After several months of separate programs, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May will once again grace the small screen with a Grand Tour special. While the last adventure took place in a Scandinavian winter, this new episode focuses on a trek through Eastern Europe. Officially called Eurocrash, the special will come out on June 16, and it will feature the trio in three very weird cars.
Let’s start off with the most familiar one, the Chevrolet SSR. This retro-styled vehicle was a convertible pickup truck with a carpet-lined bed, which sounds excessively odd until you realize this was meant to separate boomers from their 401(k)s. Riding on the Chevrolet Trailblazer platform, the SSR first appeared with a 5.3-liter V8 that offered leisurely acceleration for something posturing as a hot rod. Zero-to-60 passed in a middling 7.7 seconds, despite a respectable 290 horsepower under the hood. Perhaps the 4L60E four-speed automatic gearbox was a dog, but the more likely culprit is the sheer weight of the SSR.
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For 2005, the SSR got a much better powertrain, a 390-horsepower six-liter LS2 V8 hitched to an available Tremec T-56 six-speed manual gearbox. This combination brought acceleration times down immensely, with zero-to-60 flashing by in 5.5 seconds. Sadly, this newfound performance failed to buoy sales to GM’s satisfaction, and the whole thing was called off after the 2006 model year. Today, the SSR is collectable among the white hair and lawn chair demographic, but the wider motoring world has yet to warm up to it.
If you thought the SSR was wild, get a load of the Mitsuoka Le-Seyde, a coachbuilt neoclassic based on the S13 Nissan Silvia. You know, everyone’s favorite drift car. As such, expect a CA18DE 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine under that very long hood, paired with a four-speed automatic gearbox. Not the most exciting combination known to humankind, but the Le-Seyde was very much a luxury cruiser. Ideal for a grand tour, if you will. Only 500 original-run Le-Seydes were reportedly produced, making this neoclassic beast a bit of a rarity. Then again, rarity doesn’t always assure that something’s valuable. Mind you, the Le-Seyde would make a hilarious base for a drift car, as a turbocharged CA18DET engine and five-speed manual gearbox shouldn’t be hard to fit. Add in the S13’s famously good chassis and a wheelbase stretch to slow rotation, and you end up with a tantalizing proposition.
Finally, we get to the weirdest car here, the Crosley CC Four convertible, which was actually built in Indiana. Weighing less than 1,500 pounds and sporting a daring 26.5 horsepower, the CC Four was certainly ahead of its time. While it was in production, Americans hadn’t yet warmed to the Beetle, let alone subcompact cars as a genre. Unsurprisingly, this is James May’s pick. I’m not even sure where the production team found this thing, but I appreciate the theoretical chance of a Crosley getting some time in the limelight. Plus, the Crosley Hotshot sports car found some success in competition back in the day, so the CC Four isn’t an entirely implausible pick. Its CoBra engine goes down in history as one of the automotive kingdom’s weirdest as it was made out of sheetmetal. It also featured a single overhead cam and weighed just 133 pounds with all accessories attached. In this context, the fact that it made 26.5 horsepower is seriously impressive.
While this assortment of weirdness likely won’t do much for the sort of viewer primarily interested in supercars, I can’t say I’ve seen Clarkson, Hammond, and May do a Grand Tour special in a more interesting set of vehicles. Needless to say, I’ll be tuning in on June 16 to see how this adventure goes. While I felt that A Scandi Flick was a mixed bag, Carnage A Trois featuring French cars was a hoot and a half, so I’m curious how this one will land.
(Photo credits: Amazon Prime Video UK, Chevrolet, Collecting Cars)
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Good news! This is already a thing that’s been done and there are plenty of videos on Youtube featuring at least one.
While I’ll happily take another season of Oh Cook or Our Man In, I’m pretty much done with the other two. The old shows were great, but James is really the only one I don’t feel bad about myself for watching.
I will watch this and what ever comes after before JC’s mouth ended contracts are up. I will enjoy James May as I really enjoy his work and he seems to be a decent guy but there is probably something terrible he said or did that I have since forgotten. It is hard to keep up on all the cancelations.