Top Gear is my favorite show. It combines people doing the most outrageous things with cars, while talking about cars, with great humor. Top Gear goes back to 1977, where it was a motor magazine show, similar to Motorweek. It lasted until 2002, with 45 seasons and 515 episodes. In 2002, Top gear had an overhaul, with a new format this is still used today, featuring three presenters and a tamed racing driver. The first series of Top Gear featured Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and Jason Dawe.

On Series 1, Episode 1, Jeremy reviews the Citroen Berlingo,, Richard talks about a prototype Ford supercar, Jeremy reviews two Italian supercars, Jeremy demonstrates using vegetable oil for fuel, Jason Dawe gives some money saving tips, Richard Hammond tries to beat a speed camera, Richard reviews the Mazda 6, and Harry Enfield is a star in a reasonably priced car.

Segment 1: Citroen Berlingo

Citroen Berlingo

Jeremy starts by showing a Ford Focus and a Volkswagen Golf, two family hatchbacks that cost 12,000 pounds. He says that he has found a family hatchback for under 9,000 pounds. It is the Citroen Berlingo, a van converted into a hatchback by adding rear windows, sliding rear doors, and a 1.6L diesel engine. To find out if the Berlingo is any good, he takes the hatchback to a booze warehouse. His first impression is that he is driving a van. He says it is very loud and not refined. Jeremy also says the car can come with a 1.6L petrol engine that produces the same horsepower as a Mark I Golf and it feels like a car. Jeremy comments on the green dashboard and the green dials. The Berlingo also has five glass panels in the roof. Jeremy says the Berlingo is turning out to be a great car for its price. Jeremy is driving in France and does not find much wrong with it. It is comfortable, but not sporty. Jeremy likes the Berlingo. Jeremy tests the storage capacity of the Berlingo by loading it with booze. Jeremy has to be careful. If customs believes the booze is not for personal consumption, they will confiscate all the booze and the car. Jeremy is back at the studio talking about the Fiat Doblo, a cheaper car but it is the slowest accelerating car in Great Britain. He also talks about the Ford Tourneo Connect, a 10,000 pound car and no one should think about that car. The Renault Kangoo is not as good as the Berlingo. He has Jason come over and Jeremy asks him if people should by the petrol or diesel version of the Berlingo. Jason says petrol. Jeremy says all but one member of the Top Gear crew likes the Berlingo.

Segment 2: GT40

Ford GT40 Prototype

Richard Hammond says that if someone does a list of the greatest race cars, it would have to include the Ford GT40. Then a montage of the production and success of the GT40 is shown. Richard says Ford struggled to find a successor to the GT40, until it came out with the Ford GT40. It is 4 inches taller and 18 inches wider than the original GT40. It is loaded with technology. The fuel door and engine door open with a remote. The engine is a supercharged 5.4L V8 that produces 500 bhp. He shows the sporty interior of the car. At the time of the episode originally aired, Ford announced that it will be producing this car. Richard says the car will be on sale in America for $150,000. The car will also be very exclusive and you will have to know someone at Ford to get one of these cars.

Segment 3: the News

Fiat Stilo Estate
Nissan Micra
Bently Continental GT

Jeremy announced that the British government will be 145 million pounds over the next 5 years on the road network. Fiat is in deep trouble, currently losing 2 million pounds a day. To save itself Fiat is coming out with an estate version of the Stilo. If Fiat fails, Fiat will take Ferrari, Lancia, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo with them. If Fiat fails, General Motors would buy Fiat. Ferrari would be owned by General Motors. Richard announces that Nissan will be making a new version of the Micra. Smart will be coming out with two versions, a coupe and a cabriolet version of the Smart Car. Jeremy says that the problem with F1 is that Ferrari has completely dominating F1. Jeremy also says the F1 cars are loaded with technology. Pit crews could tune the car from a computer. Richard then goes on to talk about the Bentley Continental GT. Powering this car is a W12 engine. The engine produces so much torque that the amount torque generated cannot be determined.

Segment 4: Italian Supercars

Pagani Zonda
Lamborghini Murcielago

Jeremy starts the segment of by talking about the newest supercar company from Italy, Pagani, and showing off the Pagani Zonda, saying the car is exquisite. The Zonda engine is a Mercedes-Benz-AMG 7.3L V12 engine. Jeremy then shows a video review of the Zonda. He compares the Zonda to an F15 fighter plane. The noise from the Zonda is astonishing. The Zonda’s body is made of carbon fiber and the engine produces 550 bhp. The car can reach 200 mph in fifth gear. At top gear, the Zonda can hit 220 mph. Jeremy is having difficulties steering the Zonda and spins out. The Zonda is well made, and Jeremy cannot believe that Pagani came out of nowhere to make the Zonda. The only problem with the Zonda is its competition, the Lamborghini Murcielago. The Murcielago is the ultimate automotive pinup according to Jeremy. Jeremy was worried that since Audi bought Lamborghini, the Germans would try to bring order to the Italian chaos that is Lamborghini. Jeremy says that he could change gears with one finger. The steering does not feel like it is set in concrete. The clutch is like stepping on a marshmallow. The Murcielago still has the scissor doors. When the engine gets hot, side air intakes come out of the rear. The engine is a 6.2L V12 that produces 571 bhp. Time for a drag race. The Zonda and Lambo face off and the Zonda destroyed the Lambo. Jeremy says Audi has changed the Lambo from a supercar into a small, nimble, razor-sharp sports car. Jeremy says the old Lambo Diablo is like a chess of drawers with a jet engine. The new Lambo feels like you are an organic part of a machine. Jeremy says the Murcielago is by far the best Lamborghini ever made. It is better than any current Ferrari. The Zonda is better than the Murcielago though. The Lambo cost around 160,000 pounds and the Zonda costs 310,000 pounds. The final test for both cars is a lap around the Top Gear test track. Richard explains the track. Both cars will be driven by the Stig, a professional race car driver. The Lambo did the lap in 1:29.0. The Zonda went around the track in 1:23.8, despite the Stig having trouble handling the car.

