Even Top Gear’s fiercest critics will admit that no show could capture the raw energy of an exotic car better. By its last run of episodes, it hadn’t just settled down into a rote routine of speed and design, it had perfected the art of the ultimate vehicle review. And in one of its very last episodes, Top Gear reviewed the LaFerrari.

Whenever I’m feeling wistful these days about the loss of Top-Gear-that-was, and thinking with anticipation towards the thought of Top-Gear-that-will-be, I fire up the old music and pictures box and watch an episode from the show’s golden years, normally something between seasons eight and 13. A trip across the spine of Africa? Yes please. A compendium of communistical cars? I’ll watch that once more. Why bother with the newer episodes, I figure, I’ve just seen them.

I forget that towards the end, Top Gear was actually just returning to top form. It was never bad, mind you, it just wasn’t it was. But in those last few episodes, the real magic started to return. As Mr. May would say, the fizz was back. The review of the LaFerrari was just part of that fizz.

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And since I’ve forgotten to re-watch any of the later episodes for a second, or a third or a fourth or an eleventh time, it’s almost like I’m watching new episodes again.

Almost.

But that doesn’t matter. If you’re wondering what Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, and Andy Wilman’s new show on Amazon is going to look like, the last few episodes of Top-Gear-that-was might offer you best hint. And if you want to know what Top-Gear-that-will-be has to live up to, at a minimum, it’s films like this.

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Should be easy.


Contact the author at ballaban@jalopnik.com.
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