TV’s most watched, adored, criticized and beloved car show, the BBC’s Top Gear, is history. At least the version of Top Gear that people around the world have come to revere is history after lead host and star of the show, Jeremy Clarkson, was fired after assaulting a show producer.
Top Gear is a massive media enterprise, earning more than $200 million annually for the BBC and generating an alleged 18-year waiting list just to secure a spot in the audience to watch the show live and in person.
It has spawned copycat versions around the world and the American version of Top Gear pales in comparison.
Today, the three are hosting a new show on Amazon called “The Grand Tour.” While it’s a good show, let’s pay tribute with seven sensational Top Gear videos.
James May Drifts with Ken Block
James May is known as “Captain Slow” because, well, he’s a slower driver than his co-hosts. There is nothing slow about this segment where he takes the passenger seat next to celebrated drifting driver, Ken Block, as they wreak havoc in an abandoned airport in some desolate desert. Favorite line and scene: “We’re alive,” May screams after a jump that juxtaposes a flying car, leaping motorcycle and airborne military jet.
Jeremy Clarkson Drives the Three-Wheel Reliant Robin
Slapstick humor isn’t sophisticated. It’s often quite obvious. But in this clip of Jeremy Clarkson driving the three-wheeled Reliant Robin, each time this stupidly built car rolls on its side, it’s impossible not to laugh out loud. As a kid, one of my elderly neighbors insisted on driving a ridiculously styled, bright orange, three-wheeled car and I always worried she would roll to her death every time she pulled out of her driveway. That never happened, but this video definitively proves why three-wheeled cars make little sense.
Jeremy Clarkson Drives the Tiny BMW Isetta
The BMW 300 Isetta or “bubble car” is a tiny, one-person car that was built between 1956 and 1962 and loads the driver through the front of the vehicle. The segment isn’t the funniest of all Top Gear videos, but it provides a wonderful glimpse of this interesting “city car” that would never pass a safety test today but is prized by collectors.
Jeremy Clarkson Drives the World’s Smallest Car — the Peel P50
At a mere 54-inches long and 41-inches wide, the Peel P50 is considered the “world’s smallest production vehicle.” It has one door and an engine best suited for a moped. If you’re worried about parking in a public place, don’t; just drag the P50 inside your house. Clarkson drives this tiny machine on the road — and in the BBC offices — and hilarity ensues.
Jeremy Clarkson Attempts to Kill a Toyota Hilux Truck
Top Gear is known for its candor. If the hosts think a car is brilliant, they’ll tell you so. If they think it’s terrible, they’re merciless. Clarkson found the Toyota Hilux truck indestructible and attempted to prove that you simply can’t kill the Hilux, no matter how much abuse you heap upon it. Though the clip was filmed in 2007, Toyota Motor Company produced a video to wish Clarkson well after his firing and celebrate the well-known reliability of their vehicles.
Jeremy Clarkson Experiences Face-Shaping Speed in the Ariel Atom
Clarkson drives an Ariel Atom in this clip. It’s a vehicle that has almost no traditional sheetmetal, no typical safety features and little protection. A supercharged engine it generates 300 horsepower and its light weight transforms the vehicle to something closer to 600 horsepower. It races from 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds. That’s ridiculously fast. How fast you ask? Enough to reshape Clarkson’s face as he races down the track. His enthusiasm for driving this amazing machine is palpable.
Top Gear Hosts Find Driving Nirvana in Three Supercars
This last video is nothing more than a quest by the three hosts to find the world’s most beautiful driving road. Oh, and they happen to be driving three supercars: the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, Porsche 911 GT3 RS and Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24. And they happen to end up on a stunning road in Italy and Switzerland called Stelvio Pass. Just watch and dream about a trip to this beautiful location someday.