Old Gold Top Gear

Nothing divides opinion quite like Top Gear. There are those who cherish the hour of entertainment on Sunday night and there are those who would rather shoot themselves in the knee caps in front of their family than watch the show. Then there’s another group who will watch it and then mutter a few grumbling words as the closing credits roll up the screen. Normally the mutterings will be bemoaning the fact that Top Gear is no longer a car show, merely an entertainment show. Some will go as far as calling for a return to the days when Top Gear occupied the 8.30 slot on a Thursday evening. The days of William Woollard, Sue Baker, Chris Goffey and Tony Mason. Or perhaps more recently, the days of Tiff Needell, Quentin Willson, Vicki Butler-Henderson and Mr Clarkson himself.

As a kid growing up in the ’80s, I used to look forward to Top Gear with eager anticipation. Aside from the occasional ‘Motor Show Special’, Top Gear was the one chance to get my fix of cars on television. It may have been a mere 30 minutes long, but they seemed to cram a heck of a lot of automotive joy into one episode. I suppose when you’re not pandering to a ‘desperate-for-attention somebody in a reasonably priced car‘, you can get more in.

Modern Top Gear is a feast for the eyes. The production values are excellent and it’s impossible not to admire the global brand it has become. Sadly, William Woollard would never be able to compete with The Stig when it comes to mass market appeal.

For me though, Top Gear is a bit hit and miss. Just occasionally it’s brilliant, more often it’s okay and sometimes it’s just plain rubbish. But it’s a multifaceted entertainment show, so it’s not going to appeal to everyone, all of time. Besides, if you don’t like it, you can always switch over to watch Wild at Heartbeat Roadshow. Or something. Alternatively you could, excuse the expression, turn on Dave. Isn’t Top Gear streaming 24/7 on there?

Some people choose to defend ‘new Top Gear’ by arguing that nobody wants a return to ‘old Top Gear’. Why would anyone want to to see intelligent and well informed people talking sensibly about real world cars? Who wants to see a group test of the latest affordable sports cars? Or a feature on used Saab 900s?

Oh wait, that actually sounds quite appealing. I’d certainly tune in to watch it, even if it ended up being broadcast on Sky channel 4560a.

So then I had an idea. Why couldn’t PetrolBlog bring back the old Top Gear? In fact, how about using the 8.30pm slot on a Thursday evening to do just that? What could possibly go wrong?

Fortunately, the power of YourTubes makes it possible. So I’ll kick off with a rather lovely video from 1989, that I only stumbled across this week. It’s a piece that’s close to my heart as it features the Saab 9000, as well as one of my all time favourite cars, the Alfa Romeo 164. It’s then topped off with a delightful Lancia Thema. It’s automotive excellence, presented by a suited and booted Chris Goffey.

Maybe I’m alone, but I’d welcome a return to old Top Gear. In fact, I’d even volunteer my services (as chief tea maker).

So sit back and indulge in Type Four Platform heaven courtesy of old Top Gear.

Old Top Gear will return at the same time next week. If you see a video that you think should be featured, write to us at the usual address – I’m a bit weird and prefer old Top Gear, PO Box 5AD, UK. Alternatively, just send me an email.

Now where did I put my wooly jumper?

Further waffle you might like

Facebook Comments

comments

ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

20 comments

  1. February 23, 2012
    Joseph

    Great idea! Unfortunately I am as enthusiastic (or sad(!)) as yourself, and have therefore already watched the above video on the Alfa, Saab and Lancia.

    Chris Goffey was a good presenter, but I thought that Quentin Willson was the most interesting. Plus, you got an English lesson when he was presenting!

    Reply
    • February 23, 2012
      MajorGav

      Three great cars and so good to see them when new. All three cars have aged so well, but in different ways. The 9000 feels the most current, the Alfa the most elegant and classic, whilst the Lancia is decidedly retro.

      Reply
      • February 23, 2012
        Joseph

        I agree. My favourite is the Saab, whilst the Alfa has a simply beautiful interior and V6 engine. The Lancia is also one of my favourite Italian saloons, either with the the Ferrari V8 in the 8.32, or as the Thema Turbo. You could also have it with the PRV V6 out of the Volvo 760 (don’t know whether that is a good or a bad thing!). Personally, I am also interested in the seemingly unknown Fiat Croma – surely it couldn’t have been that bad!

