Top Gear (series 8)
The eighth series of Top Gear began on 7 May and concluded on 30 July 2006. The series featured eight episodes. Over 150 complaints were received regarding actions carried out in the sixth episode, ultimately resulting in a caravan being burnt. Clarkson later proclaimed that it was not an 'accident' as first implied, but a publicity stunt to show everyone how much Top Gear hate caravans.
|66||Series 8 Episode 1||7 May 2006||Various (see below)|
A new opening title sequence was introduced and the programme was now presented from a new and much bigger studio, as the production had outgrown the old one. The new studio is at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome, which is still the same location as the old smaller studio. This episode also saw "Top Gear dog" introduced, a labradoodle who's terrified of cars which make her violently ill and she also seems to hate James May, having thrown up on him when she arrived at the studio earlier that morning.
As with past the past few series, a montage of highlights from upcoming episodes was shown at the top of the show with the song of choice as Kasabian's Club Foot being heard in the background.
Review: Hammond drives a hot pink Nissan Micra C+C around Ledbury, Herefordshire, with a brown paper bag over his head as "punishment" for appearing on daytime TV. However, due to the car being "the most embarrassing in human history," he abandons it mid-review, stating "It's not as if anyone's going to steal it, are they?" In the news segment of Series 1 Episode 1, Hammond had described the car as a "rather gorgeous looking little thing" - although this referred to the old model, which was not in pink. Unimpressed, Clarkson remarks, "It just looks like a scrotum."
Challenge: The team were challenged to fit a working home-made convertible roof to a Renault Espace people carrier. During the conversion of Espace, several unpleasant things happened. First, Clarkson and Hammond broke several side windows, which should not be broken. Second, Clarkson sewed his jacket to the machine and he eventually made the frame wrong. Challenges included driving at 100 mph (161 km/h) (result: the roof blew off), taking it to the monkey enclosure at a safari park (result: the roof almost broke when a monkey sat on it), and finally taking it through a brand new car wash. The people carrier was quickly abandoned as the rollers collapsed the roof, showering the trio in water. The tattered & torn roof was then subsequently snagged on the car-wash mechanism and jammed the machinery, causing a fire. Whilst this was happening, the group was seen running away, soaking wet.
The News: Rising petrol prices prompt a politically incorrect rant from Clarkson. The new Volkswagen Eos may be the first decent looking four-seater cabriolet. Clarkson declares his Ford GT "the most unreliable car ever." He said that "all the stuff that was put on in England went wrong" and he suffered major problems with the trickle chargers. During the break between series, another TV programme borrowed the Top Gear test track and shot footage of "green" cars going round it. Jeremy shows a brief montage of highlights and supplies his own mocking commentary for the studio audience. The Saab Aero-X concept car impresses the hosts with its looks, but has “the canopy of jet fighter” and they aren’t sure why. James is annoyed by concept cars that promise wild design, but inevitably get watered down before they are mass-produced. He names the Honda Civic as a prime example, which leads directly into the following review.
Review: May praises the newly restyled Honda Civic, which he finds to be amazingly attractive for a mass-market car. Details like the triangular exhaust pipes, the rocket-inspired door handles, and the glowing blue rev counter spark his imagination. Even the hazard light button is “translucent and looks like a boiled sweet!” On the weaker end of the scale, he finds the ride a bit choppy at higher speeds and the interior noise a little too loud. However, he says those are minor complaints considering how great the car looks.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: The new series saw the Suzuki Liana replaced as the “reasonably priced car” by the Chevrolet Lacetti. In order to get some times on the separate board for the new car, several celebrities were invited to set times in this episode. In order of arrival:
Diesel News: James May introduces the JCB Dieselmax, with which JCB will attempt to break the diesel land speed record.
