Forward of The Grand Tour’s third-season debut on January 18, we chatted with host James May about the present’s remaining season in-studio, what he’s cooking up for the future, and some of his favourite moments from each Prime Gear and The Grand Tour with co-hosts Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond.
Pictures courtesy of Amazon
MotorTrend: Thanks for making the time for us, James. Are you able to inform us a bit about what we will anticipate for season three of The Grand Tour?
James May: It’s type of the similar factor however refined a bit. We’ve taken a pair of parts out and streamlined it. So … we type of do huge drives and check automobiles and muck about and so on, nevertheless it’s simply barely higher.
MT: The most important change this season is the elimination of movie star visitors; did you miss that?
James May: No not likely, I by no means did that bit anyway. The factor is, you are able to do [studies] on them and you’ll be able to analyze all the things to the finish [and Amazon] did. We’re not a knowledge pushed manufacturing, however we all know what the followers like, we all know once they’re turning off or once they’re fast-forwarding, so we’ve to simply accept that we don’t have to do the bits they don’t like, so we gained’t.
MT: It truly it looks like an awesome benefit to have that knowledge and suggestions from Amazon obtainable, do you have to need it.
James May: Nicely I feel that’s the trick truly— it’s once we need it. We don’t make the present round knowledge as a result of that kind of factor could be very harmful. You find yourself with one thing a bit like a clinic-ed automotive; it’s neither one factor nor the different, however we’ll learn [the data] when it fits us.
MT: What’ve been your favourite moments this season, and what’s been your favourite automotive?
James May: Properly, of the street journeys it’s going to be a toss-up between Detroit and China. I really like Detroit—I’m not simply saying this since you’re from MotorTrend. I really like Detroit as a result of I’ve been going there on and off for twenty or so years, so I’ve type of witnessed the modifications occurring there and I feel it’s develop into a really, very cool place.
I imply in case you are a younger tech start-up sort individual, who you recognize had a beard and a bicycle and a bag full of algorithms, you’d assume Detroit was fabulous. If I used to be in my twenties and I used to be in that kind of area and even doing what I do now, I might take a look at Detroit and assume “Yeah that would kind of be kind of cool place to hang about.”
In order that, and then China simply because China is so superb. We went to the China that most individuals don’t know; we went to Chongqing. We’re nonetheless not even positive the right way to pronounce it. It’s type of the Detroit of China in a method. It’s the place all the automotive and motorbike factories are, and it’s an enormous, large place. It’s got one thing like twenty-five or thirty million individuals in it. And it’s China, which was simply, superb, as a result of it’s so totally different. That was a fab expertise.
I’m obligation sure to say that my favourite automotive of the collection was the Alpine A110 … I truly went out and purchased one afterwards as a result of I appreciated it a lot.
MT: I haven’t pushed that but nevertheless it seems particular.
James May: It’s super! I imply if we could be automotive bores for a second, they’ve finished what lots of different supercar makers have did not. They’ll make a Ferrari or a Lamborghini and then make a light-weight model the place they handle to strip out 30 kilograms, and often by taking away the bits that you simply actually need like the air con or the radio or no matter.
However with the Alpine they made it small and mild from the begin, and it does makes an unimaginable distinction as a result of most supercars are too extensive. I imply it’s not fairly such an issue the place you’re, however in Europe they’re too broad to be loved on the street the place they should be enjoyable.
However the Alpine is like—I imply I’ve obtained a Ferrari 458 as nicely—is one thing like 500 millimeters narrower than the Ferrari and that makes an enormous distinction. It’s a correct—and I don’t like individuals evaluating new automobiles and previous ones—Ferrari Dino.
MT: Because you introduced it up, what else is presently in your storage?
James May: I’ve that, the 458 Speciale, I’ve obtained a hopeless previous Ferrari 308 GTB, a Porsche 911 Carrera 2S—that’s a 997, I’ve had that for some time now, and a BMW i3 as a result of I’m being trendy. Oh and I’ve obtained somewhat seashore buggy as properly.
MT: Oh the one from The Grand Tour Namibia particular?
James May: Yea precisely, I introduced the, nicely let’s say “the remains” residence, and I had it utterly rebuilt. It needed to have a brand new physique placed on it, and all of it needed to be dismantled as a result of it had saltwater in it. It was a correct mess nevertheless it’s now in metal-slate pink and it’s obtained all the shiny bits on and it’s large. I adore it.
MT: That was fairly the journey you guys took. What is going to season four appear to be given you’re going to go away the studio and give attention to street journey specials? Is that a arduous change to make?
