I love cars for three reasons
One, I love the feeling you get when driving, it can be driving quickly, slowly, sideways, whatever. My happiest place has always been, driving a car.
Two, some of my fondest memories were in the family car, a 1990 Maroon Red E34 BMW 520i. That car defined my formative years. I spent a lot of time as a passenger with my family at the wheel, till later, my oldest brother would teach me to drive in it. Yep, that red sedan with grey interior and a manual gearbox. My brother taught me to drive in that old Beemer.
I was so emotionally attached to that car, not just because I idolised my oldest brother or that he taught me to drive in it, but because of the journeys, we'd take. All three of us and more, in the car, on the weekend, going to church or to the beach or into the mountains. I was so attached to that car that when I crashed it one Saturday afternoon when driving out of the church that I was inconsolable for weeks.
And the third reason I love cars is because of the Top Gear trio. The unholy trinity of Clarkson, Hammond, and May who turned something you "take from A to B" into a paintbrush, into a pen, into a keyboard, they turned the car into a means to write your own story. They expressed driving in terms of how it made you feel. It didn't matter if it was a shitbox going through Serengeti or a hypercar going around Spa. They showcased the thrill of a car and the story you can write with it. They didn't showboat for some politically correct agenda which needed to be #authentic and social media safe.
Thanks to that they just talked about how a car felt to drive, where it sat in the world, and how you could feel if you were to buy one. They didn't have to pretend to be authentic because they were. Sure some of it may have been scripted but who cares. They still made you understand the value of how something makes you feel.
And I think the world has lost a bit of that. People don't really do anything these days just for fun. Sure Instagram and Facebook are full of people showing off how good they feel or how good they look. But that's quickly followed by scepticism and others questioning what's real and what's posed. Personally, I can't even remember the last time I got in my car and just drove somewhere - for the fun of it.
Bike riders do it all the time, when I had a bike I did it too, maybe because you don't have to deal with traffic... or cyclists... or tourist... or paying for as much petrol... or paying more for insurance and rego. Do you see what I mean about things not being as fun anymore? The more rational you become the less risk you seem to take. So, for 55 minutes a week that the bumbling trio aired, risk became fun and for a moment attainable. I would be able to bask, vicariously, in the joy of doing things I could only imagine or dream about.
Over the years, the three found numerous ways in which to describe a car, but I think the most valuable thing they did was to show how something like a car and a journey, can give you pause and introspection. Reflecting on what had been achieved as a marker for their memories which had just been created. Whether it was talking about the "wall on the poster" effect of a Lamborghini on a child's imagination or the wonderment of taking a lemon across Vietnam.
The blokes managed to show and tell us about a feeling we are all in constant need of, inspiration. I really believe this is the most powerful reaction they achieved. It's the whole reason I've written this piece, to begin with. Because I was inspired to take a pause and reflect.
Call it nostalgia, call it whatever you want, the fact of the matter is that I feel as attached to these three blokes as I am to the long-gone Beemer. They crashed cars, so did I. They broke things, same as me. They talked a lot, I can relate. And just like the example they set, if it wasn't for the years of watching things go sideways, I doubt I'd be writing this today...
To sum up, as Clarkson would say, I cared. The rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs, critiques of boring versus exciting. It doesn't matter. Here are three mates who brought you along on the adventure of a lifetime. To the point where you felt like you were there, with your mates, sharing a laugh.
The last studio segment of the show is done now. No more audiences, no more track tests, no more news segments which delved into random tangents of semi-scripted nonsense. It's over, done with and gone.
Watching the episode, especially the last ten minutes, I bawled my eyes out. This wasn't just the end of a show, this was the end of knowing that even if they were gone at the moment. Soon enough they'd be back with a new adventure that I could escape to and want to be part of, in my own little way. I don't care if people called it scripted, repetitive, stupid, misogynistic... as my mates, they were honest and trustworthy of being themselves.
We live in a world now where speaking or saying anything that's on your mind is seen as a statement, rather than a freedom, or a discussion. In a world of absolutes where everything is questioned and integrity is always in doubt - because making a mistake is so harshly frowned upon. I relish these three gentlemen for unrelentingly being themselves. I take inspiration from that, no question about it.
Now I know I keep repeating the point, I've done it a few times now I know... but that's what they did, for years... although they may not have always had a point, they always made you feel something. Be it art, racing, music, writing, beauty, whatever, when something makes you feel. It's worth acknowledging. So here's my final sentiment for you Jeremy, James, and Richard.
From the bottom of my heart.