The Beach (Buggy) Boys – Part 1 is the seventh episode of the first season of The Grand Tour. It premiered on 30th December, 2016 on Amazon Video.
In the first of two special shows, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are challenged to complete an epic journey across Namibia in three beach buggies, each built to their personal spec. What starts off as a simple determination to win an argument with their boss turns into an amazing adventure across some of the most incredible desert scenery Africa has to offer.
In The Grand Tour tent, Jeremy Clarkson introduces the Volkswagen Beetle and says that it is a terrible car and that they hate it. Cue James May and Richard Hammond who point out that by removing a Beetle's bodywork and replacing it with something "more fun," you get a beach buggy. And they love beach buggies. Unfortunately, their producer, Andy Wilman disagrees. He thinks that is beach buggies were any good, they would have caught on more. To prove his point, he sets the boys a challenge. They must each buy a Volkswagen Beetle and convert it into a beach buggy and then meet in one of the most rugged and remote areas of the planet: Namibia's Skeleton Coast.
James May builds his beach buggy as close to the original design made famous by Bruce Myers as he could make it. Jeremy Clarkson describes his beach buggy as "what a beach buggy can be." When Richard Hammond arrives, the other two argue that his vehicle is not a true beach buggy since it has a roof, space-age chassis, and massive off-road suspension.
Andy Wilman sends them a message via a satphone. Their challenge is to drive to a beach on the crocodile-infested Kunene River which is on Namibia's border with Angola. The beach is one thousand miles away from their current location.
The boys head north to find a town to acquire a map. After an hour of driving – in which they fill us in on the history and design of the beach buggy – they come across the wreck of the Eduard Bohlen, a German cargo ship that run aground in 1909. Finding themselves cold, the three decide to leave the coast and head inland to find the coast road. Jeremy's beach buggy fails to start, and the other two leave him behind. The film crew have to get him going.
As night falls, they find an abandoned mine but no road. With no other choice but to drive in the dark, Jeremy assures the other two he can navigate by finding the Southern Cross. At 3 in the morning, Richard calls a halt to the drive due to exhaustion. They sleep on the sand underneath their buggies, huddled around the engine for warmth. In the morning, they find that Jeremy has managed to navigate them back to the coast. Richard and James are understandably upset at Jeremy. They decide to navigate by the sea, heading north.
The boys race down the coast, mindful of the tide coming in and massive dunes stopping them from going inland. They find the end of the beach, which gives way to salt pans – which the Namibia government have forbidden them from driving on. With no choice but to go back, they have to outrace the incoming tide and find somewhere they can get inland. Jeremy gets stuck, and needs Richard to push him out. They eventually find their way off the coast.
After 36 hours, the boys are frozen, hungry, soaked, and almost back to the beginning. While Jeremy fishes in the sea using his car, Richard and James try to make a fire and rudimentary grill. Jeremy manages to catch a fish, and gut it on Richard's car, "accidentally" placing some of the carcass in Richard's car.
Now heading east, the boys hope to finally find the road as they cross the Namib Desert. With massive dunes all around, the boys find it difficult to get their two-wheel drive beach buggies up them. Jeremy and Richard have less trouble due to their modifications, but James has more trouble. As dusk falls, Jeremy almost goes over a steep dune without realising it. Eventually, the boys settle down for another night under their engines.
On day three in the desert, the boys have more dunes to climb, including some that are basically cliffs. As they approach another drop off, Richard's car disappears. Jeremy warns the others off and stops hi vehicle, heading for the edge. He finds that Richard is at the bottom, completely unharmed. He says he made the drive down with his eyes shut, completely terrified.
As the desert levels out, more problems occur due to the rugged terrain. Minor breakdowns on the car start to build up. Jeremy's throttle jams open, causing him to stop. Both Richard and James drive off ahead. Jeremy is back driving, but has had to rig up a system for decelerating using a wire across the top of his beach buggy.
The desert starts to break, and trees and shrubbery appear, followed by signs of civilisation and eventually a road. Heading north, Jeremy's engine suffers a minor explosion. Being the friendly chaps they are, Richard and James leave Jeremy on the side of the road to await the help of a passing motorist.
After several hours, Richard and James reach Namibia's capital, Windhoek, and enjoy a well-deserved beer. Back on the road, Jeremy is still having trouble with an overheating engine and making slow progress.
Cars featured in the episodeEdit
3.5 litre Rover V8 with 180 horsepower.
Has the back lights of a Ford Cortina mk1.
1.9-litre VW flat four with 110 horsepower.
1.8-litre VW flat four with 94 horsepower.
Music featured in the episodeEdit
- Main theme from Cockney vs Zombies by Jody Jenkins
- Swagger by Sir Bald Diddly & His Wig-Outs
- 20th Century Boy by T. Rex
- Legless by Hipbone Slim
- Pyramid Of The Moon by Maserati
- The Alchemical Antihero by Federale featuring David J Haskins
- Appian Way by Land Observations
- Story of Wick by Joel J. Richard and Tyler Bates
- Shake & Tremble by Django Django
- Holy Revelation by The Coral
- Lake of Stars by Andy Cato
- Higher Palms by My Best Friend
- Richard Hammond is called "Dicktari" by Jeremy Clarkson. This is a reference to the 1960s television show Daktari which was about a fictional vet who worked in East Africa. The characters in the show wear a lot of khaki clothing, prompting Jeremy's remark once he saw what Richard was wearing.
- Patrick Moore is a famous British astronomer and television presenter.
- Jeremy Clarkson's use of the phrase "Let's not get bogged down with…" is a homage to the film Monty Python & The Holy Grail. It is adapted from the line "Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who."
- Jeremy Clarkson is referred to as "Bear Clarkson." Bear Grylls is an outdoor survival expert who is known for drinking his own urine.
- At the end of the episode, Richard Hammond and James May are in a bar. The scene contains a reference to the famous bar scene in the film Ice Cold In Alex.