mention it. I think using the corolla as the reasonably priced car is out too.

Also read about the interview with Adam Corolla and my suggestions for the show here.

Also, I am a little baffled that this got ranked #1 on a TopGear USA search in Google. I am not sure how that happened. This blog isn’t really that great, except possibly when I write about TG or Marketing. Anyway, if for some reason you officially want to contact me about what I write here, you can through my other blog here. My stats say that about 50 people a day are looking for TG USA info and come here. I hope that is enough for NBC’s to keep the show on air this fall.

TopGear Season 10 Episode 7 Review

I enjoyed this week’s show. It was good to see something different. James, Richard and Jeremy all go buy vintage British cars from the 1970’s. They all seem to be small economical cars that are 4 door hatchbacks or mini 4 door sedans. They also seem to be the design that my dad’s 70’s era Buick century 4 door hatchback was based on. buick century hatchback, 4 door, 1970's(what was going on in that decade?)  Then they do some unusual tests to see how well these cars have dealt with age.  The funniest ones are saved for the end when they have to drive the car on a bumpy test road and have eggs in a colander strapped above their heads. Additionally they all loose parts of the car along the way. This was probably the funniest part. Surprise always helps the funny. Later they also fill the cars with water via a fire-hose and try and see how far they can drive them before they drain below the steering wheel. Clearly the BBC TG staff has been bored lately and working hard on new unusual ways to torture their presenters. Jeremy’s car doesn’t fare well since it keeps loosing doors unexpectedly. So, I may have ruined the surprise.

The star in a reasonably priced car segment was fun. Jennifer Saunders of French & Saunders show and Absolutely Fabulous fame comes by to take out the Chevy whatever around the track and she is surprisingly fierce. She is really competitive and apparently fearless. I guess you can get that way when you do comedy, you can’t really be scared of anything in order to do that for a living. Anyway she ends up 2nd on the board. Way to go Jennifer! It is great to see that since I am a fan of her work.

Other than that they do some mucking around in the news about Korea and forget that Holden (vauxall minaro) is from Australia. they also insist on pronouncing Hyundai as Hiaundai instead of Hunday and Jeremy forgets how to use the TV and prints out all his pix on paper.  Jeremy also burns mucho rubber in a new Aston Martin DBS. He concludes that it is really a juiced up DB9 replacement. Ok, but there are many of us that are completely ambivalent about that. It’s gorgeous but unattainable.

Coincidentally there is also an article in TIME magazine about the 15 million BBC channels all with the same name in the UK and the issues they have had keeping viewers and trying to not rig the unscripted shows they run. They make no mention of TG of course, because it’s a pretty successful franchise. I do thing that the BBC is doing ok really and not nearly as badly as they might say because in addition to all the fees they extract for ads on BBC America and the TG site, according to TIME they get $275 bucks from every TV receiving household each year in the UK. Whether it’s paid through taxes or directly I don’t know, but no one else gets that here. ( except PBS? but not that much) Sounds pretty good to me.

Anyway enjoy the full version online at YouTube here:

TopGear is Pissing me off! (BBC America Edits a Lot Out)

topgear, BBC AmericaOk TopGear and company, I thought you had finally come to your senses and finally decided to broadcast TopGear to the United States via BBC America. I was glad the US Pilot was scrapped (because there was no open audition for it) and people would stop uploading your videos to YouTube because they would be able to tune in and see it on TV like 350 million other people around the world do every week. But NO, I saw it for the first time this weekend and I am sorry to report that it’s screwed up again. Here’s why:

1. The season is off for broadcasting to America. They show season 9 on BBC America and Season 10 is airing now. Why do they make the US wait 6 months behind everyone else? See reason 2.

2. They cut out 1/3 of the program!! WTF!!!@!>? I know the BBC America’s monetization format is from subscriber fees AND commercials but jesus, why can’t you just leave all 60 minutes of the show intact for just this one show? Or extend it to be an hour and a half? Putting 20 minutes of commercials in and taking out 20 minutes of content ruins it. It is no where near as good if you chop it up and put commercials for razors and beer every 5 minutes.

3. WTF is up with the promos showing the big funny moments before each commercial break?? You’re spoiling it. It’s not supposed to work like US TV where you bait someone along for 3 hours for a payoff after you have monetized them to death. Just let it run for 60 minutes and then play commercials for a 1/2 hr before or after.

Seriously. This is awful. And it’s not really TopGear. You can’t ‘get” TopGear in bite size pieces. You don’t get the relationships or the references that are particularly UK or European unless you sit and watch the whole thing and then think about it for a while and watch it again. And duh, that is why we LIKE it. We want to learn about how things are over there, and see what they have to say. It’s entertaining because it’s worldly and different.

Please, I beg you to just sell the full format shows in a DVD box set that is in it’s complete 60 minute format.  Start releasing season 1 now and roll out the rest over the next 2 years. Seriously it is the only way you will ever really win over the Americans, by showing us the same program the same way you show it to the rest of the world. Jipping us by selling a 1/2 assed version just sucks.

