Throwback Thursday to Damian Lewis as Gear Head on Top Gear

Damian Lewis, Top Gear
source: BBC

As folks are vacationing on all sides of the pond, let’s take a look back at summer 2016 when Damian made an appearance on Top Gear. Enjoy!

Boys and their cars. And girls too, for that matter. There’s something about being behind the wheel of a nice automobile, pressing the gas, shooting ahead with the force of however many horses, and letting a machine take you where your feet can’t. Damian made his second appearance on Top Gear in June 2016 and got to drive around a bit: recklessly, dangerously, at the sort of speeds humans probably weren’t ever designed to go, at least not unaided. Yes, no doubt, there’s a rush there, the burst of power and the addictive lurching feeling of hairpin turns at top speed, the balance between control and utter abandon. One small explosion in a combustion chamber to get things moving, then the lingering burn of the fuel made from our fossils, and we’re off to the races, quite literally. And for those few seconds of sheer joy, you sorta want to forget that these are the very machines that have summarily sent our planet on a not-so-slow burn. Alas, let’s keep this post about joy, and the joy of watching Damian play with cars. Read on!

In his first appearance on Top Gear in 2013, Damian tanked royally. He was crowned the inauspicious distinction of worst lap time ever around the Top Gear track. He said of that experience:

I do remember being out here in the snow and the ice the last time, and..just losing control of a car when you’re not going to hit anything, is, um, quietly addictive.

Given he had snow and ice to deal with that day, Damian couldn’t possibly let a record like that stand. So here he is on the reality show again and here are the fun bits we get from this go around on Top Gear.

1) Damian’s first car was a Subaru Impreza, which he drove while on vacay in South Africa. The Top Gear folk did a cute photoshop of Damian from back then in front of a silver Impreza. He cringed a bit seeing his younger self and noted this was his “Hamlet hair”.

Damian Lewis, Top Gear
source: BBC America

They imagined silver but a bit of research shows us this first may have been during the break Damian took between Eton and Guildhall, so, maybe 1998 (ETA: Oops, like I often do for my own age, I unconsciously subtracted nine years from Damian’s life…this was supposed to be 1989 ;)) which would mean this blue beauty just may have been Damian’s first ride (ETA: So, this would be our imagined version of the 1989 ImPRETza that was his “first”, not the 98 model I had up here before:  slick profile!)


When sharing this fun fact, Damian did that English thing of taking non-English words and pronouncing them like they’re English (The English did that a lot in the colonial days, and, thanks to that adorable propensity, English now has words like cummerband (literally a “closing for the stomach” in Hindi/Persian) , kowtow (closing heads in Cantonese) and Dad (from Welsh equivalent Tad)). Damian pronounced Impreza like it was an English word and then quickly went all adorably self-effacing and gave us a bit of Italian pronunciation, clipped here. (albeit it’s a Japanese car so it’s any non-Japanese speaker’s guess on how it’s supposed to be pronounced!)


2) We learn that Damian’s favorite ride these days is his mini convertible. Sure, he’s got a deal with Audi of which he’s said:

I’m sponsored by Audi, so I have this rather lovely rather arrangement where they just insist that I’m always in the latest model.

But apparently the Audi has to have some rest time, so the mini is his go-to for making the school run with the kids in the back and the puppy leashed safely to the handbrake. That is, in case Petra wants to make a run for it, stop goes the car, and everyone stays safe. BTW, yours truly had a chance to drive a friend’s Audi recently on a long stretch of I-90, and darned if I had to press the gas more than once or twice. The car takes YOU on the ride and it’s a beauty, both up and down mountains. That said, everytime I see a mini, especially a convertible, I just want to give it a hug. Oh, the cute.

Damian’s huggable current ride:



3) Next Damian got into a mini and rode the track, fast and hard, clearing puddles, getting some air over a hill, much to his delight. SPOILER ALERT: Damian beat Gordon Ramsay’s time and made a place for himself at the top of the board. Gear head redeemed!

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4) We learned after the fact that he also took a laundry-change-inducing 150mph turn in the McLaren they showed at the start of the episode. Regrettably they didn’t have the camera on Damian inside that ride, but once outside, we got the jist. He was floored. (Fun fact: I had a McLaren too….ur, a MacLaren I should say…stroller. Must have clocked at least 2mph trying to get my girl to take a nap during our strolls :))


Damian Lewis, Top Gear, McLaren
source: BBC America

And there you have it, Damian Lewis making a fast and furious appearance in the very believable guise of gear head extraordinaire.

10 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday to Damian Lewis as Gear Head on Top Gear”

    1. When kids are over stroller age, parents get selective amnesia about ever driving one of those contraptions. 🙂

  1. I’m going to have to go back and watch that episode! I stopped watching Top Gear when they sacked the original 3 presenters, and only watched The Grand Tour last year! Thank for the post for us Gear Heads!! 🙂

    1. OK. Now you will know how ignorant I am about cars and car shows! Do we have Top Gear on TV in the US?

        1. Yes, there’s an American version I think as well as a Brit version. Not sure which one came first. Probably the American version. Brits, I think, have a somewhat ironical understanding of what muscle cars mean to Americans. (ie Americans take cars, big one, fast ones, pretty much for granted, whereas Brits find the power sort of awe-inspiring and maniacal.)

          1. Oh, okay. It looks like a show that I would watch only when Damian appears in it!

      1. BBC America broadcasts the original Top Gear from the UK. The show with the original 3 presenters was on for about 20 years! They now have a new show on Amazon called The Grand Tour. Top Gear continued with new presenters (which were not good at all). Top Gear is so popular around the world, several other countries have their own Top Gear as well. I like cars, but the essence of the show were the 3 friends going on adventures with these amazing cars in exotic and beautiful locations. Once they changed that, it became just a car show, and that’s when I drop out!

    1. Ha! Wonderful! This should be his first appearance in 2013. I never saw this one and WILL SEE NOW! Thanks so much!

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