Tune into any contemporary episode of MotorWeek, and what jumps out at you almost immediately is host John Davis’ lively performance, full of smiles, dramatic pauses, and puns.
Watching this unaired pilot episode of MotorWeek, we can rather see why Mr. Davis hams his performance up so much; young John Davis is deadpan and expressionless to the point that he’s nearly unrecognizable for the Davis we all know today.
Autoblog originally shared the video, and remarked that while today’s MotorWeek might not be exhilarating, it might as well be Top Gear compared to this unaired pilot. We don’t know that we’d go that far, but certainly, the years that MotorWeek has been on the air have helped hone the show into something more… watchable. But even in 1980, MotorWeek had the same meticulously-scripted, textually-dense characteristic that it retains today.
This pilot episode centers on the Chevrolet Citation and Ford Fairmont, two rivals in the fuel-saving family car niche. The Citation managed to wrangle 115 HP out of its 2.8-liter inline-6, while the Fairmont is laughably anemic at 85 HP, from 3.3 liters. Obviously, the cars aren’t the reason to watch; the real novelty of this pilot lies in how awkwardly flat it is.
Like Autoblog, we’re rather surprised the show ever got green-lit.