Political incorrectness?All in the mind

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Jeremy Clarkson, the Porsche and the Argies


Screenshot from the Daily Express website (cropped)

Whoops. I’m probably not supposed to say ‘argies’ am I? Is that politically incorrect? I have no idea any more what is and isn’t.

‘Argy’ is a four-letter shortened version of Argentinian. ‘Brit’ is a four-letter shortening of ‘British’. Most people are happy to call me a Brit (and I’m not going to object) so therefore I can’t see that Argentinians would have a problem with Argy.

But you never know…

British(Brit, rather) television presenter of BBC’s Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson, and his colleagues took three cars on one of their challenges to Argentina.

The Porsche pictured here is the very car Clarkson was driving.

This,or to be specific,its number plate, caused the entire television crew to be attacked and the cars destroyed by angry mobs of Argentinians.

Now you and I can look at that registration plate and see nothing wrong with it, right?

Well, the Argentinians thought it was a deliberate reference to the war which took place in 1982 over the Brit-owned Falkland Islands which the Argentinians had invaded. It was supposed that Clarkson- who indeed does have a wicked sense of humour and isn’t always as politically-correct as he could be – had chosen the number plate deliberately to annoy the Argies who, incidentally, had lost the war.

Nothing could be further from the truth but nevertheless, the Argentinians were inflamed and the television crew were, in their words ‘afraid for their lives’. The suggestion that the crew had deliberately chosen the number plate is ludicrous, and here’s why.

British registration plates and the law

Firstly, I need to explain that in the UK, the number plates are assigned to the car when it is first sold and they then remain with the car for its lifetime. Secondly,the Department of Motor Vehicles gives easy access to vehicle registration details.

The facts are these:

  • The Porsche was first registered in May 1991 and the registration numbers, as seen above,were assigned to it
  • In March 1998, the car’s then-owner purchased a vanity plate and was given DMV permission to use it on the car
  • When this happens, the original number reverts to the DMV. Sometimes, they are reissued to other cars but this did not happen in this case
  • In May 2001, the vanity plate was no longer required and so the Porsche reverted to it’s original number as seen in the photograph above
  • The number was original to the car. It was not a fake

Consider these facts too

  • Although the Top Gear programme could be described as ‘irreverent’ (it is a comedy show as much as a car show) there is no way that it would be provocative about a war in which hundreds of people lost their lives
  • The programme is made by the British Broadcasting Corporation, a public service provider which has a Royal Charter. It is almost a government  department and as such would never permit such a ‘prank’
  • At the last World Cup, the Argentinian team were photographed with a banner reading ‘Las Malvinas son Argentinas’. Malvinas is the Argentinian name for the Falkland Islands and phrase is translated to mean ‘The Falklands are Argentinian’. There were no jeers from the British. No stones were thrown, the footballers were not in fear of their lives
  • The islands were uninhabited until they were discovered by Europeans in the eighteenth century. They have belonged to France, Spain and Britain over the years but have been under British rule since 1833. Its inhabitants are British subjects

Part of the appeal of the Top Gear programme is often the three presenters making fools of themselves. But in this case, it was the Argentinians.


 See James May talking about the Top Gear experience in Argentina

James May is one of the three presenters for the programme.




Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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  1. This is simply a case of the Argies wanting more bargies with the Brits, whatever the ‘provocation’.

    Love and peace from the Baldie from Bradford

  2. I saw the programme on TV over the last couple of nights – I usually watch the series too – and a lot of the time the presenters can make me squirm and cringe by their choices and actions on some of the features, but for once they didn’t intend any antagonism and the whole episode ended up seeming very sad – and frightening for the crew. Thankfully they all escaped to Chile without really serious injuries but I’m certain they would have been extremely scared – I’m just glad they got out OK in the end. It’s all such a shame when the trip was all about building bridges and had gone well until near the end…

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