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?