Review: Clarkson reviews the new £415,000 Koenigsegg CCX and claims it is his new way of giving up smoking. The old Koenigsegg CC8S, which he reviewed in Season 2, Episode 7, was a raw, unruly beast that he found exceptionally fast, but very difficult to drive. The new car is even more so. Power lap: 1:20.4. The Stig lost control of the car upon a second attempt to break the posted time and hit a tire wall. He suggested that with the addition of a rear wing (later dubbed 'Top Gear wing') to provide downforce, the CCX would be 4 seconds faster. This episode’s Stig intro (by Clarkson): “Some say that his ears aren’t exactly where you’d expect them to be and that once, preposterously, he had an affair with John Prescott. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!”’’
|67||Series 8 Episode 2||14 May 2006||Gordon Ramsay|
Review: Clarkson reviews the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and finds it astonishing as a track car, comparing it to a Ferrari 575M Maranello. However he notes, among other things, that the car is too harsh for road usage, claiming he would rather have Bird Flu than drive it every day. The Stig takes it to a 1:22.4, making it somewhat slower than the more expensive Ford GT that was GM's primary competition, but putting it in the realm of Italian and German supercars. This episode’s Stig intro (by Clarkson): “Some say he has a digital face and that if he felt like it, he could fire Alan Sugar. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!”’’
The News: The Ferrari 575 has been discontinued and will be replaced by the 599 GTB Fiorano. A new limo has been created from a tank. A new gadget called The Quick Start is designed to alert you to drive on the correct side of the road in France. The group figures out how the police can identify drivers under the influence of illegal drugs. They then devised a series of questions in relation to specific drugs. The Dodge Caliber is designed to look like an imposing SUV, but is the size of a Volkswagen Golf. A car thief stole a Mercedes McLaren SLR in Germany and was apprehended a mere twelve miles away.
Challenge: Hammond races a man in a canoe with an engine in Iceland. Hammond used a specially prepped offroad 4x4 called a Tomcat, with the chassis of a Range Rover and a TVR V8 engine. The canoeist wins.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay sets a new lap record of 1.46.3.
Review: Clarkson tests the new Jaguar XK in Yorkshire. He is torn: the BMW 6-Series and Porsche 997 are quicker while an Aston Martin is better looking and more prestigious. In the end, he still prefers an Aston to an XK, but acknowledges that the Jag will be more reliable and concludes that, "It's good enough to make you think."
Challenge: The group tried to see how hard it would be to host a Drive Time Radio Show. Hammond drove them to the studio in a Cadillac BLS, which the other two presenters panned as a cramped rebadged Saab with a bad clock. BBC Southern Counties Radio in Brighton allowed the group to take over a 3-hour block, which went downhill fast. A recording had been done of a musical artist singing, "I've been driving in my car listening to Jeremy Clarkson," which was played a few times during the Radio broadcast. Clarkson decided to use the traffic flow cameras to name and shame a number of motorists, who he considered to be causing the hold ups by their bad driving. The station received a number of complaints about the lack of actual traffic information being given out. They ended their 3-hour block by playing a 9-minute song and quickly exiting the building.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: The Stig faced the challenge of going around the track in the old Suzuki Liana and he managed to get the fastest time of 1:44.4, beating Ellen MacArthur (fastest celebrity) and narrowly beating Nigel Mansell (fastest Formula One driver). This was in response to a letter complaining that The (new) Stig had not been given the chance to set a time in the Liana.
This actually wasn’t the case as The Stig set two times in Season 1, albeit off camera. The first came in the debut episode during Clarkson’s interview with Harry Enfield. After showing Harry’s lap, Jeremy pointed to the board which contained two times: Clarkson’s time of 1:50 and The Stig’s time of 1:46. The second instance came in the third episode of Season 1, during Clarkson’s interview with Ross Kemp. Once again, Clarkson pointed out The Stig’s dry time of 1:46 and then revealed that after Kemp did his lap in wet conditions, they sent The Stig out to set a “wet” lap time for comparison – which he did in a time of 1:50. These times though, were set by the previous Stig who was 'killed' at the end of series two and replaced by the White Stig, who had not set a time in the Liana.
|68||Series 8 Episode 3||21 May 2006||Philip Glenister|
Challenge: The team were tasked with creating amphibious vehicles that would work on land and water from an ordinary car. Each presenter would make their amphibious vehicles separately, not knowing what vehicle the other presenters had or what challenge the vehicles would be tested in. May buys a 1962 Triumph Herald and fits it with a mast and sails. Hammond buys a 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon campervan which he makes into a houseboat and says it will be his very own home from home on land or on water. Clarkson chooses a 1989 Toyota Hilux pickup truck due its reputation of being indestructible and because its rear end is the perfect mounting point for a 225 hp outboard engine. Clarkson originally wanted 2 engines, but ended up with one due to weight, space and cost. After 2 days, the presenters meet up at the Keele services on the M6 motorway and are flustered with each other's choice of vehicle and what they've made out of them. Hammond and Clarkson have a cup of tea in the Volkswagen Vanagon "Dampervan" while May mends his Herald Yacht's mast.
