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Top Gear’s Midlife Crisis Cars

Top Gear's Midlife Crisis CarsWhether it’s a messy divorce, a loss
  of libido, keeping up with the Jones’s or
  a plain ordinary middle-aged crisis that
  drives you to treat yourself — Matt
  Master has just the car for you in Top
’s Midlife Crisis Cars...”

HAVING PRODUCED TWO NATTY LITTLE BOOKS, Crap Cars and My Dad Had One Of Those, Top Gear celebrates the midlife crisis with the definite collection of the flashest, fastest, most impractical cars of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s to be found in the driveways of otherwise perfectly sensible men.

After the death knell of a marriage comes the urge to shake off the cobwebs, but you might be a bit strapped for cash. How about painting the town red with a Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet? Or maybe you've always hankered after a BMW M3 Convertible?

Empty-nesters could find themselves with time to party; so trade in that boring, practical estate car for something with a bit more pizzazz — something lean, fast and powerful and that reminds you of your misspent youth.

If you're feeling a bit flash and have the cash, you could roar away in a Porsche 911 — the car that earned the respect of the motoring cognoscenti everywhere for its superior engineering and agility. If you want something a bit different, try the Bugatti EB110. Only 139 of them are believed to have been produced and Michael Schumacher bought a banana yellow Supersport version in 1994. So it's got to be the business… Hasn't it? Or perhaps you can stretch to the Ferrari Testosterone — er, sorry: Testarossa.

In a misplaced attempt to camouflage the sprouting bald spots and expanding midriffs, men of a certain age may go for the fast and the furious, but what if it's a second car you're after and you're on a tight budget?

Top Gear's Midlife Crisis Cars has the answer here, too. Remember the Opel Kadett GT/E, the car that gave birth to the Vauxhall Astra? Or the Ford Capri? And didn't you always secretly lust after a Nissan 300ZX or a Panther Kallista? You'd have right royal company with a Reliant Scimitar GTE: Princess Anne was once stopped for speeding in the 70s — driving a Scimitar.

If you're still having to accommodate your not-so-little darlings, you could consider a BMW M5 or a Ferrari 400 or an Audi RS2 — described in the book as 'Cupid with an Intercooler'.

Keeping up with the Jones's wouldn't be too hard in the Jaguar XJ-S, Porsche 924, Maserati Bi-Turbo Spyder or — even better — a Bentley Turbo R. Or you could rattle off down the road cocking a snoot at the critics in a Lancia Beta Montecarlo. Or plump for a Datsun 240-Z, designed and styled to beat American muscle cars at their own game. Or even the tragic DeLorean DMC-12. Then again, perhaps you'd rather be seduced by a beautiful Ferrari 308 GTS…

Whether or not you agree with Matt's sometimes irreverent summary of each car, it's an interesting exercise! Check out the key diagrams in the Introduction and turn the pages that "provide a highly scientific analysis of the varied and complex unions of magnificent machine and misguided man. Part celebration, part condemnation, all of it uncomfortable, irrefutable truth".

Top Gear's Midlife Crisis Cars identifies over 50 classics of the genre across four desperate decades. Scoring each with a crisis rating, it charts the successes and failures of middle-aged man and his machines; from the timeless classic of Aston Martin to the South Beach sleaze of an Eighties Ferrari, from certain death in old Porsches to spiritual enlightenment in an innocuous Japanese super-saloon.

A showcase of the most ridiculous attempts to hide the bald spots and expanding midriffs, Top Gear's Midlife Crisis Cars honours the age-old tradition of blowing your children's inheritance on something you're probably too arthritic to get into in the first place.

Matt Master is a freelance motoring correspondent, he writes for Top Gear magazine as a features writer and road tester, but lives down a muddy lane only accessible by tractor. This is his first book.

Top Gear's Midlife Crisis Cars, by Matt Master, is published by BBC Books on 8 May 2008, RRP: £9.99.

"Top Gear's Midlife Crisis Cars… Whether or not you agree with Matt's sometimes irreverent summary of each car, it's an interesting exercise!" — MotorBar