We’re all guilty of it: spending untold hours watching automotive videos, most of them car reviews, some of them user submitted – all of them captivating. It’s an addictive pastime that has resulted in cold food, cold looks, and warm hearts all around the world.
Michael Taylor, a Toronto based TV producer recently told me, “Back in the’70s, I always thought: cars are dynamic objects, they should be shown in moving pictures – not through still photos and writing.” A few months later TopGear was launched, and my TV producer friend begrudgingly (and successfully) went on to produce movies and TV shows throughout his career – leaving the gear-head stuff to the Brits (click here to check out some of Michael’s recent work).
TopGear has certainly set the gold standard for automotive videography – but they’re not the only ones producing exciting and captivating automotive video. There is an abundance of such films, and today’s Opposite Lock will focus in on the best of them – or at least a few of our favorites. Editor’s note: many of them do not contain BMW’s, but many of them do – forget you’re on BMWBLOG.com for a few minutes (or hours) as you enjoy our list of must-see footy. And don’t forget to submit your favorites in the comment section; post the link and we’ll add them to the article.
Queue the pop-corn.
Our first film to consider is a silver-screen shot in 1978. Allow me to make a very strong personal note: BMWBLOG, its editors and I strongly disapprove of the illegal stunt driving depicted in this film. This driver’s wanton disregard for public safety is extreme and it’s miraculous that no one was hurt or killed in the making of this film. That having been said, as a record of incredible driving and reflexes, this film is worth a watch. The hired hand was a Formula 1 driver – I’m not sure if his identity was ever disclosed. If I had to venture a guess, I’d put the cross-hairs on a young Alain Prost.
A few things to look out for: note his line through corners – he uses all of the road; note how smooth his driving is – hardly a wiggle to the camera the entire 8 minute drive. Listen to his shifts – upshifts are quick and downshifts are simply blazing; flawlessly rev-matched the entire drive. If you want a perfect record of heel-and-toeing, this is certainly it. The mastery of car control makes your heart race and your pupils dilate. The French filmmaker Claude Lelouch gyro-stabilized a camera and mounted it to the bumper of a Mercedes S class before the ghost driver got underway (Ferrari V12 engine sounds were later dubbed over the film for added excitement). The filmmaker was arrested upon the film’s release, but they never got to the driver. This film is a guilty pleasure. Once again: marvel in the driving talent and melodic sound, but do not even think of attempting such illegal driving the rest of your days(!)
And one more.
What would an automotive video compilation be without mention of Senna? Probably the greatest driver ever known, sit in astonishment as this phenom of driving threads his way through his moving-chicane competitors on a wet track. Since the invent of motor racing, rain has always separated the men from the boys. If you enjoy pushing hard, dancing with your car on a wet track, you just might have a bit of Senna in you.
The clip you’re about to watch was recored at the 1993 Grand Prix of Donnington Park. Senna starts in 4th place on the grid, falls back to 5th behind Michael Shumacher at the start, then goes on to claim first place before the end of the first lap – where he remains until the checkered flag. Watch for the massive slides, corrected with quick flicks of opposite lock. Senna: you’ll be forever missed.
Our list of epic films is not limited to four wheels, and for that reason, a brief introduction to Ghost Rider is required. No, we’re not talking about Nicholas Cage in any ultra-cheesy movie. We’re talking about Patrik Furstenhoff, a 40 something year old Subaru car salesman who has a wife and kids (who he clearly doesn’t care too much about), a turbo charged Hayabusa putting out around 500 hp at the rear wheel, and a few GSX-R 1000s of various colours (and induction). Patrik holds the world record for the highest speed wheelie – held at 347 km/h.
Mr. Furstenhoff is about as talented and insane as the F1 driver from our first film, so please recall our strong condemnation of this illegal behavior on public roads the world over. These two are fun to watch – no question – but they took other people’s lives in their hands (nevermind their own) to create these films. Most of you have the moral fibre to make this disclaimer redundant – but for those of you who don’t: you’ve been warned – do not even think of imitating such illegal riding or driving. Frankly, I think Patrik is an idiotic criminal – albeit a talented one.
As far as his riding is concerned, what’s most impressive is his throttle modulation and fly-like reflexes. It’s a lengthy film and quite juvenile most of the time, but there some riding clips within that require huge talent.
Compliments of ICON (Riding gear), our next clip is dripping in adrenaline. No doubt some of the most dramatic and epic two and four wheel drifting is recorded within. We particularly admire “Officer Dan” and his quest to to catch “the hoodlums cause’n a ruckus.”
Sit back and be amazed. I’ve gotta admit: I’ve never been a fan of ICON riding gear, but this film is so spectacular I might buy a pair of gloves in tribute…
One last classic from a man I’ve grown to deeply respect for both his talent and heart, Rauno Aaltonen. This film was recorded a few decades ago, but it’s tough to find better driver skill after scouring the entire internet. Rauno made this film in the form of a tutorial on how to turn in a successful performance as a Rally racer. We enjoy his narration, advice and driving talent. (For a review of our time spent behind the wheel with Rauno Aaltonen, click here. To check out his racing school’s home page, click here).
Check out his heel and toeing at 1:30. Rauno literally invented the Scandinavian flick, as well as the left-foot braking technique. Watch and learn from a legend of motorsport.
We now turn to the Isle of Man. The riders you are about to witness streaking the course are playing dangerously on the line between bravery and stupidity. Some pay the ultimate price. At least what they’re doing is legal, sanctioned, professional racing. These videos contain some of the hairiest speed wobbles caught on film. It becomes quite clear that these riders are bent on chasing hundredths of a second and handfuls of km/h to win, and those who managed to keep it together have produced some of the most incredible riding ever recorded.
