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TG USA preview: Limos are built, celebrity lives are risked

Limousines were once associated with elegant arrivals and well-dressed clientele; now they usually carry sloppy-drunk teenagers and winners of radio contests. The hosts of Top Gear USA want to make limousines special again and think they can do better than the ubiquitous stretch Lincoln or lumbering Hummer. To prove the quality of their limousines, Adam, Tanner and Rut will ferry celebrities to the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards.

Tanner’s concern is singular: His limo must be able to do a burnout. His choice of a 1987 Corvette, made 35 feet long, means two things: despite appearances, Tanner must be old enough to be entering his midlife crisis, and that given the ‘Vette’s front engine, rear-wheel drive layout, he might be responsible for the longest performance driveshaft in history.

Rutledge, combining his love of underpowered, oil-burning Volkswagens and “creative” solutions, arrives with a Hydra-like beast with Rabbit cabs on both ends and a party deck in the middle. Being able to drive from either end could help him out in tight situations… or immensely complicate his life.

Adam, perhaps drawing on his Italian-American heritage, creates a limo fit for the pope himself, barring the bulletproof glass and tax-free status. His starting point is a 1969 Lincoln MK III, an admittedly safe choice. Considering the surgeon, the end result is alarmingly well-reasoned and crafted.

To test the agility of their creations, the boys drive one-quarter mile, whip around and race back. Simple, right? To test the occupant comfort of their limos, the hosts strap into the celebrity seats and are handed martini fixings. Mixing drinks would be easy if a certain white-suited chauffeur weren’t handed the keys.

If the hosts are to deliver their celebrities to the Emmys on time, they’ll have to negotiate Hollywood’s one-way streets and tight parking scenarios, so maneuverability is key. Rut, Adam and Tanner face an obstacle course that includes a parking test, parked car slalom, paparazzi to avoid/target and a tennis ball serving machine with remarkable aim.

When the big day arrives, Adam is assigned Oscar-winning comic legend Cloris Leachman, winner of more Emmys than any other performer. Tanner ferries a loud man who eagerly shares just what he thinks of the limo, Tanner, and his driving. Rutledge gets a beautiful and well-manicured lass - perfect, if only he weren’t driving perhaps the least elegant vehicle ever conceived.

Later in the show, actor Steven Moyer, of the Emmy-winning series True Blood, sits down for a chat with Rutledge. Despite an Adam-like propensity for destroying vehicles in real life and on his show, he attempts to channel this aggression into a physics-bending lap.

Tune in, American fans of the American Top Gear – it’s on History this Tuesday at 9/8c. You can catch up on episodes you’ve missed on the History Channel Top Gear site and get breaking news on the Top Gear US Facebook Page. Let us know what you think.

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