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:

Toyota Quality Drops, Ford Quality Improves Dramatically

I have never been excited by the sight of a Toyota, but they have climbed to the top of the sales charts in the U.S. because of a claim that they build better cars with less mechanical problems and better over all quality. They cite all the J.D. Power and Associates awards and Consumer Reports reviews that gave them high marks for quality and the consumers that echoed the same feelings with repeat purchases generation after generation.

It wouldn’t be an axe to grind with me except that every Toyota owner, dealer and ad over the years has picked on GM and American Domestic cars saying that they suck. (and has picked on my cars always being Buicks and recently a Saab) And in the 80’s they did but that was a looooong time ago now, and the tables have turned. GM, Ford and Chrysler have been very aggressive in making production changes that improve quality and reliability in the short term and long term.

The gap between quality in a foreign car and a domestic one has closed and for years (despite many ad claims) there hasn’t really been any difference. Yet these people who own Toyotas still flaunt it and say that any American Car just sucks. And I resent that. Especially today when a new report from Consumer Reports comes out saying that the 6 cylinder Toyota Camry for 2007 scored as “below average”. Not ok, or good, or average. The best selling TOYOTA IS BELOW AVERAGE in QUALITY! 

Go suck on that Toyota!

I am sorry if this seems like a very 1980’s stance to have in liking American cars, or if it seems uneducated and uninformed like many Domestic car buyers are (it seems to be the demographic type who keeps buying them) but it is really a very current idea and very related to our own economy. (Hello Jobs!) I think that the open market lasezz faire idea only works to the benefit of the masses if you have companies and people that care about their own country and economy enough to support it and be proud of it’s achievements. And here we have a case of most people believing old out dated information from a foreign manufacturer and the advertising rather than the real true information.

It is hard to sway people’s opinion and “feeling” about something as costly as a car. It takes years and sometimes generations, but I would like to start that chain reaction to bring people back to the belief that U.S. made cars are good quality, very reliable, a good deal for the money and will hold their resale value. It isn’t just a belief though, it is true and proveable with stats.

For example, I have a 2001 Saab. (Yes Saab is owned and operated by GM) And I bought it for 14K in 2003. It’s 2007 and I was thinking of trading it in and was offered 8K for it. Would you get that much value retention in a Toyota that was 6 years old? I don’t think so. They really can hold their value and be good reliable cars. I decided to keep my Saab and I still drive it now. I am very happy with it and would recommend checking out GM, Ford and Chrysler in your next car search. I think you will be happier with what you find there than with the imports.

CTA Green Line Problems Again

I recently wrote about the problems I experienced on the Green line of the CTA elevated trains. I had thought with the temporary funding increase from next year’s budget that they would be able to fix some cars and trains and minimize the delays we had all been experiencing, but I guess they are holding us ransom for our time and money again because last night’s commute home was atrocious. First there was no Green line train for 20 minutes at the platform. It was probably more like an hour, but I only waited 20 minutes. Then when it did show up it wasn’t even a green line train. It was a brown line train with a sign hanging on it saying green line and the changeable signs in the windows saying express. It was already full when we got on, so the stops to come would be interesting.

Then when we got to Clark and lake the chatter of the outspoken African American men on the train announcing things to whoever is in earshot began complaining and heckling about the crowdedness. Then at Clinton the conductor announced that the train would be going express to Austin. Which is white people territory. If you think Chicago isn’t divided, it still very much is. Which the African American riders immediately noticed and started grumbling about how unfair it was. They got off at Clinton and were assured that another green line followed. That is almost always a lie to keep people from overloading trains.

So, we went straight through to Austin and the Oak Park stops and there wasn’t much more problem but it did take over an hour to get home. And it always also begs the question of why are there never any green line trains and why are they always broken? Don’t they ever fix the green line ones? Why can’t they change the signs to say green line correctly on a brown line train? Don’t they care about all the people who live between Clinton and Austin? Or do they just not spend the money there because poor people don’t complain much? It isn’t fair to them, and the CTA should fix this so the service on the green line matches that of the Brown line and all the other lines.