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The Sunday Column - March 22, 2015

William Maley

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It has been a crazy couple weeks here at the Cheers & Gears Detroit bureau, hence why there wasn't a Sunday Column last week. Well for this week's column, I'll be doing a bunch of quick hits as there has been a bunch of news for the past couple of weeks.

Thoughts from the past couple of weeks:

  • Possibly the big story of the past couple of weeks has been the suspension of Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson and subsequent canceling of the current series of Top Gear. This is due to a 'fracas' between Clarkson and a producer, which resulted in Clarkson punching a producer.
    • Fun fact: Fracas is worth 11 points on Scrabble.

    [*]Since this story broke last Monday, it has developed into a parody of itself with a number of supporters delivering a petition to the BBC in a tank to reinstate Clarkson, along with Clarkson delivering a profanity-ladened talk during an auction.

    [*]Whether or not Top Gear returns with Clarkson, or is given the boot, the BBC comes off worse - both in public perception and money. The BBC had to pay back a large amount of money to TV stations that broadcast Top Gear.

    [*]As for Clarkson, he is a bit of a loose cannon as history shows us. Whether he makes a return to Top Gear or moves to something else, you can bet there will be a legion of people that will follow him.

    [*]I want to give to give a quick plug to Blake Noble who has written two editorials on the whole Top Gear mess. One on whether its the end of Clarkson and Top Gear, and the other on how Top Gear saved and then messed up automotive journalism.

This pas week also saw some brands bid farewell to some international markets:

  • First up was Chrysler, which will pull out of Great Britain at the end of year.
    • Not surprising since they only moved 1,982 vehicles in the past year.
    • I wonder if Chrysler would have been better off being a niche brand with importing a small number of vehicles like the 200 (the new one) and 300.
    • Also, rebadging Lancia vehicles as Chryslers may have been seen as a good idea in the beginning...
    • The plus side is this give a bit more breathing room for Jeep. The brand moved 3,909 units last year in the U.K. and expects that number to go up like it has in the United States. With the new Renegade, I would not be surprised if they double that number.

    [*]The other big leave was GM pulling Opel and most of Chevrolet from Russia.

    • "This decision avoids significant investment into a market that has very challenging long-term prospects,” said GM President Dan Ammann." Those challenges in question include economic conditions, volatile currency, and the mess in Ukraine.
    • Just how bad are car sales in Russia? The Association of European Business which tracks sales, state that 128,298 vehicles were sold in Russia last month - a drop of 38 percent when compared to the same time last year.
    • The head AEB's manufacturing division warns that this is only the beginning of a big sales decline.

Other Bits and Pieces:

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Clarkson assaults a subordinate because he's an entitled f@#kwit, treats the ordeal as a comedy and entertains multi-million dollar offers from competing media networks. 


Fans consider him a martyr against a giant 'political correctness' conspiracy, chastise the BBC's human resources discipline policy as some sort of 'leftist agenda,' and sign a petition that's delivered by tank to the BBC.


Meanwhile, the producer's facing death threats and is being castigated as some kind of pussy, who ought to have sucked things up and moved on. 


All this proves is Top Gear perpetuates the notion that car fans are meatheaded neanderthals that don't belong in today's world. Clarkson embraces being a dinosaur, and people adopting his outlook are slowly killing the automotive hobby. 

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"…slowly killing the automotive hobby"


Clarkson doesn't have anything close to that level of influence.

He's a TV talking head with some comedic ability. Beyond that diversion, who cares about him? Modification, restoration, competition & collecting will go merrily right along with or without him.

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"…slowly killing the automotive hobby"


Clarkson doesn't have anything close to that level of influence.

He's a TV talking head with some comedic ability. Beyond that diversion, who cares about him? Modification, restoration, competition & collecting will go merrily right along with or without him.


I think Clarkson does.. but on younger views.

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I guess I'm in the minority, I love Top Gear, I've been watching it for close to 7 years now.  There's nothing wrong with shows like Motorweek and other car shows that take a more fact based approach, but Top Gear is just fun.  The cinematography is top notch, the locations on the big challenges and road trips are all beautiful places that many of us would otherwise never get to see.  The trio of hosts have a genuine bond and friendship as evidenced by the fact both Hammond and May refused to complete the final episodes of this series without Clarkson.  Sure Clarkson can be insulting and obnoxious but thats what makes him fun to watch.  I'm an American and I get a kick out of him insulting American cars and us in general.  It's comedy folks, I'm so sick of everything having to be nice and sweet and approved for all audiences  Clearly I'm not the only one as Top Gear is a global powerhouse.  

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