According to my Facebook feed, something called the World Cup is currently taking place. While I'm following it even less than I follow other ball-based sports, even I realize it's kind of a big deal — because it's a great occasion to revisit one of Top Gear's greatest hits.
I am, of course, talking about car soccer, or car football if you talk funny.
The car soccer segment first debuted in the first episode of season six, way back in May 2005. It seemed like a great way to test the maneuverability and speed of the otherwise pedestrian Toyota Aygo city car.
Richard Hammond and James May were the team captains, and they fielded teams made up of notable stunt and racing drivers — one of whom was Ben Collins, later outed as the man masquerading as The Stig. The cars worked to drive a giant inflatable ball into the goals, often incurring body damage and losing wheels in the process.
Needless to say, the segment was hilarious. This was one of the first Top Gear episodes I ever watched, and I immediately wanted to try car soccer myself. (It never happened because I could never convince enough of my friends that trashing their cars was worth a few laughs.)
Car soccer came back in 2008 when Hammond tested the Brazilian-made Volkswagen Fox minicar. It seemed a natural competitor to the Aygo, so why not pit them against one another in car soccer?
Was it better than better than watching actual soccer? Yes it was, because it involved cars.
The two car soccer matches stand as two of Top Gear's greatest moments, in my opinion. The game represents the show at its best — when it's funny and irreverent and insane and maybe even a little dangerous, and when it does something you immediately want to try at home.
They followed it up with car rugby last year, but it wasn't quite as good, possibly because no one understands how rugby works except people from New Zealand. And there's only like two dozen of them.