Top Gear (series 13)

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Top Gear (series 13)
Top Gear Series 13 2009.jpg
Promotional poster
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes7
Original networkBBC Two
Original release21 June (2009-06-21) –
2 August 2009 (2009-08-02)
Series chronology
← Previous
Series 12
Next →
Series 14
List of Top Gear episodes

The thirteenth series of Top Gear aired during 2009 and consisted of seven episodes, beginning on 21 June and concluding on 2 August. Despite forced budget cuts, the series featured more foreign travel and more races, as well as newer challenges and power tests.


No. in
ReviewsFeatures/challengesGuest(s)Original air dateUK viewers
(millions) [1]
1051Lotus EvoraRace to the North: (LNER Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado steam train • Jaguar XK120Vincent Black Shadow)Ferrari FXX Lap TimeMichael Schumacher (disguised as The Stig)21 June 2009 (2009-06-21)7.86

If Top Gear had been aired in 1949, there would have likely have been a debate as to whether the car would be the fastest way to get from London to Edinburgh, Scotland, or if it would be either the motorbike or the train. The trio decide that they will find out exactly which would have been best in 1949 with a race to the north, with Hammond riding the fastest bike at the time and his boyhood dream, the Vincent Black Shadow, and May driving the "Bugatti Veyron" of the time, the Jaguar XK120, while Clarkson finds himself shovelling coal into the boiler of an LNER Peppercorn A1 4-6-2 locomotive no 60163 Tornado. Starting from King's Cross, Hammond and May find themselves sticking to the A1 Road (because motorways have not been invented yet), while Clarkson deals with soot and heat, as the train thunders him to victory, with all three vying to be first to reach the finish line at the bar of the Balmoral Hotel. Elsewhere, Clarkson is testing out the Lotus Evora around the track, while the Stig takes the Ferrari FXX for a power lap before coming into the studio and finally revealing who he is.

Note: It was unknown until after the first film of the next episode, that the FXX had been using slick tyres, which was against the rules of the 'Power Lap Board'; its time was subsequently disqualified in that episode.
1062Lamborghini Murciélago LP 670-4 SVPerfect £2,500 car for 17-year-olds: (Volvo 940 Turbo EstateVolkswagen Golf Mk IIIHyundai Scoupe) • Drag Race: (Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition vs. Lamborghini Murciélago LP 670-4 SV) • Drag Race II: (Bugatti Veyron vs. McLaren F1)Stephen Fry28 June 2009 (2009-06-28)7.00

The presenters find themselves going out and buying a car that would be perfect for 17-year-olds, as well as their parents and the insurance companies, with a budget of £2,500 to cover their purchase plus the insurance for it. For Clarkson, he believes the perfect car is the Volvo 940 Turbo Estate he bought, yet Hammond argues that it is the Hyundai Scoupe he picked because of it being a coupé, while May reasons that the small and cheap Volkswagen Golf Mk III he chose is the best. To find out who did well, the trio face a series of challenges, including modifying their cars in the way that 17-year-old would do to attract girls, packing up a camp site and leaving, sneaking back to their parents' house without making too much noise, repairing their cars after they have been rolled over, and then completing a speed challenge while both smashing into things a teenager would hit and performing a handbrake turn. Elsewhere, Stephen Fry is the latest star in the reasonably priced car, while Hammond is in Abu Dhabi to see if the new Lamborghini Murciélago LP670-4 SV is a hypercar in a race against a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition, before taking on the Stig in a drag race to see which car of their decade, is the fastest in the world - the McLaren F1 (driven by The Stig) and the Bugatti Veyron (driven by Hammond).

Note: The McLaren F1 used in the final film of this episode was borrowed from Rowan Atkinson, as was revealed during his interview with Clarkson in Series 17.
1073Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black SeriesCheap and Cheerful car I: (Perodua MyviChevrolet AveoProton Satria Neo) • Cheap and Cheerful car II: (Škoda RoomsterToyota iQAlfa Romeo MiToFiat 500) • Gymkhana rallying on the airfield (Subaru Impreza WRX STI)Michael McIntyreKen BlockRicky Carmichael5 July 2009 (2009-07-05)6.38

To beat the recession, the trio take to the streets of London in three small cars that they hate and that bankers will be forced to use - the Proton Satria Neo, the Chevrolet Aveo, and the Perodua Myvi - before heading to the track with three small cars they like - the Škoda Roomster for Clarkson, the Alfa Romeo MiTo for Hammond, and the Toyota iQ for May - and testing them on a challenge devised by each presenter. Meanwhile, Clarkson tests out the new face-lifted Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series, May meets professional American stunt driver Ken Block and gets taken for a ride around Ken's own gymkhana and his tuned Subaru Impreza and a race with motocross legend Ricky Carmichael, and comedian Michael McIntyre steps into the reasonably priced car.

