Richard Hammond Once Sang Happy Birthday to a Land Cruiser in Sweden

A great review of a great car, early in his automotive presenting career.

This isn’t widely known by all automotive enthusiasts, but Richard Hammond got his start in automotive media well before he joined Old Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson and James May. He was actually a main presenter on a show called Men and Motors, which James May also made an appearance on, in addition to regular work on Old-Old Top Gear.

Hammond was well-versed in the art of driving, talking, and looking at the camera, and reviewed quite a few cool rides over the course of his tenure with M&M. I think he also worked in the press department of an OEM before that, too, so quickly recalling and talking about a car’s facts and figures was very much in his wheelhouse.

One of the cars he presented on was a Car Bibles favorite, the J100 Toyota Land Cruiser:

And, to continue the list of Car Bibles favorites, especially in the subcategory of Cars We’ve Never Driven But Know We’d Love, the Suzuki Jimny:

Based on the view counts and SEO utilization of these videos, you can tell Hammond fandom has really dug on ’em.

Back to the J100 Land Cruiser though: the one he’s reviewing is a 50th Anniversary version that goes by the Amazon, hence the quick birthday wishes. This gen LC was the first to get a whole bunch of modern traction control and ABS tech, and utilized twist-able buttons to toggle certain off-road settings. It also had electronically-actuated suspension, and cool features that you don’t really see anymore, like optional night vision integrated into the dash, dubbed Night View.

The review is generally entertaining and a fun throwback. Not just as a glimpse of the J100 as a brand-new, factory-fresh off-roader, but also seeing Hammond’s background under construction.

Peter Nelson

Peter NelsonPeter Nelson has been wrenching on and playing with cars since he started driving them quickly between the cones at Chicagoland autocross events in his late teens. Nowadays, he can be found wringing out his Mazda2 at tracks all over California. His writing background includes Winding Road, Donut Media, and Autolist.com. He's also an avid cyclist and '80s/'90s action film connoisseur. Contact the author here.