Top Gear (series 12)

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Top Gear (series 12)
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 8
Original network BBC Two
Original release 2 November 2008 (2008-11-02) – 28 December 2008 (2008-12-28)
Series chronology
List of Top Gear episodes

The twelfth series of Top Gear contained eight episodes, and started airing on 2 November 2008, with the usual presenting team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and The Stig. Clarkson was injured while filming the series, after crashing a lorry through a brick wall at 56 mph in the first episode's HGV challenge. The running joke regarding the Dacia Sandero continues from series 11, with the alteration that Clarkson is now the one making the announcement with feigned enthusiasm, to utter indifference from May (instead of vice versa). Each news segment also features one of the hosts wearing something unusual, like slippers or a garishly patterned shirt. The only reference to this is that one of the other hosts will, at some point in the segment, ask if they're wearing it for a bet. The Stig, instead of listening to music during power laps, now listens to morse code. The final episode, the "Top Gear: Vietnam Special", aired two weeks after the rest of the series as part of the BBC's Christmas line-up. The series was followed by four "Best Of Top Gear" specials, charting the best moments from Series 11 and 12.


Total No. Title Reviews Features Guest Original air date UK viewers
97 1 Series 12, Episode 1 Porsche 911 GT2Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 £5,000 Lorry challenge (ERF EC11Renault MagnumScania P94D) Michael Parkinson 2 November 2008 (2008-11-02) 7.74

Main Review: Clarkson tests the Porsche 997 GT2 and Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 on the Top Gear track. Clarkson spent only a few seconds at the start of the review driving the Porsche, calling it 'terrifying' and a 'dog'. Clarkson favoured the Gallardo, which went around the Top Gear test track at 1:19.5, because it was easier to drive and faster in a straight line. However, Clarkson didn't reveal the lap time of the Porsche until a later episode, in which he revealed a time of 1:19.5 also, tying the Lamborghini. The Gallardo was faster than its big brother, the Murciélago LP640 which did 1:19.8 in Series 9. The GT2 was also the fastest Porsche, beating the Porsche Carrera GT, which also did 1:19.8. Whilst driving the Lamborghini, the Stig was shown listening to morse code. The morse coded messages in the two shots were "MELIKECHEESE" and "STRICTLYISCRAP" (a supposed reference to Strictly Come Dancing, which Top Gear was being broadcast against).

Challenge: The Top Gear team each buy a second hand truck and travel to "Top Gear's Secret Alpine Test Location" in Bedfordshire to test how easy it is to be an HGV driver. With their 5000 pound budget May buys a Scania 94D, Clarkson buys a Renault Magnum and Hammond an ERF EC11.

Challenge 1: The three had to decorate and personalise their trucks as drivers in "less developed countries like Australia and America" would. Hammond made his ERF look like an American lorry with a bonnet which was actually a dog kennel, May decorated his with an Indian look and Clarkson gave his lorry a "stealth" look, which drastically reduced visibility.

Challenge 2: Clarkson, Hammond and May would have to powerslide their lorries. Protesting that it was not possible, they watched a demonstration done by Rig Stig, The Stig's lorry driving cousin. All three tried their best but the lorries did not slide, although Clarkson slid off the chair in his lorry due to the "huge G-force" and since he did not fasten the seat belt, he injured himself. When asked by a paramedic "did you hurt your leg as well?", Clarkson replied "Yeah, the gear-lever's gone up my arse!"

Challenge 3: The next challenge was to go to the High Speed Bowl in Millbrook, but before that the three would have to hitch up a trailer with valuable cargo and drive around the Alpine course under three minutes. Hammond had a car which was not fastened down properly as his 'valuable' cargo, May had a wedding cake, and Clarkson had a stack of straw at one end of the trailer and an incandescent electric heater at the other. No one started immediately and Hammond was soon left behind as Clarkson and May raced for the lead. As Hammond finally got going, Clarkson gained the upper hand by taking a sharper turn than May. Hammond lost his car during an uphill climb, whilst Clarkson ground to a halt after forgeting to change down for a hill. James accidentally broadsided Clarkson as he was overtaking, jamming the Renault's brakes on. May finished first with a badly damaged cake. Hammond came second, and was horrified to discover his car had gone, and later claimed it had been stolen. After his lorry had been fixed, Clarkson arrived last with his trailer on fire.

