The Grand Tour is coming in November 18th, which means the Public Relations machine has been going full bore in their attempts to publicize the new and improved version of Top Gear. Admittedly we have also been going full bore and beyond in our attempts to cover the whole gamut of The Grand Tour news. The latest interview comes from Autoblog and you can tell it’s the same day as the Jalopnik’s version as Richard Hammond was not present due to his “dehydration” situation. The two interviews largely covered the same topics like what makes Top Gear so popular and what can we expect from The Grand Tour. However, this interview also shed a lot of light into the future of automotive enthusiasm, their motivations, and the Boys’ chemistry, or as James May puts it:
James May: I think it’s that we were creatively fueled by our mutual loathing of each other.
Jeremy Clarkson: Yeah, it was probably one of the things. I genuinely don’t know. I just don’t know. I’ve thought about it so much and I have no idea why so many people around the world watched it. It’s impossible to say. People say it’s the chemistry between us and even that’s just loathing as James rightly points out.
James May: It’s a particularly volatile sort of chemistry.
Jeremy Clarkson: Cars. Yeah, people like cars but not so much these days. Travel, there’s loads of travel shows, I just don’t know.
James May: What I do know, though, because I’ve thought about it a lot as well – it was something very complicated and actually quite fragile which is why attempts for people to do other things in the Top Gearstyle – I even have people saying to me “will you come and present an award ceremony or something corporate? We’ve put together something and it’s very Top Gear,” and I immediately say no ’cause I know it won’t be. It’s a very difficult thing to understand. We don’t understand it but we were in it, so…
Autoblog: Amazing. You guys are just more likable than you know.
Jeremy Clarkson: Oh I don’t think so. Our Producer Andy Wilman has a theory, which is quite interesting. He said, that it’s a car show, at heart. It became less so but it was still a car show at heart, which would make an eleven-year-old boy want to watch, because it’s cars. And his dad would go, “I’d quite like to watch that as well.” So now you’ve got, in a nuclear family, you’ve got son and father watching. And the daughter fancied Richard Hammond, before he lost his looks, which was a bit catastrophic when he grew a beard and died his hair. He’s so cute, but then mother would walk in and go, “I’ve got the whole family watching, which is so rare these days. I don’t care what it is, I want to watch it as well.” So, it became family viewing, in the UK. The whole family would sit down and watch Top Gear.
As to whether Top Gear will be different than The Grand Tour, the two expressed that the shows won’t be massively different than the other, and that nothing won’t really be added to the formula:
James May: Well it’s sort of already there.
Jeremy Clarkson: You don’t want to add.
Autoblog: Not add?
Jeremy Clarkson: Not at all. Not add. For 12 years people have had cottage pie because they’re very familiar with cottage pie, they like it. They like the show. What we’ve done with the new show is, it’s shepherd’s pie. It’s lamb, not beef. It’s still comfort food. It’s still a very nice pie, but it’s slightly different. It has to be, obviously, because the steak is gone. I’m just hoping that people don’t go, “oh, no, I’ve always liked my cottage pie, none of that shepherd,” but within a week or two, I’m hoping people will say, “That’s a really good show. If we had started with this show, I think people would have loved it.” And then, if we’ve changed it after 12 years to what Top Gear was they would have said, “oh no, no don’t don’t…”
James May: I don’t think anybody’s going to watch it and go, “What the hell has happened to them?” Still, a lot of it, because it’s still us three and we haven’t changed, is going to seem familiar.
Jeremy Clarkson: We’re in a tent, not a studio. We do different things in there. It’s still us three.
Autoblog: But the core is still there?
Jeremy Clarkson: Yeah.
James May: Well, the core is us.
Autoblog: Of course.
James May: To go on as cottage pie, changed into shepherd’s pie – there are a certain number of people who wouldn’t notice because they can’t really tell the difference.
James May and Jeremy Clarkson also revealed what they drove on a regular basis, and given their popularity their choice isn’t a big surprise. It will be interesting to see what they have to say about the cars on the show as they own several of them:
Autoblog: A little personal, what’s the new toy in the garages these days? What’s your favorite?
James May: In our own?
Autoblog: In your own.
James May: What I’ve actually ordered a new car, haven’t I? I’ve got an i3, but I ordered a new i3, because it has an improved battery. And I’ve gone for no range extender. I did have that before, but I felt that was a form of cowardice, so I’ve abandoned that.
Autoblog: It is wimping out.
Jeremy Clarkson: I think you can tell him the other cars you have, too. I don’t want people to think you drive an electric car and nothing else.
James May: No no, of course I don’t, I still have a range extender. It’s a Ferrari 458. And I’ve got a Porsche range extender as well. I have a Rolls-Royce range extender.
Autoblog: And the latest is the i3?
James May: Yeah. I haven’t got it yet. It will be in about six weeks, or two months, or something.
Autoblog: What about you Jeremy?
Jeremy Clarkson: I have a gray Volkswagen Golf.
Autoblog: Okay. Which engine?
Jeremy Clarkson: GTI, I just drive a GTI and it does everything I want. I drive lots of very fancy cars all the time. But to have your own car where nobody looks at you is safer on the motorway. When he drives his orange Ferrari, everybody takes photographs. That would bore me to death, so I just drive a gray Golf and nobody sees me.