Note: The Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series used in this episode was borrowed from Theo Walcott, with his permission.
1084Ford Focus RSRenault Mégane R26.RPorsche PanameraRace: Porsche Panamera vs. the Royal Mail service • Playing British Bulldogs with live fire against the British Army in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIIUsain Bolt12 July 2009 (2009-07-12)6.80
Clarkson sees if he can save an old school playground game with cars, by going to a British Army testing area in Dorset and taking on an array of new military hardware, including a Jackal, Mastiff PPV and a Trojan combat engineering vehicle, in a point-to-point race with a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII RS, while Hammond and May see if the new Porsche Panamera can get from Porthloo in the Isles of Scilly to Birsay on the Orkney Isles faster than a letter being ferried and delivered by the Royal Mail. Elsewhere, the new Ford Focus RS is tested out with a race on the test against a Renault Mégane R26.R, and Usain Bolt attempts to prove that he can be fast in the Lacetti as he is with his feet.
1095Jaguar XFRBMW M5Proof of three £1,500 rear-wheel drive coupés better than front-wheel drive: (Porsche 944 S2Ford Capri 2.8iNissan 300ZXMorris Marina) • Clarkson's inspired greenhouse trailer design to save the worldSienna MillerOlivier Panis19 July 2009 (2009-07-19)7.38
Clarkson, Hammond and May argue that the producers are wrong in claiming that front-wheel drive is perfectly adequate for the driving enthusiast, so to settle the argument, each is given £1,500 and told to buy a second-hand car that is rear-wheel drive to prove to the producers that they are right - Clarkson believes the perfect weight distribution of his Porsche 944 S2 will help him, Hammond expects it will be the 3.0l Twin Turbo V6 of the Nissan 300ZX he bought, while May buys the Ford Capri 2.8L simply because he wanted one. Driving across France while trying to not break down, the trio engage in a series of challenges, including beating a lap time by a FWD car, getting their car to brake before hitting an item close to their hearts, and taking part in an ice-driving race at Val Thorens, with the team learning to their horror, that they have a back-up car just in case - a Morris Marina. Elsewhere, the new Jaguar XFR is given a thorough test by Clarkson against its main rival, the BMW M5. Clarkson does his bit for the environment at finding ways to reduce carbon dioxide emission (with varying results), and Sienna Miller may have only just passed her licence (at time of broadcast), but she's hoping to be an expert at getting a fast time with the Lacetti.
1106BMW Z4 sDrive35iNissan 370ZPre-1982 £3,000 classic cars for a TSD rally in Mallorca: (Austin-Healey SpriteCitroën AmiLanchester LJ 200)Brian JohnsonMadison Welch • Brian Wheeler26 July 2009 (2009-07-26)7.69

The team wonder what classic car rallies are like, so the producers send them off to a classic car auction and task them with buying a pre-1982 car on a budget of £3,000, for a classic car rally in Majorca - Hammond goes in early and buys a 1953 Lanchester LJ 200 with no service history and possible connection to his family, Clarkson pays more than he should for a 1969 Austin-Healey Sprite, and May gets with a 1976 Citroën Ami. After getting the cars prepped, they arrive to find themselves late for the "Rally Clásico Isla Mallorca" (Majorca Classic Car Rally). With no chance of winning it, the trio decide to see whose car is best, and, with the help of a unique assistant driver chosen for them, are soon off trying to hit an average speed on closed roads and doing four laps around a rack track as consistently as possible, to see which classic car is a real winner. Meanwhile, Clarkson reviews some ferocious dinosaurs on the track, in the form of the new BMW Z4 and the replacement of the Nissan 350Z, the Nissan 370Z, while AC/DC front man, Brian Johnson, sets out to make a quick lap with the Lacetti.

Note: This episode featured animatronics borrowed from the Walking With Dinosaurs live theatrical show, during the 'Z4 and 350Z Reviews' film. It was also the first time that the presenters bought their cars from the BBC and kept them.
1117Vauxhall VXR8 BathurstHSV MalooAudi S4Aston Martin V12 VantageProducing Volkswagen Scirocco advertsJay Leno2 August 2009 (2009-08-02)7.11

Clarkson and May take on the challenge of creating a simple but effective TV advertisement for the new VW Scirocco TDi, but, as is true with Top Gear, their ambitious ideas of what it should be are truly rubbish and unimpressive for the advertising execs. Elsewhere, Hammond takes a look at a modified version of the VXR8, the Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Edition, and the Maloo E Series, while Clarkson drives a car he feels will be consigned to the history books - the Aston Martin V12 Vantage. Meanwhile, the Lacetti gets driven around the track by American talk show host, Jay Leno, who recounts an interesting story of how he avoided being done for speeding while showing off a car.

