Throwback Thursday to Damian Lewis as Gear Head on Top Gear

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.

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