        Reply
  2. February 23, 2012
    The Enthusiast

    I love Top Gear but have only been seen as far back as 2003 or so here in the U.S.

    Reply
    • February 23, 2012
      MajorGav

      How well does a ‘1989 vintage’ episode travel across the pond?!

      Reply
      • February 24, 2012
        The Enthusiast

        I loved it. I do watch old ones on YouTube. And Netflix has added some recent Fifth Gear Episodes. I’m more of a car guy, so I like the emphasis on the cars that Tiff and the other hosts give us. I also love Clarkson’s sense of humor, even though he hated my 350Z. Top Gear is just not a serious car show anymore-just great entertainment.

        Reply
  3. February 24, 2012
    Mrs Miura

    Seen this episode. I’m glad discovering people loves Saabs so much… And yes, 164 was a very good car! My uncle owned one, and also a Thema SW.

    Reply
    • February 24, 2012
      MajorGav

      Thema SW – now that’s a rare beast. And what 164 did your uncle own?

      Reply
  4. February 24, 2012
    Darren Leslie

    Well, you’ve saved me a bit of time here. I was going to write a piece on the same topic, but it wouldn’t have been quite as well written. I’ll have to watch that episode sometime as it sounds rather interesting. Did they drive all the cars around the same corner many, many times? That’s one of the memorys I have of old Top Gear.
    WARNING, Useless Information Alert! Also, did you know Chris Goffey’s son is / was the drummer in the band Supergrass…..

    Reply
    • February 24, 2012
      MajorGav

      Ha! Yes. It’s fair to say the production budgets were a little limited in those days. No helicopters landing on a Skoda Yeti roof or launching a Twingo into the North Sea!

      Would still like to read your views on old v new Top Gear. I merely scratched the surface here!

      Reply
    • February 24, 2012
      Marianne

      I’ll echo the above. Would like to read your views Darren.

      Reply
  5. February 24, 2012
    Mrs Miura

    The Thema SW was green with light interior, and ended its days stolen and sold in pieces, they’ve found only the frame abandoned in a field. Was so new it hasn’t the fire and theft insurance…
    The 164 was a grey 2.0 TS (I think). Then they’ve bought a BMW 5.

    Reply
  6. February 24, 2012
    Marianne

    Please bring back the old style Top Gear. I am a mere female! But,used to enjoy comparing all the featured cars & having a friendly family discussion. ” You know it makes sense” !

    Reply
    • February 24, 2012
      MajorGav

      Ha! It certainly makes sense! 😉

      Reply
  7. February 24, 2012
    GSWorldAssociation

    Love the throwback to the old top gear! Come to think of it, I haven’t seen a proper film of an alfa romeo on television for a while! Love it!

    Reply
  8. February 24, 2012
    Simon Hingston

    I’m going to put my riding hat on before I say this but I fall into the LOVE new Top Gear camp. With the amount of terrible (I know, I know) TV these days I find TG an entertaining, marginally edgy (ask the Mexicans), often laugh out loud, show that happens to involve cars. If I want to learn more about the cars I’ll wait for them to appear on 5th Gear (surely the 21st century Old Top Gear) or enjoy some proper depth in Evo. Alternatively blogs or PH will keep me informed and entertained.
    Unfortunately ‘due to the unique way the BBC is funded’ Old Top Gear wouldn’t be made these day as the rest of TV has moved on. Whilst I do really enjoy the new I do wish there was room on TV for the old too.

    P.S. Quentin and Tiff with the occasional VBH filthy giggle would br great for the presenting team. And Tom Ford. And……O it’s 5th Gear.

    Reply
  9. February 26, 2012
    Ølholm

    “…but I resent this loss of an inch of headroom that Pininfarina has imposed…”

    Classic.

    Lovely review. I would choose the Alfa, lack of headroom or not.

    Reply
    • February 26, 2012
      MajorGav

      Ha!

      I’d do the same. Looked great in 1989. Looks even better in 2012.

      Reply
  10. February 28, 2012
    Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

    “Why couldn’t PetrolBlog bring back the old Top Gear?”

    Two words (well, an intercapitalised word and an acronym):

    PetrolBlog TV.

    You know it makes sense.

    Reply
    • February 28, 2012
      MajorGav

      Ha! Nice idea – not sure the waffle and bunk would translate well to the small screen though! 😉

      Reply

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *