Top Gear TV’s James May – known as the more technically-minded member of the three presenters, and the slowest driver – has said Australia shouldn’t “write off” its car-making abilities. May, who heads to Australia in March for Top Gear Festival in Sydney with motor mouth Jeremy Clarkson, said the UK industry has bounced back after decades in decline.
Australian car production is at its lowest level since 1957 – in what will be an all-time record year for new car sales. Local makers Toyota, Holden and Ford are battling against imported cars that are benefitting from the strong Australian dollar. “I think Australia should [manufacture vehicles],” May told News Limited in a phone interview.
“It would be truly sad [if it were to die],” he said. “Human kind’s lot is only ultimately improved by manufacturing. We couldn’t even become farmers until we made some tools. It’s important.” He said Australians should not give up hope of a revival. “I wouldn’t write it off forever, it might be a temporary hiatus,” he said. “I think it will come back.
“You’ve probably been through the same thing we’ve been through in the last 20 to 30 years believing that industry can fade out and we can replace it with services, and financial this, that and the other. “But then we gradually started to realise, hang on, no, that by itself isn’t good enough. And now some manufacturing is taking off again in Britain.
We’ve become good at making satellites, we’ve got some quite good electronic manufacturers.” May says he and Clarkson are fans of the V8 versions of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, which are unique to Australia and New Zealand.
“I’ve driven the Falcon GT and the Monaro and the [HSV Clubsport] and I loved them,” he said. “I like raw muscle. When you spend a lot of time in Italian supercars, which are very buzzy and quite demanding, a big grunty engine in a proper shaped car does make you appreciate the enormity of Australia.”