Hooniverse Asks- Which is Your Favorite Top Gear Host?


One is a blowhard, the second is a pocket-sized chav, the third, a garrulous bore, and the fourth. . . well, he’s called the Stig.
Top Gear, over 15 seasons and much controversy, has become near and dear to the auto enthusiasts’ hearts. Whether they’re deprecating Americans and their cars, or describing how a Jaaaag is the best car in the world while keeping a straight face, one of the quaint pleasures of the show is their national pride. Each of the hosts wears their loyalty to the Union Jack on their sleeves, and rallies around all things British – with the notable exceptions of speed cameras and congestion taxes.
But which of the three main hosts, and mysterious helmeted fourth, do you cotton to being your favorite? Clarkson is obviously the ring leader of this motley bunch, while May and Hammond play second fiddle to his pomposity and freakish height. James May, alternately Captain Slow, frequently seems a bit put off just to participate, having several other BBC TV shows with which to occupy his limited attention span. Hammond, limited in height but not  in watery doe-like eyes frequently plays wingman to the other’s bedevilment of the third.
And then there’s the Stig. Taciturn and and also a target of Jezza’s acerbic wit, this enigma in a nomex suit doesn’t get as much screen time as the other three, but he is capable of out-driving all of them. His identity has jokingly been revealed, but the real man behind the smoked visor still remains a riddle unsolved.
So, through all the hijinks, and bombast, the staged catastrophes and unexpected moments of inspired spontaneity, which of the four has managed to grow on you – fungus like – the most?
Image Sources: [Life With Father, TVScoop.TV]

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56 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- Which is Your Favorite Top Gear Host?”

  1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Well, it's James May, isn't it?
    They're all pretty entertaining, and the others are probably more likely to trigger a misadventure induced belly-laugh, but James is the only one I could remotely consider a man-crush on.
    I'm not sure why this comes across, but I see him as having the most deep-seeded passion for what he does and it's supported by all the work he does outside Top Gear. It feeels almost like Toy Stories seems to be born of frustration, once upon a time he had nobody to share his joy with, now he has millions of viewers.
    Mostly, though, it's because I'm a geek. Without a doubt. My house is full of old car brochures. My eyes light up when I see a Peugeot 604. I have a Firebird screaming chicken Tattoo, and I live in Southeast England, not a trailerpark in Wisconsin. James May is living, breathing proof that a geek can be witty and charismatic.
    Coincidentally, James May is the only one of the three that my Girlfriend has a soft spot for. I chose wisely.
    (Rust-MyEnemy is delighted that Hooniverse is no longer blocked on our work network!)

    1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      i must agree, I like May the best.
      also, it's awesome to see you here!

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Thanks mate! Likewise. I'll get the kettle on.

        1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

          hells yeah. once the wifey and I get around to our "over-seas adventure" I will make sure i let you know when we're in your neck of the woods—– note… it might be a year or two.. so, umm… save yourself some income and set the kettle off the burner for us…
          like i said.. glad to see you in this hooniverse, always loved your commentary in good ol' jalopnik 1.0………

    2. scroggzilla Avatar

      Well stated, Rusty. I, too, am a James May man. While my nerdery differs from Captain Slow's particular areas of expertise, I'm fairly certain if we sat down for a pint we would not be at a loss for conversation. Also, James listens to The Stooges. 'Nuff said.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        In London, about a month ago, I saw a (hottish) girl in an SLK with the roof down, with Tom Waits spilling from the stereo.
        This stuff matters!

    3. retro Avatar

      I agree.
      The show works because of the juxtaposition of opposing personalities, so it needs all three of them, but May is the only one I could actally imagine enjoying a pint and a chat with.

    4. Froggmann_ Avatar

      Great choice, James May is the only one on the show that doesn't really show the need to impress anybody. There's a lot to be said in that.

  2. Bill Avatar

    Hammond, but clarkson has wit about him that puts him in close second

  3. Mark Goddard Avatar

    Tiff Needell.

  4. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    While I admire The Stig and his driving abilities, the show itself has proven that he can be interchanged with any number of exceptionally skilled drivers.
    All three of the others are irreplaceable, but it is Clarkson who most defines the show. Could Top Gear survive without May or Hammond? While unlikely, it's possible. Without Clarkson, however, that possibility diminishes further.
    While he is not the host with whom I would most like to have a pint, he is the host without whom the show wouldn't couldn't be nearly as entertaining.

  5. lilwillie Avatar

    Hammond. IMO he seems to be a little more of a car guy then the rest. Buying Oliver…his attitude seems a little more upbeat whenever he is testing a car he loves. He isn't afraid to be biased towards one make or model which is fine. Defend what you like.