At this point I recommend only watching the full versions on YouTube and not watching it on BBC America at all.

Who buys American Domestic Cars?

With Toyota on top as the world’s largest auto manufacturer now, one wonders who still buys american cars? I personally own a saab which is built in Sweden but owned by GM which is American. Who knows where that lands. But as far as traditional US built American brands go Ford, GM and Chrysler are the ones we used to call the big three. Now plagued by outdated impressions of bad quality and really high pension and health care costs of it’s workers they are not producing as many cars or selling as many in the US. It shows that the domestic brands are still skewing older than the imports, they also seem to center around the old manufacturing “rust belt” cities who are still feeling the pain of the loss of manufacturing jobs to japan, china and mexico. They are also skewing towards old media usage, which doesn’t mean they are the biggest new technology users or adopters. (which correlates with lower education levels in my mind) So, how can the American car brands buck the trend and get hip, young and relevant fast? (before their customers die?) Hybrids? Crossovers? Independent High quality and reliability awards? I’m not sure. Here is some data from the center for media research today that has some new stats and Here’s the full report:

The Iron Belt Wraps Around Domestic-Only Auto Owners

A newly released 88-Market national report from The Media Audit, analyzing automobile ownership by brand, reveals that 38% of U.S. adults own domestic-only brands, compared to 25.4% of U.S. adults who own foreign-only brands.

The surveys, which were conducted between January 2006 and April 2007, found that among those who are the most loyal to owning only domestic brands are adults who own a truck. According to the study, 47.5% of truck owners own domestic-only brands, making the audience 22% more likely than the average adult to own domestic-only brands.

Older adults are are also more likely to own domestic-only brands. Among 50 plus adults, 42.6% own only domestic brands, a figure that is 12% higher than that of the average adult.

The average age for the nearly 40% of U.S. adults who own domestic-o! nly brands is 47.2 years old, compared to 44.1 years for adults who own foreign-only brands.

The top ranking market for domestic-only automobile ownership is Detroit, Michigan with 73.4% of adults in this market owning domestic-only brands. Toledo, Ohio ranks second with 66.6% who own domestic-only brands, followed by:

  • Peoria, Illinois (65.3%)
  • Buffalo, New York (64.4%)
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan (60.1%)
  • Dayton, Ohio (59.7%)
  • Akron, Ohio (58.3%)
  • St. Louis, Missouri (57.4%)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (56.2%) 
  • Cleveland, Ohio (55.6%)

The analysis further reveals that domestic-only vehicle owners exhibit above-average usage of television, direct mail, radio and newspaper. Those who own domestic-only brands are:

  • 18% more likely to be heavy television viewers
  • 12% m! ore likely to be heavy direct mail users
  • 9% more lik ely to be heavy radio listeners
  • 9% more likely to be heavy newspaper readers

Jeremy Clarkson Chews pipe and burns mouth Season 10 Ep 2

Ok, so this week’s TopGear was funnier than last week’s season premier show. The Audi R8 was nice, but alas I won’t be in the market for a super-car for at least several lifetimes, so it was just car porn. This week the funniest moments in no particular order were:

1. James Smoking the pipe as if he was at home.

2. Jeremy burning his mouth on his Porsche pipe.

3. Jeremy scraping the underside of a viaduct with the fishing poles sticking out of his truck.

4. The foam on fire in all 3 amphibious vehicles on their way to Dover.

5. Jeremy trying to push James’ Triumph Herald off the dock when they arrive.

We were cackling so loud at this show that the relatives and guests visiting my parent’s house had to come in and watch the end with us. We had 11 people in front of the TV watching these 3 guys mucking about in the English Channel. Most of them had never seen it before, and are going to go look it up on BBC America now.  You just can’t deny the lovability of this show.  All my brother’s friends are obsessed and their girlfriends are obsessed and my dad’s coworkers are obsessed too. I have one or two coworkers that are into it, but not in this office. Chicagoans are somewhat hard to impress. TG would only show up here if they would be doin g some tour of America’s fattiest food or something.

Anyway, I leave you with the best comment from last week’s show while driving through the Swiss Alps: ” The Hills are Alive with the sound of Horsepower” Sing along with us…

Kate Walsh Cadillac Commercial

I just saw a Cadillac commercial with Kate Walsh from “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice”. Or at least I think it was. It’s shot so quick and from so many angles that you can’t really see her face until the end and then it’s just for a second. I think she is a good person for endorsing Cadillac cars because they need a youthful (but not too young) and professional face for their ads. Kate is very well known now and admired both for her acting and her ability to stay really thin and beautiful. This is also good for her. I heard her speak about being in the business at a small Piven Acting School event where she is an Alum. (she was very laid back and cool at that event, still looking pretty showing up in yoga clothes and no makeup. She was also enthusiastic about joining in activities with the students after the chat while Jeremy Piven ran off to to some hollywood stuff)  She talked about years of just barely getting by on waiting tables and living a very meager life in order to learn her craft and work on quality theater gaining great experience. She doesn’t advise people to go into acting unless they love it so much they couldn’t possibly do anything else with their life because it’s a difficult road that lacks any form of monetary stability for a long time until you have gotten established. (like decades) The tables have turned now and she not only has gotten married, bought a huge vintage house and been a star in 2 ABC TV Series, she is the face of Cadillac. Way to go Kate!

