OK so I did it. Or rather Andy Hamilton from the Daily Fail
just had 20 minutes on the phone with Gerry Hawkridge of Hawk Cars.
His initial reaction was that he and several others had been to hell and back. They were initially approached to find an Alitalia liveried car for static photography, and made it quite clear the car had not been used for 9 months and had an issue with the brakes. It was then driven by JC such that the brake issue became fully apparent as seen in the film. Once that was sorted the Stig then took it at full chat from cold before blowing the engine. The car was then sent away to have a new engine fitted (at the owner's expense although Gerry understands he will be fully reimbursed) and various other work was done once it became clear that it was to be Stigged including a brake overhaul, new light plus new wheels and racing slicks which when they came to film were unsuitable for the prevailing conditions. The spins were all staged and they did do around 30 laps to get all the angles etc etc. He also pointed out that they did not build the car themselves and the present owner bought it second-hand from the original builder.
In addition the car was fitted with side impact bars for racing but rather than remove them he clambered in making it look harder than it was, damaging the window and the door mechanism in the process.
Having seen the intended film Hawk Cars spent "significant sums" on legal advice and letters and it was a hastily edited and redubbed version of the original film that was aired on Sunday. His abiding impression of TG is that "they don't treat people well".
That said his website normally gets around 6k hits per day. On Sunday night it got 21k, and over a quarter of a million on Monday. He has received numerous enquiries via phone and e-mail and is sending out much larger numbers of brochures that he would normally although he was sceptical about whether this would lead to increased sales as one of his cars featured on a positive film by JC 15 years ago on old TG and had little impact on his business. I may therefore have to touch bases with him in a few months to check on results.
I realise this is simply another side to the story, but at least I got it from the horse's mouth.
MWF Reports - Putting the "ew" into News!!!!