How cheaply can you get to 150 MPH? That's what the guys of Top Gear are trying to find out with some inexpensive 1990's vehicles.
They're in the Mojave Desert to answer this question. Adam Ferrara picks a '95 Pontiac Trans Am, while Rutledge Wood sides with a '94 Infiniti Q45 he's armed with nitrous (what?), and Tanner Foust selects a Saab 9-3 Viggen that he's coordinated with his outfit. Before they can try reaching 150, though, they've got a series of other challenges to go through first.
The first is racing a flaming arrow to save one of their prized personal possessions...which the producers claim is a test of acceleration. Uh, yeah, sure. Adam's desperate to protect his record collection, but he's too late and they start melting while he cries a little. Tanner's after the fire suit he won an X Games gold medal in, and makes it in time. Rut's collection (two?) of Honda Civic manuals is at stake, and he's aware pretty much from the word go that they're toast. Adam and Tanner ask Rut why he didn't just use the nitrous, and he retorts that he's saving it for...something.
Challenge number two is about high-speed stability, in the form of a slalom course. This isn't just any course, though, as the cars' tires have been changed out, leading to crazy things like massive understeer and Adam's door swinging open randomly. Adam somehow wins the test, leading to Tanner pouting like a ten-year-old not getting candy at the grocery store.
Next, the guys have to concentrate under pressure, and by pressure, we mean having to wear a giant Habitrail on their head that contains rats. Nobody wants to do this, but everybody has to. Rutledge is crying before his test has even started, so naturally Tanner and Adam make it take as long as possible. Tanner and Adam decide to forfeit "out of the goodness of our hearts," according to Race Boy, but he's not fooling anybody. Rutledge can bill them for his therapy.
That means the score is completely even as the hosts make their way to finally tackle the '150 MPH Challenge' at the El Mirage dry lake bed. Can these cheap cars make it to 150 MPH over the six miles of terrain? Adam's up first, and his Trans Am can only muster 136, but at least nothing blew up. Tanner and his slightly wobbly Saab hits 151, and with as much as he celebrates, you'd think he won another gold medal. Rutledge now finally has an excuse to use his nitrous, and he triggers it when the Infiniti hits 130, but still can't get it past 138. He lies and says he hit 150, and nobody insists on checking the tape, possibly so someone other than Tanner can have the episode-winning prize for once.
As the winner of the '150 MPH Challenge,' Rutledge gets to head to Tampa, Florida and drive the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, in a lovely shade of road cone orange. "Eat that, everybody I went to middle school with, you jerks," he declares. Rut's task is to safely deliver the pricey car to a VIP across town. He worries about parking the car and its horrible miles per gallon (about 12), but that doesn't stop him from enjoying the ride. After all, who buys a supercar for its fuel efficiency? After the final leg of his journey is helped by a brief police escort, Rut arrives and meets the VIP he's handing the Veyron over to: Tanner, who finally says that he knows Rutledge cheated at El Mirage.
With Tanner behind the wheel, the Veyron is challenged to see how fast it can go on a public road, if that road is cleared for you by local law enforcement. Race Boy pushes the expensive set of wheels to more than 200 MPH, and the only thing stopping him from going faster is not wanting to die when he reaches the turn at the end of the asphalt.
So if you want to reach 150 MPH without breaking the bank, apparently your only choice is a Saab, because a Trans Am won't do it and the Infiniti didn't actually win anything. However, the real lesson here is that if there's a prize on Top Gear that requires driving any sort of speedy vehicle, it's best to put all your money on Tanner Foust, because he always wins.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.