These rider’s clock over 200 mph on narrow 2 lane roads during this race, the slowest corner calls for 1st gear.
And to round off our two-wheeled action, here is motorcycling poetry in motion. This video is one of the most spectacular in our lineup, and all that’s left to do at the end is laugh or cry. This race is a nail-biting masterpiece wherein teammate MotoGP factory riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo battle it out. I’ll leave it to you to watch who takes the win, but note that it ends in one legendary rider’s 99th career win.
As far as the riding – it’s picture perfect and on the limit the entire race. The racing is so close there are moments they have to tuck their knees in as they jostle for position so as not to touch each other’s bikes. They dice within centimeters of each other. Rossi is the Lord of two-wheels in the yellow helmet, his worthy competitor Jorge is sporting a blue lid. Both riders are on equal bikes with equal tires – what determines the winner of this race is raw talent – which both of them clearly posses…
One last marvel of (illegal and not to be mimicked) driving, and we’ll give the men in blue a rest.
Back to the Isle of Man one last time… Road and Track did a ride along with Mark Higgins – Mark gets sideways on asphalt at 150 mph and saves it. It’s one of the most incredible tank-slapper “big save” moments of motorsport ever recorded.
Now for some comic relief – one of my all-time favorite automotive videos comes from 5th Gear. Tiff Needell squeezes out a “win” in a mock competition between his M3 and an IS-F. Three girls and plenty of drifting is involved – Tiff even loses it at one point and has a rare-for-the-Sultan-of-slide spin. Favorite moments come at 1:23 (desperate hand on back window) and Jason Palto’s sly remark at 3:54. Cracks me up every time. Enjoy.
Finally and inevitably, we come upon the best all-round car review of all time. Well, the most dramatic, anyway. In the words of Jeremy Clarkston, “The most thorough test of a car ever undertaken.” We would have to agree on that point. TopGear brings us a review of the new Ford Fiesta. This. Video. Is. Epic.
Watch this link until 3:25, then switch to the second link to watch the review to completion. (Switch at “Will it break down all the time?”)
If we listed more than a couple great TopGear videos, this list would go on for an eternity – so we’ll have to cap it off at two. The cars in the next review are awe inspiring, timeless models of automotive perfection. Watch TopGear display them in their full, revving glory.
And now to my favorite automotive reviewer, Chris Harris. Chris takes the cake as my favorite journo to watch for his casual, honest approach. That and his motorsport founded objective feedback on all matters mechanical. His epic driving abilities don’t harm the viewing experience either. One more nod for Chris: I met him in Spain and had a great, down-to-earth conversation. Chris is not egotistical or arrogant despite his success and relative fame – he’s still salt of the earth and that’s something I admire.
So, Chris, here’s to your contribution to the best car films ever made…
We start off with my favorite among Chris’ comparos – this time he pits the ‘digital’ Ferrari 458 Italia against the ‘analog’ Porsche GT3 RS.
Chris turns the wheel of the GT3 RS over to Francois Delecour, a Rally champion of days past. Francois is a big fan of the 911 as a Rally car, and it shows through in his driving. Note Chris’ face around the 5 minute mark: it takes some pretty clever driving to scare a racer. Again, we do not endorse driving flat-out on open public roads (in any country) as shown in this film – even if you’re a professional racer – but for the marvel that is this man’s driving, we are pleased to show you this clip.
Favorite moment comes just after the 11 minute mark… observe the look on their faces! Finally, note Delecour’s conclusion, stating that as is the GT3 RS could compete for top-5 positions in WRC. That’s quite a statement for a road car.
Another comparo by Chris, this time between a more familiar machine and its German rivals. Watch as the M3 GTS, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series, and Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 battle it out with Chris behind the wheel.
An artistic piece documenting the passion between man and machine. Chris takes one last drive in his personal car before storing it for the winter…
Favorite quote: “Oversteer is cool.” Now there’s a fundamental truth.
Now to an epic film that explores the magic of one of our all-time favorite cars: BMW’s M5. Chris takes a look at the one that started it all – a classic one, now nestled in his garage among other exotica.
Back when this short film launched, Clive Owen instantly became one of my favorite actors, and the M5 – well, it remained one of my favorite cars. We love watching Madonna get taken for the ride of her life, M style.
Fast Fact: In the making of this film, BMW did not use any special effects – there’s no animation. The rubber laid is actually stuck to the asphalt, and the jump at 5:56 was actually filmed with a stock E39 M5 – without Madonna in the car, obviously.
Thank you, Guy Ritchie.
Okay, fine… one more TopGear video – this time starring our eternal favorite girl-racer, Sabine Schmitz. How would you enjoy getting spanked by Sabine in a tiny-engined Diesel transit van whilst steering your Porsche, or liter bike around the Nurburgring’s 147 corners? If you turn up on the wrong open lapping day, you may be due for some humiliation. Thankfully, this spectacle is unlikely to take place again – unless the Stig fancies a go…
Favorite line comes at 1:32, “I must be crazy.” No kidding Sabine – and crazy cute to boot.
And now to our final video, we end on a high note. Four of the world’s greatest supercars get their legs stretched by Chris Harris. One of the most seductive, beautiful supercars of all time, an engineer’s love child, the Jaguar XJ220 gets a back road sprint, along with the modern day execution of the Ferrari F40, the Noble M600; the car it seeks to mimic, the original F40, and finally a modern supercar that makes any enthusiast’s hair stand at attention: the Porsche 911 GT2 RS.
Chris Harris and the Ferrari F12.
Now it’s YOUR turn to share your favorite car videos in the comment section. Include a link and we’ll add them to the article![Photo credit: click here]