Challenge 4: The three would drive around the Millbrook High speed bowl, with the limiters deactivated (trucks are limited to 56 mph (90 km/h)) to discover the maximum speed of their lorries. May's lorry reached a maximum speed of 64.6 mph (104.0 km/h), Clarkson's lorry, which had shed a lot of weight during the fire, reached 80 mph (130 km/h), and Hammond's reached a quick 90 mph (140 km/h).

Challenge 5: Each presenter is required to do a hill start in their lorries, with something close to their hearts behind the trailer to keep them focused. The winner would receive a years worth of "gentleman's literature". Clarkson had his beloved Premier drum kit behind his lorry, and despite successfully completing the hill start, Hammond & May smashed his drum kit anyway. Hammond had Oliver (the Opel Kadett from the African Challenge, which has a new coat of paint and personalised number plate "OLIV3R") behind his lorry, and chickened out of the challenge. May had his grand piano placed behind his lorry. When his piano was being lowered down to the ground, one of the legs fell off, and the stack of magazines was used in its place. May failed the challenge when he rolled back into the piano, much to the relief of Clarkson and Hammond, who didn't have to explain the previously mentioned broken leg.

Challenge 6: At the Top Gear test track the presenters were given their final challenge, which was to drive their lorries at the highest speed into an "obstacle" and brake quickly. And the winner would receive a year's supply of pies. Hammond crashed into a demountable building, May into a stack of office cooler bottles and Clarkson into a brick wall. Clarkson was injured in this challenge. At the end, May declares himself the winner.

News: The team discuss how the economic crisis of 2008 has affected cars, particularly Clarkson's Aston Martin V8 Vantage, which has depreciated by £44,000 in 1 year. Clarkson breaks the news that the Dacia Sandero (a running gag in series 11) will not be released in the UK.

Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car: Chat show legend Michael Parkinson kicks off the start of the series, managing a respectable 1:49:4 around the track.
98 2 Series 12, Episode 2 Abarth 500 Esseesse Muscle Car Challenge: (Dodge Challenger SRT8Chevrolet Corvette ZR1Cadillac CTS-V) Will Young 9 November 2008 (2008-11-09) 7.57

Review: Clarkson takes Abarth 500 Esseesse through the test track. Despite being a small family car with a relatively small engine, Clarkson claims that he "loves" it. The Stig clocks a 1:35.5 on the test track. The morse coded messages in the two shots were "IVOTEDROSSPEROT" and "MESMELLCATS".

Challenge: The team head to America to test drive the new generation of American muscle cars on a road trip from San Francisco to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Hammond takes the trip in the new Dodge Challenger, Clarkson in the new Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 and May in the Cadillac CTS-V. As usual, the trip is plagued with difficulties.

The team only has visas that allow them to be factual rather than entertaining owing to their previous visit to America when Clarkson put a cow on his roof which caused the U.S. State department to deem Top Gear an entertainment show rather than a factual show, which encourages the presenters to try and remove all 'entertaining' aspects to the trip. Chrysler refuses, at the last minute, to provide them with a Challenger, which forced Hammond to buy one at a $10,000 premium from a local dealership. May hates his Cadillac, so while the team visit Reno, he spends all night at the casino trying to win a BRP Can-Am Spyder Roadster to replace his CTS-V. Clarkson and Hammond are stopped by the police twice for speeding, racing between the lights and using the V8 revs to trigger car alarms, and Clarkson uses the electronic proximity-key ignition on Hammond's Challenger to park in the middle of a public road while Hammond was busy eating.

After getting bored of the straight-line highway, they turn off onto twisty back roads. May immediately changes his opinion of the Cadillac due to its handling, and Clarkson's Corvette is even better. Hammond's Dodge, however, handles poorly due to its muscle car origins.

Arriving at the Salt Flats, the trio must take part in a one mile straight drive to see who can take their cars to a high speed with Clarkson's, May's and Hammond's goals being 170 mph (270 km/h), 160 mph (260 km/h) and 150 mph (240 km/h) respectively. After trying numerous ways to increase speed, such as pumping up tiyres, all three presenters finally hit their targets. They claim that all three vehicles have exceeded their expectations, closing by saying that they were fantastic fun though perhaps not as well-made as possible. This Challenge was included in the Great Adventures 3.