Note: Right at the end of the 'Aston Martin V12 Vantage Review' film after Clarkson says "Goodnight", the end credits roll whilst shots of the Vantage driving through mountainous British countryside continue playing in the background. The Top Gear theme does not play in the end credits as usual, instead the music from the film continues, fading out when the credits ended.

"Schumacher is the Stig" stunt[edit]

On June 20, 2009, the day before Series 13 was to premiere, Jeremy Clarkson announced in his newspaper column that the Stig would be showing his face on the first episode of the new series,[2] claiming that the Stig was "fed up with newspapers speculating that he's a photocopier salesman from Bolton, or lives in a pebble-dashed house in Bristol".[3] During the episode, the Stig, who had been shown driving a black Ferrari FXX around the test track for a record-setting time of 1:10.7, walked into the studio, before joining Clarkson at the centre stage, whereupon, to chants from the audience of "Off! Off!", he removed his helmet and revealed himself to be F1 driver Michael Schumacher.[4][5][6] In the subsequent interview, Schumacher exhibited some of the Stig's supposedly defining character traits, such as knowing only two facts about ducks that were both wrong.[3] Before the episode ended, Clarkson showed a video clip of the Stig driving around in the Suzuki Liana, where he was shown to exhibit very poor car control, while striking a camera tripod, and eventually getting lost, leaving the presenter to conclude that Schumacher was truly the Stig after all.

Following the episode's broadcast, the BBC would not confirm if the Schumacher being revealed as the Stig was merely a stunt for the show, but The Telegraph reported the following day that a spokesperson for the show had confirmed that Schumacher played the role of the Stig for the FXX's Power Lap, citing that Ferrari would not allow anyone, neither Ben Collins (the man in the role of the Stig at the time) or anyone else, to drive the £1million car other than Schumacher, further adding that "the identity of the driver at other times would remain 'a mystery'."[7] The article notably revealed that others, like Schumacher, had also taken on the role of the Stig in place of whoever was performing the role on the show.

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Volkswagen Scirocco TDI advert film[edit]

During the final episode of the series, Jeremy Clarkson and James May were assigned to produce an advert for the new Volkswagen Scirocco, albeit a spoof of one. The segment received extensive complaints in regards to some of the content in it. One series of complaints was against a remake of a VW advertisement, which seemed to show the actor in it committing suicide on-screen, with Ofcom investigating and later ruling that there had been no editorial justification for its inclusion.[8] The other series of complaints was directed against Clarkson's spoof ad, which showed crowds of Polish people leaving Warsaw in terror on buses and trains, because of the imminent German invasion of Poland, ending with the line "Volkswagen Scirocco TDI: Berlin to Warsaw in one tank". Minutes after the episode's broadcast, the advert was uploaded to YouTube and spurred angry comments from Polish viewers. A spokeswoman for the show told the Daily Mail that the BBC had only received a handful of complaints, but expected the number submitted to Ofcom to be higher.[9]

"Pikey" comment[edit]

In an article for The Guardian, Jodie Matthews accused the show, particularly Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond, of using the word "pikey" during the final episode when discussing about the saloons that Hammond had been reviewing, or alluding to it as Clarkson did by claiming that one of the saloons would be a "perfect car for anyone whose business is selling pegs and heather". She further stated in her article that it would popularise the racist term for Gypsies and Travellers, reinforce traveller stereotypes and legitimise past racist attitudes that had been deemed no longer appropriate, further commenting that she hoped rumours that the motoring show wouldn't be returning (at the time her article was published), turned out to be true.[10]


  1. ^ "Weekly Top 10 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
  2. ^ "JC: Stig to remove helmet". Top Gear News Blog. Top Gear (2002 TV series). 20 June 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  3. ^ a b Malvern, Jack (22 June 2009). "And the true identity of The Stig is . . . . Michael Schumacher". London: The Times. Retrieved 27 August 2010. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Stig Revealed!". Archived from the original on 24 June 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ Hearn, Adrian (22 June 2009). "The Stig revealed on Top Gear". Auto Trader. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  7. ^ Irvine, Chris (22 June 2009). "Top Gear: who really is The Stig?". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 August 2010. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ "Top Gear - Ofcom whinges at Top Gear spoof car adverts". 12 November 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Jeremy Clarkson adds Polish to outraged ranks". 5 August 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  10. ^ Matthews, Jodie (6 August 2009). "Top Gear goes backwards". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 July 2016.