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Firing Order: Top Gear Bolivia Special

Posted in News: Features on September 4, 2019
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Contributors: BBC Studios

The ultimate collection of Top Gear is now available on the MotorTrend App, the only subscription streaming service dedicated entirely to the motoring world. Sign up for a free trial to start binge watching right now!

Four Wheeler is part of the MotorTrend Group, and beginning August 30, 2019, the Ultimate Collection of Top Gear became available exclusively on the MotorTrend app. That's 170 episodes spanning seasons 2-25, plus lots more. This is a pretty darn exciting development for gearheads.

I was recently asked which Top Gear episode is my favorite, and my answer was instantaneous—the Bolivia Special, which can be found in Season 1, Episode 3 of the MotorTrend app's Top Gear Specials.

The premise of the episode was that the show's hosts, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, each purchased inexpensive, well-used 4x4s off the Internet—without being able to inspect the vehicles first—for the 1,000-mile trip through Bolivia to the Pacific coast of Chile. The fact that the hosts weren't able to inspect the vehicles prior to purchase is something I found amusing, and fun. I was hooked on the episode right from the start. I've driven old and/or unknown-to-me vehicles on long trips and know how exhilarating/ominous it is to wonder if/when mechanical things will go awry. In the case of the Top Gear trio's trip, mechanicals, and other things, went awry rather quickly and continued for the entire journey.

The episode begins with the arrival of the 4x4s on something that resembled a barge/raft/ferry while the trio of hosts stood on the Amazon riverbank, getting their first in-person look at what they had purchased. Clarkson had procured a Range Rover, while May snagged a Suzuki SJ413, and Hammond scored a Toyota Land Cruiser. Soon the guys were trying to figure out how to get the vehicles (one of which wouldn't start) off the barge/raft/ferry and onto shore. That alone was amusing and a bit fascinating, as they ended up using wood planks as a bridge to get the vehicles onto shore. Heck, that segment was so entertaining I would've been content if the episode ended there, but it was just the beginning.

The episode included vehicle recoveries, handbuilt makeshift bridges, dead engines, snakes, bugs, deep water crossings, narrow mountain roads, significant impromptu vehicle modifications, altitude sickness, and the destruction of the Toyota (which Hammond had nicknamed "Donkey") near the end of episode.

It was like the Top Gear Bolivia Special was made for 4x4 fans. Personally, I was riveted by the episode, and afterward I did something extremely rare and purchased the episode so I could watch it repeatedly. That episode of Top Gear has lightened otherwise monotonous airline flights, and even though I've watched it numerous times, it never gets old.

Which brings me to two questions for you. 1.) What is your favorite Top Gear episode? 2.) Have you ever purchased an old 4x4 and took it on a trip?

I'd love to hear what you have to say, so drop me an email.

Oh, and check out the MotorTrend app for the Ultimate Collection of Top Gear!
—Ken Brubaker
ken.brubaker@fourwheeler.com

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