James May: I suppose it’s arduous in that it’s the finish of a really, very lengthy course of that we’ve been doing collectively for 17 years or so. However I feel in phrases of the present, it’s a good suggestion, as a result of once more, taking a look at the knowledge and simply going by rumour and issues individuals say to me on the streets and in pubs, it’s the huge movies the place we go and get three fascinating automobiles or no matter and drive about and decide one another to demise—it’s the bit that we’re greatest at, and it’s the bit that folks like the most. In order we getting a bit previous and fragile we should always focus our energies and consolidate our skills and do the bit we’re good at, in order that’s what we’re doing. Plus we don’t should maintain going to [the tent in] Jeremy’s backyard which was getting a bit annoying.
Photographs courtesy of Amazon
MT: What’s your dream vacation spot for subsequent season?
James May: Ooh that’s a superb one. There’s nonetheless fairly a number of bits of the world that we haven’t been to, though we’ve been to a hell of lots of it now. I want to do some extra bits of South America, and I’d love to do extra bits of America as a result of I nonetheless haven’t seen that a lot of the center; I’ve been throughout the edges of the States, however not the center. And I’ve by no means been anyplace type of in Malaysia, or that entire bit between Southeast Asia and Australia, so I’d fairly wish to see some of that.
However you might have to remember we’re not truly happening vacation, we have now to go the place there’s a great story fairly than the place we fancy being, in any other case we’d simply make packages in the Maldives.
MT: Previous the subsequent season, what does the future maintain for you guys, and might you ever envision retiring?
James May: Nicely yeah, to be trustworthy, sure, in the future. I feel Churchill stated, “We’re nearer the end than the beginning.” We have to be as a result of I can’t probably do it for an additional 17 years, however I feel there’s nonetheless a bit in us left. As we gained’t exhaust ourselves doing the studio, perhaps that may spin us out a bit longer.
MT: Seventeen years of tv with Clarkson and Hammond is a very long time—what’s been your favourite second?
James May: I feel, to be trustworthy, it’s fairly mundane, nevertheless it’s both [on Top Gear] once we went to the North Pole, or it’s the second the place we acquired again to the base camp. I acquired in the tub after nevertheless lengthy it was–you already know, coated in my very own cheese, and having to sleep in a tent with Jeremy Clarkson was simply f–king terrible. That tub was one of the highlights of my life.
I feel extra just lately I suppose it’s truly in the [coming] collection, the place there’s an enormous street journey in Mongolia the place all of us needed to share the automotive. I’m utilizing the phrase “car” slightly generously, as a result of we cobbled the factor collectively ourselves. Mongolia is a captivating nation however there isn’t a lot there, so it’s fairly medieval dwelling if you’re on a street journey, so attending to the finish of that [was memorable]. The bathtub wasn’t fairly nearly as good, however the sense of aid was monumental. We’re nonetheless alive, and I haven’t develop into a assassin so you understand, that’s like a double whammy.
MT: Why do you assume you guys have been so profitable on Prime Gear and now at The Grand Tour for therefore lengthy?
James May: It’s an entire bloody thriller isn’t it? I don’t know. I imply individuals dismiss it, they only say, “well its such great chemistry,” or one thing like that. I imply that have to be one thing to do with it, however it’s not fairly so simple as that, which is why it’s so troublesome to duplicate. It’s truly fairly a fragile, frail factor that we have now. And a specific amount of it’s based mostly on a mutual loathing I feel; similar as it’s in rock bands and the actors in lengthy operating soaps. I’ve typically stated that everyone on Pals in all probability hated one another, so there’s a bit of that in it. And I feel it’s additionally in all probability as a result of of the previous adage about three individuals in the assembly, one of them is all the time redundant, and there’s a specific amount of that. One of us at any second in the present is all the time truly redundant and that, that kind of fuels us in a approach.
Pictures courtesy of Amazon
MT: Are there any movies you would like you would return and do in another way?
James May: Truly you recognize there’s not a lot; I feel the method we did them is fairly good or wonderful. That feels like a completely immodest approach of placing it. We did a particular in India once we did Prime Gear, once we look again at it, we expect, “Well actually we could have done a better job than that.” You solely do your greatest work as soon as; the whole lot else is all the time completed higher.
And there are some small issues in my very own exhibits. Once we did Man Labs and we went to attempt and catch a lightning bolt, and it was so futile. I take a look at it and assume now, “Why did we ever kid ourselves and that might work?” I imply it’s fairly humorous when issues don’t work, however that so clearly wasn’t going to work, we wasted everyone’s time.
MT: With presumably extra downtime subsequent season, would you ever do a standalone present on Amazon Prime? Perhaps programing such as you had in your Unemployment Tube on YouTube?