Challenge 2: The presenters are then challenged to drive 20 miles to Rudyard Lake near Leek, Staffordshire and then to travel 2 miles along the length of the lake. After leaving the Service Station, the modifications on the vehicles start to take effect — Clarkson's "Toybota"'s top speed and smoothness is reduced due to the outboard engine on the back and solid shock absorbers that have been installed. Hammond's "Dampervan"'s speed is greatly reduced, due the vehicle now weighing 2 1/2 tons and the engine only having 40 hp. May's Herald Yacht is also limited to just 35 mph. The Dampervan struggles with hills and Herald Yacht with its sailing mast struggles with low objects, such as bridges and trees. Both Hammond's and May's cars suffer from overheating as their hull for the water blocked the engine ventilation. (Clarkson's Toybota never overheats.) Hammond and May each have a cup of tea in the Dampervan while waiting for the engines to cool. At the lake, Hammond's Dampervan sinks early on but Hammond is rescued by Clarkson, who's annoyed that his Toybota's top speed on water is only 15 knots and not the 40 knots he was hoping for. May's Herald Yacht doesn't sink but is very slow due to lack of wind. Clarkson turns too hard and too fast near the finish line, causing the waterline to go over the side of the back of his Toybota, causing it to sink and capsize. May maintains his nickname "Captain Slow" by sailing very slowly to the finish line (despite the clutch failing on the ramp out of the water). However on land, May summed up his experience thusly: “Sailing is really boring!” In the studio, May's Herald Yacht receives the most votes for the best car which Clarkson states is a fair victory. However, Clarkson then says that he'll be driving the Toybota home as, being a Hilux, it's indestructible — but the engine fails to start, thereby ruining the Hilux's reputation of being 'indestructible' - to the amusement of May and Hammond.
The News: Someone sends a pair of Doggles for Top Gear Dog to use. A letter from a viewer upset with the lack of coverage of affordable cars prompts Clarkson to show a picture of the new Vauxhall Corsa and then promptly move on to the next story. There is also a debate about the condition of the presenter's cars with Clarkson ribbing of Hammond for washing his car with his family and both he and Hammond mocking May keeping a paintbrush in his car to clean the switches on the dashboard. The conversation then swings to the dot-matrix displays on the British motorways, ending with May being ridiculed when he comments about drying his pants in his friend's microwave (which has a dot-matrix display that reads "Enjoy your meal"). The comment that sparked this was that the highway displays had no sense of reality. Clarkson’s mom has driven the new Honda Civic and doesn’t like it. In response, Hammond suggests the new Noble M15. New cars from Lotus include a replacement for the Esprit, a collaboration with Volkswagen on a "tricycle thing," a seven seat crossover vehicle, the Europa, as well as new models of the Elise and the Exige S.
Review: Clarkson reviews a Lotus Exige S on the Top Gear test track. The impressive handling from its predecessor has been retained, but a supercharger has been added to the Toyota engine that will propel the Exige to 148 mph with a 0-60 time of 4 seconds. This makes the Exige S the fastest accelerating car Lotus has ever made. To illustrate this speed, Clarkson pits the Exige against a Ford Mustang driven by the Stig around the Top Gear Test Track short circuit. The Exige wins. Drawbacks include the price (£33,000), the road noise, and the awkwardness of getting in/out of the thing. The Stig turns in a Power Lap time of 1:25.1 (just ahead of the Lamborghini Gallardo). This episode’s Stig intro (by Clarkson): "Some say that his genitals are on upside down and that if he could be bothered, he could crack The Da Vinci Code in 43 seconds. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!"