News: Clarkson apologises for not posting the lap time of the Porsche 997 GT2 the previous week (a joke made in reference to his being criticised for his quip regarding lorry drivers murdering prostitutes in the previous episode). He reveals it to be 1:19.5, because the score had 'spontaneously combusted', exactly the same as the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, despite the handling difficulties. It is also faster than the Porsche Carrera GT, which did 1:19.8.

Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car: The original winner of Pop Idol, Will Young (Clarkson welcomes him and said, "Please welcome, that man over there!"), talks about his own Top Gear race, how Minis are similar to Lego and drives a 1:48.9 damp lap.
99 3 Series 12, Episode 3 Toyota i-REALRenault Avantime Tuning challenge: Renault Avantime • Finnish folk racing • Corvette V-8 engine blender-made smoothie Mark WahlbergMika Häkkinen 16 November 2008 (2008-11-16) 6.98

Review: Hammond goes to Toyota City in Japan to test the i-REAL, a chair that is "drivable" and can tell your friends when you're going for coffee.

Main Challenge: The team attempted to make an ordinary second hand car (a Renault Avantime, which posted a reference time of 1:42.5) lap the test track as fast as a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, which managed 1:28.2. They were given half the cost of an Evo (£15,000) minus the cost of the Avantime (£5,200) leaving them £9,800 to spend on improving the car.

The modifications included fitting new brakes - which were too big for the wheels to fit on - forcing the team to spend more on bigger wheels and track tyres; an adjustable suspension kit and swapping out the front seats for lighter racing ones. May spent the entire first night attempting to tune and restore the engine to its former glory of 210 bhp (156 kW), he almost succeeded, getting it up to a respectable 206 bhp (153 kW).

The next day, Hammond fixed a rear wing from a Super Aguri SA07 Formula 1 car to the rear of the car, to which Clarkson commented would be useless as it was a front wheel drive car and the spoiler would push the rear of the vehicle down. Clarkson also fitted a wooden splitter, which he fashioned himself, to the front of the vehicle, which promptly caught fire.

After several attempts the car finally managed a time of 1:35.4 on the track in the hands of The Stig, which resulted in the team pointing out how much money is wasted on trying to improve cars and how little it does to improve the overall quality and performance of the vehicle – most of the improvement that they did manage came from removing unnecessary weight, and May's retuning of the engine, neither of which cost anything beyond the time and effort that was put in.

Challenge: As training for his first supercar review the following week, May goes to learn about "The Finnish Way of Car Control" from Mika Häkkinen and enters a Jokamiesluokka, a rallycross race primarily using scrapped cars. He finishes in the middle against a pack of locals.

Feature: Clarkson commented on how V8 engines seem to be disappearing, so he extracted one from a Chevrolet Corvette for use in a food blender. He, May and Hammond drank a smoothie consisting of 'manly ingredients', such as raw beef, Bovril, a handful of chillies, a bottle of tabasco sauce and a brick. Hammond suggested calling the resulting drink "Desperate Shag in a Skip," while May dubbed it "The Bloody Awful."

Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car: Mark Wahlberg managed 1:48.7 even though he wasn't used to the manual gearbox and the right-handed seating position of the car.
100 4 Series 12, Episode 4 Pagani Zonda Roadster FBugatti Veyron Economy race from Basel to Blackpool Illuminations (Volkswagen Polo BlueMotionJaguar XJ Diesel • Subaru Legacy Diesel) Harry Enfield 23 November 2008 (2008-11-23) 7.15

Main Review: May tackles his first ever power test in the Pagani Zonda Roadster F and, after a two year wait, the Stig takes the Bugatti Veyron around the track, clocking in at 1:18.3. Its inability to top the board is attributed by May and Clarkson to the heavy weight of the car. The Zonda also laps the track in 1:17.8.

News: The Peugeot Tepee is designed to hold a surfboard … inside. Boris Johnson recommends driving in the lower gears to reduce CO2 emissions. Another Boris Johnson recommends driving a Ferrari in the highest gears for maximum enjoyment. The European Car of the Year is the Vauxhall Insignia.