  6. Mr_Biggles Avatar

    I like the dynamic of having the 3 of them play off each other. I think it really makes the show. However James May gets a vote for admitting on national (international?) television that he gets that fizzy feeling thingy when he drives an exciting car. I'm not sure the other 2 would have the beans to volunteer that kind of info.

  7. SSurfer321 Avatar

    My vote goes to the "secret American." Hell he almost died for that show and came back. That shows commitment.

  8. Baron Von Danger Avatar

    I first starting out thinking, "Well that is easy, Clarkson of course". But then you get to thinking, Clarkson gives you an offensively honest view filled with creative analogies that paint an excellent picture for what he is thinking:
    "This is the Renault Espace, probably the best of the people carriers. Not that that's much to shout about. That's like saying "Ooh good I've got syphilis, the BEST of the sexually transmitted diseases."
    James May is intellectual and passionate, he will describe things in great detail (sometimes too much detail) that you can't help but to greatly relate to if you have a love for cars. He is interesting and dynamic, he keeps the persona of "captain slow" but still can do a great piece about the Pagani Zonda F vs Bugatti Veyron.
    Hammond is the secret American with his love of muscle cars. He is also comedic and often the brunt of a joke. If you were watching around his crash, you can also appreciate his dedication to the show. He also brings in the love of motorcycles.
    Then there is The Stig, which brings out the driver in everyone.
    They combine together like a bacon, pancakes, and whiskey.

    1. muthalovin Avatar

      Some say Wheaties is the breakfast of champions. I say Wheaties are the breakfast of runner-ups. Bacon, pancakes and whiskey is the breakfast of champions.

    2. joshuman Avatar

      I now have a new breakfast to try out when I go camping in two weeks. Thanks for the hot tip.

  9. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    Kind of a side conversation, but: Is it possible to explain this show to someone who just doesn't get it?
    I haven't had success.

    1. lilwillie Avatar

      Hard, but possible. If they just a little interest in cars they will get it once you explain it . If they have zero interest. Don't waste your time. Hell, my 5 year old loves the show. He thinks it is great seeing the cars go around the track.

      1. BGW Avatar

        I've managed to hook several who have little/no automobile interest. Granted, one is quite the Anglophile, but another declared Clarkson's Reliant Robin piece a couple weeks ago to be the funniest half-hour of TV she's ever seen.
        It's definitely possible, but it helps if the person is just a little unhinged to begin with.

  10. Grant Avatar

    Easily Clarkson… mostly because I identify with him the most, and also because I like his wit better than the others. James May is dreadfully boring, and Hammond doesn't really seem to have any fresh ideas, ever.

  11. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    All three on TopGear, but on it´s own or with other´s James is a much better entertainer, see James and Oz whine adventures.

      1. Robert Emslie Avatar

        Actually, listening to Oz Clark and James May bickering on those shows, whine might be more appropriate.

  12. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Wyverns! Maybe Whirlwinds (planes, not helis) and a few Boulton-Paul Defiants. You and I could certainly enjoy a Speckled Hen or two together.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Bucks or Essex will do, my diary is blank for, er, the rest of time…

  13. Alff Avatar

    Toyota Hilux gets my vote

  14. Clashtastic Avatar

    1) May
    2) Hammond
    3) Clarkson

  15. Al Navarro Avatar

    I happen to like Hammond. FWIW I can't stand the pretense of "The Stig".
    That said, my favorite host out of all these people is Tom Ford of Fifth Gear. I also like Tiff Needell and bet he could give "the Stig" a serious run for his money…

    1. dwegmull Avatar

      Tiff Needell is the Stig.

  16. BGW Avatar

    Clarkson is the guy I'd probably most like to be- I mean, who wouldn't?- but the (other) Captain is the one I can most identify with. Head full of facts that nobody else cares about? Check. Can drive fast and ably when needed but can also appreciate the beauty of taking your time? Check. Horrible wardrobe? Check (-ish. The paisley worries me).
    But I think all three are crucial. A look back at that first series, without May but with the fat guy whose name escapes me, shows a distinct lack of chemistry.

  17. Speedbee Avatar

    1. Sabine Schmitz
    2. Sabine Schmitz
    3. Sabine Schmitz

  18. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    Hammond. While Clarkson's wit is sharper and far more overt, it's not superior to the Hamster's. Hammond's use of subtle phrases take longer to sink in, but I find him more entertaining overall. Furthermore, I am confident that I would find Clarkson to be a complete ass in person; it would be a total nightmare to actually be in the same room with him for any length of time. Hammond comes across as a genuinely warm, friendly, optimistic family man who still knows how to have outrageous fun.
    I find James May a bit of a bore most of the time. Perhaps it's intended as deadpan humor, a la Steven Wright, but if it is, I don't get it.

