Confessions of a petrol head

Slowly but surely, BBC America is brainwashing the minions of a former colony and doing a smashing good job of it. Give me Doctor Who, Law & Order U.K or Torchwood any day! I’ll soak it up in a vegetative state. Now I’ve been snared by another creature of British programming and refuse to leave the talking box. . . thanks to Top Gear.

Jeremy Clarkson must be a slave driver. Look how his Top Gear studio audience is made to stand for the entire show without seats! But why would you want to sit down? You might get a chance to stand in the presence of the newest Aston Martin or watch Rowan Atkinson burn the tires off a used Nissan. This, my friends, is the kingdom of petrol heads.

The guys on Top Gear make fun of American wheels, but they do love a good GT or pickup. Their attention is usually centered on the latest European marvel. They dine at the table of Jaguar and Lamborghini and cough politely at lesser sports cars. They won’t settle for colorful brochures or mockups. The Top Gear test track adds some humility to every brand. After Clarkson, Hammond and May have fired off their commentary, they turn the models over to a mysterious test driver known only as the Stig. If the Mazda didn’t clock well around the Hammerhead, don’t bother sending them another.

Top Gear has hooked into my neurology. I have to catch the latest episodes on BBC America, then sweep through the earlier seasons on Netflix. More importantly, I’m starting to think like an automotive reviewer. What possible value do I have to society? Harumph.

I hold internal monologues about my car as if I’m speaking to a dash-mounted camera:  “Today’s Jeep isn’t like the one that rolled around Bastogne fighting the Germans. This Jeep is like the Special Forces guy who went to Afghanistan, knows how to eat viper and can kill you with his thumbs.”

On a recent drive in New Hampshire, I looked in my mirror and exclaimed, “Oh drat. Here come a couple of caravans.” Caravans are despised by Top Gear. They smash ’em all the time. Why didn’t I use the word camper like a normal American? I was raised in campers. I shouldn’t hate them at all!

I start to critique vehicles as they pass me on the highway. Terrible handling, that one. Rear end looks like a toaster. Why would you buy the coupe when the hatchback offers the same performance for a fraction of the cost?

I dream that the Stig and I are fighting ninjas. That one may not apply.

A tip of the hat to you, BBC America. Top Gear is in my blood.


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