The cameras have been packed away, the cars have been returned to their keepers, Dan’s hair and makeup trailer has gone back for restocking, and the final episode of WhichCar season two has gone to air.
It’s been an incredible journey that spanned the globe as well as each corner of Australia. We took to the freeways and the back roads, the mountains and the deserts and, when the road came to an end, we even took to the water.
We were up before the sun and shot until long after dark and, on a couple of occasions we carried on rolling film all through the night. From the searing heat, to the freezing cold and driving rain in between, we would stop at nothing to get the story in the can.
And the result?
You won’t see the thousands of hours put into creating 30 episodes and more than 100 stories starring hundreds of cars, but for all the right reasons and some of the wrong ones, we will never forget them.
Here are some of our favourite and most memorable moments in the words of the team that created the magic of WhichCar TV.
If that's a wrap for Season-two of WhichCar, there are a few things to take from it. Firstly, that the team performed amazingly under unbelievable pressure and circumstances to deliver a product for Ten.
Creating 30 episodes is no small feat at the best of times, but trying to do so at virtually the worst of times and succeeding is a heck of a testament to the crew.
Second learning point for me; never try to film a video segment at a Targa event. It was great to finally see the Jaguar F-Pace versus I-Pace at Targa come to the screens, but watching it back only served to remind me what a logistical nightmare it was.
Attempting to film at an event where the vehicles never stop moving, rolling from the flying finish of one restricted access stage straight through to the start of the next should be impossible. Sorry for inflicting that on you, Sean.
That was also a baptism of fire for Emma Notarfranceso, who got a crash course in driving a 5.0-litre supercharged V8. At speed. On Victoria's most challenging roads. In the snow. She's rarely shy of a word or two, but I believe there's an entire reel that's just eyeballs, white knuckles and faint gibbering.
Thirdly, I've seen that while the peaks are high, the troughs can be pretty muddy. I think we all now have a better feel for what will and won't work and newly appointed video producer Alex has an instinctive understanding of that, so I reckon we're in good hands. We can raise that bar a lot higher. Let's do this.
One of the memorable moments of my season-two was the Targa High Country feature. When I pitched the idea, I didn’t realise the event is regarded as one of the more dangerous motorsport spectacles in the country…. and that’s on an average weekend.
This particular weekend in mid-November however, served up some unexpected tricky weather conditions in the picturesque Victorian High Country. When I say tricky, I mean snow, and when I say snow, I mean with black ice occasionally hidden under it.
Thankfully, though, we came equipped with the right hardware. Andy Enright and I lucked in with a pair of luxury vehicles from Jaguar. I spent the majority of my time in a titan of torque, the F-Pace SVR. No complaints from my end obviously as this SUV boasts a 5.0-litre supercharged V8.
One memory that will forever be instilled in my mind is the wait at the very first start line, and as you sit in anticipation not knowing how you’ll perform.
Just the sound of the Jag firing up gave me goosebumps, so you can probably imagine what it sounded like in sports mode at up to 120km/h on a Targa tour! This is the car you want for an event like this.
While its weight took some managing into slippery corners, it made every twist and turn that much more fun with the stereo off and windows open for every single stage. Soaked clothes and cold hands were worth it to listen to a supercharged V8 at the limiter.
The days were long but the time flew by. The roads were tough but by the end, I knew the region like the back of my hand. I hate cold weather but I would have driven in a convertible - that’s how much I loved every moment. The people, the air, the atmosphere. Every turn taught me something new and, unlike an unlucky few, I made it to the end - Jaguar intact.
After being guided through a tour of the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England, I was handed the keys to the British car maker’s new GT.
This was back in the good old days when international travel was not outlawed. My brief, during a three-day tour through Belgium and France, was to decide whether
the GT lived up to its moniker: Did this vehicle manage to marry the grunt of a supercar with the comfort and practicality of a Grand Tourer? The answer was yes.
With its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8, the McLaren was fast, low and powerful, yet effortless to drive.
A delightful point of difference over the vast majority of modern cars was its hydraulic power steering which provided both precision and feel.
Of course the journey was not without other breathtaking perks — including a stay in a Belgian Chateau and I got a taste of Emma’s Targa excitement when we were offered a few laps of the iconic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps racing the GT … in the snow.
The best way to describe season two is simply mind-blowing. I worked with some amazing creatives and journalists in some incredibly scenic destinations, whether it was touring New Zealand’s stunning northern islands filming our two-part special, or spending time in a near million dollar Rolls Royce Wraith Black Badge.
I can't thank the car brands and our team enough for the opportunities and for making every day different and exciting.
We do this for the love and I'm extremely grateful for the group of experts that I work with.
We're all bring our own unique talents and experiences to the team and it makes the journey all so much better.
I didn't get a lot of airtime this year – there’s only so much pain the hard-working vid team can bear, understandably - but the one spot I really enjoyed doing was the BMW X5 M and X6 M in Scottsdale, Arizona.
International car launches are, for the moment at least, a thing of the past, and this trip would turn out to be my final one for 2020... and it was barely March.
There was some nervous joking about being trapped in our lovely Scottsdale accommodation as COVID-19 panic swept the globe but then, as now, America seemed blissfully ignorant of its impending impact.
With a single day to film, two cars to capture and just one video stringer assigned to two Aussie journos, capturing enough video was a challenge from the outset.
I'd never even laid eyes on the cars, let alone have an idea about what to say!
We lucked-out with our stringer, though. Rene Jung is a jovial German with years of top-end shooting experience (multiple Olympics, F1 etc), brought a brilliant sense of humour, and he helped us to nail a raft of amazing footage in next to no time.
