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The Man in the White Suit: The Stig, Le Mans, the Fast Lane and Me Hardcover – October 26, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 194 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a fun, must read adventure for anyone who calls themselves a car nut." —MC2-The Mini Magazine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Ben Collins won races in every category from Formula Three to Le Mans Sportscars and GT, and captured the European NASCAR title. He also worked as a Hollywood stuntman. In 2003 he became the anonymous fourth presenter, known as the Stig, of Top Gear, coaching celebrities, organizing car chases, and testing hundreds of priceless cars. Eight years later, his alter ego is recognized by millions around the world.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins UK (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000732796X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007327966
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #414,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gearhead Mania TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Man in the White Suit

I have been an avid fan of Top Gear since I first saw an episode a few years ago. Fifth Gear, albeit a similar program, was never quite as entertaining as Top Gear mainly because of the chemistry between the presenters and because Top Gear is more focused on entertainment. Ben Collins' book is not just an autobiography, but also a behind the scenes look at Top Gear. As I suspected, Top Gear is more about entertaining the audience than a factual car review show. Ben Collins revealed that a lot of the driving sequences, such as the Corvette and Fiesta duel in the mall, was mainly action sequences taken in piece meal with the presenter driving sequences cut/pasted into the whole affair to make them look good. I understand that there are a lot of people there heavily criticizing Ben for leaving Top Gear and the "best job in the world", but I read this book and reviewed it objectively as possible even though I am a Top Gear fan and gearhead/petrol head. As an example of how Top Gear's final production sequences are aimed at entertainment, Ben Collins said in a South African interview after the release of his book that out of the 3 presenters, the best driver was James May. The reason is that May has an engineering background and is more sorted out. In the book, Collins described May as always pretending to be a poor driver to provide some hint of comic relief. In stark contrast, Fifth Gear is too heavy on professional drivers. I've seen episodes where Jason Plato, Tiff Needell, Ben Collins, and Victoria Butler-Henderson bored me to sleep because there wasn't any "cocking about" or entertainment - it was too factual and precise.

So let's start from the beginning.

Ben is a well-articulated speaker and writer.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was kind of reluctant when reading the reviews here but my love for Top Gear took over. The book is good. Simple. There's a ton of material about driving and half of the book describes Ben's 8 years long career with Top Gear. You won't find however anything surprising and I can hardly think of any reason why BBC put so much effort into blocking this book out.

-- SPOILER ALERT --
You will read about Ben's beginnings, his ambition to race at any conditions and any price. After joining TG team the story becomes familiar and you get a sense how massive was the amount of work put into each episode. I was expecting to find out some backstage opinions on the presenter trio (Clarkson being an arrogant type for example) but nope - seems they're the same as on the telly. You will get very detailed information about how the celebrities were taught and what was their approach to driving on the TG track. You will also find out how the driving and pass-by sequences were made and how hectic the job of Stig could be. Most of the chapters copy the epizode flow so you'll read about Veyron race from Italy to London, the charity race in Mallorca, 24 hrs endurance race in diesel BMW and so on, including all the details possible.

The Stig job must have been (and probably still is) very demanding as Andy Willman (exec producer) seems like crazily tough guy, who's been pushing the show forward together with Clarkson. There's an urgent sense of split personality when Ben Collins acted as a Stig and as well as himself during several episodes. Not to mention the fact how crazy was the TG team to keep Stig's identity secret.

The book covers the era from beginnings of white Stig until the episode with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.
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By Bianca on April 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Being a rabid fan of Top Gear UK and being somewhat disappointed by the reaction of the presenters to Ben wanting to move on; it was refreshing to hear his side of the story and how he never spoke ill of the show or his co-workers. Clarkson Hammond and May could learn from that. I always knew who the stig was and it never dulled my enjoyment of the show. Why make such a big deal out of it?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read Black Stig's book (Flat Out Flat Broke) which is highly reviewed so I expected it to be awesome. I felt it was decent but just a few pages on him being the Stig. If Black Stig's book was reviewed as awesome and White Stig's book reviews were mixed okay, then I wasn't expecting much from this.... boy was I surprised. A lot of detail about White Stig's time at TG, very entertaining stuff. But he also goes into great detail about his time trying to get a break in racing and then his time in the army. All in all, I was very happy to have purchased this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a must read for any Top Gear fan in my opinion.
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Like so many others, I am a Top Gear fan and was curious about the book that caused all the drama. It was an easy read with some decent stories with the Top Gear crew. Don't expect groundbreaking information...but as a TG fan, it was very enjoyable.
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Mr. Collins provides a good amount of behind-the-scenes information on the making of Top Gear, and a bit of info on the major personalities, which is likely what most people will buy this book for. However, a number of factors prevent it from being a great read:

- While more-or-less an autobiography, we don't actually learn that much about what makes Mr. Collins tick. Quite a few chapters are devoted to him pursuing an Army career as a backup plan in case race driving doesn't work out, and he states several times how much of an effect this had on his psyche and how much he values it. However, when he decides to abandon the Army direction, he does so almost in passing, which seems odd for something he claims so much connection to.

- The amount of detail in some instances is remarkably high for events that took place years ago, such as his audition laps in a Ford around the Top Gear test track. I suppose it's possible the author keeps a meticulous diary, but it felt a bit artificial.

- The book needed more help from an editor (a common problem these days, alas.) Some judicious direction on focusing the narrative, and some wordsmithing on awkward passages, would have gone a long way here.
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