Challenge: The trio raced each other from Basel in Switzerland to Blackpool in northwest England, a 750 miles (1,207 km) journey, on a single tank of fuel, with the winner being given the reward of switching on the Blackpool Lights. Each presenter was allowed to use the unmodified production car of their choice; May selecting a Subaru Legacy diesel, Clarkson a Jaguar XJ diesel, and Hammond a Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion, to the scorn of his compatriots. They were also allowed to select their own route.

Clarkson immediately deemed the race pointless, as the raw figures of fuel efficiency showed that none of the cars chosen could make it to Blackpool on time with one tank of fuel, so he planned his route so that his car would run out in France, or near his house in Chipping Norton. With this in mind, he used his air conditioning, radio, heated seats, charged his mobile phone and drove at 80 mph in France in order to burn fuel from his twin-turbo Jaguar.

To Clarkson's amazement, the Jaguar showed very efficient fuel consumption, so he ended up boarding the Eurotunnel train thirty minutes before both Hammond and May. Hammond opted for the shortest route possible, while May took a small detour to avoid towns and mountains. The two initially struggled with hitting their targets, and were eventually forced to pick up speed to make sure they reached the event in time. May caught up with Hammond and began a overtaking duel that ended in a dead heat at the Eurotunnel. They separated again as they travelled across England, with Hammond again opting for the shortest route, while May chose a longer route via Leeds to avoid the notoriously congested M6. Hammond then received a call from Clarkson, who had just passed his home with a considerable amount of fuel remaining. Realising that Clarkson was still in the running, Hammond picked up speed and overtook him on the M6 Toll road. Clarkson could not retaliate, due to his need to conserve the little fuel that remained, so Hammond remained ahead for the rest of the race. May fell far behind after his failed gamble, while Clarkson held back until the Jaguar's theoretical range reached zero, as Hammond's charge had left the Bluemotion with almost no fuel. However, Clarkson's attempt to reel Hammond in came too late, as Hammond reached Blackpool to be greeted with a police escort.

Despite his fuel wasting actions in France, Clarkson still managed to finish the race second to Hammond, only a minute behind. Hammond was therefore given the chance to turn on the lights, but The Stig, whom the producers sent to Blackpool just in case none of the trio managed to make it in time, switched them on himself. Clarkson stated, "Some say that he (The Stig) has no understanding of queuing." May did eventually finish, but 40 minutes after the ceremony finished, later admitting he sacrificed his speed too much for greater fuel efficiency.

After the race, Clarkson revealed that an inspection of the Jaguar's fuel tank revealed that he had enough fuel to travel another 120 miles (193 km).

Preview: The three show off a model of the Lamborghini Estoque in the studio. It will be a front-engined, four-seat supercar with an actual boot (trunk) and plenty of legroom for passengers in the back seat. All three presenters are excited and hopeful that this concept car will become a production car for Lamborghini.

Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car: Harry Enfield makes a second appearance to set a time in the Lacetti. Enfield discussed his 'Clarkson Island' sketch, alongside the bullying he had received from his son after the time set on his first visit to the Top Gear studio. Harry posted a lap time of 1:49.7, making himself the most improved star.
101 5 Series 12, Episode 5 Lexus IS FBMW M3 Portofino to Saint-Tropez Race: Powerboat vs. Ferrari Daytona • Best bus for British city streets Kevin McCloudTom Chilton 30 November 2008 (2008-11-30) 7.51

Main Review: Clarkson tested the Lexus IS-F against the king of high-powered saloons, the four door BMW M3. Both were entered in a drag race, with the Lexus leading at the start before the BMW quickly overtook. The drag race ended with a very close win for the BMW, but Jeremy points out that the Lexus will eventually win as its top speed, 168 mph (270 km/h), is vastly larger than the BMW's 155 mph (249 km/h). Later, Tom Chilton was put in the BMW M3 to see whether the Lexus' understeer would affect the time. Both were taken round the track and the Lexus went around the track in 1:26.9 whereas the BMW did it in 1:25.3, making it substantially quicker than the model it replaces. While driving the Lexus, Stig listened to morse code, the translations reading "TOOMANYGEARS" and "ILIKEMRSULU".

