DriveTribe’s Latest Episode Sees Hamster Roast Himself Over His Old Car Reviews - story fullscreen Fullscreen

DriveTribe’s Latest Episode Sees Hamster Roast Himself Over His Old Car Reviews

Richard Hammond revisits and looks back at some of his car reviews from the 90s, before the glory days of Top Gear came along

Most of you might recognize Richard Hammond or Hamster popularly known by his contemporaries, i.e Jeremy Clarkson and James May for his time at Top Gear, and the more recent Grand Tour that airs on Amazon Prime.

But, before Hammond ever made it on to the new format of Top Gear that began airing on the BBC back in ’02, the man used to review cars for a certain ’Men and Motors’. Now, nearly two decades on, Richard is digging into the archives and revisiting the past by looking at some of his own car reviews from back in the day.

DriveTribe's Latest Episode Sees Hamster Roast Himself Over His Old Car Reviews
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However, before the glory days, Hammond started out as a radio journalist and worked for a low-budget network called Men and Motors

Now, to the die-hard Top Gear fan like myself, Men and Motors is a channel you ought to be familiar with and yes, I have stumbled upon countless videos featuring Richard. In fact, to this day, I occasionally take some time out to binge-watch old Clarkson and Hammond reviews from back in the day. Things were so different back then and I sometimes adore the simplicity of their reviews. In fact, I’m in the business of writing cars, thanks to Top Gear. I have seen every episode of every season of the show, multiple times, including the ones from the 90s. I learned more geography on Top Gear than I did at school.

Anyway, turning back to Richard and his time at Men and Motors, he looks back at four of his car reviews from the late 90s early 2000s. Production was a fairly simple process along with his colleagues Sid, Niel, and Rob. That was about it. Since they were always on a budget, one of the best places to see as many new cars as possible was at a motor show and that brings us to our first car.

Morgan V8

DriveTribe's Latest Episode Sees Hamster Roast Himself Over His Old Car Reviews
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Richard decides to take a look at some of his old video reviews to only find how colorful and honest his reviews were back then

The video begins with a much younger Hammond (minus the French beard) sitting in front of a blue Morgan V-8. Now I know for a fact that Richard is rather fond of the British marque. But, halfway through the clip, he realized that he had made a factual error when he said that the chassis was made out of wood. Hammond went on to clarify that no Morgan has had wood in the chassis, but wood is instead used on the ash frame with aluminum panels bolted onto it.

MINI Cooper S

DriveTribe's Latest Episode Sees Hamster Roast Himself Over His Old Car Reviews
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He jokingly brought up the story where he had to rent out a Nissan Micra to drive out to the location where the press car was available

Moving on, Richard then takes a look at his review of a MINI Cooper S, a car that made a comeback around the turn of the century. Designed by the legendary Frank Stephenson, the new MINI was a modern take on a classic icon. Richard fondly remembers, how he had to, in fact, rent a purple Gen-II Nissan Micra to go meet up with Rob who had the press car on him. Hammond had just over an hour with the car to come up with what he made of it. On a funny note, Richard also adds that he threw out the blue shirt only two years ago.

Ford Focus ST 170

DriveTribe's Latest Episode Sees Hamster Roast Himself Over His Old Car Reviews
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He goes on about how you should open with one viewpoint, gradually prove it wrong and close it up with an entirely different conclusion

Next up is the mighty Ford Focus ST170. Hamster compares the Focus to the Fiesta XR2 and the Escort XR3 from the 70s and 80s, the HOT hatches of the day if you will. While those cars were larry, the Focus was sensible. I remember playing with one of these in NFS underground one and it was anything but sensible. Anyway, Hammond notes that he got the watch that he’s wearing in the review for his 30th birthday.

1999 Lotus Elise 111-S

DriveTribe's Latest Episode Sees Hamster Roast Himself Over His Old Car Reviews
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It was this his amusing personality that in fact landed him the Top Gear gig with Clarkson and his team when the new format began airing in 2002

Richard then has a look at a bright yellow Lotus Elise outside the automaker’s Hethal facility in Norfolk, England. Hammond says that this was around about the time before he met Jeremy and Andy Wilman, who then gave him a shot on Top Gear. After saying some kind words about the Elise, Richard took the tiny little sports car for a spin around the car park followed by a blast across the English countryside.

Lets Wrap It Up


Richard decided to do one more before calling it a day until he realized it was more about Feng Shui than cars. He’s astonished by how he managed to stay put at what he’s been doing for the past two and half decades and come out unscathed. But, even before he began his time as a video presenter, Richard started out as a radio host, which explains why he did so well on that episode where Clarkson and May were terrible but Hammond was more prudent with his skills.

Khris Bharath
Khris Bharath
Khris is a classic car aficionado and adores his Jags and Alfas, although he keeps tabs on everything from super exotics like an old EB 110 to the latest from Lucid. Formula One is very close to his heart, and he diligently makes time to tune in for the Grand Prix on Sundays. Khris also loves his road trips and he prefers stick shift over an Auto any day.  Read full bio
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