James May: It’s humorous you need to say that as a result of I haven’t truly proposed meals to Prime. I feel they might take a look at me and assume, of all the people who we might select in the world, which is just about everyone, I don’t assume they might select me to do a cooking present. However there are some strikes afoot to do one thing with meals on-line, a bit like my Unemployment Tube. However there’s not going to be some fabulous shiny cookbook so that you can check out however it’s going to be, let’s name it, “garage cooking.”
MT: That’s the greatest sort of cooking.
James May: Properly I feel it’s. It’s one implement, one utensil, you already know. You prepare dinner it and eat it with one hand ‘trigger the different one is roofed in Castrol oil or no matter. That’s type of the course I’m heading in.
MT: Are there any tales you retain pitching to The Grand Tour the place you retain getting advised no?
James May: Sure. There’s one about bicycles, they stated no. There’s a factor I’ve acquired about going to the moon, however we’re not likely clearly. However they’ve stated no to that. There was one I proposed—to not Amazon it was truly the BBC a number of years in the past—I pitched a program referred to as “The Antiques Bonfire” the place we set individuals’s vintage furnishings on hearth, however they didn’t like that both.
I additionally got here up with “The Pissed Olympics” as a result of everyone was actually frightened about the results of steroids and issues in sports activities. I stated, properly why don’t you degree the enjoying subject by saying everyone goes to the Olympic village, they don’t have entry to something, however they need to drink eight cans of robust lager and then do the pole vault or the triple leap, it might be super to observe. They didn’t like that both, it was actually bizarre.
Photographs courtesy of Amazon
MT: I feel you’ve acquired an untapped market there. Again to automobiles for a second, what coming automotive tendencies most excite you? Autonomous automobiles? EVs?
James May: Properly I don’t actually consider in autonomous automobiles—not in the approach they’re popularly thought-about in the basic press. I feel the concept of Tesla-type autonomy on freeways—I can see that working, and I can see it being very useful. Automobiles can go quicker, nearer collectively, and it might be safer. However I feel most individuals have of their minds you’ll quickly have an autonomous automotive that they will go to sleep in, in the again, drunk, while it drives them residence by means of the metropolis. I simply assume we’re an extended, great distance from that. It’s such a sophisticated concept, since you’re principally speaking about robotics and no department of science has been extra persistently disappointing than robotics. We’re purported to have robotic butlers and issues by now, however you’ll be able to barely make a robotic throw a tennis ball right into a bucket, so I’m unsure about that.
I feel the electrical revolution is fascinating. I’ve received an electrical automotive, not likely for environmental causes, however simply because I feel it’s fascinating. I feel finally—and I do know some people who find themselves engaged on this—the automotive will transfer off the street and into the sky not directly, as a result of that’s the place the area is. That’s the place autonomy would work as a result of the solely different factor to fret about is the different automobiles, or pods or no matter we’re going to name them. I’m unsure if that may occur in my lifetime, however I’ve believed it for a very long time. Automotive makers should assume upwards quite than forwards.
In the brief time period, I like reconfigurable dashboards and connectivity. I really like all that stuff. I like all the colours and issues that you simply get on the sprint of trendy automobiles, as a result of once you take a look at previous ones, everyone loves devices and so on, however they’re truly fairly boring in comparison with what you get at the moment.
MT: Yeah, digging into the digital dashboard in your i3, for instance, is fairly neat contemplating all the info obtainable.
James May: Yeah and you possibly can change it, a bit like the Apple watch, and have a special type of instrument right now, or a unique type of readout. And there’s little issues, like on my Alpine, whenever you flip the lights on at night time, the gear show which is in the center between the two fundamental devices like it’s in a Lambo–stars come out behind the numbers and the numbers of the gears rush at you from area. It’s actually cool. I take a look at it an excessive amount of and I’ll ultimately have an accident as a result of I’m altering gears and watching the stars come out, as a result of I do love all that stuff.
MT: Final query, largest automotive remorse?
James May: I’ve all the time tried to say I don’t remorse promoting any of the automobiles I bought, as a result of at the time it should have been the proper factor to do in any other case you wouldn’t have accomplished it. However, I type of want I had stored my Alfa Romeo 164, which I had, oh god, about 25 years in the past. It will in all probability really feel terribly clunky and quaint now, however I really like that three.Zero-liter V-6. It was the first time I’d ever had a brand new automotive and it was the first time I’d ever had something that was vaguely particular, and it did type of, I’m not going to say, “change my life” as a result of that’s too corny, nevertheless it did. It was a very good decide me up. It propelled me forwards.
MT: Actually and figuratively! Properly, thanks very a lot for making the time for us, James. Wanting ahead to watching the subsequent season of The Grand Tour.
James May: My pleasure, cheers.
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