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Weekend Edition: Top Gear Botswana Special (2007)

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It’s difficult to say which of the Top Gear adventure specials feels the best. After careful thinking of at least five minutes, I decided to nominate the Botswana Special – it simply works so well, and there’s genuine affection towards the Opel Kadett, nicknamed “Oliver” by Richard Hammond. The car choices of the other two guys are brilliant as well, Clarkson’s car being the ridiculously inappropriate Lancia Beta and James May going for the indestructible Mercedes-Benz W123.

If one would attempt something in this scale, a Peugeot 504/505 would absolutely be the ticket. Then again, I would feel as bad stripping one to a bare chassis, as Hammond with his Opel, so it would have to remain untouched and un-improved.

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Weekend Edition: Top Gear £100 Car Challenge (2004)

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One of the cheap car challenges BBC Top Gear did best, and one that speaks to Hooniverse-esque people the most, is the original one from Series 4. Given a seriously modest £100 budget and told to perform various tasks in questionable cars never fails to entertain, and it’s something I would like to try again and again.

The cars featured in the challenge were a Volvo 760, an Audi 80 and a Rover 216 GTi, all in various states of beaterness. Ever since seeing the episode, I’ve been tickled by the idea of getting something as cheaply as possible. It’s likely the purchase of my 350 euro Peugeot 205 was influenced by this, and I would like nothing more than get three seriously cheap cars with my petrolhead friends and try to see how long they could go with only token maintenance. When a Top Gear episode is fuel for adventures, it’s doing the same thing as a rock album would for a guitar strumming hopeful. It’s why all the Facebook car advert groups even exist, for people to foist terrible vehicles on each other. “You need this in your life!”

Weekend Edition: Top Gear Polar Special (2007)

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One of the greatest “extreme” challenges BBC Top Gear ever did was the Polar Special, aired in July in 2007. Has it really been that long? The idea behind it was to reach the Magnetic North Pole by car, and their vehicle of choice was a modified 2006 Toyota Hilux, specced up by the Reykjavik-based Toyota Iceland subsidiary Arctic Trucks.

There’s something about North Pole being accessible by relatively average guys in a balloon-tired Hilux that really tingles my brain, and makes the episode so well worth watching. Obviously there’s goofing around, but not to the extent that it would make one reach for the skip button.

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Weekend Edition: A Top Gear Prologue

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So, after the daytime soap opera that was the so-called fracas, or #steakgate, BBC Top Gear isn’t going to be the way it was, with Jeremy Clarkson having to find fresher pastures on which to perform donuts.

Then again, it hasn’t been the way it was for a while, has it? The past few seasons, or even years, have been filled with painfully sub-par content, compared to the earlier, simpler times. As they wanted to woo people who rated slapstick japes and obviously scripted shenanigans over plain old petrolhead banter, the show became The Three Vaguely Automotive-Related Stooges. Over at FinalGear.com, every freshly aired episode is eagerly dissected and discussed and rated, and in the recent years I found it increasingly difficult to give the episodes any of the higher blobs. FinalGear itself had to face a DMCA take-down notice only recently, and ended up retiring the main site, holding on to the forums that had become a thing in their own respect. It only befits that a few months later Top Gear itself faced turmoil, and it’s not really clear if there will be anything worth torrenting anymore.

It never really pays to bite the hand of an enormous fansite, but with Clarkson gone and the two remaining chums apparently honoring the pact of camaraderie, I have sizable doubts whether I would even want to be a fan of Top Gear anymore. It’s funny, the show and the paper version were the things that drove me to FinalGear to begin with, and that was the place where I started dabbling with the early stages of automotive journalism. Fast forward a few years and I ended up at Hooniverse. These days, I write about four-to-18-wheeled things for a living. And it all began with buying the April 1998 issue of Top Gear Magazine, the one with a Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph on the cover.

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Eclipse Weekend Edition: The Mitsubishi Cordia

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Moving on from the Celeste, the next step is the Mitsubishi Cordia. A class above the Colt/Lancer, a class below the Galant, the Cordia shared its platform with the Tredia – so, if you’re thinking from an European viewpoint, the cars matched the latter Mitsubishi Carisma, size-wise.

Still, the Carisma could never match the quirky snazziness of the Cordia. And even if the Cordia started off a humble FWD platform, there were some definitely interesting variants on offer.

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Eclipse Weekend Edition: The Mitsubishi Celeste

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If the Eclipse’s reason for existing was to be a reasonably affordable sporty coupe for young buyers, with somewhat straightforward technical solutions, it followed the formula laid down a lot earlier by previous Mitsubishi offerings. I’m very fond of the mid-1970s Mitsubishi Celeste, that relied on Colt/Lancer mechanicals but introduced a very easy-on-the-eye coupe design on top of it all.

The Celeste was offered under a ton of different nameplates and marques around the world, but perhaps focusing on that name serves our vaguely stellar weekend theme the best. Feast your eyes on these period-correct advertisement images.

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Eclipse Weekend Edition: Gullwing Starion on Japanese TV

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Gorilla: Metropolitan Police Department Squad 8″ must have been a great show. Not that I have ever seen an episode, and without subtitles I wouldn’t catch most of the finer points of the action, but we’re talking about a Japanese police action show that was sponsored by Mitsubishi and Toshiba. A sure-fire recipe for brilliance right there.

The show starred such fare as a Debonair V and a short-wheelbase Pajero, but the coolest thing was a black Mitsubishi Starion with gullwing doors. How awesomely ’80s can you get?

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Eclipse Weekend Edition: 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse

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We had a pretty decent look at the solar eclipse from here, at noon our time yesterday. My social media feeds quickly filled up with photos of the almost completely eclipsed sun, and I managed to sneak a peek at it as well, through two pairs of sunglasses and a Pet Shop Boys CD that came in handy just in time.

Obviously, that serves as a reasonable backdrop to start posting content of old Mitsubishi coupes for the entire weekend. I will not limit it to only DSM offerings, but all of their good classic hits. And what better way to start the posts than with promotional material from 1990, for the Mitsubishi Eclipse?

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Black Pepper: Volkswagen Lupo GTI

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The Volkswagen Lupo was never sold here new, but some examples have been imported here privately in the latter years. You can take your Lupo pick from usual 1.4 petrol engines, or go for different TDI versions, the three-pot, 78mpg 3L TDI being the more interesting of those. But this GTI version is probably the most Hoon-worthy model of them all, with a 125-horsepower 1.6-litre petrol engine.

This 2002 car was seen in the next town over, and I snapped a couple shots as a memento.

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Streetwalker: 1988 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z

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I’ve shot a lot of cars for this site, and a large number of those have been American cars strewn around the Finnish small-town landscape. Again, wintertime snow humps are receding, and the stateside-born metal is revealed, either by people bringing out their priced V8 behemoths or the melting snow just showing you what it has hidden for months.

This 1988 Camaro IROC-Z belongs to the latter camp. A friend remarked he has seen the dreamy red T-Top beast buried in snow for the whole winter long, and now you can see it in its perfect ’80s glory. And it doesn’t even seem that much worse for wear.

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