    1. Tim Odell Avatar

      It's probably not the cool answer (everyone wants to root for the anti-heros of Clarkson or May), but Hammond manages to offer the most genuinely insightful commentary.
      Clarkson, while hilarious, tends to lean towards the overwrought and arbitrary. In many of his pieces, it's obvious that he stepped in dog crap on this way to the track and decided he was going to excoriate the car.
      May is awesome for being such a polymath and so unenthusiastic most of the time, but his (portrayed) inability to actually do things well (except cook) makes me think I would tire of him rapidly.
      Hammond offers a mix of reasonableness, true car-guy enthusiasm, and a willingness to learn (see F1 driving and jet dragster) that he seems like he'd fit right in among our commenters here or the people standing in my driveway drinking my beer (there's some overlap there).
      That said, Hammond's easily the most replaceable. Slightly charming middle-of-the-road car guys are easy to come by, but there will never be another Clarkson or May.
      +1 to the idea that it takes all 3 to make it work.
      Also, this is based on my perception of how these guys are "in character" on Top Gear. I've heard differing accounts of how these guys are in real life.

      1. gdvsbp Avatar

        Very nicely put, and entirely accurate.

  19. Jeff Glucker Avatar

    I think I like Clarkson because I am an asshole… even though I am not.

    1. muthalovin Avatar

      No, you are.
      Also, agreed. Clarkson is my favorite because he calls it like he sees it, even at the expense of being likable by the unwashed masses.

      1. Jeff Glucker Avatar

        For that you get the Jan Hammer
        [youtube ZsYeH3Md0VE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsYeH3Md0VE youtube]
        We don't have a Ban Hammer…unless you are just a jerk, which you are not.

  20. Rich Avatar

    I have to agree. James May, whether intentionally dry humored and deadpan, or not, he is the most entertaining.

  21. buzzboy7 Avatar

    If I get to include Clarkson's books he wins by far. If I don't then he only is better than #2 by a little bit. And I most definately think Stiggy is #2.

  22. KAH Avatar

    the egotist, the dweeb, and the davy jones
    they work together like siblings in a family that likes to prank each other its there chemistry as a team that makes the show work and so hard to duplicate
    oh and they have a silent uncle who tolerates the kids and just gets the job done
    i don't have a favorite but I think May neighbor

    1. KAH Avatar

      sorry that should read T think May would make the best easiest to get a long with neighbor

  23. dukeisduke Avatar

    Definitely James, since he gravitates toward offbeat cars (like the Capri 2.8 Injection, in the £1500 rear-wheel-drive car shootout), and the fact that he's also a toy nut. Second would be a tie between Jezza and Richard.

  24. joshuman Avatar

    I vote May. He teaches me things and puts the tools back in the correct drawer.

  25. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    That's like asking which part of internal combustion do you like best. Air, fuel or spark?
    (I was originally going to use a donut as an analogy… but I got tired of arguing with myself so I ate it)

    1. Kah Avatar

      The Spark!

    2. Tim Odell Avatar

      Diesel enthusiasts fell left out.

      1. Alff Avatar

        They just think that Spark guy is useless.

        1. Tim Odell Avatar

          Not big on fuel, either.
          Definitely a compression crowd.

      2. ZomBee Racer Avatar

        See, oil burners would have segued right back into my donut theory…

  26. Buickboy92 Avatar

    I don't chose favorites. I like them all!

  27. Maymar Avatar

    I think I'd go with May, since I'm also a slightly dull anorak from the May family – I like to think we're related.

    1. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      Wow, I've been saving this for just the right occasion…
      <img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2571/4017719680_7a7da4a700.jpg&quot; width="500" />

  28. CaptainZeroCool Avatar

    Clarkson is fun to watch. Although, I find myself relating to Hammond most often. I even drop some of May's insults from time to time.

  29. Scott Avatar

    Clarkson, no question, but he couldn't do it on his own,
    Although you could only go on a roadtrip with the goal of getting plastered with various wines and other beverages with James May, I would not want to go with Oz Clarke, he is a bit too weird for me

  30. Adam Avatar

    James May Is My Favorite, I Love How The Guys Are Always Having A Go At Him And He Just Takes It … HA.
    In My Opinion They Have The Perfect Cast And If They Were Ever To Change It The Show Would Be A Piece Of Shit!!!

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