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Top Gear slams damage claim

Warren Brown on Top Gear Australia.

Newspaper reports have this week suggested that Top Gear Australia has racked up a significant figure in car repair bills as a result of "eager driving" and "wild and silly stunts".

Anyone who knows anything about either the UK or Australian versions of Top Gear knows the basic premise of these programs is pretty much about "eager driving and wild and silly stunts". Then again, anyone who knows anything about Top Gear will recognise that this is actually a program about a passion for motoring - and not about a suggested disregard, disrespect nor wilful destruction of motor vehicles.

But let's get this straight. I'm a host on Top Gear Australia and can tell you that like its UK sibling, it is not the kind of cardigan-wearing motoring program that will simply embrace a car and go on to say what a lovely radio it has and what scrumptious colours it comes in and how it will reduce whatever hole in the ozone layer that happens to hover above it.

If Top Gear Australia loves a car, then the presenters will say so. But if they don't - well that's how it goes.

And, one of the reasons the UK version has climbed toward the 500 million (yes, half a billion viewer mark) is because they pull no punches. The same for Top Gear Australia.

What other motoring program in the world would put astonishing motor cars like the Holden W427 or Falcon F6 Turbo in their correct positions as world-beating cars in a world of BMW M5s and Mercedes Benz AMG Blacks.

Forget the cultural cringe - Australia produces some of the world's most crackerjack cars and TGA puts those facts right in front of the motoring world.

The report says a spokesman for one of "the damaged brands" suggested "we have no appetite for automotive jackass" - which is fair enough.

However, in the course of pushing different vehicles to demonstrate to viewers - and potential buyers - what various machines are capable of, there is always a risk of some form of damage. Ask any motoring journalist.

Top Gear's production company Freehand works closely with car manufacturers to ensure they are comfortable with the stunts or conditions in which we would be filming.

But the fact is, we push cars to their limits in order to deliver a verdict on their performance. Anyone familiar with the UK series knows that and the kind of out-there stunts we might undertake.

Certainly, car manufacturers and dealers in Australia might not have seen their products displayed on local television in such a manner before - like the example of using six Holden Astras in a lawn bowls segment.

Watching the stunt on video screens during a studio filming, an astonished audience of 800 cheered the Astras, which meandered their way to an inflatable jack, ultimately receiving damage to their chin-spoilers, but accruing far less damage as compared to the UK version's soccer challenge where two teams of cars belted a gigantic soccer ball around a paddock.

The Astras came out as terrific little cars, as Youtube favourites (see vidoe below)and as a great story for Top Gear fans.

What more could a manufacturer want as an advertisement?

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