Tiff Needell Burning Rubber Review
The Main Feature
Anyone who watches BBC2's Top Gear programme will be familiar with the driving skills of Tiff Needell. His ability to get balletic manoeuvres out of practically any car puts him in high regard with even some of the greatest racing drivers in the world, who admit that he can do things with a car that even they can't. It's been said (by ex-Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson) that he can spin a car and stop it perfectly in front of the camera, with all the logos on the wheels pointing up the right way. There's no doubting the credentials of the presenter therefore, but what of the video itself? Do we have another of these ubiquitous videos featuring various cars being thrashed around - of which there's a thousand and one of these about already? Well no, as this one's a little bit different. For the first half at least - it's an instructional video. Tiff divides vehicles up into front wheel drive and rear wheel drive, and then demonstrates how you can do some of the manoeuvres he's so famous for doing. Although you would expect rear wheel drive is required for doing many of the flash stunts, he shows you just what's possible with front wheel drive, putting a Ford Puma through its paces. After demonstrating the obligatory handbrake turn, he moves on to more complex manoeuvres. Didn't think you could get a slide going with front drive? After you learn a "Scandinavian flick" you'll see how it can be done. Of course all the rear wheel drive tricks are here, including doughnuts, power slides and 360 degree spins (in a BMW M Roadster). Just be prepared to buy new brakes and tyres after trying some of these manoeuvres, and don't try them in the local high street! Speaking of which, to placate those Daily Mail readers out there, the disc starts with a warning not to try any of these stunts on public roads. To round off the the driving lessons, he shows you how to do a 360 in a Reliant Robin - though not in quite the same way as he did in the M Roadster!
As interludes to the action he has guest Russ Swift, who provides some different types of stunts, such as the ultimate method of parallel parking, and the car on two side wheels stunt. It's worth a look, but it does get away from the main focus of the programme somewhat.
Things do run out of steam a little as it goes along, unfortunately. By the time we get to the four wheel drive cars - Japanese rally derivatives Subaru Impreza P1, Mitsubishi EVO VI and Nissan Skyline GTR along with the Porsche 911 Turbo - he pretty much stops demonstrating techniques and just thrashes the cars round the track. It's still fun to see these vehicles put through their paces, as the closest most people will get to driving something like a Skyline GTR is by playing Gran Turismo. The final sequence involves Tiff driving his Lister Storm racing car up and down the straight at nearly 200 mph, then up and down again, and again, and again, and again... I'm sure he had a blast, but it does get a little bit boring seeing the same thing over and over. Any other downsides? Only the blatant product plugging from his tyre sponsor.
A petrolheads video with a difference, in that you can learn something, though probably just enough to trash your car! Even though the second half is nowhere near as good as the first, it's still definitely worth a look.
Note that this video has already been released in 2000 on VHS only in different packaging. Make sure that you don't already have it before buying!
Although it's better than it's VHS counterpart, it's unfortunately not that much better. Clear at times, but often exhibiting artefacts and some grain. Passable, and I've seen a lot worse on other "made for video" titles.
Likewise the sound is just basic stereo, as this title will still do more business on tape than DVD, so there is no incentive to raise costs by putting a better soundtrack on it.
Absolutely nothing more than you would get in the VHS version. But I'll be generous, as at least you can use chapter search to get to your favourite bit, and the breakdown of the "lessons" on this disc make that important. Obviously you cannot do this with tape, so a "1" rather than a "0".
A petrolheads "must-have" purchase as this disc has a bit more to it with the driving lessons provided, rather than just the usual "driving fast cars around mentally" that these videos usually feature. The disc really has nothing to offer over the VHS version (other than chapter search and slightly better picture quality), but who buys tapes these days anyway?