News: Hammond introduced the Infiniti G37 convertible which he described as looking almost exactly like the Lexus SC 430, therefore describing it as the "most vile and hideous car ever made". Clarkson criticised the 4-door sedan Porsche Panamera describing it as looking 'sick' and resembling the Austin Maxi. Clarkson announces his theory that, by using toy cars as an example, placing a magnet on the bonnet of cars would prevent head-on collisions, due to the repulsion between same poles. However, Hammond points that if the poles are different, such as in the event of two cars waiting at traffic lights, the attraction would cause more rear-collisions.

Main Challenge: May, in a 1.25 million pound power boat, races Hammond in a Ferrari Daytona from Portofino to Saint-Tropez. For May, the journey was rough, damaging the in-vehicle camera. Both Hammond and May are pulled over by the police. May wins, but Hammond explains that the boat might have been the fastest way to complete the journey, but the car would always be the best method.

Cool Wall: The Nissan GTR is Uncool as it is a car which needs to be explained in order for people to understand it. The Cadillac CTS-V is Uncool as it's for people who are disgusting. The Alfa Romeo Mito is Cool as it was designed in Milan and made in Turin, upon discussing the Alfa, Clarkson flirts with a Girl from America, claiming that she can't be from America as "she is no where near fat enough". The Morgan Aero Max is Seriously Uncool as Hammond owns one and when a man in the audience stands up to Clarkson by saying it's Cool, He responds by asking two women if, "They would be inclined to sleep with that man in that car", to which one of them replies, "I have to". The Audi RS6 Avant is Uncool as it's an Audi and because it has flared wheel arches. When Clarkson says that flared things are Uncool, his plan backfires as Hammond brings up the Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series which he puts in Seriously Uncool as Clarkson owns one. Upon discussing the Peugeot Partner Tepee, Clarkson goes back to the couple, commenting upon how unlucky the women is for living in Norfolk, liking Turnips, sleeping with the man and driving a Peugeot, in the end the Tepee is Uncool as it is marketed for people who have Surfboards and want to show off their Abs but actually they have massive ear hair. The VW Scirocco is Sub-Zero as it is not for people who care about practicality but more for people who care about style. The Renault Laguna Coupe is so Uncool that it's placed next to May's Panda, the only person who disagrees is the Producer. The Abarth 500 Esseesse is Sub-Zero as it's every car you need for £14,000, it'll be very attractive to women and May hates it. Clarkson then brings up the Volvo V70 Estate which he claims is as Cool as the Jaguar XKR Cabriolet, Hammond disagrees and Clarkson comments on People's shoes being a basis for the car they drive. Clarkson eventually walks up to a man with the worst shoes in the world who is revealed to be May. Clarkson finishes by putting the Volvo in Sub-Zero.

Challenge: Hammond sets out to find the best type of bus for London's streets by having a rally-race at Lydden Hill Race Circuit. The double decker was represented by a 1987 Leyland Olympian. The single decker was represented by a 1993 Dennis Dart. Two bendy buses are used. The first one being the Mercedes-Benz O305G (a rear-engined pusher type articulated bus), and the second one is a Leyland-DAB articulated bus, but goes unidentified during the programme. The types of the articulated buses are mixed up by Hammond, as he refers to the O305G as mid-engined and to the Leyland as rear-engined, when in fact they are the other way around. The compact hopper bus was represented by a 1997 Optare MetroRider. Similar to a previous segment in motor home racing, a field of touring car legends were picked to drive the buses. These were Anthony Reid, Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden, Tom Chilton and Hammond again rounds out the drivers list. The race ends with the compact bus being squashed, Hammond's bendy being disabled by the single-deck and the double-deck overturning on the home stretch while trying to take an inside line on the single-decker. The single deck bus was declared the winner because of its speed.

Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car: Kevin McCloud made an appearance to set a time in the Lacetti of 1:45.9, making him the second fastest around the track after Jay Kay. Jeremy reveals that his time was in fact 1:45.87, making McCloud four hundredths of a second slower than the top ranker.
102 6 Series 12, Episode 6 Veritas RS IIICaterham Seven Superlight R500 Did the communists make a good car? • Ford Fiesta with the Royal Marines Boris Johnson 7 December 2008 (2008-12-07) 7.33

Introduction: This was the first ever episode that Clarkson didn't take part in the introduction, as he had lost his voice, so for the first time ever and in the history of Top Gear, Hammond announced what was going on in the show instead.