The Original Stig

Segment 5: Try to Beat a Speed Camera

Honda Civic Type R

Richard Hammond does an experiment to see if a car can beat a speed camera. Richard wanted to know what is the minimum speed a car must go to not have its picture taken a second time by speed camera. Driving the car will be the Stig. The first attempt is done in a Honda Civic Type-R three-door hatchback. The Civic went 129 mph and got caught by the camera. Other attempts will be shown later on in the episode.

Segment 6: Harry Enfield in a Suzuki

Harry Enfield
Suzuki Liana

The Star in a Reasonably Price Car segment is Jeremy interviewing one or two celebrities and then the celebrity will drive around the test track in a Suzuki Liana. The first guest is Harry Enfield, an English actor and comedian. When Harry made it big, he bought himself a Vauxhall Cavalier Convertible. Harry’s next car was a Rover 200. He then swapped the Rover for a Metro. Jeremy says he went around the track in 1:50.0 with passengers in the car. Harry’s lap was shown later on in the episode.

Segment 7: More Attempts to beat a speed camera

Mecedes Benz CL55 AMG

The next car was a Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG. The Stig was off and reached a speed of 148 mph, but it still got caught by the speed camera. Another attempt will be shown later on in the show.

Segment 8: Running a car on Vegetable Oil

Jeremy talks about how a supermarket is rationalizing fuel. Jeremy says that it is almost brilliant to run a car on vegetable oil, except it ruins the engine. He has a guy come on the show to demonstrate how adding an additive to the vegetable oil. The additive is a white spirit. He says to put 3 ml of additive for every 97 ml of vegetable oil. Let it stand for a week. The vegetable oil plus additive can work in any diesel engine. The engine does not need to be modified to work. The performance is the same, maybe even better than using diesel engine. He tries vegetable oil with the additive on a Volvo 760 diesel and it works. After the segment, Harry’s lap was shown  and he went around the track in 2:01.0.

Segment 9: Insider Dealing

Jason Dawe shows how much a Mini One goes for a year after it is sold. The Impreza made in 2002 and cost 18,995 pounds. Jason says wait because the Impreza will drop in prize. The reason is that Subaru is coming out with a new version of the Impreza. Jason also says that there will only be 3000 Volvo XC90s coming to Britain for 2002, and there are 220 Volvo dealerships in Great Britain. Each dealership will get one XC90 each month.

Segment 10: Mazda 6

Mazda 6

Richard does a review of the Mazda 6. People buy Mazdas to suit their needs. People can drive Mazda 6 and would not be seen. The interior is a Japanese design, not a Japanese design copying a German interior. It is not a quick car, 0-60 mph in 9 seconds. Power comes on during the middle rpm range. The car corners very well. The Mazda 6 is very noisy. Jeremy says he has driven the car and says it is brilliant.

Segment 11: Final Attempt at Beating a Speed Camera

TVR Tuscan

The Stig is driving a TVR Tuscan S in a final attempt to beat a speed camera. The Stig got the TVR to speeds over 170 mph and no flash was present. The TVR went so fast that the camera could not take a picture. The TVR beat a speed camera. The show ends with Jeremy giving a preview of Series 1, Episode 2.

Overall, this was a good pilot episode. It was entertaining, but the hosts were not taking shots at one another. The humor that Top Gear is now known for had not been developed yet. Jason Dawe talked about saving money. Jason was not funny and had a limited role in the show before being replaced by James May for Series 2. Jeremy and Richard have a few witty jokes. This episode created the formula that Top Gear and its localized spin-offs would use. Some of the cars featured were not brought to America. Citroen has not been sold in America since 1974. There are no Pagani dealerships in America. Recently, Fiat returned to America with the Fiat 500. The Nissan Mirca is not sold in America. The most interesting part of this episode was trying to beat a speed camera, which was done at 170 mph in a TVR Tuscan S.

Final Verdict: 63 Stigs out of 100. This is the Top Gear that is watched worldwide, not Top Gear US. So scores will be out of 100 Stigs, not 10 Stigs. Top Gear US episodes cannot match the quality of Top Gear episodes.

CarJunkie

Originally written on July 28, 2011

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