Top Gear, as we know it, is now off the air. A replacement show, with a new format and a different cast, is coming out God knows when. The original guys are making the transition to Amazon, but their show, too, seems like a long way off. So if you’re like me, you’re having withdrawals.
Enter All Cars Go to Heaven 2, which is like one giant Top Gear challenge – except that a) it’s in America, and b) it includes an Eastern European guy selling a Toyota Previa in a parking lot. In other words: it has all the key elements of a great film.
All Cars Go to Heaven 2 was created by the Smoking Tire crew – Matt Farah, Zack Klapman, Tom Morningstar, and Thaddeus Brown – as a sequel to their first All Cars Go to Heaven movie, wherein they purchased a Jeep Cherokee, and then a Toyota Corolla, and drove them down what appeared to be every single fire road in Washington State. This time, there are different cars. There’s a desert. And there’s a Ford Model T.
We’ll get to all that in a second.
First, some information on how you can watch All Cars Go to Heaven 2. It’s on Vimeo, which is sort of like YouTube for people who use coasters, and it costs $6.99. Is it worth $6.99? Well, I recently purchased a small shovel on Amazon for $12.49, and trust me when I say that I derived a lot more enjoyment from the movie.
Now, on to the movie itself. I should start by saying that I’m not really much of a movie reviewer. In fact, I’ve never really reviewed anything, except for a) cars, on the Internet, and b) Comcast, on their customer service website. And the Comcast review was easy, because it was primarily comprised of curse words and exclamation marks.
Nonetheless, I’m going to give it a try, and I’ll start by describing the plot. Here’s what happens: The Smoking Tire crew decides to purchase two cheap used cars on Phoenix Craigslist and drive them to Idaho using primarily off-road trails that wind, in almost random fashion, through much of Utah. Inexplicably, they do this in the middle of July, even though it’s a virtual certainty that neither of their cars will have air conditioning.
But one of their cars does indeed have air conditioning: it’s a bright green Hyundai Accent hatchback with three functioning cylinders and a jury-rigged push-button starter, purchased from a man named Sober Mike for $800, haggled down from $900. Sober Mike says that it misfires at idle, “but as far as driving down the road, it doesn’t misfire.” For some reason, the crew finds this reassuring.
The other car, bought by Farah for his drive north, is a 1991 Toyota Previa LX, purchased from an Eastern European guy in a Phoenix strip mall parking lot. After driving the Previa and insisting that “for a piece of crap, this is really not that much of a piece of crap,” Matt forks over $1,700 to the Eastern European man, who immediately exclaims: “Wow, now I can buy a flat screen TV!”
Like I said, all the makings of a great film.
After purchasing their cars, the crew begins the journey north to Idaho, with one little stop along the way: they pick up their friends John Bothwell and Joe Messina, who will be joining the trip… in a Ford Model T. That’s right: the plan is to go from Arizona to Idaho, almost exclusively on back road trails, with an $800 Hyundai Accent, a ’91 Toyota Previa, and a Ford Model T. Fortunately, there’s also a modern chase vehicle, a new Ford F-150, which loses a mirror and a tire along the way.
Although I won’t ruin the rest of the movie for you, I will say this: it remains absolutely unbelievable to me how far crappy used cars will go using only basic field maintenance and hope. We’ve seen it in real life, we’ve seen it on Top Gear, and now we’ve seen it in All Cars Go to Heaven 2, where two ratty Craigslist cars – and one car built only 40 years after the end of the Civil War – traverse rocky trails, climb mountains, and even cross streams.
Of course, it’s also great to see Matt and crew having fun on the road, and at campsites, and plotting their journey. It almost makes you want to be there. Or at least, it does, until you remember that the nicest car in the group is a 26-year-old minivan, which, at one point, loses all of its oil.