The Cars of Top Gear USA

With the advent of a U.S.-market spin-off reboot, creatively (sarcasm) called Top Gear America -featuring hosts of all of the Americas, provided that they come from just the U.S.- I decided to revisit its predecessor, Top Gear USA.

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Top Gear USA was the inevitable North-American spin-off of the Top Gear franchise. After all, there have been other spin-offs for Australia, Russia, and South Korea. The three hosts were comedian Adam Ferrara, car-guy Rutledge Wood and racecar driver Tanner Faust. Initially following the same format of the franchise with a studio, test track, Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, The Stig, etc., the show later on focused solely on challenges, with whoever winning said challenges usually getting to test the cream of the crop of the car world… most likely in another challenge.

Initially the show was subpar. Many complained that the roles of hosts were miscast. I didn’t look at the show with kind eyes, as it felt unoriginal in the sense that they kept ripping off every single challenge from the original Top Gear. It also got really tiresome having to see Tanner win challenges so often, because racecar driver. Thankfully, like the chemistry between the trio, the show got gradually better, but I wasn’t going to shed tears if it was cancelled. I am surprised that it lasted 6 seasons. BTW, if you ask why I watched the show even though I didn’t love it, well, we’ve all done it, right? Overall, I found the series passable. Besides, the episodes go quickly.

The cars featured in this article are, in my opinion, those that best represent the show -as well as a few personal favorites- but are just some of the many more that were featured in the show. If you have a favorite machine that wasn’t included, go ahead and mention it in the comments section at the end of the post.

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The Cars and Bikes of the Ah! My Goddess Manga

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Ah! My Goddess (distributed in the North American continent as Oh My Goddess! by Dark Horse Comics) tells the adventures of university engineering student and gearhead Keiichi Morisato and Belldandy, the goddess who Keiichi accidentally called in a ‘Goddess Help Line’(they’re more like genies with divine titles, as if they’ve used ‘em under license from The Big Guy himself). Stuck with each other, the duo will face whatever otherworldly challenges friends, family and foes will bring, both here on earth and beyond. Created by the industry’s resident gearhead Kosuke Fujishima, this rated-teen-and-older franchise has been a key pillar in legit manga (Japanese graphic novel) and anime (Japanese animation) for the North American market before the genre’s latest wave of popularity a couple of years later, as well as being a gem in Japan, with its steady run producing 308+ chapters compiled to produce a very healthy 48 volumes -like Initial D- from 1988 to 2014. Even the author is dumbfounded at its longevity.

You may have noticed that the opening title for this post only mentions the manga, not the anime. I did that on purpose. I’m able to squeeze reading a couple of manga pages over watching anime episodes. There are far more stories in the manga. And probably most importantly, there are a TON of machines I want to feature, so I need all the space I can get.

It’s actually quite refreshing to read a manga without all the stereotypical behavior and characters that I’ve been noticing throughout the years in multiple titles. Well, most of them anyway. Because of the manga’s steady run-time, you’ll notice little details that are wonderfully stuck in their times: from LA Gear hi-top sneakers to Laserdisc, though I must say that it carries the story well through the years without the reader noticing. Like many long-running titles, newer trends sneak up as well, including cars. Speaking of which…

Behind the slice-of-life/action-adventure/comedy-romance/techy-supernatural/fantasy backdrop is one that will resonate with this website: gearhead culture. It’s the reason why I became interested in this franchise in the first place. The love for machines is so important that there are entire storylines dedicated to the bond between man (and goddess) and machine, whether it’s a Honda minibike or a rocket-punch-slinging robot. The author and co. went to great lengths making machines as accurate as possible (even background vehicles), as well as the history, terminology and romance on some. Even bicycles, cameras and watches get romanticized. The amount of detail poring through is enough to make me consider it as one of the greatest gearhead-driven Japanese franchises ever, and I’ll even go as far as saying that it bests other car-and-bike-based series, like Fujishima’s other motoring project, éX-Driver. Besides, any series that shows a character wearing a shirt saying ‘Suzuki Motor Co. DOT-3’ can’t be that bad, right? Continue reading

A Big Birthday, So A Big Birthday Present! (Part One)

I tell ya, you know you’re getting old when your insurance company only sends you half a calendar. –Rodney Dangerfield

On January 16, 2017, I turned 60 years old.  Unbelievable.  But hey, there’s always the lesser-desired alternative.  So for this (somewhat) joyous occasion, I am taking an opportunity to buy the car that was my high school Class of 1975 dream car — this 1975 Mustang II Ghia:

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Cars 3, a review:

I usually review previously released movies that are cult-classics and/or could use more attention. The reason why I’m writing about this commercially successful new movie is because its franchise has its detractors, and many who don’t have kids will avoid it. Allow me to try to convince them, but in order to do so, I’m going to have to spoil it.

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Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has been racing for some time now, long enough to start noticing a change at the starting line: a new generation of racecars that use science, numbers and money to achieve incredible results, spearheaded by prick rookie sensation Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). Soon, he was the only one left of his type, as others retired from the sport disheartened or just plain fired for not performing accordingly. Not wanting to fade away, Lightning pushes his tires too far. The successive blowout sends him through the air, wrecking him badly.

4 months later, Lightning -fixed but hidden away watching old movies, still in primer- decides that it will be himself that will decide when he’s finished racing, not somebody else, like what happened with his late mentor Doc Hudson (the late Paul Newman, using previously unused voice recordings). But he’ll need a new form of training. Continue reading