Car Shopping? Why do people buy?

Why do people choose the cars that they do? I always wondered how people came to completley different conclusions about what car to buy than I did. And how some people value different brands completley differently. There is a new report out today that sheds some light on why people make those decisions that they do. Why they buy foregin vs domestic cars.

It states that once someone has decided if they will buy Import or Domestic they are not likley to change their mind. I wonder if this is because they have such different images and perceptions or because their cars are very different? Is there such a gap between the two types?

They also state that 50% of new vehicles bought are imports and 80% of people limit their pool of car candidates to only imports or only domestics. (I was one that considered both for a while but I’m back in the Domestic only camp now) It is also dismaying that it states that within that 20% that shop both, they only pick the domestic car as a second choice when the import doesn’t work out. It’s never because of the domestic being the best choice from the get go. Ouch.

They also say that these decisions are mostly based on “perceived” deficiencies, such as concerns about reliability, gas mileage or poor resale value. The reliability thing is always percieved because no one knows how a car will perform or stand up to the test of time until they drive it for a while or unless they have driven that model or maker before. Gas mileage is a number based on data, so if you percieve that rather than look it up, you’re an idiot. Poor resale value is not percieved either. It is easy to see that Toyotas and Lexuses are in high demand as used cars and keep more of their value by picking up an issue of auto trader or any flyer. So if you percieve that and don’t look it up you’re also an idiot.

I wish more people bought cars based on data and less on commercials, perceptions and what the idiot sales person says. In fact I never go into a dealer without knowing what car I want excactly and what price I want for it. You don’t have to accept any deal that you don’t want and you can always walk away because there are always more cars out there.

But if you are an import buyer and think Domestics suck, you should check out Buick. They match Lexus in quality and reliabaility and I think they are less gaudy and overdone as well. A more tastefully elegant car. Give Buick a new look.

Buick best in Dependability, Makes Lexus Share JD Power award.

buickSuck it Toyota! 

Buick is #1 in Dependability tied with Lexus.

Ok, that said I do have some bias. I am someone who comes from a staunch GM car buying family and specifically within my parents, myself and brother we have owned 14 Buicks in the past 35 years.

I readily admit that GM got lazy in the 80’s, created ugly unreliable cars in the 90’s and in the has been too interested in short term revenue (sales) growth with SUV’s and Hummer Gas Guzzlers in the 00’s. Therefore they haven’t made many affordable, reliable, fuel efficient and attractive cars in the past 30 years. When I went through my last car buying process in 2004 I was so disenchanted with GM that I ended up with a used Saab 9-3. Which is GM, but really isn’t at the same time. The thing is, I just replaced that car’s turbo at 75K miles (for $1,600.00) so my advice is don’t buy a turbo 4 cylinder Saabeither. I have personally owned 2 Buicks (both regals) and I plan on buying another Buick in 2 years. (Yes, I have already decided on the LaCrosse)

Through all these years Buick has been a reliable car for my parents, myself and my family. We usually buy them used at 30K miles and run them to 130K within 5-7 years. They depreciate like a rock the first few years, so you get a 30K car for a very affordable 15K and then it just runs beautifully for the next 5-7 years with regular oil changes, brakes and tires. (Transmission fluid, spark plugs and coolant flushes are good to do every 40K miles as basic mantenance procedures on any car, and batteries usually only last 3-4 years in Chicago’s climate, so there is some maintenance cost over the years)  Basically we have loved these Park Avenues, Riveras, Regals, LeSabres, GS’s and LaCrosses for their luxury, comfort, reliability, dependability and latley their supercharged performance. Yet they also get 25 mpg on average. (hopefully Buick will develop engines towards 35-45 mpg soon too) These are great cars and I think more people should know about it.

buick lacrosseI have heard from people for yeeaaarrrrrss that Hondas and Toyotas are the better cars and they look down on people who don’t buy them. Well guess what? I don’t like Hondas or Toyotas. They are boring, bland, vanilla, uninteresting, basic, cheap cars. They feel cheap, they sound cheap, they have a rough uncomfortable ride, are very underpowered and slow, and yes they may run reliably also, but I don’t want one. And I don’t want people to rub my face in it that American cars are not as good as Japanese. Yes, as a whole the American car lot isn’t as good, but Buick is the exception, and I knew that personally decades ago. 

So, if you do want to support the American Economy, Support American Jobs and Support  your own transportation reliability, buy a Buick. I can say from experience with 14 Buicks that they are great cars and now JD Power and Associates validates our decsions and Buick as a premium luxury car brand with exceptional reliability. 

To anyone who thinks that Buick is for old people and grandparents or thinks that all American cars suck, You Are Wrong! Buick is a great car, made in the US and and is just as reliable as the Lexuses that so many people covet. So, if you are smarter than most Lexus buyers come on over and take a new look at a Buick.