Switching topics to the future of cars, May and Clarkson gave very good insight as to where the industry may go and also quelled some of the concerns shared by many automotive enthusiasts. With the next big thing in cars being autonomous cars coupled with the fact that the younger generation care less and less about driving, the act of driving being a thing of the past is becoming more and more of a reality:
James May: I think it’s immensely far off, a genuinely robotic car that can behave like a human driving a car can, because people constantly underestimate the wit of humanity. I can’t remember which astronaut said this, that the human being is still the greatest computer in the world and is completely free to produce. It can be produced for nothing by totally unskilled labor. That was it. But I think partial autonomy has a place, and we were arguing about this earlier because, believe it or not, we don’t agree. I think partial autonomy, for boring bits of journeys, would make them quicker, safer, and give you time to do something else. But I still want to be able to drive a car because I like it. I find it amazing.
Jeremy Clarkson: What’s interesting about autonomous cars is, if you’re driving in your autonomous car and a lorry suddenly lunges out in front of it. The car sees the lorry and thinks, “Okay, I must miss that.” So the only option now is to swerve to the left. But there’s a family of four on the sidewalk. And it will then think, “Well, there’s one person in the car, so I’m going to hit the lorry.” Which means that the autonomous car, in that peculiar set of circumstances, is actually programmed to kill its owner. Which I think is a really weird, moral difficulty with autonomous cars. The other thing is, we both agree on this, when the steam engine arrived the horse wasn’t just killed off, it became a hobby for enthusiasts. And that’s what will happen to cars, and I will continue to drive cars because I like driving cars.
Those who don’t like driving cars will have autonomous cars. By and large they’ll be able to do it. Say 10 or 20 years, the only three carmakers in the world will be Uber, Google, and Apple, pretty much. Ford, Chevy, Volkswagen they’re all piloting themselves into a hillside, all the big established carmakers, because they are making such terrible, terrible cars at the moment. SUVs and Renault Captur, come on guys. People are going to say “Can I have a poster daddy of a Renault Captur on my wall? Will it be at Le Mans this year?” No, it’s just rubbish. And then they go, “Oh well why are people using Uber instead of buying our cars?” Because your cars are rubbish, that’s why.
Autoblog: There’s a lot of talk about the youth of the world falling out of love with cars. Do you think that’s correct?
Jeremy Clarkson: Definitely. Definitely correct.
James May: There are a lot of other things for them to do.
Autoblog: That is true. There are a lot of things for them to do, but is that the largest factor?
James May: I suspect it is. I can remember, it’s still one of my most vivid memories, was the first time I went out in a car by myself. Many years later I learned to fly an airplane and went up in an airplane by myself, which is a much more remarkable thing, but it wasn’t as exciting. Because that step from being contained and limited, repressed in a way by the inability to move around – from there, to getting in a car, any car, and setting off with nobody with you and being able to go wherever you wanted is the greatest leap forward my life has ever taken. But I don’t think it’s comparable these days because communication is so much better.
Jeremy Clarkson: My son, who has actually just passed his driving test – I said, “Why don’t you learn to drive?” He said, “Because right outside the apartment in London a bus stops which takes me to Oxford for three pounds, and it has WiFi in it. Why would I drive? It’s expensive, complicated to find somewhere to park. You can’t drink, I can’t be on my phone while I’m doing it.” He just said, “Why would I drive?”
Autoblog also asked what keeps the Boys motivated after all these years, and the answer simply details why Top Gear was such a big success and why The Grand Tour will continue that success and be even better than before:
James May: Having a good time
Jeremy Clarkson: Every morning we have a better time than almost everyone else in the world.
James May: There’s no other reason. You couldn’t actually be motivated by fame. It’s irrelevant. And not by needing more money to spend, because I don’t spend it all anyway. But actually having a good life is such a privilege.
Autoblog: You’re still having fun?
James May: Oh, yeah.
Jeremy Clarkson: Honestly, we were sitting the other day in a traffic jam in Liverpool, and we looked into a computer shop. There was somebody there with a purple shirt, flogging laptops on a wet, cold, dark November night. We just thought, “God, we’re lucky.” I still think of him every time they make me do something, you just think, “We genuinely have the best jobs in the world. We really, really do.” I just can’t think of anything I’d rather do.
James May: Even fighter pilot isn’t as good. You get more sex, but it’s not as much fun.
Jeremy Clarkson: Right.
James May: Hopefully we can sort of have fun on other people’s behalf. That’s part of the objective, so they can have it vicariously. Even though the next day they’ve got to go back to the computer shop, and … with a purple shirt …
Head over to Autoblog’s interview to see the rest of the discussion as they discuss the stories behind the famed Tesla Roadster and the lawsuits that transpired, and also a discussion between who they would marry or kill between them.
As for our usual Public Service Announcement: The only way you can watch The Grand Tour (legally) is to subscribe to Amazon Prime. If you haven’t subscribed yet you can do so by going here. If you want to watch The Grand Tour for free, there are ways to do so…