Main Review: After receiving a complaint from a member of the public that they no longer do proper road tests like in the old days and receiving another letter from Mr. Needham by Hammond, Clarkson reviews the Ford Fiesta in a "serious" road test. He tests practicality, fuel economy, quality, and driving enjoyment. The verdict is that it looks good, is fairly practical, easy to park, very special to drive, and built as well as a Volkswagen. Throughout these sections, Clarkson, in a deadpan manner, states points like it goes 70 mph (110 km/h), which is the speed limit by law. The tests then become more bizarre including a race in the tight quarters of a shopping centre against "baddies" in a Corvette. The Ford gets out the shopping centre but the Corvette crashes, not making it out. The last test features the Ford accompanying an amphibious assault on Instow Beach alongside Royal Marines. The Fiesta manages to pass the test with flying colours. And Clarkson declares, "Drive safely."

News: May announces Clarkson has lost his voice, much to the amusement of Hammond and May who proceed to mock Clarkson. They reveal he has won Heat's Weirdest Crush award, and that he is in the same magazine as his "boyfriend", Will Young. At this point, Clarkson interrupts and reveals that May is in no position to mock him, as he has an eye infection himself. They then proceed to do the proper news.

Challenge: Clarkson and May can't decide if imported Chinese-made cars would be any good, so they made their way to Greenham Common airbase to see if the Communists ever historically built a good car. They begin with Russian cars (Lada Riva, Moskvitch 408, Lada Niva, ZAZ-968) and the East German Wartburg and Trabant. Both Clarkson and May declare all of those cars to be "truly terrible", though show some affection for the Niva. Clarkson declares the Lada Riva as "simply the worst car in the world" and May then disagrees with him, declaring the Moskvitch 408 to be the worst car in the world. They also look at an FSO Polonez (and destroy it in an homage to the Toyota Hilux that they abused), an East German Trabant, and a Czechoslovak Velorex. Their favourites are the Niva and the GAZ Chaika, but neither are found to be good because they fail to run. Their test includes a race between a British "Communist" car, the Morris Marina, and a Lada Riva. The Marina wins, though they find it to be more effective as a brazier for striking workers, than as a car. Overall, none of the cars that are tested in this challenge are liked by Clarkson or May. Hammond later reminds them that Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini cars have been made in an Italian communist-run locality for decades.

Review: Hammond tests the new Veritas RS III, a German supercar built by Veritas. It achieved a time of 1:24.2. Hammond also tests the Caterham 7 Superlight R500, which achieved a time of 1:17.9.

Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car: Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, drove the Lacetti in very wet conditions, and achieved a 1:57.4. Clarkson was unable to do the normal introduction as he had lost his voice so May did it for him instead with Clarkson giving May an encouraging thumbs-up as thanks.
103 7 Series 12, Episode 7 Tesla RoadsterHonda FCX Clarity 50 years of British Touring Car racing • TG Stuntman takes on Fifth Gear's caravan jump record • Top Gear Awards 2008 Sir Tom JonesJay Kay 14 December 2008 (2008-12-14) 7.54

Main Review: May takes a look at the future of motoring in California in the hydrogen powered Honda FCX Clarity. This segment features a cameo appearance by Jay Leno. Leno makes reference to American Toyota Prius drivers and comments, "In America we like everyone to know about the good work we are doing anonymously." During the segment May describes the Clarity as "the most important car in a hundred years" due to it being the first electric car that fits a modern, car-dependent lifestyle.

Review: Clarkson tested the battery powered Tesla Roadster on the track. Pitting it against a Lotus Elise in a drag race, the Roadster beating the Elise. Upon more strenuous testing, both Roadsters provided to Top Gear broke down. The Stig achieved a time of 1:27.2 on mildly moist conditions. The morse coded messages in the two shots were "ILIKEGARYNEWMAN" and "THATPORKTASTEDFUNNY".

Challenge: Hammond takes a look at 50 years of Touring Cars racing history, with crashing being a pervasive theme.

