Top Gear Thursday: London Philharmonic Wheels Out New Horn Section

Is the Mini a car or a musical instrument? Don’t worry, after you watch the video below, we think you’ll agree that it’s definitely more of a car, but you’re still likely to enjoy the partnership between the auto maker and the London Philharmonic. They’ve teamed up in honor of the Summer Games, and the result is a version of “God Save the Queen” played by the horns of nine limited edition – only 2012 were manufactured – Minis. (via Top Gear.com)

• It’s a good thing that BBC America found next week’s lost Top Gear episode, because it’s chocked-full of good stuff. One of the segments answers the age-old question that everyone’s struggled with at some time or other: what’s faster – a group of auto professionals dismantling a car or four women getting ready for a night out? For the answer, you’ll have to watch the show, which airs Monday, July 9, 9p/8c.

In the meantime, take a look at some video excerpts. For example, there’s this one about a guy who built a racing car in his home. In his kitchen, to be precise. But once he built it, he couldn’t get it out.

Still, we imagine that some New Yorkers would do the same – that way, they’d never have to worry about parking.

Also in the episode, Jeremy Clarkson test drives a Porsche 911. “You know why it’s called a 911, don’t you?” he asks. “So the Americans know what to dial when they crash.” Are we going to take that? Especially after July 4th? Of course we are.

And Anne Robinson, host of the British game show The Weakest Link, is episode’s Star in a Reasonably Priced Car.

• America strikes back against its former empire. Maybe we won’t take Jeremy Clarkson’s jibes at us (see previous item) sitting down. Maybe we can hold our heads up high after Independence Day.  What are we talking about? Loop-the-loops.

As you’ll remember, Top Gear Live broke a record for a double loop-the-loop in South Africa a few weeks back.

But records, they say, are made to be broken. Top Gear UK writes: “The Americans, as they are, have gone one bigger than our valiant double-loop and set a new (and entirely made up) Guinness World Record for looping two cars at the same time.”

Top Gear USA host Tanner Foust and stuntman Greg Tracy did their simultaneous loop at last weekend’s X-Games in Los Angeles.

• Speaking of more American Top Gear related news, Richard Hammond is back in the U.S., where he’s already working on Season Two of Crash Course. That’s right, the Hamster’s been spotted in Texas where he’s again facing challenges in learning how to perform tough jobs of all sorts. Among the vocations he’s going to be trying to master this time around: Hollywood stuntman, in which he must fall off a bridge, and Harlem barber, in which, honestly, the real risks would appear to be taken by his customers.

• Could anything be more testosterone-loaded than Top Gear? How about Top Gear Philippines? The magazine released its first “Macho Issue” this month. Inside, comedian Ramon Bautista launches a new column in the form of a cartoon strip; the topic for the inaugural effort is how to be a macho driver.

• Auto enthusiasts around the world have been paying their respects to Carroll Shelby, the inventor of the Shelby Cobra, who died in May at the age of 89.

Last weekend, owners of more than 100 Shelby cars attended a tribute event in Plano, Texas, along with members of Shelby’s family, even as family members remain locked in a bitter dispute about the disposition of the car designer’s body.

Shelby was a larger-than-life Texan who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, and then, after suffering from heart ailments, set out to build American sports cars that could beat European ones. He began by taking British auto bodies and putting powerful American V-8 engines in them. Among his most famous cars are the Shelby Cobra and Mustang.

“Carroll is sort of like the car world’s Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays,” Jay Leno, who owned three Shelbys, told The New York Times.

“Shelby’s personal life was as dramatic as his auto career,” wrote The Los Angeles Times. “He changed wives more than some people changed tires.” His last wife, from whom he reportedly sought a divorce, is believed to have been his seventh.

Even as fans around the world commemorate Shelby, his body remains in the Dallas morgue, the result of the family feud. His sons argue that he wanted to be cremated while his wife says he wanted to be buried.

A hearing is scheduled for July 26.