The Cool Wall: The Lotus Exige S is declared "Uncool" because of a man in shorts liking it. The Proton Savvy is deemed "Uncool" because of its name. The pink Nissan Micra C+C is deemed almost too uncool for the wall (it is hanging off the edge of the "Seriously Uncool" section). The Jaguar XK is also deemed "Uncool" because of the game of golf, which influences the car's performance (in Clarkson's view). Clarkson afterwards said: "It's also pissing off our director, who's just bought one!" The Koenigsegg CCX is the first supercar to be deemed "Cool," because of its scariness and danger factor.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Actor Philip Glenister went around the track in 1.54.35, the Lacetti's first wet lap.
|69||Series 8 Episode 4||28 May 2006||Ewan McGregor|
Review: Richard drives the BMW Z4 M and finds it faster and better looking than its closest rival, the Porshe Boxster. However, he finds the Boxster much more refined through corners. It was praised by Hammond for thrilling in the most primeval way. Clarkson continues to bash the Z4, and calls the coupe version "incredibly ugly." The Stig does a Power Lap of 1:26 flat – faster than the Porsche Cayman, the Ferrari 575, and the Aston Martin Vanquish. This episode’s Stig intro (by Hammond): "Some say that his ears have a paisley lining and he’s been banned from the Chelsea Flower Show. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!"
The News: The BMW Z4 coupe is £1,700 less than the soft top version. Lexus have launched a new hybrid. Jeremy is left behind by his wife at a party. The presenters talk about banned license plates which include AA55 HOL", "MI BUM", and "HA06 MAS." They also talk about eBay item 4639771121 and a wristband that prevents you from falling asleep.
Review: Clarkson tests the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class both as a review and to show what features most new cars will have in ten years (as has historically happened). In this case, it means radar-guided cruise control, infrared night vision, and digital TV. Clarkson praises the ease of use of the car and its features.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Ewan McGregor discusses his manhood, filming the Star Wars prequels, his love of motorcycles, and his car history. Lap time of 1:48:00.
Preview: Responding to another viewer complaint that Top Gear doesn’t feature enough reasonably priced cars, Richard and James present the Caparo T1 in the studio. It does 33 mpg, has a 2.4 supercharged V8 that generates 480bhp and can propel the car to 200mph. Priced at £190,000 it is a bargain when compared to something like the Pagani Zonda.
Challenge: Clarkson designed his own interior of a car. He bought an old 1996 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and designed his perfect interior based upon his house. The car, dubbed "Anne Hathaway's Cottage", featured a wood-burning stove, kitchen chairs, a flagstone floor over a concrete base, and plastered insides of the doors. James May and Richard Hammond then tested the car. No seatbelts and unsecured seats meant they went flying at first, however eventually, with May holding Hammond's seat, a 0-60 time of 35.4 seconds was established.
Power Lap (take two): The Koenigsegg CCX is back from Sweden (now equipped with a rear spoiler) and is taken around the track by The Stig, who sets a new lap time of 1:17.6; overthrowing the Zonda F as the fastest car to date. The presenters were so proud, they stated that not only do they present the show, but they are also designing the cars (due to the addition of the Koenigsegg’s spoiler). In reality, Koenigsegg claims that the spoiler was useless for the slow speeds on the Top Gear test track and that the improved time was due to a more sorted suspension.
|70||Series 8 Episode 5||4 June 2006||Sir Michael Gambon|
Review: The Prodrive P2 concept car is put through its paces on the track. Jeremy finds it quick, good-looking, and at a projected price of £40,000, a good value too. Clarkson attempts to explain what active-diff and anti-lag is. A practical demonstration of the former makes Clarkson carsick, having to stop while going round a circle at 60 mph. The Stig achieves a lap in the P2 in 1:24.3 seconds. Prior to that he did a lap with the active-diff turned off and did a much slower time of just over 1:29. This episode’s Stig intro (by Clarkson): "Some say that the outline of his left nipple is exactly the same shape as the Nürburgring and that if you give him a really important job to do, he’ll skive off and play croquet. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!"
