The Grand Tour has delivered many excellent specials, so we’ve ranked them to find out which one is best.
After Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May moved on from Top Gear, everyone wondered what their next adventure would take them. Happily, The Grand Tour was soon announced by Amazon and was very similar to Top Gear in many ways. The main difference was the size of the budget given to the trio to spend per episode.
Thanks to this large amount of money, Clarkson, Hammond, and May were able to produce more exciting and bigger scale episodes than they had ever done before. This resulted in special episodes becoming more and more frequent. Indeed, the fourth season of The Grand Tour will consist only of specials. To celebrate this, we’ve ranked all of the specials so far.
Operation Desert Stumble (Season 1, Episode 2)
In Season 1, viewers were still trying to adjust to the show’s format. The first episode put their fears at ease (mostly) but the second episode had the unenviable task of introducing the traditional ‘challenges’ in a new light. Although it’s not technically a special, “Operation Desert Stumble” was the show’s first attempt at showing Clarkson, Hammond, and May outside of the tent being totally stupid.
Unfortunately, while a bit entertaining, the episode fell a bit flat. The series was trying too hard to be something different and resulted in the entire challenge feeling forced. The trio had to rescue hostages and take them to the embassy while fighting off insurgents. There was a distinct lack of vehicles present and even the banter felt wooden.
Sea To Unsalty Sea (Season 3, Episode 11)
The Grand Tour special episodes are known for their creativity, and also their hilarity, as they often involve the presenters using old cars or general vehicles and placing them well outside of their comfort zone. However, in this special, Clarkson, Hammond and May broke away from that formula and bought 3 grand touring cars for a drive from Georgia to Azerbaijan.
Since there were no real perilous obstacles for the trio to face, the whole episode felt a bit tame compared to their other adventures. There were still a couple of highlights, such as May breaking Stalin’s cupboard and the ‘real world race’ but other than that, the episode just felt a bit dull. However, the stars of the show were, of course, the cars, which looked absolutely amazing.
International Buffoon’s Vacation (Season 3, Episode 8)
This special was miles better than the previous entry but unfortunately, this space still had to be filled. Basically, Clarkson, Hammond, and May were told to go on holiday in the United States in RVs. Not willing to share, they each branched off and bought their own and modified them to their liking. May made his RV into a pub, Clarkson transformed his RV into a toilet/speedboat hybrid and Hammond bought a van and made it worse.
It’s always fun to watch the presenters create obstacles for themselves, and there were a lot of things that went wrong in this special, which was a very good thing. However, the one constant thread that ruined an otherwise great Grand Tour special was the weird thing with Jeremy and the show’s ex-racing driver, the American. It just felt incredibly forced and detracted from the episode’s sense of fun.
Feed The World (Season 2, Episode 11)
Season 2 of The Grand Tour suffered a lot of incidents behind the scenes. Firstly, there was Hammond’s near-fatal car crash, which he miraculously survived almost unscathed. Then Clarkson fell ill for a while and so as a result, Season 2 had a shortened episode count (although 11 episodes are still fairly impressive).
One of the drawbacks of this season, however, was that it only featured one special. To be fair, Season 1 had one special as well, but it took up two episodes. “Feed The World” was a sort of mini special but despite that, it was surprisingly good. Tasked with transporting fish, the boys still regained their childish sense of humor and the special was all the better for it.
Colombia Special (Season 3, Episodes 2 & 3)
This was the first special of Season 3 and it really set the stage for what was to come. It was a traditional special in every sense of the word as Clarkson, Hammond, and May were given the simple task of becoming wildlife photographers. The trio was in top form as they made constant jokes about Colombia’s certain trading export, as well as being totally useless at actually taking photographs.
There were loads of great moments in these couple of episodes, such as Clarkson’s encounter with a group of people who really liked donkeys and the trio’s attempts at photographing the animals. There were also some highly dangerous obstacles, such as rackety old bridges and the king of all hailstorms. The only drawback of this special was that it started out fairly slow and didn’t truly pick up the pace until the second act.
The Grand Tour Presents: Seamen (Season 4, Episode 1)
The most recent special on this list, “Seamen” was a welcome return to The Grand Tour, after the show had been off-air for almost a year. Currently, in its fourth season, the series decided to try something new with this special and so it ditched the car element in favor of boats. This idea was risky but they managed to pull it off. It helped as well that the specials had been less about the vehicles in recent years.
Clarkson, Hammond, and May were given the challenge of journeying across Cambodia and Vietnam by boat. Cue lots of swearing, jokes and basic faffing about. It was incredibly entertaining to watch, as the lads clearly had no control over their boats. Even Clarkson, who was the only one who remained enthusiastic about the challenge struggled to keep his boat under control. It made for a truly great episode.
The Beach (Buggy) Boys (Season 1, Episodes 7 & 8)
Season 1 of The Grand Tour was a fairly shaky start to the show. The main issue was that it was a car show fronted by Clarkson, Hammond, and May, yet it somehow had to be different from Top Gear. In this season, the show overdid it with the differences. There were some entertaining bits but a lot of the messing around felt forced.
The best episodes of the season by far were the two episodes dedicated to the Namibia special. This was the lads doing what they do best, and in this case, their best was racing beach buggies across a desert. Their banter was in top form, the scenery was amazing and there were some genuinely heart-stopping moments. This was exactly what you want from a Grand Tour special.
Survival Of The Fattest (Season 3, Episode 13)
This was an amazing episode. It had all the usual features that make a special, spectacular, but it had a unique twist that no one saw coming. Often, the presenters go ahead and buy a vehicle and modify it for their upcoming adventure, but here, they actually built their own car from scratch.
Once they had actually built their car, Clarkson, Hammond, and May still kept the laughs coming. From christening their car ‘John’, and watching it hop up hills, to Clarkson and May refusing to let Hammond drive due to his reckless history, this special literally could do no wrong. The fact that all three had to travel in the same car meant that there was a camaraderie present that we hadn’t seen before either.