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Warren hits Top Gear

Warren Brown behind the wheel of a vintage car in the recent recreation of the epic Peking to Paris drive.

He has a master's touch with pen and ink — and now we'll find out how well Warren Brown handles cars, with News Limited cartoonist chosen to host the Australian version of Top Gear.

Brown – whose artwork regularly appears in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph — will be joined on the petrol-scented show by Australian motoring commentators Charlie Cox and Steve Pizzati. The Aussie Top Gear top guns were chosen from more than 4000 applicants. A final group of 12 fought it out for the hosting role wheel to wheel at a Top Gear Australia camp.

It's the first time the BBC has allowed a local version of its hit, which has been on and off air since the 1980s, but has globally boomed during the past five years.

The UK series has been one of SBS's top-rating shows, with viewers following the antics of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

The show is as much about them as the cars they put through various tests and challenges and experiments, such as converting an everyday car into a stretch limousine.

Brown promised the local version of the eight-episode, one-hour series would deliver the local flavour Australian car nuts have been starved of on television.

“It will be very much in the spirit of the UK's Top Gear, but it will be very Australian and therefore very different,” he said.

“Charlie and Steve are fantastic fun, really intelligent and know their stuff.

“We don't want to clone the British guys and we will have a very Australian feel without us wearing broad-brimmed hats with corks hanging off them.

“There has been an amazing amount of internet chatter about the Australian series and we promise we won't disappoint.”

The show will feature road tests, challenges and comparisons between, say, a V8 Commodore and its BMW equivalent to see which stacks up best.

Production company Freehand and Top Gear Australia executive producer Peter Abbott — the original Big Brother — said the series would entertain as much as inform.

“We always remind ourselves that this is a show about cars but it is not a car show,” he said last night.

“A lot of the show's UK appeal is that it's a comedy about three men and their banter, bond and friendships and the secret is their chemistry.

“The cars are props for them to bounce off.

“Charlie, Steve and Warren are men, but in their hearts they are big boys who like to play and wonder about the world and they share a great sense of exuberance and humour.”

Top Gear Australia begins production next month and will air later in the year. It's about time — Australia has not had a regular prime-time motoring series since Torque ran for eight years from 1973.