The News: Jeremy Clarkson launches the 2006 Top Gear motor survey while casually panning between cameras as is the trend among news programmes. Suburu is arranging track days at the Prodrive test track. New from Germany is the Audi RS4 cabriolet. Clarkson claims that points should be awarded to unsporting/aggressive F1 drivers. Ford has made a cool new people carrier. James has signed up to present a programme called When Sharks Attack and Jeremy has a picture of James in a wet suit. He also has a picture of Hammond riding a pony.
Challenge: A "Scottish lady" (as Hammond refers to him) called Jackie Stewart claims that he can cut down anyone's driving time around a circuit (Oulton Park) by 20 seconds. But the Top Gear presenters don't believe him. So, to prove him wrong, James May (a.k.a. Captain Slow) is sent to take up the challenge. Using a TVR Tuscan convertible, Sir Jackie manages to get May to cut down his original laptime by 20 seconds.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Sir Michael Gambon returns to discuss his first appearance, his role as Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, the possibility that he could have been James Bond, and his propensity for lying during interviews. Lap time of 1:50.3.
Review: Afterwards Jeremy Clarkson reviews the new Citroën C6, the heir to a long line of big, innovative French cars, and is disappointed that the car doesn't seem to be mad enough to be a worthy successor to the Citroën CX. However, the car redeems itself as a mobile camera platform for covering horse races.
The Cool Wall: The Citroën C6 is “Super Cool” because Jean Reno would have one. The Peugeot 207 is “Uncool” unless Kristin Scott Thomas texts Clarkson to tell him otherwise. The Skoda Fabia VRS is “Uncool,” because all Skodas are deeply “Uncool.” The Saab 9-5 is “Uncool” due to its Dame Edna-style headlights.
Challenge: The Toyota Aygo is challenged by the Volkswagen Fox in a game of football. Using national football stereotypes, Hammond points out that the Fox is actually made in Brazil and May contends that the Aygo is actually made in the Czech Republic. In the end, Hammond's durable Foxes beat the old champion Aygos.
|71||Series 8 Episode 6||16 July 2006||Brian Cox|
There was a month-long break in the series due to 2006 FIFA World Cup coverage.
Review: Clarkson tests three hot saloons with a “rubbish badges”: the Ford Mondeo ST220, the Mazda 6 MPS and the Vauxhall Vectra VXR. Clarkson calls the Mondeo “one of Britain’s most underrated cars.” Throughout his review, he lavishes compliments upon it, deciding that it’s only weakness is that it seems “common.” However, he points out that the BMW 3 series outsold it last year. Additionally, via a chart, he shows that in the previous year 1,050 Aston Martin DB9’s were sold in Britain while only 903 Mondeo ST220s left dealerships – proving his point that the Mondeo is the more exclusive car. Also somewhat exclusive is the Mazda 6 MPS. He finds that while it is not as practical or pretty as the Ford, it is even better and more fun to drive. Again using a chart, he compares the Mazda to a similarly priced BMW 318i M Sport and finds that the Mazda is better in every way. Finally, he drives the Vauxhall Vectra or as he puts it “one of my least favourite cars in the world!” With another chart, he illustrates his contempt for the car. However, the VXR is more stylish than Vectras of old and it is fast too. Pitted against the other two in a drag race on the Top Gear track it handily wins. In the hands of The Stig, the poised and delicate Mondeo achieves a laptime of 1:34.4, while the energetic and powerful Mazda 6 an even better 1:32.2. Despite being the fastest car with a 161 mph top speed, the Vectra can only manage a time of 1:35.5 due to “catastrophic understeer.” This episode’s Stig intro (by Clarkson): “Now, some say he invented Branston Pickle and that if you insult his mother he will head-butt you in the chest. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!”’’
The News: Clarkson and Hammond bicker about muscle cars. Hammond gushes about the new 2008 Dodge Challenger, while Clarkson complains about his recent trip to the United States to drive a Chrysler 300 and calls both a BMW M6 and a Jaguar XKR muscle cars. May finally shuts them up by announcing Daihatsu is going to make a new Copen. Clarkson spots a celebrity among the audience members (“Jesus is here!”). They ridicule a study that claims people with speed camera detectors are less likely to get speeding tickets. Bus drivers are furious with Clarkson for negative comments he made about them.
