Top Gear

Sacked Stig Ben Collins names his 5 worst cars

Ben Collins has named the 5 worst cars he ever drove, during his many years as The Stig. There are no real surprises in his list, however it is interesting to read what he thought about these terribly bad cars.

He also has a not so subtle dig at Jeremy Clarkson, for liking the TVR Sagaris.

Regardless of how you feel about some people, most of the time you can find a redeeming feature if you dig deep enough. After all, Wayne Rooney can kick a football. In the galaxy of motoring, however, there are occasions when the only redemption for a machine lies inside a box of matches. I’ve danced a few tangos with some beautiful belles over the years but I recall driving some dogs, too.

One brand of car proved so vociferous in its badness that it made me swear out loud and punch the steering wheel whenever I drove it. I’ll deal with that one last in my list of ”five worst cars ever”.

I will begin with the worst supercar I ever drove, which was also one of the most beautiful. The Alfa Romeo 8C had the kind of looks that suggested she was wearing a suspender belt underneath that red dress. Her husky V8 voice whispered to you that 450 horsepower (336kW) was ready to tickle your toes with a feather and 100km/h would come in just four seconds.

My date with the 8C took place on the Fluela Pass, a high mountain road that snakes across the Swiss Alps via an endless barrage of hairpin bends and cambered sweepers. You might call it a rite of passage for a car’s handling capability, because the constant twisting worked the brakes and suspension hard and the slightest error meant being dispatched into a ravine.

Pressing the brake pedal of the 8C was confusing, because the brakes seemed to operate the steering. The suspension was so unhinged that the weight of the car felt like it stayed on whatever wheel it had been leaning on during the previous corner as you entered the next one. Hitting the brakes, therefore, effected a sudden and perilous weight transfer.

The stiff suspension reacted violently. The ensuing skid as you entered a corner was jaw-dropping, as the 8C lifted its skirt to reveal not the frilly lace it had promised but, rather, a set of wedding tackle.

Next is a car that looked like it was born during a nuclear winter; a cross between a deformed newt and a cement mixer.

The Fiat Multipla broke ground by cramming in two rows of three seats line astern but it made her a big, wide unit. It took 12 seconds to reach 100km/h, whereupon it didn’t handle too badly but you looked daft behind the wheel.

Next on the list is a horrible bucket of bling that dares to call itself a 4×4: the Cadillac Escalade SUV. The ”Platinum” model totes crass 22-inch chromed spoke alloys and tinted windows designed to curry favour with drug dealers. Around town it positively bleeds fuel and if you even suggest taking it off road it fakes injury.

When we did point it at the most modest of trenches, the axle shook like blancmange before the Caddy bottomed out and got stuck. On closer inspection, we found essential-looking wiring had parted company with the vehicle and hung out of the wheel arches, along with the electrical tape that previously held everything together. Truly awful.

The US produced another major disappointment in the new Dodge Charger. We waited 30 years for the Charger to fly back into our lives the way it did in 1968 during the chase scene of Bullitt.

The new Charger appeared in 2005 and underwhelmed with its heavy weight, modest power and woeful automatic gearbox. When it comes to classic remakes, the only manufacturer that seemed to get it right was Chevrolet with the Camaro SS.

The end is nigh. Apocalypse. Three little letters that encapsulate the absolute worst of vehicle design: T-V-R. They were all ghastly, unreliable and held together by craft glue but the standout cataclysm was the TVR Sagaris.

It had no door handles. To open the door you pressed a button under the wing mirror and prayed the electrics worked, because on many TVRs they don’t. The seating was invented by Houdini and changing gear required you to dislocate a shoulder.

Meaningless quasi-aerodynamic features on the bodywork shook violently when you reached speed and that happened quickly. Zero to 100km/h took just 3.8 seconds.

It had no ABS or traction control, which would normally attract my praise, but the handling was so beguiling. Human beings have an innate feel for cars, perhaps developed over thousands of years of balancing on horseback.

The Sagaris told porkies to your instincts. In bends, the weight of the engine over the front wheels made it pitch insanely and I spun off countless times with no idea why. If this was the result with a so-called pro at the wheel, I pitied the man who polished it all week before going for a Sunday drive. Worse still, Jeremy Clarkson loved it. I rest my case.

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Sean McKellar May 1, 2011 at 7:53 am

Regardless of how he left Top Gear, JC refered to him as Sacked Stig on the show, and also at Top Gear Live. So we’ll stick with that!

Adam April 30, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Ben didn’t get sacked. He quit.


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