Imagine if they teamed up to create a one-off super show?
There are car shows, and then there is Top Gear. Sure, you’ll occasionally endure the monotonous drone of John Davis’ Motorweek monologues for an alternative perspective, but if we’re talking car programming that’s palatable for the general public, the buck stops at Top Gear and its recent clone, The Grand Tour, essentially another rendition of Top Gear, re-titled with the first letters to indicate “Top Gear Two.” It shamelessly borrowed segments from the BBC show and its hosts, whom Clarkson famously exported to Amazon by decking a producer on-set.
New Hosts, Same Great Taste? With Top Gear now in the hands of a new set of hosts headed by Matt LeBlanc, the show has consistently improved since parting ways with the unloved Chris Evans. TGT isn’t the show’s only recent spin-off, either. The network, USA, will once again have its own dedicated version of the iconic motoring program starring the guy from Deadliest Catch, a drag racer with a cool first name and some dude nicknamed “Wookie.” That’s instantly got more promise than the old Top Gear USA…but who will reign supreme in the shoot out of Top Gear stardom that must now obviously take place? Here’s how we rank the hosts, from favorites to flunkies.
Jeremy Clarkson Even hating Jeremy Clarkson is more fun than enjoying a Tanner Foust show, unless you’re nineteen and drive a Subaru with pink plasti-dipped wheels. The fact remains, there are lots of folks who hate JC and, even for them, the guy delivers. He’s got the driving skill, the time-honed British wit and the irreverence that made Top Gear what it is, even if he’s no longer its official helmsman. You can’t help but pay attention when the old orangutan’s got something to say.
Chris Harris How this self-professed hoonigan didn’t land the leading role at TG once the BBC fired Clarkson is astonishing. Perhaps his combination of driving talent and Anglo lineage was too close to Clarkson for comfort. Chris Evans tried to be Clarkson. Chris Harris does his own thing, and the result is consistently entertaining and candid films that include some of the finest driving you’ll see on TV.
James May US audiences might not know it, but the talented Mr. May headlines plenty of shows on his own for the BBC and other networks, and, frankly, he is the perfect alternative to the boisterous JC. Not only does he have a wealth of knowledge to draw on when it comes to…well, just about anything, but his new TGT alter-ego seems much drunker than before. That’s a win.
Richard Hammond If May is Clarkson’s opposite, Hammond is his feint. The tiny, plucky former radio host has improved his driving skills formidably in his last decade-plus of automotive presentations. He’s also risked life and limb doing it, multiple times, yet retains a razor-sharp wit that proves essential in keeping Clarkson honest. This is why the holy trinity are what they are.
Tom “Wookie” Ford If your dedication to the Top Gear empire has led you far enough down the rabbit hole to explore the printed publication, you’ve probably been impressed at how the magazine parallels the show’s attitude. Tom Ford is a former TG editor with plenty of wheel time to back his claims up. Expect him to bring a racer’s edge to the new US show.
Matt LeBlanc Despite being a Friends alumnus, the former Joey is not out of place when you drop him into the cockpit of a track-special Porsche. LeBlanc shows signs of greatness in the way that he articulates his feelings about cars and interacts with co-hosts, he’s just got to get some more wheel time in so you find him credible.
Rory Reid Rory Reid seems an affable enough guy in his appearances on TG, and he’s got actual experience reviewing cars thanks to his time as an editor at Recombu and Gadget Geeks. For our tastes, Reid delivers neither the star power of LeBlanc nor the technical aptitude of Tom Ford. His bits seem a bit uncooked, like something that might show up on a Youtube channel as opposed to Top Gear.
William Fichtner When he’s not playing the president of the United States in Independence Day sequels and reminding fans that Sig Hansen is the name of the blond captain from Deadliest Catch, this ubiquitous character actor enjoys spending time around cars. He’s completely unproven, but that could be a good thing.
Antron Brown Sorry, dude, but just driving drag cars doesn’t make you a television host. Fichtner gets the call over Brown because at least he’s spent time speaking into a camera, but you never know, Antron has a cool first name. He could surprise us all.
Disagree with our rankings? There’s a whole comment section for you to share your thoughts and feelings below. At least we know that we’ll never have to watch Tanner Foust try and shape interesting sentences in front of a camera ever again. Tanner’s a hell of a driver, but perhaps not cut out for the host spot. Sorry, Rutledge Wood, you deserved better.