Clarkson’s Top 100 Cars Review

Andy Hall has reviewed the Region 2 release of Clarkson’s Top 100 Cars. This year VCI have bothered to release JC’s annual motorfest vid on DVD – entertaining for his fans, but devoid of any extras whatsoever.

The Main Feature
Two years ago I reviewed Jeremy Clarkson’s Head to Head video for DVD Times, and I had hoped to make it an annual review of Clarkson’s end-of-year petrolhead offering. However, last year VCI couldn’t be bothered to release At Full Throttle, relegating it to VHS only. Obviously, they now realise that DVD is a bit more than a fad, so this year’s title is back on the shiny disc format.

So what of the disc itself? Each year JC loosely bases his video on a theme but this one is very specific: his personal pick of the best one hundred cars, ever. As he says on the back of the disc box, you’d expect the list to be full of “Italian exotica and Japanese turbocharged play stations. And you’d be right. It is”. There’s only one “veteran” car from the early days of car making, and most come from the sixties onwards. There are a lot of performance cars, but there is also respect paid to motoring icons, such as the Mini and the Volkswagen Beetle. Being a personal list, there are choices based on cars he’s owned, and a few quirky selections – the disastrous rally car experiment that was the Ford RS200?

There are a hundred cars to get through in just over 70 minutes, so obviously not many of them can get a full look in. Many (most in fact) are just shown in a still photo with some text captions about why they are there, the sort of thing that would work better in a book or on a website than on a video. Still, there is time to do comparisons between many cars in the list, such as roadsters, hot hatches and the new and original Mini.

Every Clarkson video features the destruction of something he considers hateful, and this title is no exception. But how do you that when you are looking at the best cars ever made? Simple, just have a quick aside and look at some of the worst cars ever made. In the last couple of videos this section has been a bit strained and his choice of “bad” cars poor, but this time few people would disagree with his choices and the giant bar skittles game is Clarkson at his over-the-top best.

Finally we get on the top ten list itself. Obviously there’s a bit more time spent here than further down the list. I generally agree with his choices, though I would have elevated his number 12 choice – the Aston Martin Vanquish – to number 2. His number one though, I couldn’t agree with more.

Forget the chat shows and other asides; Clarkson driving and talking about cars is what he does best. This annual visit back to motor world is a bit different to his usual efforts, but will be of interest to his fans. Of course Clarkson polarises everyone; those who hate him need not apply.

The picture here is presented in 16:9 anamorphic format, and for video is very good indeed. Colours are bright, definition is excellent and sharp and unlike previous editions in this series, it shows no evidence at all of any artifacting or other digital degradation. Excellent.

Just basic stereo sound here, but it would unrealistic to expect a title like this to be recorded in full digital. As it is, it’s good quality for what it is, being loud enough and clear enough for the purposes of this video.

Previous Clarkson DVDs have featured additional material over and above what the VHS tape contained. This time however, we have absolutely nothing whatsoever. Wouldn’t at least a text listing of the 100 cars been useful? No luck unfortunately.

Final Thoughts
Unlike last year, at least VCI have decided to put this title onto DVD this time around. However, other than superior picture quality (and chapter search) there is nothing more here than the VHS version. Still if you are a Clarkson fan this title is a reasonable addition to his annual petrolhead excursions and is worth seeking out on disc.

Andy Hall

Updated: Nov 22, 2001

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