In this second lockdown special, the trio dive into the bizarre world of French car culture.
On an epic road trip starting in the Welsh hills, they dish up a hair-raising mountain climb, bomb defusals, propeller powered cars, helicopter stunts and the most thrilling race of their lives before reaching the English Channel for a jaw dropping medieval climax.
Earlier this year, the former Top Gear presenter was spotted in Crickhowell filming the brand new special, now known as Grand Tour Presents: Carnage A Trois where he was pictured attempting to parallel park a Renault Scenic, with hilarious consequences.
Sharing his most favourite scene of the new episode, Richard Hammond said:
“We all laughed when we drove the cars up the hill, but also weirdly I did some French parking because if you look in Paris everyone drives a small hatchback with dents all over it because it’s a city car. And I demonstrated some French parking, we’d arranged two cars that we’d put on the street and I rammed my car in-between them. What we hadn’t done was warned people in the pub opposite, so they looked out their window, what’s that man little man doing he’s destroying those cars. It did actually hit the local press, they thought this nutters parking in our street, so we maybe should have warned them that would happen.”
Dubbed the part two of the UK-doubled bill special, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond set out to answer one question, What is the matter with the French?
The new episode sees the Grand Tour presenters putting a series of French cars through their paces, running them ragged with some very surprising results. Taking the cars off road across Wales, they are driven along bumpy track roads, uphill across Brecon and back down again. Will the cars survive a thrashing on the Welsh terrain?
Richard, also gets behind the wheel of the 106-mph Helicron, an open-wheel car that used a propeller as its drive. Despite the Helicron project being abandoned in the late 1930s, the French Government actually gave it permission to be driven on the roads.
Speaking to Wales 247, Richard Hammond said:
“It’s one of those things that look more scary on the outside, it’s one of those weird things where the safest place is probably behind the controls because you can’t be hit by the propeller.
“I love the idea that someone thought that was commercially viable, that this is what the world needs a car with a giant mincing machine on the front. It was quite alarming, it was noisy, beautiful thing though.”
Later in the episode, The Grand Tour team hit the roads in a trio of French GT vehicles including the iconic Matra Murena. Along the way, the team take it upon themselves to challenge French driving stereotypes from their attitude to ownership to driving styles and habits.
There is a hilarious moment when the team are confronted by an angry motorist, after demonstrating one of these misguided stereotypes by holding up traffic at Leamington Shopping Park. I’m not sure what they are thinking, it looked like they caused a bit of trouble that day. You’ll have to watch to find out exactly what happens.
Underlying all of this is the notion that the French like to do things differently, rightly or wrongly. There’s a particular moment when Jeremy, James and Richard are stood around talking about the French way of buying a car and never selling it, basically, running it until it works no more. At a time when people often change their car because they no longer like the colour but equally when trying to assess our carbon footprint, should we take a leaf of their book?
Richard Hammond takes a similar view, speaking to Wales 247 he said:
“Well there’s very much an argument for that at the moment isn’t there, in terms of the cars carbon footprint. I’m a big fan of classic cars, and I run a classic cars business. There was some work done by a guy called Henry Pearman who showed that with a lot of classic cars, because their carbon footprint is so old and if your keeping your car for 10/ 20 years, that’s 10/20 years of which to [overcome] the impact in terms of carbon where the bulk of it happens during manufacturing. So it’s kind of, very green that we should be doing it, it’s a good idea to use these things. If your doing minimal mileage, keeping an internal combustion engine car going for 20 years rather than replacing an electric car every 2/3 years is probably… I don’t know… but probably a greener thing to do. There are plenty of arguments for it being a greener alternative so yeah use it up and wear them out.”
What starts out as a dig at the French’s more questionable decisions in automotive history, ends in a new found respect and the tipping of hats to the founders of motorsport.
Honouring the French in the way that they know best, the team take to Lydden Hill Race Circuit (along with a few members of the production crew) to race it out to see which hot hatch comes out on top. Who will it be?
The finale sees the return of a Grand Tour stunt, which takes a medieval twist to say the least. However, we won’t go as far as to reveal what it is, you will just have to watch it for yourselves to find out.
The Grand Tour Presents: Carnage A Trois will launch on Friday 17th December on Amazon Prime Video.