Challenge: Clarkson, May and Hammond go on a caravan holiday in Dorset to try and find out more about caravaning. The trio unsuccessfully try to have fun, cause numerous traffic jams, Top Gear Dog becomes ill, May crashes the caravan into a bollard, and then blocks the road (eventually attracting police attention) when trying to correct a wrong turn. On site, May crashes the caravan into a neighbouring site, partially collapsing the neighbour's gazebo (which will later be destroyed), Hammond and Top Gear Dog are "kidnapped" by an elderly female fan, and Clarkson accidentally set fire to the caravan and its neighbour whilst trying to cook chips.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Brian Cox talks with Jeremy about his roles as villains (principally Hannibal Lector), life in America, and his Toyota Prius’s. Despite posting a slow time of 2:01, he says that he enjoyed the track experience tremendously.
Challenge: The Stig has a go at the nonexistent indoor world speed record in one of the ExCeL Exhibition Centre's halls with a Toyota TF105 F1 car. He sets a world record of 81 mph (130 km/h), although because of the lack of grip afforded by the hall's polished floor, this was only slightly faster than the 70 mph (112 km/h) he recorded with the Chevrolet Lacetti.
|72||Series 8 Episode 7||23 July 2006||Steve Coogan|
Review: Hammond and May test three people carriers: the Ford S-MAX, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, and the Vauxhall Zafira VXR. The Mercedes-Benz is the quickest on a track, but it is hopelessly expensive and too small. The Vauxhall is large enough and well-priced, but it is hard to use. Though underwhelmed by its performance on the track, the Top Gear team all agree that the Ford is the best buy, with the most practicality, the best styling, and the most drivability.
The News: MG is back, sort of. Richard reveals he has bought a Land Rover Defender and has had a misadventure with the container of touch-up paint that was included in the deal. Jeremy reveals that he went to an air show in Gloucestershire in his Ford GT and had to leave it there due to engine problems. New cars include the Honda Civic Type-R (which they are excited about), the Land Rover Freelander (which they are also excited about), and Chrysler Sebring (of which they are certain it will be rubbish). Hammond reminds viewers to participate in the Top Gear Motoring Survey. Clarkson refuses to apologise to caravan owners after Top Gear received 2 complaints regarding comments about Muslims, 3 complaints about taking a man who looks like Jesus out of the audience, and 150 complaints following the previous week's caravan abuse.
Review: Clarkson reviews the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. He spends the bulk of the review expressing his unbridled enthusiasm for the car. Having bought one himself, he comments that it is not the best driver's car in the world, but it is something that could be used every day. He sums up his review by stating, “It has the most important characteristic that I look for in a car – it’s a laugh! … I think it’s absolutely tremendous!” The Stig set a lap time of 1:25.7. This episode’s Stig intro (by Clarkson): “Some say that on really warm days he sheds his skin like a snake and that for some reason he’s allergic to the Dutch. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!”’’
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Steve Coogan talks about being in a hot tub between Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also mentions a Saxondale episode involving a Clarkson-like character. He sets a time of 1:50.9 in the Lacetti and becomes the first person to drive under the condition of 'Hot' as The Stig said that the heat had done something either to Coogan himself or the car or the Track. Coogan was visibly disappointed when he learned that Rob Brydon (a comedy partner of his) did it faster in the less powerful Suzuki Liana.
Challenge: James May races two traceurs (masters of Parkour which involves running and leaping across/off buildings) across Liverpool in a Peugeot 207 1.6L Diesel, from the edge of the city to the Liver Building. He, naturally, gets lost and loses. As for the car, he started off by praising it, but soon discovered that it was too big, too heavy, too underpowered, and too expensive for what you get. Or, as James puts it, ”It’s rubbish!”
