Top Gear challenges
Top Gear challenges are a segment of the Top Gear television programme where the presenters are tasked by the producers, or each other, to prove or do various things related to vehicles.
Novelty challenges and short stunt films are typically based on absurd premises, such as jumping a bus over motorcycles (instead of the more typical scenario of a motorcycle jumping over buses), or a nun driving a monster truck. These features have become much less prominent over the life of the programme (they were much more regular during the first four series); they have been superseded in later series by the "How hard can it be?" and Cheap car challenges, which are much larger in scope.
- How fast do you have to drive to be undetected by a speed camera? Series One, Episode One
- How many motorcycles can a double-decker bus jump over? Series One, Episode Two
- Can Grannies do doughnuts? Series One, Episode Three
- Can you make an 'average' car into a 007/Bond car, for less than £300? Series One, Episode Five
- Can Grannies do handbrake turns? Series One, Episode Six
- What is Britain's fastest faith? Series One, Episode Seven & Ten
- Who is Britain's fastest white van man? Series One, Episode Eight
- Lotus give a Lada Riva a £100,000 makeover Series One, Episode Eight
- How much faster will a car go if you strip it to save weight? Series One, Episode Nine
- What to do with the worst car of all time, the 1985 Nissan Sunny? Series Two, Episode One
- What is Britain's fastest political party? Series Two, Episode Two
- What country makes the fastest supercar? Series Two, Episode Three
- Can Ford's World Rally Championship pit team dismantle and rebuild a rally car faster than four women can get ready for a night out? Series Two, Episode Five
- May oversees an attempt at the land-speed record for a caravan Series Two, Episode Six
- A "race for the universe": Sci-Fi characters race around the Top Gear track Series Two, Episode Eight
- Can The Stig achieve 100 mph on the 200m runway of HMS Invincible? Series Three, Episode One
- How many caravans can a 1987 Volvo 240 jump over? Series Three, Episode Two
- What is the best wig for driving fast in an open top convertible? Series Three, Episode Five
- Which professor can do the best burn-out? Series Three, Episode Seven
- Can a nun drive a monster truck? Series Four, Episode Two
- Hammond and May play darts using real cars Series Four, Episode Four
- Hammond makes fun of motorists that block yellow boxes Series Four, Episode Eight
- Is the jet from a 747 enough to blow a car over? Series Four, Episode Eight
- Can you parachute into a moving car? Series Four, Episode Nine
- Olympic Games for cars: Long Jump Series Four, Episode Ten
- How many bouncy castles can an ice cream van jump? Series Five, Episode One
- Hammond and May play conkers with caravans Series Five, Episode Four
- Historic People Carrier Racing Championship Series Five, Episode Five
- Can a stretch limo jump over a wedding party? Series Six, Episode Four
- Hammond oversees an attempt at the world record for the number of complete sideways rolls in a car Series Six, Episode Nine
- Hammond and May play with life-size radio control cars made from real cars Series Seven, Episode Two
- The Team try to get a 1986 Mini to beat a skier down a ski slope at Lillehammer Winter Olympic Special
- Hammond oversees an attempt by the Stig at the nonexistent indoor world speed record Series Eight, Episode Six
- Motorhome Racing Series Ten, Episode Six
- Hammond converts a G-Wiz into a full-sized remote-controlled car Series Ten, Episode Ten
- May oversees an attempt by Top Gear Stuntman at the nonexistent world record for car jumping in reverse Series Eleven, Episode One
- May oversees an attempt by Top Gear Stuntman to replicate a corkscrew car jump, as featured in The Man with the Golden Gun Series Eleven, Episode Two
- The Top Gear team (Britain) take on the hosts of D MOTOR (Germany) in a series of car challenges to decide the best motoring country Series Eleven, Episode Six
- Bus Racing Series Twelve, Episode Five
- Hammond oversees an attempt by Top Gear Stuntman to beat rival show Fifth Gear's distance record for jumping a car while towing a caravan Series Twelve, Episode Seven
- Clarkson plays British Bulldogs with the British Army Series Thirteen, Episode Four
- Airport vehicle racing Series Fourteen, Episode Four
- Clarkson drives a 1994 Reliant Robin from Sheffield to Rotherham (constantly flipping over) Series Fifteen, Episode One
- Top Gear UK vs Top Gear Australia Series Sixteen, Episode Two
- World Taxi Racing Championship Series Twenty, Episode Two
A common theme on Top Gear is an approach to reviewing cars that combines standard road tests and opinions with an extremely unusual circumstance, or with a challenge to demonstrate a notable characteristic of the vehicle.
