On March 25th, we’ve announced that Top Gear‘s Jeremy Clarkson had been fired from the BBC and that his contract wouldn’t be renewed after the infamous fracas with one of show’s producers. While everyone was left in a state of shock, including the three stars of the show, the internet went abuzz with speculation on who would replace him, if anybody.
In recent developments, however, it’s become known that co-presenters, Richard Hammond and James May, have chosen to leave the show as well; wishing to follow Jeremy into the next chapter, whatever that may be. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as their contracts were up for renewal, anyway.
It’s bittersweet; bitter because the show came to such an abrupt, unceremonious conclusion, but sweet, because it gives the trio an immediate chance to work together again on a new project. In the meantime, they continue to tour the world as “Clarkson, Hammond and May Live,” formally known as “Top Gear Live.”
Over the course of the last thirteen years, there have been segments of the TV series that made us laugh, made us cry and made us wanting more with each episode. From their hilarious, ridiculous challenges that took them all over the world, usually in less than stellar automobiles, to their weekly news segments, track tests, and the “Star in a Reasonably Price Car,” they’ve never failed to deliver what their millions of viewers all over the world had wanted.
Yes, they were hard on American cars, and yes, they seldom featured them, but it was their chemistry between one another that gave you the impression that they were friends outside of Top Gear as well, and as it turns out, they were. They each brought their own personas that, in a weird way, made us feel like that they were our friends. All three of them were very genuinely passionate about cars.
Then there was The Stig, the helmeted, mute, “tamed racing driver,” who would go on to become a major player in the show. He never once spoke, and apart from the two other guys who played the role, it was never revealed who the third Stig was. There was a single episode where Michael Schumaker fit into the role, removing his helmet, and claimed to be The Stig – mostly because he had his Ferrari FXX tested on that particular episode, with him at the wheel. It was intended to be a joke, although a few people bought into it.
While we wait to hear the latest on what’s to come from the “Musketeers,” we can now look back on our favorite moments. We’ve decided to pick our top five Top Gear car reviews that fit the bill perfectly for GM EFI Magazine and have featured them for you below – and that was actually available for viewing on YouTube at the time of this story, of course.
1.) 2005 Vauxhaull Monaro VXR Review
Back in 2005, Richard Hammond had a go in a brand new Vauxhall VXR – basically a rebadged and slightly restyled Holden Monaro in Australia or a Pontiac GTO here in the United States. After a follow up test of the 350 hp LS1 version a year earlier, which all three presenters loved, the 2005 LS2 impressed them even more. Not only did the car provide an excellent performance value, but it was the quintessential car for drifting at the time.
2.) 2006 Corvette Z06 Review
During it’s inaugural year on the streets, the C6 Z06 had taken the Corvette to a level it had never been before – ever. Packing a 427 ci. small-block LS7 with 505 hp, it happened to be the most powerful, factory produced Corvette ever made at that time. While it had blown Clarkson’s mind on the track, it failed to impress him on the streets of real-world Britain. But it did manage to “outrun the fuel that powered it.”
3.) 2009 Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Edition/ Maloo Ute Review
Richard Hammond tested the Bathurst Edition Vauxhall VXR8 and the Holden Maloo R8 in this 2009 episode. With the G8’s cousin featuring a Walkinshaw-supercharged LS3 and a “Bi-Modal” exhaust, it’s quite a stark contrast to the black and grey European sedans he compared it to. The Maloo, well, it’s simply the coolest pickup truck us Yanks were never allowed to get our hands on.
4.) 2009 Corvette ZR1 vs. 2009 CTS-V vs. Challenger SRT8 Comparison
Back in 2009, the trio visited the United States – the first time they had in the few years following their infamous visit with the good folks of Alabama. On this visit, now driving brand new American musclecars, they travel from San Francisco to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah for the Speed Week drag races. It’s definitely one of our favorite segments of all time. You can watch Part II and Part III of the films here and here.
5.) 2010 Corvette ZR1 vs R8 V10 Comparison
A year after the trio had left their musclecars behind in America, Jeremy Clarkson track tested a R8 V10 against a C6 ZR1. While he noted that the R8 was the better all-around car, the ZR1 is was much more fun to drive, saying, “You would have to me bonkers to buy the Corvette… and that’s exactly why you should.”
Top Gear, we salute you.
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of GMEFI Magazine, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.