Aston Martin vs. Train

By Deane Barker on September 28, 2005

The BBC show Top Gear is apparently the greatest car show ever. Here’s a link to a Real file (ugh, sorry — see below) of an 18-minute segment from the show where one of the hosts takes an Aston Martin DB9 and tries to beat two of his cohorts who are taking the train from Surrey, across the Channel, then across France to the casino at Monte Carlo.

It’s entertaining as all get out, for any number of reasons:

  • Great clips and information about the Aston Martin itself — the sound that thing gives off is achingly beautiful. The trip is essentially a big test drive for the host…the bastard.
  • The Aston takes a trip across the Channel in a Seacat ferry. Very cool in itself.
  • The other two guys are on the Eurostar train which speeds across the countryside at close to 200 m.p.h.
  • People with British accents just make me laugh. Anything they say is funny.

In the end, it comes out something like The Amazing Race, with the two train guys running across Monte Carlo trying to get to the casino first. (However, the deck was stacked against them, as they initially had to walk to the bus station to get to the train station, then switch trains twice.)

What I found odd is that the clip was very American-ized. All the velocities mentioned are in miles per hour and when he fills up the Aston he talks about gallons. Aren’t the British on the metric system? And why is the car left-hand drive?

(Side note: Does anyone know how I could get Top Gear in the States? What a great show.)

(Another note: if you don’t want to view it in Real — and who could blame you — this Google search apparently turns up several versions in Windows Media, though I didn’t try any of them.)

(Final note: if you like trains — and who doesn’t — here’s a post lamenting about the lack of cool train service in the States. Because, you know, if we had better train service in this country, then I could race around in a DB9. Yeah, that’s what’s stopping me…)

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  1. Here in the UK we measure speed in mph, and although we do buy fuel by the litre whenever we talk about a car’s fuel economy it’s in mpg (miles per gallon).

    The car was probably left hand drive because it was lent to the show from germany or somewhere like that.

    Top Gear rocks. Best program on english tv. Fact.

  2. I had the same (mis)conception about the UK until about 2 weeks ago when I spent a week with 4 Brits at a bicycle race in Italy. Turns out they officially went metric in 1971 or so. The school children now are the first generation to grow up learning metric, so most adults grew up with imperical units, and therefore still use them. Looks like in 2009 it will be illegal to sell food in imperial units, but it is currently technically illegal to put up metric road signs….. who know.

  3. We (In Ireland) just went metric at the beginning of the year. Even though all our cars are still mainly MPH, the speed limits are all in KPH.

    It’s basically to standardise everything across the EU. Money (The Euro) and Units.The British are reluctant to change tho.

  4. This is indeed, the best show on TV here in the UK.

    BTW 19mpg might not sound too bad in the US, but it is worse since our gallons are not the same as US gallons, our gallons are bigger!

    According to the Top Gear entry in Wikipedia, it is on the Discovery Channel in the USA, enjoy!

  5. I totally love this show. I’m in Canada and I get it on BBC World. I assume that this is available on satellite or digital cable in the US.

  6. Torrents brother. One episode = 700 megs. And you can watch it on your PDA on your subway commute. And it might be even legal:)

  7. Try and track down the one where they race a Ferrari against the plane/train/bus from Guildford in England to Verbier in Switzerland.

    Absolutely classic!

  8. a good site for uk torrents is

    although you need to register. List of what top gear they have on atm below, plus they will likely have each of the new series which is about to start within a few hours of broadcast (sunday evening here).

    One of their gags you might enjoy as an american is when they tried to destroy a toyota pickup, which they suspect are actually indestructable.

    The attempts ran over most of a series, and most spectacular was when they put it on top of a high rise tower block which was then demolished with dynamite. It still drove after that.

    Top Gear series 5 (Oct-Dec 2004) .:.RESEED.:.:.BUMPED.:. 3.50GB
    Top Gear Season 1 DivX.Avi’s 3.23GB Top Gear – Series 4 (May 2004 – August 2004) Bumped 2.98GB

  9. The Discovery Channel version of Top Gear is specially created for the US audience. The studio segments are specially filmed for the US version (eg the presenters refer to “trunk” instead of “boot” and “hood” instead of “bonnet”), but the reports are from the original UK version of the show.

    BTW, Jeremy Clarkson is the best auto journalist in the world.

  10. I just discovered the show (no pun intended) on The Discovery Channel and love it! Seeing AND hearing the cars going through there paces outguns some of the other US car shows by a mile. Got the ol’ DVR all set up, unfortunately according to Discovery channel online they don’t have any shows scheduled for the rest of this month….bummer.

  11. people with british accents make you laugh?LOL You’re obviously a real deep thinker. Stupid people make me laugh.

  12. Are you for real?!! Firstly, Englishmen speak English they have regional accents but the Top Gear team do not have accents, unlike American. It also amazes me how our American cousins forget how miles per hour actually orginated in England and was exported to the States, not the other way round! The car, well we all know its just awesome – its an Aston Martin.

  13. 1 brits go by MPH

    2 he spoke of gallons in france… plus as someone else stated, we all talk about MPG.

    3 its probably his own aston martin and people that want to save money on cars like this, often buy from europe.. where the cars are left hand drive.

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