You saw the teaser and the trailer, “The Beach (Buggy) Boys” is The Grand Tour’s very first two-part special, and we were promised a two hour adventure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May trekking along the Namibian desert. Part one has recently aired and was it any good? Read on to find out our SPOILER infused summary below!
We were fooled! We sincerely thought that the trio would have begun this adventure by documenting their very own construction of beach buggies out of old Volkswagen Beetles. The latest trailer had led us to believe as such. Instead we were immediately greeted by James May storming in his finished Beach Buggy. Given the massive challenge ahead for these three, perhaps it was the best idea to have let someone else build their beach buggies to more exacting standards, rather than relying on their handy skills.
May’s beach buggy closely resembles the original 1964 Beach Buggy built by Bruce Meyers, and contained the actual Beetle engine, suspension, transmission, and wheels. His buggy was the most faithful recreation of what a Beach Buggy is supposed to be, relative to what his colleagues brought along.
Clarkson has built what a beach buggy can truly be, which has been fitted a massive V8 engine and wild purple paint. The engine, which started life as a Land Rover’s 3.5 liter V8 engine, was so massive that it stuck out beyond the frame of the car, easily becoming the target of Hammond’s and May’s jokes. Meanwhile, Hammond has brought a tubular steel framed car that looked like the Ariel Nomad’s little brother, which still possessed a Beetle engine.
With the introductions out of the way (and no “Conversation Street” and “Celebrity Brain Crash” to struggle through) the Boys received their very first instructions by their producer, Andy Wilman. Here were his instructions:
Since you’re in beach buggies, you will now drive to the beach. The beach to which you will drive is located in the crocodile infested river Kunene River at the northern most point of Namibia, where it meets Angola. It’s a thousand miles away.
The first thing they set out to do was to find a map so they can figure out where they were and where they were to go. This turned out to be more difficult than it sounded because it required for them to find a town, and finding that town meant they first needed to find a road. Starting off from the coastline facing the Atlantic Ocean, Clarkson, Hammond, and May headed off north alongside sea lions and beached ships.
Having worn insufficient clothes in anticipation of the desert, the trio found the coastline misty and ocean breeze to be a bit cold, giving them the idea to go inland, where it’s sunny, to find the coast road. This choice led them on a meandering and scary drive through a lot of nothingness. After discovering an abandoned diamond mine, Clarkson miraculously convinced Hammond and May to rely on his constellation based navigation skills to lead them on their journey. Using the Southern Cross as means of determining the South, the Boys slogged through the desert in the dark and eventually forced to shelter under their cars.
Having slept on the sand and under their cars, they found themselves back on the coastline and at the starting line, thanks to the Orangutan’s poor sense of celestial directions. This forced them to rely on their original plan of driving up the coastline, passing their original buggies’ tracks on the sand. With steep dunes to their right and the coastline to their left, the scenery that The Grand Tour captured, for legal reasons, is shit. They managed to capture something that’s never before seen in any automotive program before, and it’s truly breathtaking.
However, this coastline trek led them to an impassable piece of land, forcing them to backtrack. Only this time their path was slowly closing in on them as the tides were rising, but the dunes were still mountainous. This challenging moment forced the Boys to work together, as they sensed that their lives were depending on it. Through teamwork and a lot of motivated driving, they managed to squeeze through an opening in the dunes and headed inland.
Continuing inland the trio were faced with the Namib desert, a vast place filled with exactly nothing. For the remainder of the show the three were challenged with steep hill climbs, sudden drop offs, and Clarkson’s mechanical breakdowns. The desert was truly a magnificent place that became extremely dangerous in the dark, as the Boys were often driving in the middle of the night. But the scariest moment of the episode was in the daylight where Hammond and his buggy suddenly disappeared from view, prompting Clarkson to radio in “Hammond’s gone everyone! Hammond’s gone! Big one!” Turns out the Hamster managed to drive himself safely down the hill without hurting himself or the car. This was truly a scary moment that may remind people what had happened to him a decade prior.
After numerous hours of driving in the desert, the Boys finally found a road system which will take them into town. However, Clarkson found himself going through many mechanical breakdowns, which led to him experiencing the worst night of his life. In the meantime, his co-presenters appropriately abandoned him to go into Namibia’s capital city, Windhoek, to have a well deserved drink and concluding a highly entertaining part one of The Beach (Buggy) Boys special.
We’ll write up our official review of the special once we’ve seen part two, but most importantly, what do you think of this special so far? Is it hitting the mark? Let us know below!