From the Top Gear Team
On la-mia-macchina-non-va Top Gear, our presenters achieved motoring manhood by buying their own Alfa Romeos, and Jeremy drove the world's most expensive smoke machine.
We've always said on Top Gear that you can't really call yourself a petrolhead until you've owned an Alfa Romeo. The experience can produce profound happiness and utter heartache in equal measure, as these often beautiful Italian cars aren't exactly up there with Lexus in the reliability stakes.
Unperturbed, our three presenters set out to prove Alfas are worth the repair bills by each buying one for less than £1,000. Jeremy turned up in a ragged 75, which is one of the few Alfas that looks like it was designed in the dark. James managed to find a mid-90s GTV, but sadly not the sonorous V6 version. Finally, Richard bagged himself a Spider like the one from the Graduate. Unfortunately, his was more Tony Robinson than Mrs Robinson.
The presenters were set the usual barrage of challenges designed to test their cars' performance, reliability and looks. And, yes, bits dropped off, clutches seized, gearboxes disintegrated, and major components - like, say, engines - ceased to do the job they were designed to do. But other things happened, too.
The bickering stopped. Laughter was shared. Problems were overcome, and Jeremy, Richard and James forgot they were competitors and began to work as a team. Men bonded with machines and what started out as a mere journey became an odyssey.
No other car can do this. Nothing else can bring you such soaring joy and such deep frustration. Only in an Alfa Romeo can the simple act of turning the key and backing off your driveway become an adventure.
The new Bentley Brooklands has a traditional two-door coupe layout, but after this all comparisons with normal cars come to an end. For a start, it's so massive it actually generates its own gravitational pull. It has so much torque from its ancient V8 engine that if you drove in a easterly direction it's entirely possible you'd make the Earth stop spinning. On top of this, it costs £240,000, without options, and takes several thousand man-hours to bring into being.
Of course, applying Jeremy's usual power test-driving style to a car the size and weight of the Parthenon was always going to produce dramatic results. In this case, a detonating tyre brought filming to a shuddering but spectacular halt.
First shown on: 06/07/2008
- Jeremy Clarkson
- Richard Hammond
- James May
- James Corden
- Rob Brydon
- Executive Producer
- Andy Wilman
Available on: DVD or Video download
From suppliers including: BBC Shop, iTunes