On Episode 3 of Top Gear US, the guys try to find the best moonshine carrying car for under $1000, guys go camping in their cars and spit moonshine, the guys talk about a German hybrid supercar, a modern family father drives a Suzuki SX4,

Warning: Spoilers are in the review.

Segment 1: $1000 Moonshine Car Competition Introduction and the First Challenge,

Ford Tunderbird TurboCoupe
Nissan 300ZX
Cadillac Coupe DeVille

Rutledge is the first to arrive with a 1987 Ford Thunderbird TurboCoupe, which he paid $1000 for. Tanner arrives next and brings a 1987 Nissan 300ZX. Adam arrives last in a 1976 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. The hosts are handed an envelope. The letter, read by Rutledge, tells how moonshine runners needed fast, reliable cars and that they competed against one another, leading to the founding of NASCAR. The guys had to load grain alcohol in their cars and drive across town to their first challenge. Rutledge walks over to Adam’s car and rips the Cadillac emblem of the hood of the Cadillac and throws it to Tanner, who drives off with the emblem. Each host talks about his car while driving to the place to pick up the alcohol. Each guy must carry one hundred bottles of moonshine in his car. The guys arrive to the place for their first challenge, which they must drive to a cone and do a bootleg turn, a 180 degree J-turn, and then return to the starting line. Fastest time wins. Tanner goes first and does the challenge in 17.72 seconds. Rutledge goes next and does the challenge in 26.00 seconds. Adams goes and does the challenge faster than Rutledge, but not as fast as Tanner. Adam’s time was not announced. All that was said is that Adam smoked Rutledge. But Adam’s performance in the first challenge cost him several bottles of moonshine.

Segment 2: Moonshiner’s Camp

The Boys are told that they will be camping in their cars since moonshine runners camped in their cars to evade the police. On the ray to the campsite, Rutledge’s car overheats and pulls over. In continuing with the Top Gear UK tradition, when one host pulls over due to car problems, the other hosts drive off without him. Adam and Tanner joke about how “bad” they feel about leaving Rutledge behind. They joke that Rutledge would “Yes Ma’am” his way into a hot shower and a bed. Rutledge fix his car by loosing up the thermostat and putting muddy water in the radiator. Rutledge joins the other two at the campsite and they pull out the moonshine. The guys past the time by spitting moonshine on the fire. After several hours of drinking moonshine, the guys call it a night and sleep in their cars.

Segment 3: The News

Porsche 918
Lamborghini Chainsaw
Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca

The show returns to the studio as the guys call Rutledge a wuss for not being able to handle moonshine even though he is from the South. The guys start the news. The first topic is the Porche 918 concept car, a hybrid super car. The say that Porsche believes the 918 will doe 198 mph and gets 78 mpg. The guys like the 918. Rutledge says that he would rather have the 918 over the terrible Prius. Adam jokes about an Italian electric machine and shows a Lamborghini electric chainsaw. Tanner then brings up a Nevada governor candidate who wants to make it legal to drive 90 mph for 24 hours after paying $25. The audience loves the idea. Adam then brings up a San Francisco survey about the cars that are most likely to get a speeding ticket and the cars that are least likely to get a speeding ticket. People are most likely to get a ticket in a Toyota Camry Solara, a Scion TC, and a Hummer. People are least likely to get a speeding ticket in a Mazda Tribute, a Kia Spectre, a Buick LaCrosse, and a Buick Rainier. The guys joke that the reason people are less likely to get speeding tickets in Buicks is that Buicks are bought by old people. Rutledge makes a joke “Buick, it worked for Tiger Woods.” Rutledge then shows off the 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca. He talks about how it is an upgraded Mustang GT and that it went faster around the Laguna Seca track than the BMW M3.

Segment 3: Ty Burrell in the Suzuki SX4.

Ty Burrell

Ty Burrell is the next person for the “Big Star Small Car” segment. Adam interviews Ty. Ty talks about the Ford Country Squire Station Wagon on Modern Family and how on the last drive, the family drives it over a hill and his experience buying a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle. Ty drives the Suzuki SX4 around a wet track in 1:46.6.

Segment 4: Moonshine Runner’s Obstacle Course

The guys are trying to recover from a sleepless night. They arrive at an off road course and are given an envelope containing details about the second challenge. The track is designed for dirt bikes and off-road vehicles and includes steep turns, a mud section, and a huge jump. This is a test of the cars’ durability and again, whoever completes the course in the fastest time wins. Tanner goes first and drives further than he needs to go. He has a few broken bottles. Rutledge goes second and struggles with the turns put has no problems with the jump. He broke a few bottles. Adam went last and the guys joke that Adam will get stuck. Adam is nervous in his Cadillac. Adam is speeding through the course until he goes up a hill and gets stuck. He eventually gets unstuck and makes it to the jump. He lands and the Cadillac bends at two spots. Adam made have finished the course, but his car is in bad condition. The door is stuck, the car was leaking fluids, and the windshield is cracked. Tanner reveals the times. Rutledge did the course in 2:38, Tanner did the course in 2:01, and Adam did the course in 1:52. He may have won, but his car was dead. To add insult to injury, all the bottles in the trunk of the Cadillac broke. Adam could not drive his car away from the off-road course.

Segment 5: Outrun the Stig

The Stig

Segment 5 starts at Rockingham Speedway. The third and final challenge is to see how long the guys can outrun the police, represented by Officer Stig, who will be chasing the moonshine runners in a Dodge Charger Police Car. Since Adam’s Cadillac is damaged beyond repair, he could not compete. The other two would try to outrun the Stig on the Rockingham Speedway street course. Tanner and Rutledge would be given a fifteen second head start over the Stig. Tanner went first and spun out. Rutledge went up next and could not get his car going. He decided to take a few bottles and try to outrun the Stig on foot. He pours the moonshine on the grass but gets caught by the Stig. Tanner won the challenge.

Segment 6: The Winner is Revealed

The show ends with a montage of the Moonshine Runner Challenge and the points are added up.Tanner won the J-Turn and Police challenges and had the most moonshine left. Adam had the best night sleep at the campsite and won the off-road track challenge. Rutledge did not win at any challenge. Tanner was the overall winner and proved that the best moonshine runner car was a 1987 Nissan 300ZX.

Overall this was a solid episode. It had humor, competition among the three host, and a destroyed car. The guys kept up with Top Gear tradition in abandoning stranded hosts. Only one car survived the competition and it is blasphemy for a Japanese car to win at a Moonshine Runner Competition. Plus Tanner and Rutledge had to outrun the Stig. In my mind, this was the second best episode of Top Gear US Season 1. I still like Episode 2 over Episode 3. I must say that the chemistry of the three hosts has greatly improved over the pilot episode.

Final Verdict: 8 Stigs out of 10. This episode is available at www.history.com


Originally written on  July 20, 2011

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