Including some you might not expect.
Landing the job as a Top Gear host is a dream come true, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Current frontman Chris Harris told us he never expected to take the gig, but has made Top Gear his own. In interviews with CarBuzz, Paddy McGuiness and Freddie Flintoff, the two other co-hosts, gave some insight into what it was like to join such an iconic program. Top Gear fans may not be familiar with McGuiness and Flintoff, who are best known as a comedian and a cricket player respectively; but both men enjoy driving.
"I love cars, I've always loved cars, and I know about cars but I'm nowhere near Chris Harris level," McGuiness told us. "Not many people are." Emulating Chris Harris' knowledge is obviously off-the-table for most people, which is why McGuiness and Flintoff crafted a unique approach to reviewing new cars and presenting Top Gear.
"I review a car exactly as I think I'd go into a showroom to buy one," McGuiness explained. "I look at all of the real-world stuff for people who aren't that obsessed with cars," which includes items like fuel economy, insurance costs, and back seat space. Chris Harris still handles most of Top Gear's car reviews, but McGuiness says he has been given more opportunities to perform road tests lately.
"I'm still waiting to be put in something like a Bugatti Veyron," he joked. "They keep giving us these old cheap cars that we've got to fix and mend as we've go along on our journeys that break down every two minutes. My first car on the show was the very first car that I actually owned in my personal life: an Mk II Ford Escort. It was lovely to be back behind the wheel of something from your teenage years, and it brought back a lot of memories."
McGuiness is still waiting for his chance to review something faster and more expensive on the show, but he still admits, "I can't believe we're actually getting paid to do this."
McGuiness says that out of all the cars he has driven recently, the 2020 Porsche Taycan left the biggest impression. "It's absolutely awesome. They should have you wear some sort of G-force suit with that car," he joked. "It's almost too fast for the roads. I had just done two or three weeks before in a Tesla, and I really liked it. But then when I got in the Porsche, I thought... it's next-level."
McGuinness looks forward to filming new segments for the show once pandemic-related travel restrictions lift. When asked where his first stop for the should be and what car he'd like to drive, McGuiness said:
"I've never spent much time in the States. I love America. I love the culture over there, and I'd like to learn more about it. And I really love the look of the new Ford Bronco, so I'd like to do something with one of them."
Freddie Flintoff mirrored his co-host's answer, agreeing that he'd love to come to America to film an episode.
"I would love to come back to the US, I've filmed over there before for a different show," Flintoff answered. "I'm a massive Elvis fan and I want to go Graceland to drive his cars! He's my hero." Perhaps Flintoff could come stateside to review the new Cadillac CT4-V and CT5-V Blackwing models when they come next year? Elvis was a huge Cadillac fan, after all. McGuiness has a clear affinity for fast and expensive cars, but Flintoff's automotive taste skews in a slightly different direction.
As a former athlete, Flintoff's automotive history contains plenty of gems. He notes that the money in cricket is "not comparative" to most US athletes, but Flintoff has owned a Porsche Boxster (his first car), E39 BMW M5 (which he says was one of his favorites), new M5 Competition, 997 Porsche 911 Turbo, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead, Lamborghini Murcielago, Ferrari 458, and a Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 that he actually purchased from Chris Harris.
"In this country, it gets a lot of attention because of how loud it is and the way it looks. Left-hand-drive. So much torque on it. I love driving that car," Flintoff said of the Camaro. He also mentioned one of his favorite cars he's ever owned while living in Dubai was a Ford Shelby Mustang Convertible. The juxtaposition of seeing those brash American cars overseas is difficult to explain to someone living in the US, but we imagine it's like seeing a Nissan Skyline here.
It isn't just American muscle that Flintoff is a fan of, he loves our trucks and SUVs too. "That's the thing about American cars, you get so much for half the price," Flintoff said. "I want them to bring out a big enough four-wheel-drive. I've got four kids and there's nothing big enough. I'd love a Lincoln Navigator, GMC Yukon, or even a Cadillac Escalade! We need the big extended back for all of our bags."
"My favorite car that I borrowed over here was the Ford Raptor," Flintoff told us. "When you go down a country lane and a car is coming towards you, you can see the fear in their eyes as they approach this massive Raptor." We mentioned to Flintoff that enthusiasts here in the US have their eyes set on the European Ranger Raptor that they get in the UK, to which he responded: "if you know someone with the big F-150 Raptor, I'll swap a Ranger for one!"
There's your chance, America.
It seems like Flintoff's affinity for American muscle matches his role on Top Gear as the danger seeker of the trio. In the season currently airing on BBC America, Flintoff bungee jumps off a dam in a car. "I've developed a reputation," Flintoff explained.
"When I was playing sports, I played with freedom and I was never fearful of not doing well. It's an attitude I've taken in my life. After my career, I traveled around the US doing extreme sports. I went cliff diving, Nacho Libre wrestling, rode bulls, and after all that, I just say 'yeah fine.'"
But compared to his stunts, Flintoff says driving cars actually scares him more sometimes. "You're in a bungie going off a dam in Switzerland, and the only thing I'm worried about is if the rope is attached," he joked. "But give me a car that can go 200 mph on a track, and anything can happen."
"In the next series, I drive a Jaguar XJ220. I remember it coming out when I was around 13. I never thought I'd get a chance to drive one," Flintoff said. "We had to try to go 200 mph on a runway, which was like nothing else I'd driven before. I felt like I was flying back to the future the way it was shaking and rattling. Not like driving a new supercar, that's easy."
Flintoff managed to handle the XJ220 better than his co-host Paddy McGuiness, who crashed his Lamborghini Diablo in that episode. McGuiness explained to us that the road was wet and slippery, and the car lost control traveling only 30 mph with the owner of the car there. Flintoff joked that "every time McGuiness is asked about the Lamborghini crash, he gives a different answer. We've not gotten to the bottom of it yet."
Top Gear season 28 returned to the United States on Sunday, August 30, at 8 pm ET, starting with the Nepal Special on BBC America. In the special, Paddy McGuinness, Freddie Flintoff, and Chris Harris embark on a high-altitude voyage from Kathmandu to the Forbidden City of Lo Manthan in a trio of second-hand 4X4 vehicles. Further episodes are airing now while season 29 just aired in the UK on BBC1.