Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson Takes on the VelociRaptor
If you’re a fan of the BBC television show Top Gear, you’ll know that Richard Hammond is the resident American. He likes muscle cars, cowboy boots, chewing gun, and pickup trucks. But when it comes time for the show to feature two American trucks for an entire episode, Hammond ends up not driving either. Instead, the honor is bestowed on James May and Jeremy Clarkson.
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead. This episode aired on BBC 2 Sunday, March 1st. It will air on BBC America in the United States Monday, March 2nd.
Lately, it seems like Top Gear presenters fancy themselves as members of International Rescue, the organization that the television series Thunderbirds is based around.
The premise behind this episode is that Richard Hammond is dropped off in the Canadian wilderness with just a few supplies and a watch. The watch, from Breitling, is a $16,000 locator beacon that can be used to send for help if you need it.
Interesting side fact: The watch is a one-time use device. Due to the power requirements of the locator function, it literally destroys itself when the operator uses the homing beacon. Breitling replaces the watch free of charge.
Instead of sending a trained professional team to rescue Hammond, Clarkson and May are dispatched from England to rescue him. They choose to go after him in two American pickup trucks; the Chevrolet Silverado HD and the Hennessy VelociRaptor.
The VelociRaptor is very fitting for Clarkson, who prefers horsepower over common sense, and is known to break his share of press vehicles. The VelociRaptor in question is the supercharged 6.2L V8 making 600 bhp. Along with the engine upgrades, the truck is also modified for heavy-duty off road use, including a new bumper, winch, and auxiliary lighting.
Clarkson, at one point, describes the power of the LED auxiliary light as being “the sun.”
So beyond the scripted comedy and usual antics, how does the Ford Raptor hold up under the abuse of Jeremy Clarkson and the Canadian Rockies?
Pretty well, actually. Obviously on-road the truck has the same manners as a normal Raptor, which is to say pretty good. The extra horsepower makes overtaking easy, and the sound of the supercharger is intoxicating.
Off road, VelociRaptor is great for high-speed antics. Clarkson also utilizes some of the truck’s advanced technology, including the front-view camera, to see when following a stream.
At one point, though, Clarkson’s driving skills nearly let him down, and truck is almost lost. Though he was able to save the truck, he did lose the passenger side front wheel. That didn’t stop him from continuing onward to the final destination.
The final twist was that whoever got to Hammond first wouldn’t have to rescue him, and put up with his complaining, all the way back to Vancouver. So Clarkson arrived first, on three wheels, and just drove right past Hammond and started to head back. Presumably, he replaced the bad wheel with the spare that is mounted in the bed of the truck.
The Silverado Z71 did not actually make it to the rescue point, because it broke a driveshaft. That means Hammond actually had to be rescued by a normal rescue team after all.
I’m personally a fan of Top Gear, and I found this to be an enjoyable episode. Yes, I know it’s scripted. I also know it’s an entertainment program first, and a car program second. But that’s okay, because I enjoy watching.
The VelociRaptor did well, with plenty of gratuitous Raptoring shots as well. Give it a watch, and then let us know what you think about it in the forums!