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Weekend Edition: A Top Gear Epilogue

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After years of entertainment, one must consider a future without BBC Top Gear. It will hardly be the same without Clarkson, and the BBC will hopefully not attempt to plaster on new faces and attempt to carry on as if nothing had happened. The name will live on in some form, and I believe there will be a reboot, but at the moment it’s all too vague to tell.

But as Top Gear had become a caricature of itself in recent years, I felt like I had already started living out a better, more satisfying version of the show. We’ve bought cheap cars with friends, we’ve completed epic roadtrips, we’ve sampled excellent new or nearly-new cars, almost as if we would fill out the void already before the show imploded. There have been absolutely ridiculous real-life moments that would have seemed completely scripted on TG UK. And when it comes to shows, I think Regular Car Reviews is Top Gear for me these days. Drive is Top Gear, The Smoking Tire is Top Gear. Harry’s Garage is Top Gear. You get the picture; it’s obvious Chris Harris does.

If there isn’t a satisfying reborn show in the cards, I think car enthusiasts will be just fine. The way Clarkson’s years ended was far from ideal – in fact, pretty much the exact opposite – but in the end, it had to end. We’ll just have to watch the classic clips over again, cherishing how good they were when they were really damned good.

Weekend Edition: Saab and Lancia remembered on Top Gear

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Some of the excellent stuff BBC Top Gear did was remembering fallen manufacturers, like on the Cheap Car Challenge where they bought British-made sportscars and visited old premises of Lotus, Jensen and TVR. Elsewhere, their special films of two linked manufacturers who have been dying for years, Saab and Lancia, turned out to touch the hearts of anyone who ever gave a good god damn about those two makes.

It’s tragically funny that the Saab film was done in 2012, and Saab still tries to get back into form in some way, even if it means being an electric car maker. Lancia on the other hand consists almost entirely of Chryslers with Italian badges these days.

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Life After Top Gear: The 20:00 Void

Chris Haining March 29, 2015 Top Gear

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What to do? There’s a 42″ black rectangle where there should be a moving image of something exotic being thrapped to within an inch of its carbon-fibre life. My Sunday Evening living room is no longer home-cinema filled with mind-blowing visuals, flat-plane crank V8 howls or tinkling piano-meets-Marina crashes.

With the house being freed of “witty” car-derived banter for an hour every Sunday, I feel at a bit of a loss as to how to satisfy my octane dependency. I could enter into discussions with my fiancé, debating the trade off  tyre profile and width vis-a-vis ride quality and refinement, but it would doubtless lead to a rapid and acrimonious divorce before the wedding bells have even stopped chiming. No. I need to find something else.

Or: Maybe there’s something else I could be doing? Maybe, now BST has arrived and we are assured of long, bright evenings, there’s something far more life-enriching I could be doing than being glued to my sofa for an hour every Sunday night? Maybe the answer is just outside my window?

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Weekend Edition: Volkswagen Golf GTI MkV on Top Gear (2004)

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It’s nearly impossible to pick a single review out of all the brilliant ones BBC Top Gear ever did. However, the time when Jeremy introduced the fifth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI on the wet Dunsfold Aerodrome track, to the sounds of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence (as remixed by Linkin Park), everything really clicked.

This was about the time when TG was really getting good in its post-2002 iteration, and it’s a clip I return to, time after time. The way the show used soundtrack music has been unparalleled, and Depeche Mode works extremely well here.

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Weekend Edition: Mystery Car Sighting: The Westland Empire Aristocrat Edition

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So awhiles back in my V.I.S.I.T. post about that Deux Chevaux this olelongrooffan had spotted, I mentioned I was returning from picking up TheKenMan’s generously provided AuctionsAmerica weekend pass for their auctions over the past few days. So on this past Saturday morning after making sure the underside of the lid of my washing machine was clean, (yeah that is a joke only a few of my fellow Hoons and thejeepjunkie will get), this olelongrooffan headed across Alligator Alley for the 93 minute drive to the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center there in the Port of the Everglades for the show that is Auctions America. Now while I was there I saw a whole bunch of cool ass carp, a lot of which I had seen before but it was cool to see it all once again. There was, however, one vehicle I have only seen in a partly obstructed view and that was here in the Hooniverse. Yes, it was one of the esteemed Mr. Esmlie’s Mystery Car posts from way back in 2011 which, surprisingly, this olelongrooffan remembered. Check that post out here and the ultimate identification of that ride by none other than commenter P161911. Yeah, my fellow Hoons, this olelongrooffan was pure assed flabbergasted to have spotted it and even more so to have remembered it. I guess the blue Skyy hasn’t killed all of the brain cells in this double nickeled aged old man.

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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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Last Call: Parking Lot in Life Edition

Robert Emslie March 27, 2015 Last Call

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Gesundheit.

Last Call indicates the end of Hooniverse’s broadcast day. It’s meant to be an open forum for anyone and anything. Thread jacking is not only accepted, it’s encouraged. 

Image: AcidCow

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