BMW helped too, closing off a section of road in the ominously named Skull Valley, and choosing a brilliant lunch location at a mocked-up dude ranch, complete with cowboys and cowgirls on horseback and some incredible scenery. It included a stream crossing, too, that may have claimed the life of one of the press cars... not from the Aussie press entourage, though!
The day started before 5am and ended well after dark, light-throttling into a remote servo with 0km of range on the X5M's fuel gauge, but the results were definitely worth the effort.
These shoots are difficult and stressful when they go wrong, and controlling things like audio quality, continuity and even equipment functionality is a bear.
One hiss on a key audio track, or a line of content delivered incorrectly, could mean the whole thing is left on the editing room floor.
Fortunately, your host didn't bumble too much and Rene pulled off the almost-impossible, leaving me with a great memento of a cool trip and another great story for the show.
February 2020, and just as the rest of the world was starting to worry about some virus in China, I jetted off to New Zealand courtesy of Nissan. The plan was to have a fresh look at their existing SUV range and film a WhichCar TV segment with the venerable Nissan Patrol … with a difference.
Our main location was the incredible Cape Kidnappers at the bottom of Hawkes Bay on the North Island. The finest accommodation tops out at $3000 per night for the luxury lodge, there’s a vast golf course and huge working farm, while a nature reserve features a gannet colony straight out of a David Attenborough documentary.
The end result was a testament in part to the talent of WhichCar’s post-production team. Video file problems caused delays and by the time it came to record the voice-over, we were in the first COVID lockdown - much of what you hear was recorded in my bedroom.
Despite the challenges, the story turned out well, not least the spectacular drone footage including the closing shot which tracks the Patrol travelling down a dirt track with the Pacific Ocean dominating the background.
Special thanks to our tour guide and host, who kindly appeared on air to explain how Cape Kidnappers earned its sinister moniker. Have a watch to find out.
Science experiments can be fun, it turns out – or at least they are when the experiment involves slapping some very narrow tyres on a luxury coupe and getting as sideways as possible.
My day of filming for the second season of WhichCar involved exploring just how detrimental driving on a space-saver spare tyre can be to your car’s ability to stop and avoid obstacles. But in the Car Lab spirit of things, we took it a step further. Instead of one inadequate tyre, segment director Sean lander suggested using four space-savers for the Lexus RC300.
The result was rather long, graceful, and surprisingly easy, slides across the skidpan at DECA, Shepparton. While we discovered it could be a disaster on the road, it was ridiculously fun in a controlled environment.
During the same shoot, I helped Emma present her segment on distracted driving, and proved to be a better in-car annoyance than her as we raced around a motorkhana as quickly as possible, with the passenger asking various questions.
I’m still disappointed she wasn’t immediately able to pull out “Lou Bega” to answer my ‘who sang Mambo No.5’ question.
I was a very lucky duck for season two of WhichCar TV. There was a sunny day spent on mountain roads in the Honda NSX, a soggy but very fun day in three muscle cars and a pinch-yourself day with Nissan Australia’s heritage R32 GT-R, one of the best cars I’ve ever driven.
Two films stand out, though. The first is the Hyundai iMax N ‘Drift Bus’.
Originally an April Fool’s Joke by Hyundai Germany, Hyundai Australia made it real by stuffing a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 into its iMax eight-seater.
Everything was sorted: racetrack; film crew; standard iMax, Hyundai’s i30 N tarmac rally car and the Drift Bus.
Everything, that is, except the weather. Just as the gates to the track opened the heavens opened with an intensity I’ve rarely seen.
As the photographer and videographers shuffled their feet and cursed, I ventured out in the Drift Bus and discovered it to be a full handful, especially as once opposite lock was applied the power steering assistance would disappear.
Still, we persevered, the weather cleared and the end result was every bit as fun as it looks.
Another example was the “Can electric cars be fun?” film co-starring the Tesla Model 3 Performance and BMW M3.
We headed to Haunted Hills not actually knowing if the Model 3 could do anything exciting (thankfully it could) but also, importantly, not knowing how long the battery would last on track.
An overnight stay in a Tesla charger-equipped motel in Churchill allowed the Model 3 to arrive fully juiced, but hooning around for the cameras had an unsurprisingly disastrous effect on range.
Making it home was touch-and-go but I arrived back with the gauge reading 2.0km. That’s true range anxiety.
As seems to be the sentiment of all our presenters and crew, there are simply too many memorable occasions from season-two to refine down to just one favourite. Standing on top of the world on the Blue Rag Range track in Nissan’s Navara N-Trek Warrior, carving up piste in a whole fleet of VWs at New Zealand’s Snow Farm, and blasting a one-off, gold Honda NSX around the Victorian countryside are all up there.
However, one particular shoot will forever stand out. Heaven only knows why I thought it would be a good idea at the time, but asking for permission to be swarmed by 1000 zombies as part of the Gold Coast’s Fest-evil was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek conclusion to a two-car comparison.
What I didn’t bank on though, is that every one of the participants took their passion for dressing up like the undead very, very seriously and, as the hoard descended on my Isuzu D-Max, there was something sickeningly real about it.
I felt no more comfortable about the situation when the hundreds of rotting and blood-soaked hands grabbed at me and forcibly pulled me out of the ute tray - the aggression and violence escalating with each take.
Later, I found some of the traces of fake blood would not wash off because I had been left with genuine scrapes and bruises as a memento.
The lasting memory though, is as I’m lying on my back with Queensland’s warm sun slowly fading as the crowd of horrifying creatures closed in over me - all completely in character and utterly terrifying.
I can’t wait to do it all again.
Keep your eyes on WhichCar this Halloween when we re-release the controversial zombie apocalypse comparison feature.
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