‘Top Gear’ – How to drive blindfolded

The power of electric cars

Chris Harris of ‘Top Gear’ Sunday on BBC America

Q: Is there a technique to driving blindfolded, which you did this season in an episode of “Top Gear”?

A: I think each of us tried to impose a technique but the fact is when you can’t see, you can’t see. There’s not much you can really do because you have no sense of where you are and you don’t know whether your car’s tracking straight or not. It’s a bit like hitting a golf ball off the tee. If a golf ball is one millimeter different off the face, that 300 yards away from you could be 50 yards by the way. You’ve got no idea where you are. So yeah, it was a good, puerile challenge but it taught me that when you can’t see it’s patently difficult to know where you are.

Q: You also installed an electric motor in a car built for an internal combustion engine. Is that an expensive retrofit?

A: It’s pretty expensive. A lot of it depends on whether you can find the right batteries and the right crashed electric car at the right time. That’s a parallel with any kind of home wrenching work. You know, if you’ve got a (BMW) E46 M3 and it just so happens that your engine’s gone wrong and there’s a bloke … who’s got one and wants to get rid of it and he’s got three at the time, you’re going to get a good deal. If there’s only one in the surrounding 100 square miles, you’re going to pay a load more.

The idea is that you’re turning something that was authentically quite sporty with an internal combustion engine and adding electricity instead or substituting electricity. And most people would go, “You’re making it slower, more boring but more worthy and cleaner.” Well, two of it are true but two of them aren’t. You are making it cleaner but you’re also making it an awful lot faster in most cases.

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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