On 1977, April 22, Top Gear began with Angela Rippon driving her Ford Capri up the M1 motorway. It was difficult not to spot the sound technician on the backseat messing with the levels as she spoke to the camera about how she’d already driven 12,000 miles in only three months. You can watch that video below and marvel at how much the show has changed over the passing years.
To celebrate the rises and falls of Top Gear, let’s take a look at some of the best episodes from the last 40 years. Just writing that makes me nostalgic.
When Tiff reviewed the McLaren F1
Let’s start with arguably one of the best cars in the world driven by racing driver and ex Top Gear presenter, Tiff Needell. The F1 was the start of McLaren’s high performance ancestry, so seeing it being wrestled around a track with Tiff at the helm was a joy to behold for any petrol head. And after looking through the comments of the video above, this episode and car was the reason behind a lot of viewers’ addictions to motoring.
When they tried to break a Toyota
For a lot of people this was the episode that hooked them to Top Gear. The pure punishment received by the Hilux was unrelenting, but at the same time was hilarious to watch. The poor Hilux survived, and was forever laid to rest at the back of the studio next to the other projects stuck together by the boys.
When they nearly got killed in Alabama
This was one of the most tense Top Gears I’ve watched. With their cars covered in paint, specifically designed to wind up the locals, it nearly ended in tears as Clarkson. Hammond and May ran from stone throwing and aggressive local rednecks. The show quickly turned from annoying the customers at a petrol station, to running for the border, making this episode one of the most watched in Top Gear history.
When they found the source of the Nile
This is my personal favourite – the trek through Africa to find the source of the Nile. Upon watching this episode, I’ve never wanted anything more than to take a beaten-up car and push its limits of what it can achieve by putting it somewhere it just shouldn’t go. I’ve also never laughed more than when Jeremy smashed his rear windscreen with his ‘make-do’ handbrake (a log).
When Chris Harris drove the Ferrari FXX-K
How could I not include the latest version of Top Gear in this lineup? Chris Harris, a connoisseur of sideways car action, takes to the track with the fastest Ferrari in the world. What follows is simply incredible. Tyre shredding, amazing driving, and fantastic cinematics. Who wouldn’t love to watch a beautiful Ferrari pushing the driver to his limits with its 1063bhp and and 664lb ft? Simply stunning.
What was your favourite episode of Top Gear? Let us know in the comments below and join our celebration of one of the best TV shows in history.