Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Classic Car Show is no Top Gear, but that doesn't stop me liking it

TOP GEAR is back on form. It seems that no matter how much the tabloids knock its presenters for offending everyone from here to Argentina, the show keeps gorging itself on spinach and coming back even stronger.

Even though it’s been years since it’s done a properly down-to-Earth, sensible set of wheels you really can’t fault it for entertaining motoring telly. I laughed like a drain when Richard Hammond’s ambulance used a pressurised gas cannon to fire a patient through the window of a makeshift hospital, and the race across St Petersburg between a Renault Twizy, a bike, a hovercraft and a Stig was genuinely exciting stuff.

But Top Gear keeping on the edge of your sofa in an occasionally offensively entertaining way is nothing new. All anyone has wanted to ask me this week is what I think of The Classic Car Show.

Chances are – if the petrolhead consensus I’ve been following is anything to go by – you’ll have reached one of two conclusions having watched the opening episode. Either you’ll have been switched off entirely by its unashamedly upmarket, glossy take on the world of old cars and vowed never to watch it again. Or you’ve already committed to watching all 13 episodes because a) it’s motoring telly and you’d rather watch it than Emmerdale, and more importantly b) because it has its moments of brilliance. I’m in the latter camp.

There have been things about The Classic Car Show that made my mind melt slightly – there will, for instance, be a special place reserved at the back of my mind alongside Katie Hopkins and failed 2006 rom-com You, Me and Dupree for the vapid awfulness of the piece which asked Tinie Tempah for his opinion on the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing. Quentin Willson, however, tackled the Mustang’s 50th anniversary with genuine clout and authority, and the pieces on the £5000 classic cars – TR7, XJ-S and so on – have been packed with warmth and nostalgia.

In fact, I actually admire The Classic Car Show for daring to do something different. Unless you want Top Gear or a show about two blokes buying an old car, restoring it and flogging it on – and after the success of Wheeler Dealers, they’re ten a penny – there hasn’t really been much for people into cars to choose from.

Regular readers will know I've pleaded with TV’s powers that be for a proper, magazine-format show about cars which is filled with fun and facts in roughly equal measure – the sort of thing Top Gear and Driven used to do when they had to make reviewing the Vauxhall Vectra look interesting. This isn't it, but I like it because it's a fresh take on a subject car nuts love.

The Classic Car Show isn't perfect, but it’s won a slot in my Thursday evenings.


  1. It's not trying to be Top Gear, which is one of the reasons I like watching The Classic Car Show.

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