A time capsule look at Jeremy Clarkson when he still had a full head of hair

Long before Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May made Top Gear the global phenomenon that it’s become, there was an era of the show that had Clarkson going solo. That era ran from 1988 to 2000 and, believe it or not, Clarkson looked nothing like the pot-bellied, salt-and-pepper-haired, denim jacket-wearing host that we had gotten used to in the second iteration of the show.

Fortunately, Clarkson was as good at his job in the early 90s as he was during his second run at Top Gear with Hammond and May. If you need proof of that, check out this old Top Gear segment from 1993 with Jezza doing a spot-on review of the 1993 Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi 3000GT, and Jaguar XJS.

Wait, that’s Jeremy Clarkson?

In all his 1990’s glory, folks. That’s Jeremy Clarkson looking all debonair with the denim jacket, pink shirt, and denim pants. Oh, and the black curly hair speaks of that era, too. It’s jarring to see a 30-something Jeremy Clarkson looking the way he did back then, but you have to give the man his just due. He was already at the top of his game as a TV presenter at such a young age.

It’s no wonder that he lasted as long as he did on Top Gear. The way in which he presented the Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi 3000GT, and Jaguar XJS was completely spot-on. It had all the right information. It had the unmistakable Clarkson wit. Even the accompanying music was straight out of the 1990’s. Everything about the segment was fun, informative, and a complete delight to watch 27 years later.

What about the cars? Were they any good?

Throwback: Jeremy Clarkson's Old Top Gear Comparison of the 1993 Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi 3000GT, and Jaguar XJS
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You better believe it. The 1993 Mazda RX-7 was one of the finest sports cars of its era. It looked the part of a sexy sports coupe, and it featured a 1.3-liter twin-turbo rotary engine — remember those? — that produced a stout 252 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque. Mind you, the RX-7 was at the latter stages of its production run in 1993; it was eventually discontinued in 2002. Even then, it was a pioneering beauty that represented everything that was great about Japanese sports cars.

Speaking of Japanese sports cars, there once was a time when Mitsubishi was as apt in that space as its rivals. The 1993 Mitsubishi 3000GT was one of Mitsubishi’s finest works. It didn’t have the long-lasting legacy of the Evo series, but make no mistake, the 3000GTO was all that, and then some.

Throwback: Jeremy Clarkson's Old Top Gear Comparison of the 1993 Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi 3000GT, and Jaguar XJS
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At the heart of all the sheet metal sat a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine that produced 282 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, incredible figures for a Japanese sports car from almost 30 years ago. The 3000GT was also a technological pioneer, particularly when it came to its aerodynamics. Remember, this is a car from 1993 that came with active aerodynamics. That’s how Mitsubishi built its sports cars back then. Good times, right?

Like the RX-7, the 3000GT has become a unicorn among car enthusiasts, particularly those who are after JDM-spec units of both models. It’s hard to find one that’s good as new these days, but at least you can take solace knowing that, one point in time, a young Jeremy Clarkson shared your sentiments about both models.

What about the Jaguar XJS?

Throwback: Jeremy Clarkson's Old Top Gear Comparison of the 1993 Mazda RX-7, Mitsubishi 3000GT, and Jaguar XJS
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In typical Jeremy Clarkson fashion, he pulls a little misdirection when it came time to choose between the Mazda RX-7 and the Mitsubishi 3000GTO. Instead of picking one over the other, he opts to drive away in what might as well be the most British car of all time, the Jaguar XJS.

Not that he’s wrong for picking the Jag — the Series III XJS was tantalizingly beautiful and it came with a 4.0-liter straight-six engine that produced 304 horsepower — but you would’ve expected Jezza to make a bold statement about the two Japanese sports cars that, alongside the Toyota Supra, defined the Japanese sports car scene of that decade. Then again, this is Jeremy Clarkson we’re talking about.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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