Quentin Willson

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Quentin Willson
Photograph of Quentin Willson.jpg
Born (1957-07-23) 23 July 1957 (age 57)
Leicester, England
Occupation Television presenter,
Height 6' 1" (1.85 m)
Official website

Quentin Willson (born 23 July 1957) is an English TV presenter, motoring journalist, author, TV producer and former car dealer, perhaps most widely known as a presenter of the motoring programmes Britain's Worst Driver, Fifth Gear, and the original incarnation of Top Gear. He lives in Warwickshire with his wife and three children.

Early life[edit]

Willson, a twin,[1] is the son of Professor Bernard Willson, latterly the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at University of Leicester, who was the first code breaker at Bletchley Park to decode the Italian Navy Hagelin C-35 code machine.

Quentin studied English Literature at the University of Leicester.

Early career[edit]

After graduation, he founded a car dealership selling Ferraris and Maseratis. In the early 1990s, he was the deputy editor of the only magazine solely devoted to second hand motors, Buying Cars.


Willson joined the BBC to co-host the original version of Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson. For a decade between 1991 and 2001, he appeared every week on the programme, typically as an expert on used cars.

Willson later presented his own produced classic car series The Car's The Star, along with the first property show to talk about money, All The Right Moves, both for the BBC.

After Top Gear's cancellation he left the BBC to present Five's rival motoring programme, Fifth Gear. When Top Gear was relaunched, Willson said of Clarkson that "It's a compliment that the BBC are so afraid of losing ratings to us they've lured my old co-host out of semi-retirement."[2]

While at Five, Willson created the Britain's Worst Driver format, which was nominated for best reality show in the Montreux Golden Rose Awards.[citation needed] A raft of similar shows followed, including Britain's Worst DIYer, Worst Mother in Law, Worst Husband, Worst Teenager, Worst Builder, Worst Zookeeper, and Worst FIFA 2002 Player. After Willson's appearances on Britain’s Worst series, comedian Harry Hill dressed up as him and announced: “I used to be on Top Gear, now I’m on Channel 5. Welcome to Britain’s Worst Career Move.” [3]

Willson also participated in the 2004 series of Strictly Come Dancing, but ignominiously got the lowest score ever on the show with his one and only dance before being voted off. Judge Craig Revel Horwood described Willson as "Britain's Worst Dancer".[4]

On 12 January 2009, and again on 4 December 2010, he appeared on BBC1's Breakfast programme giving advice on snow driving and which cars are better suited.[citation needed] On 5 April 2012 he once again appeared on BBC Breakfast talking about the Highway Code.[5] He also regularly features on the ITV breakfast show Daybreak, when there are motoring related features.

In 2015 Willson returned to Five to begin hosting The Classic Car Show.


In the 1990s, both in print and on television, Willson highlighted the artificially higher prices of new cars in the UK compared to Europe, campaigning for price parity for UK buyers. He's widely credited for drawing attention to uncompetitive pricing by the car makers which prompted the European Commission to take action and use Block Exemption regulations to force the industry to reduce UK list prices on new passenger cars.[6]

Since early 2011, Willson has been the national spokesman for FairFuelUK campaigning for lower government fuel duty.[7] Since March 2011, Willson and the FairFuelUK Team have successfully pressured the UK government to defer 11p of duty rises, reducing the overall tax take by £5.5 billion in fuel duty. His campaigning has appeared on BBC Breakfast, Radio 5 Live, Newsnight, Channel 5 News, Channel 4 News, The Sun, Times, Telegraph, Mail and other national newspapers. The House of Commons Back Bench Committee allowed Willson to be present in the House at a Commons fuel duty debate in 2011.[7]


In 2004 Willson was awarded Motoring Writer of the Year. He writes regularly for The Sunday Mirror and has also written ten books.

  • "Top Gear": Good Car Guide by Quentin Willson BBC Books 1993
  • "Top Gear": Good Car Guide by Quentin Willson BBC Books 1994
  • Classic Cars of the World by Quentin Willson and David Selby DK Publishing 1995
  • Ultimate Classic Car by Quentin Willson, DK Publishing 1995. Republished with David Selby.
  • Classic American Cars by Quentin Willson, DK Publishing 1997
  • The Quentin Willson Guide to Used Cars: Everything You Need to Know by Quentin Willson Virgin Books 2001
  • Quentin Willson's Cool Cars by Quentin Willson, DK Publishing. Second edition 2001
  • Cars, A Celebration by Quentin Willson, DK Publishing 2001
  • Great Cars by Quentin Willson, DK Publishing 2001
  • Ultimate Sports Car by Quentin Willson, DK Publishing 2002

Consultancy and speaking[edit]

Quentin Willson is a consultant to many organisations and companies including the car warranty company Warrantywise, where he designed the entire policy for the Lancashire based car warranty company after complaining that existing car warranties weren't worth the paper they were printed on.[8] Wilson is also a former consultant to BP[9][10] as an advocate of 'going green', BSI (British Safety Institute) and Castrol Oil in 2008–10 as an advocate for putting the correct fuel in your car.[11] He is also a regular face on the conference and after dinner speaking circuit.[12] Quentin has been at the forefront of raising awareness about the dangers of buying stolen cars,[13] fronting the 'Real or Rogue' campaign in March 2009.


Year Title Format
1994 Top Gear – Classic Cars VHS
1999 Project Healey 3000 VHS
2009 Project Healey 3000 DVD


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  2. ^ Methven, Nicola (27 March 2002). "Car wars; Exclusive Quentin's dig at 'old hat' Clarkson". Daily Mirror (MGN). p. 22. 
  3. ^ http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/56168/Telly-comic-Harry-Hill-is-so-quip-witted
  4. ^ Quentin and Hazel Cha Cha Cha on YouTube
  5. ^ "Do you know the Highway Code?". BBC News. 5 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Private Eye magazine issue no.1016 1 December 2000
  7. ^ a b http://www.fairfuelUK.com
  8. ^ url = http://www.warrantywise.co.uk/
  9. ^ "Quentin Willson teams up with BP to help HR and fleet managers 'go green'". personneltoday.com. 27 May 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2008. 
  10. ^ "BP at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – July 2008". save-petrol.co.uk. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2008. 
  11. ^ "Quentin Willson pushes Castrol Oil campaign". AM Online. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2008. 
  12. ^ "Quentin Willson Talent Profile". NMP Live Ltd. 30 September 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2008. 
  13. ^ "Is Your Car Real or Rogue?". Youtube.com. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2009. 

External links[edit]