Stunt: Top Gear Stuntman returns as he joins Hammond in an attempt to beat a distance record set by their Fifth Gear rivals: jumping off a ramp in a 1992 Jaguar XJ6 saloon car while towing a caravan. Stuntman falls just short of the mark set by Fifth Gear.

Feature: Clarkson decided that the effort required for elderly people to change TV channel was too much, so he attached a V8 engine to a rocking chair. For safety reasons they sat a dummy in the chair when they carried out the test, which resulted in both the chair and the dummy breaking apart, although Clarkson felt a greater flaw was that the TV would be inaudible over the noise of the V8.

News: The three discuss how enraged fans of the Morris Marina had become, thanks to the previous episode. They "attempt" to make amends by purchasing another Marina, which then has a piano "accidentally" fall on it.

Following a two-year-old tradition on Top Gear, the boys discuss car-themed Christmas presents. During this bit they continually devolve into crude, sexual jokes, including a sword with various bits of pork on it, the sleeve from a wizard's robe with the Ferrari emblem, and a chicken with the four Audi rings on it, causing Clarkson to turn to the audience and quip, "It's all gone horribly wrong." They also present their annual year-end awards:

  • Best new sound: Will Young's new single
  • Best victory dance by a Star in a Reasonably-priced Car/Fastest Celebrity: Jay Kay, who accepted his award in the Top Gear studio
  • Most painful injury to a motoring related body part: Max Mosley's bottom.
  • Car of the Year: the Caterham 7 Superlight R500, for posting a faster time around the TG test track than the Bugatti Veyron, while being much less expensive.
  • Worst flirting award: Jeremy Clarkson when talking to Will Young.

They also announced the Vietnam special.

Star in a Reasonably-priced Car: Tom Jones, the singer, drove the Lacetti and achieved a 1:52.2.

104 8 Series 12, Episode 8
Vietnam Special
None (MinskPiaggio Vespa scooter • Honda Super Cub) None 28 December 2008 (2008-12-28) 6.70

Best-of Episodes[edit]

Total No. Title Featured cars Guest Original air date UK viewers
N/A SP The Best Of Top Gear 2008 #1 Nissan GT-R (S11,E5), Gumpert Apollo From (S11,E6), Ford Fiesta (S12,E6) Mark Wahlberg 1 January 2009 (2009-01-01) 2.82

Challenge: Ferrari Daytona vs Powerboat From Series 12, Episode 5 Skit: V8 Powered Food Blender From Series 12, Episode 3

Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Mark Wahlberg From Series 12, Episode 3
N/A SP The Best Of Top Gear 2008 #2 Toyota i-REAL (S12,E3), Pagani Zonda Roadster F vs Bugatti Veyron (S12,E4) Will Young 4 January 2009 (2009-01-04) 3.27

Challenge: Less Than £1000 Alfa Romeos (S11,E3)

Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Will Young From (S12,E2)
N/A SP The Best Of Top Gear 2008 #3 Audi RS6 (S11,E2) Boris Johnson 25 January 2009 (2009-01-25) 2.05

Challenge: Foxhunting In Daihatsu Terios From (S11,E5), Audi RS6 vs Speed Skiers From (S11,E2), Top Gear vs D-Motor (S11,E6)

Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Boris Johnson From (S12,E6)
N/A SP The Best Of Top Gear 2008 #4 Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series (S11,E2), FCX Honda Clarity (S12,E7) Jay Kay 1 February 2009 (2009-02-01) 2.28

Challenge: Nissan GT-R vs Bullet Train (S11,E4)

Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Jay Kay From Series 11, Episode 6


Series 12 Episode 7[edit]

On the show, Jeremy Clarkson is seen testing the battery powered Tesla Roadster. In the segment, it is shown that upon rigorous testing, that the batteries on the Roadster drained quickly and suffered mechanical problems. Tesla contested this and provided data logs of the cars' performances during the show to Top Gear and the BBC, which acknowledged in statements to the media that the cars did not in fact break down and never went below 20 percent state of charge.[3] After dozens of blogs and newspapers challenged Top Gear's portrayal of the Roadster's performance, Jeremy wrote an article for The Sunday Times, where he stood by the contents of the episode.[4]