The Grand Tour

An Untapped Demographic: The Rover James

Throughout 22 seasons of Top Gear and one season of The Grand Tour, the boys have been responsible for a mind boggling number of inventions. Most of them were created in jest and meant to be funny, but a small handful of them have been legitimately good ideas. When I say “good ideas,” I of course mean conceptually they were good ideas. The actual implementation of most of these still left a lot to be desired.

For the past few weeks, I have been revisiting some of the best segments from old Top Gear and as one would expect, many of these involve the various inventions that the boys have come up with over the years. Today, i want to look back at one that I legitimately thought was a great idea: The Rover James, a car designed specifically for the elderly. With all due respect to the elderly population, I thought that The James was a brilliant idea, with the exception of one or two features.

The James had a bevy of features to make the driving experience both easier and more safe for the elderly. There was a squeaky ball under the brake pedal so the driver would know which pedal they were mashing on, a gigantic piece of foam padding in place of the front bumper to protect against unforeseen dings, a speedometer that only read up to 3 MPH, waterproof seats, a radio that only played one song, a brilliant parking finder system, a not so brilliant backup safety feature, and many more. Of course, we can’t forget the Shackleton rear seats, which are easy to get in and out of, you know.

I want to touch on the balloon/flare car finder system for a bit. This is a legitimately brilliant idea. Yes, I know your mobile device basically does the same thing now, but let’s be honest, have you tried teaching an older person new technology (I’m looking at you, Dad)? It makes me want to tear my face off with a belt sander. With a bit more sophistication, this flare/balloon system has some real promise.

As does the squeaky ball brake pedal. It’s a good idea to have some sort of indication as to which pedal you are stepping on, and while a squeaky ball might be a bit crude, it’s a decent idea. An auditory solution might be a bit hard to hear, but about something like vibrating seats? Not a terrible idea at all.

This segment is by far one of my top 5 favorites of all time, you know. It’s all fun and games, but there are actually a few good ideas sprinkled in there, and honestly that’s one of the marks of a great Top Gear creation segment.

Tony Hsieh

Cars, the Buffalo Bills, video games, comics, sandwiches, jelly beans, and the shooting star press; these are the things that Tony loves (in addition to his family, of course). When he's not spending his time writing tech reviews for, Tony puts his lifetime love of muscle cars to use on his 2015 Mustang GT. Tony's top three favorite cars are the 1973 Mustang Mach 1, Ferrari 458, and Aston Martin DBS.

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