Challenge: Clarkson, Hammond, and May team up to race against The Stig. The trio must build a Caterham Seven kit car from scratch in a pit garage at the Knockhill Racing Circuit in Scotland, while The Stig drives the same model up from Caterham's base in Caterham, Surrey. After a lot of tension while building the car between Clarkson and May and a series of mishaps, the team looks to be losing, but they win when The Stig is stopped for speeding. After the challenge, Clarkson later said that "James, I would rather staple my ears to a horse”, when May said that building a car is a great experience.
|73||Series 8 Episode 8||30 July 2006||Jenson Button & Ray Winstone|
Review: The show’s producers direct the presenters to test some vans by being roadies for The Who. May picks a cavernous Renault Master, Hammond chooses a well-priced Ford Transit, and Clarkson gets a performance-oriented Volkswagen T30 TDI 174 Sportline. After The Who's concert at Hyde Park, Clarkson, Hammond, and May transport some of their equipment 90 miles to the site of their next show. They cannot agree that any of the features of their vans (speed, economy, security, size) is more important than any of the others and they acknowledge that any of the three companies can make you a van in any way you like it. Indecisively, the team comes to the conclusion that you should find the cheapest van of the sort that you need. Subsequently, Clarkson admitted that the feature was not the greatest of ideas (or execution).
F1 Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: 2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button talks about his facial hair, getting women, and why he hadn't yet won a race (coincidentally he did so in Hungary only a week later). He sets a time of 1:44.7 in the Liana and loses a £20 bet with Clarkson as he could not go faster than The Stig (who did it in 1:44.4) as he said he could.
The News: Since it is the middle of summer and everyone is on holiday, there is no news.
Preview: Richard and James present the new Rolls Royce 101EX in the studio. It has the same engine as the Phantom, but the body is made of carbon fibre and aluminium. It is shorter and lower than the Phantom. It also only has two doors and an interior ceiling with pin light stars. At about this point, Jeremy interrupts to declare the car an insult to the Rolls Royce name. He states that if it goes into production, it will have to be called the "Rolls Royce Vulgarsonic."
Review: Hammond takes the Noble M15, the most powerful Noble yet, for a drive. He says that it is a civilised and comfortable sportscar fit to be driven daily, yet is still fun. The Stig takes it around the track in 1:22.5 – faster than the Ferrari 430, the Lamborghini Murcielago, and the standard Pagani Zonda. This episode’s Stig intro (by Hammond): “Some say that his first name really is ‘The’ and that if he went on Celebrity Love Island they’d all be pregnant including the camera men. All we know is, he’s called The Stig!”’’
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: British actor Ray Winstone discusses how got into drama and his affinity for Jaguars. Out on the track, he sets a time of 1:51.4.
Challenge: As punishment from the earlier van review, each presenter has to buy a van for £1000. Clarkson buys a Ford Transit, May gets an LDV Convoy, and Hammond buys a Suzuki Supercarry. They hold a variety of challenges related to what a White Van Man might encounter. They have a drag race, a loading/unloading test (each presenter being assisted by an "illegal immigrant"), a trial to see how closely they could tailgate, a challenge to change a door on their van as fast as possible, a thief resistance test, seeing how long they can stay in front of the Stig in a police car, and seeing how many replies they get to a man with a van ad. Hammond ends up soundly winning overall, despite crashing his van in a rollover during the police pursuit challenge. In the closing credits, the presenters are listed as “Lee Clarkson,” “Wayne Hammond,” and “Terry May.”
Series 8, Episode 6 
Top Gear received 150 complaints after the episode was televised. James Tapper, writing in the British Mail on Sunday newspaper, claimed the episode's action had been staged and that Dorset emergency services had been paid around £1,000 by the BBC for a six-man fire crew to participate in the mock fire. A BBC spokeswoman confirmed that the fire had been planned for safety reasons and that any reasonable viewer would not have been misled due to the stunt's slapstick nature.
- Top Gear - Series 8 Episode 7 2006.07.23 News Segment Clarkson:...we were slightly rude about caravans... Hammond: Yeah, we sort of set one on fire a bit. Clarkson:...150 complaints.
- Top Gear - Series 8 Episode 7 2006.07.23 News Segment Clarkson:...we were slightly rude about caravans... Hammond: Yeah, we sort of set one on fire a bit. Clarkson:...150 complaints.
- Topper, James (3 August 2007). "BBC admit Top Gear caravan blaze was a fake". Mail On Sunday Newspaper. Retrieved 28 July 2008.