Journal: Weekend Playlist: Vintage Car Reviews That Might Be Better Than Top Gear

Weekend Playlist: Vintage Car Reviews That Might Be Better Than Top Gear

Michael Banovsky By Michael Banovsky
January 14, 2016
1 comments

We here at Petrolicious often rely on the latest gear and technology to film our subjects—pretty much entirely digitally—so it’s always amazing to watch older car videos and see how they were put together. Lots of film would have been used, the processing costs would have been substantial, and editing would have taken a huge amount of time.

You’ll notice a lot of voiceovers in these old clips, and not many shots taken from angles that you’d use a GoPro for these days. From “old” Top Gear to a well-respected Swedish motoring program, here’s what car reviews used to look like.

Yes, this is Top Gear, albeit the “old” Top Gear. The “old” Top Gear, also a BBC show, was much more of a general motoring program that relied heavily on road tests, consumer advice, and the odd spot of journalism. To keep things interesting, Tiff Needell would be asked to test racing cars, like this 1992 comparison of the fastest British Touring Car Championship machines. Best part? He drove flat out.

Imagine—depending on your age—your father or grandfather hosting a car review show. There’d be a no-nonsense approach, no swearing, no stunts, no GoPros, just good, old-fashioned consumer advice. In the case of Bud Lindemann and Car and Track, however, the best “advice” is fact, and facts are things you can see. It’s not often you get to see a 1968 Shelby GT500 KR hooned to shreds, is it?

Quotables include: “This car was thirsty…all the time”; “Hey look, ma, real louvres”; and “Hey, it’s happy time”—but we wish they’d have put the camera on a tripod more often.

Quentin Wilson was on the “old” Top Gear, but this is another one of his shows, called The Car’s The Star. This episode’s star is the McLaren F1.

Also found on “old” Top Gear: Jeremy Clarkson reporting on manufacturer options lists.

Trafikmagasinet is a Swedish motoring program that reviewed cars with the utmost in thoroughness and integrity. There’s something about watching its classic test of the Volvo 240 that make me feel…Swedish. Just in case you think they’re all work and no play, watch their test of Group B machines!

Bud Lindemann is back, this time behind the wheel of a 1968 Jaguar XKE, a car with “the wallop of a Missouri mule”. The footage is so compelling that you’ll be searching classifieds before they even get to the test track.

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Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt

Absolutely delightful to see a Jag E-Type being driven aggressively. I have never witnessed that on the roads here in Blighty. They are all driven very moderately. When I evetually become the lucky owner of one, it will get thrashed, just like nature intended.