Top Gear's new 'best road in the world' is the Transfagarasan

In the same vein as the Top Gear Challenge to Find Driving Heaven, and Supercars and a Super-Bridge, the Top Gear grew head over to Romania to drive the Transfagarasan.

Looks like another road I'll need to add to the list :-)

To the road, they bring two cars I'd love to own: the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder LP560-4 and the Ferrari California. The California has those pointless back seats but is better suited to the GT role, as unlike the F430 Spyder or the 458 Italia, it has sat-nav. The Lambo is definitely what I'd put my money on and RedBook suggests you could pickup a '08 model with the LSD on all corners for ~$300k... and it looks the bomb in black!

As usual, you can't watch BBC programs online from Australia and Top Gear haven't published it yet to YouTube, so we're left with whatever car enthusiasts can publish themselves.

The full episode can be found in Parts 1 through 4, but the best scene is this one in higher resolution:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:23 AM, ,

Bells Line of Road

As I've said in the past, we've got some great driving roads just out of Sydney. Heading out West, to the Blue Mountains, I recommend checking out the Bells Line of Roads.

Sydney to Richmond via Windsor

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Getting out of Sydney is the first requirement. I recommend a fast route up the M2, straight to Richmond.

Richmond to Mt Victoria

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Once you've hit Richmond, there is just a little bit of road to navigate through to Kurrajong before the traffic really thins out and you hit nice sweeping roads.

It's on these roads that I'm grateful to have a big V8, as the road is wrapped around the mountains and you'll experience a some rapid climbs that the V8 just devours. Coupled with short overtaking opportunities, you'll want a torquey engine.


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:22 AM, ,

Jay Leno Makes a Rendezvous Of His Own

Checkout Jay Leno's great adaptation of the classic Rendezvous: The Fast and the Famous, featuring the awesome Mercedes-Benz SLS.

I couldn't get the Wired video to play well, so fortunately it's on YouTube!

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:15 AM, ,

Illawarra Highway

Pickup up where we left off at Fitroy Falls, duck over to Robertson and head down the Illawarra Highway - National Route 48.

Of particular note is the spectacular Macquarie Pass, with many hairpin bends and many steep gradients. I've never driven up the road, only down it, which makes it a good 20mins on the brakes, but it's fun none-the-less.

On weekends and public holidays, this stretch of road is very popular with motorcyclists, but during the week it seems full of utes and 4-wheel drives so I don't have much advice for you on the best time to visit in order to avoid traffic.

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Last time I did this trip and headed back North, the weather took a very sudden turn for the worst with a thunderstorm and the corresponding down pour. Not the sort of surprise you want driving a convertible. At least I had good company: a herd of Prancing Horses were also caught in the weather and distracted other motorists from my plight.


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:10 AM, ,

Kangaroo Valley

Building on my blog Driving South out of Sydney & Sea Cliff Bridge, I recommend heading further south down to Berry and then across to Kangaroo Valley and Fitzroy Falls.

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This is a great stretch of road to drive as it is twisty and therefore doesn't require you to be breaking the speed limit in order to enjoy it. The road is in dire need of repairs in many parts, but is gradually being resurfaced and is usually quiet. One word of warning: try not to enjoy the view AND the drive at the same time. :-)

There is a good YouTube video online showing the drive:


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:00 AM, ,

Driving South out of Sydney & Sea Cliff Bridge

I've blogged quite a bit about driving north out of Sydney, so thought I'd share some great drives south out of Sydney.

Getting out of Sydney is the boring bit - especially in traffic. I recommend the faster route possible by taking the M5 then Heathcote Rd then the Princes Hwy to get down to Stanwell Tops.

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Once down at Stanwell Tops, Lawrence Hargrave Drive down to Clifton is a fun stretch of road if you don't have Sunday drivers in front of you. It's definitely a better drive north (uphill and the accelerator) than south (downhill on the brakes).

The Sea Cliff Bridge near Clifton is pretty impressive, in fact it has been featured in a joint 2007 Ferrari/Shell Fuel television advert that was shown in many countries around the world including Australia. The television advert featured a Ferrari Formula 1 car being driven along the bridge at high speed. This was one of many times the bridge has been used in a television advert.


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:46 AM, ,

Galston Gorge

In my last blog's about driving roads around Sydney, I covered the Old Pacific Hwy north of Sydney and then the extend trip to Wiseman's Ferry.

If you have even MORE time on your hands, I'd recommend on the return trip from Wiseman's Ferry back to Sydney, you deviate at Middle Dural down through Galston Gorge, and back up to the Pacific Hwy.

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Sadly, I was stuck behind two cars on my last run through the hairpins so couldn't fully enjoy the drive. It was also raining, which coupled with a heavy V8 up front, makes for a less fun and more stress.

Comparing that experience with my previous experience, I'd have to say that a sunny day with no traffic and a '99 Mazda MX-5, beats it hands down.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 2:02 AM, ,

Wiseman's Ferry

In my last blog about driving roads around Sydney, I covered the Old Pacific Hwy north of Sydney. Well, the following weekend, a friend and I decided to enjoy the good weather and build on this trip a bit more.

