Looking Back at Season 1 of Top Gear before James May
Going back to watch the first season of Top Gear is a bit like going through your old school yearbooks. Flipping through the pages, you recognize the people, the places, and everyone looks a bit younger (and thinner), and you have an instant sense of nostalgia as a smile comes across your face as you remember all the good times.
It had been a while since I had watched season one, but I can tell you from the second you hear Clarkson start his now famous introduction in the first episode, you know it’s going to be good. In fact, I would suggest if you are new to the franchise, or even just looking for a way to get your fix of the trio while waiting for The Grand Tour to start, you should go back and start at the beginning.
Present from the very start is Clarkson’s special blend of humor and car knowledge as is the charisma and smooth delivery of Richard Hammond. Immediately present as well is the classic filming, music, and that great Top Gear formula we have all grown to love. The studio looks quite a bit different, the crowd is a bunch of rather lost looking, mostly old men, and a certain third amigo is missing, but the fact of the matter is the show is still exceptional and holds up even after all this time.
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Highlights of the first season include Richard Hammond attempting to jump a double-decker bus over motorcycles, grandmas learning to do donuts in a Honda S2000, the budget James Bond build, and the competition to find the fastest faith in which various religious leaders and members take to the track. For those of us who have been long time fans, seeing the Stigs first appearance (and in all black!), hearing the intro music on episode one, seeing the first lap of the Top Gear Test Track, and of course, hearing the “and on that bombshell” line used for the first time in episode three, are all nostalgic highlights as well.
Some say…you may be wondering about which cars made an appearance in the first season and, conveniently enough, I have compiled a list of the best of them. The most notable vehicles to appear in the freshman season of Top Gear were the Ford GT40 Concept, Pagani Zonda, Lamborghini Mercielago, Ford Focus RS, Noble M12, Aston Martin DB7, Aston Martin Vanquish, Ferrari 575, Nissan Skyline R-34 GT-R, Honda NSX Type R, Mercedes-Benze SL55 AMG, BMW Z4, Maybach 62, Bentley Arnage, Lotus Elise 111S, Audi RS6, Lotus Espirit, TVR T350C, Honda Civic Type R, VW Golf R32, and the Toyota Land Cruiser. Definitely a heavy-hitting list of some of the best vehicles around at the time!
The first season set a high bar for those that followed, and for all car shows that followed, and truth be told none have been able to hold up in comparison to Top Gear. While all that has changed over the past year with the shakeup at Top Gear followed by the creation of the Grand Tour in the aftermath, which most likely will be the reincarnation of what the original Top Gear was, there is still something to be said about the shows original glory.
In the words of Jeremy Clarkson, “This is a car program, there will be no cushions, there will be no rag rolling, no one will sing, and at the end of the series no one will have a recording contract… this is Top Gear”
And on that bombshell…