Top Gear

Jason Dawe: What happened to Top Gear’s forgotten host?

The date is the 20th of October 2002. Just three years after the original incarnation of Top Gear died in 1999, a newly updated & rebooted version of the pokey motoring show returned to BBC 2. At the helm of the new show was Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond & Ja……. Jason Dawe?

Most hardcore Top Gear fans will know this already, but did you know James May wasn’t actually a part of Top Gear when it launched with Series 1?

Dawe’s role in Series 1 mostly revolved around discussing used cars and what to look for, plus tips on how to get the best deals on new cars. Dawe once famously admitted to “buying £900 cars and driving them until they died” – at which point he’d simply buy another one and repeat the process. Frugal motoring indeed, but perhaps this didn’t sit well with New Top Gear’s ethos and he was replaced at the end of the first series.

Dawe was shown the door (sorry, that was terrible) due to things ‘not working out’, and Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman searched to find a young, lifestyle, trendy presenter to appeal to the show’s young, lifestyle, trendy viewers. James May was obviously the perfect man for the job. But what happened to Dawe, the man who so nearly could have been starring on The Grand Tour right now if things went a little bit differently?

Following his departure from Top Gear, Dawe went on to present a TV show for ITV4 called Used Car Roadshow – I’m sure this came as no surprise to many, given his penchant for beaten up cars that have been used and abused.

The programmes were filmed at car shows across the United Kingdom, with Dawe and his co-host Penny Mallory attempting to pick the most eye-catching and unusual cars for sale, as well as demonstrating bargains that can be had from the used car market. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled in 2007 due to low ratings – as perhaps buying used cars simply isn’t all that interesting, unless there are challenges involved of course!

Dawe’s love of cars is understandable given his background. Born and brought up in Cornwall, he began selling cars in 1986 as he worked for a local dealership. Dawe ended up working in the motor industry for some 16 years before he branched out into TV and print, selling many brands including Rover, Citroen, Mercedes Benz and Porsche.

Following his exit from TV, Dawe continued writing motoring articles for The Sunday Times and Times Online, and his work has also appeared in Top Gear Magazine, Used Car Buyer, Autotrader and AA Magazines. He also makes a living as a speechwriter and author of training courses, having developed a good reputation as an after-dinner speaker – something Richard Hammond also used to dabble in back in the day.

Still, I do wonder how different the world would have been if Dawe continued on with Series 2 of Top Gear and beyond. Although ‘Clarkson, Hammond and Dawe’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, I thought his presenting style was solid and he was certainly knowledgeable when it came to used cars. Perhaps this would have given him the edge on all those Cheap Car Challenges?

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Naik November 17, 2020 at 2:58 am

I’m watching Top Gear .. im at season 1 episode 3.. and in those few seconds he talks he says so much interesting stuff with a bit of trivia in it too.. it just gives such a nice spice to the show.. he is very nerdy and fun!! .. Like… its sad Mr. Wilman didn’t allow 4 presenters..

Maggie January 29, 2020 at 3:41 am

Mr. Dawe, I believe was a wonderful presenter but Mr. Wilman had a direction he wanted Top Gear to go and no matter how well informed and humorous Mr. Dawes did not fit in with Wilmans and Clarkson design of the show.

the guy with no name January 21, 2018 at 6:49 am

I think Jason would have been not so good at cheap car challenges. Because he would get the good deal and his car would work fine for the most part…which unfortunately isn’t that good for entertaining television.


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