Leaving the Calga interchange and heading north on Peat's Ridge Rd, we then cut over to Wiseman's Ferry to enjoy lunch at the Wiseman's Ferry Inn, which has a great outdoors area overlooking the river - perfect for a lazy lunch (I enjoyed the grilled Barramundi).

Coming back, we took the Old Northern Rd back down to the M2 and then straight into the city.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:57 AM, ,

Old Pacific Highway

Whilst it doesn't really compare with Top Gear's challenge to find driving heaven, I managed to get my car out again last weekend for a drive around the old Pacific Highway.

As I mentioned previously, just North of Sydney, there are some great roads to take the car out on. This time I choose the Old Pacific Highway as it is pretty quick for me to get to and from.

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The great news for drivers is that the section from Berowra through to the Hawkesbury River (see map below) is being repaved and is still mostly an 80km/h zone.

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The good/bad news is that the section from the Hawkesbury River through to the Calga Interchange has been resurfaced... but is now a 60km/h zone. :-(

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I would estimate that on this road with my car I could easily do between 40km/h in the tight corners and 120km/h+ on the straights. This task is made a lot safer with sat nav. A quick look at the upcoming turns before going into them help you make far better judgement calls on speed going into the turn.

The Calga Interchange up to the Somersby industrial estate is a great stretch of road. It is a 60km/h zone but with the exception of a few places, you'll want to keep an eye on your speed entering corners. On a few occasions leaving the valley heading up to Somersby, I had to add a lot more braking to avoid pushing wide.

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Checkout these YouTube videos of the stretch of road I'm referring to:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 3:25 AM, ,

Top Gear Challenge to find Driving Heaven

Back in September when I blogged about Top Gear episodes on YouTube, they were missing my all-time favourite episode.

Well, it's back baby !!!!!

Stupidly, I can't embed it so you'll need to click here:

Updated 12 August '09: Now you can embed video - yay!!

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:42 AM, ,

It's on day's like today that I love this car even more

Catching up with friends from high-school up at Palm Beach on Sunday, I got my toy out for a drive today (any excuse!).

We're incredibly fortunate in Sydney to have weather like we did on Sunday. We're also fortunate to have some great driving roads nearby:I'll make sure I pop some details on my blog next time I do one of these drives.

Today's trip was just from home up to Palm Beach where we caught up at Barrenjoey House for lunch. I even remembered to grab a happy snap of the day:

There are some great twisty pieces of road by the beaches on the way there (observe the speed limit please but feel free to enjoy the eye candy at the beach) and via McCarr's Creek Rd on the way back (observe the speed limit... if you must).

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For a good preview of McCarr's Creek Rd, I found this on YouTube:

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posted by Lee Gale @ 12:15 AM, ,

Supercars and a Super-Bridge

Another of my favourite Top Gear episodes: The Supercar review that culminates at the Millau Bridge.

In this episode, Jeremy makes a point that seems lost on people who ask me "why did you buy a car like that?": you don't buy cars like this with your head. You buy cars like this with your heart because you love them.

Updated 20th June 2009

Since at the time of writing this entry, Top Gear episodes on You Tube went from being 'less' copyright friendly to 'more', with BBC posting their content on You Tube. They've also now enabled embedding - yay! As such, I've updated the originally posted videos that were removed, with the ones below. Enjoy.

"Supercars do France", parts 1 through 4.

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:00 AM, ,

I am a self-confessed petrol head

I think it would be fair to label me as a "petrol head"... with a soft spot for roadsters.

To date I've had the pleasure of owning a '99 Mazda MX-5 (manual, black with red interior), a '01 Honda S2000 (manual, red with black interior), a '05 Mercedes SLK 350 (tiptronic, black with red interior) and a '08 Mercedes SLK 55 AMG (tiptronic, black with black & red interior).

Did you notice the trend on the paint & interior colour choices? It looks a little predictable in retrospect.

Sadly I've not had the AMG out on the track yet. I'm still waiting my invite from Nick and/or Avril for a track day. :-) I have however managed to enjoy some great driving roads around Sydney which I'll blog about later.

My next task is to figure out how to wrangle from my partner my current favourite car reviewed on TopGear: the CLK 63 AMG Black. I suspect it might be a while...

PS - I would have linked to the official website for this car review, but they persist with offering a poor user experience that asks me to select a media player and then doesn't load the video. Come on - it's not rocket science: use Flash video like the vast majority of the Internet

Updated 20th June 2009

Since at the time of writing this entry, Top Gear episodes on You Tube went from being 'less' copyright friendly to 'more', with BBC posting their content on You Tube. They've also now enabled embedding - yay! As such, I've updated the originally posted videos that were removed, with the ones below. Enjoy.

"Mercedes CLK Black"

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posted by Lee Gale @ 1:00 AM, ,