- Drive until you get bored / Test: enjoyable travel. Clarkson claimed that Jaguars "ease the burden of travel" and devised a test for the Jaguar XJ to see how far he could drive one before he got bored. He ran out of country before he got bored. Series Two, Episode Four
- Lap of the M25 / Test: fuel economy. Clarkson drove a lap of the M25 in a diesel Volkswagen Lupo, while another driver used the petrol version to see which would achieve greater fuel efficiency. Clarkson was allowed to spend any money he saved over the petrol version on a gift at South Mimms services. He chose a small gold model of a cockerel, which made a reappearance in later series as "The Golden Cock"—the award given to the presenter who'd made the most embarrassing mistake of the year. Series Three, Episode One
- Toyota Hilux destruction / Test: toughness. Clarkson and May used various methods in an attempt to destroy a 1988 Toyota Hilux, which included driving it into a tree which belonged to Churchill Parish, Somerset. The villagers presumed that the damage had been accidental or vandalism had occurred until the Top Gear episode was broadcast. After the BBC was contacted, the director of Top Gear admitted guilt and the broadcaster paid compensation. Other tests on the Hilux included leaving it out in the ocean, slamming it with a wrecking ball, setting the cabin on fire and finally having it hoisted to the roof of a tower-block that was subsequently blown up. The heavily damaged (but still driveable) Hilux used to stand on a plinth in the Top Gear studio. Series Three, Episodes Five & Six
- Helicopter gunship evasion / Test: handling. Clarkson tried to avoid being caught in missile lock from a Westland WAH-64D Apache attack helicopter while driving a Lotus Exige. Series Four, Episode One
- London to Edinburgh and back again on a single tank of fuel / Test: fuel economy. Clarkson attempted to drive a 4.0 V8 diesel Audi A8 800 miles (1,300 km) on a single tank of fuel. Series Four, Episode Four
- Minicab road testing / Test: toughness and practicality. Hammond and May worked as minicab drivers in order to subject a Renault Scenic and Ford C-MAX to a year's worth of hard abuse in one evening. Series Four, Episode Seven
- Off-road up a mountain / Test: off-road ability. Clarkson tried to drive a Land Rover Discovery from the beach to the top of Cnoc an Fhreiceadain in Scotland, completely off-road. It was heavily criticised by environmentalists for the damage done by the vehicle's tyres. This stunt was memorable in that Clarkson left the mountain by helicopter with the Discovery's keys in his pocket, so delaying its removal from the hill. Series Five, Episode Three
- 24 hours in a car / Test: comfort. Hammond and May spent 24 hours in a Smart Forfour to assess the marketing claim that the car is "designed like a lounge." Series Five, Episode Four
- Tank evasion / Test: off-road ability. Clarkson discovered whether a Challenger 2 tank could lock its main cannon on to a Range Rover Sport. Series Six, Episode One
- Car Football / Test: toughness and handling. Hammond and May, along with a selection of professional drivers, played a football match using Toyota Aygos. Series Six, Episode One
- Sniper evasion / Test: handling. Clarkson drove around a deserted village (British Army training facility at STANTA, Norfolk) in a Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG and a 2005 Porsche Boxster S, trying to evade snipers of the Irish Guards. Series Six, Episode Five
- Road Test Russian Roulette / Test: random road testing. Hammond and May worked as ScooterMen in order to road-test as many randomly selected cars as possible—the catches being that they wouldn't know what they'd be road-testing, and that they had to do it in the presence of the cars' owners. Series Six, Episode Nine
- Supercars / Superbridge / Test: illustrate the point of supercars. The trio took three supercars (a Ford GT, a Ferrari F430 Spider and a Pagani Zonda S) on a road trip to the recently opened Millau Viaduct via Paris. Series Seven, Episode Three
- Car Ice Hockey / Test: toughness and handling. Hammond and May, along with a selection of professional drivers, played an ice hockey match using Suzuki Swifts, while Clarkson acted as referee. Winter Olympics Special
- Horse racing camera platform / Test: smooth ride. Clarkson reviewed the Citroën C6 and put it to work as a mobile camera platform covering a horse race. Series Eight, Episode Five
- Car Football 2 / Test: toughness and handling. Hammond and May, along with a selection of professional drivers, staged another football match using Toyota Aygos against a new contender, the Volkswagen Fox. Series Eight, Episode Five
- VIP chauffeur / Test: luxury. In Japan, May conducted road tests of the Mitsuoka Orochi and Galue, and used the Galue to chauffeur a Sumo wrestler and his manager to a tournament as a way to test if the car is "Japan's Rolls-Royce." Series Eleven, Episode Six
- Best Hot Hatchback for doing various things in / Test: Fun and practicality. In order to determine which hot hatchback was the best, the trio were told to bring one to the Italian city of Lucca. Clarkson brought a Citroën DS3 Racing, May a 2010 Renaultsport Clio Cup and Hammond a 2011 Fiat 500 Abarth. Series Seventeen, Episode Two
- GT car on a WRC stage / Test: 4WD system. May takes a Bentley Continental GT to a Welsh stage of the World Rally Championship, and acts as Kris Meeke's co-driver. Series Nineteen, Episode One
- Car and tablecloth / Test: Speed. The Stig tries to use a Nissan GT-R to pull a tablecloth off a table without smashing any of the ornaments and cutlery. Series Twenty-One, Episode Four
How hard can it be?
A recurring feature on Top Gear involves the hosts undertaking a number of bizarre challenges involving cars. The segments involving the challenges are usually preceded by Jeremy Clarkson, though sometimes Richard or James, asking the audience and viewers: "How hard can it be?"
Lap the Nürburgring in less than 10 minutes... in a diesel
Series Five, Episode Five
Clarkson took a diesel Jaguar S-Type to the Nürburgring with the aim of completing a lap in less than 10 minutes. Clarkson was being coached by Sabine Schmitz, a noted German racer. After consecutive unsuccessful tries, Clarkson managed to lap the Nürburgring in 9 minutes and 59 seconds, with Clarkson celebrating enthusiastically and showing the results proudly to his coach. Schmitz was still unimpressed, proclaiming that she could do that time in a van, and then lapped the Jaguar 47 seconds faster than Clarkson's time.
Lap the Nürburgring in less than 9 minutes and 59 seconds... in a van
Series Six, Episode Seven
To celebrate the Ford Transit's 40th birthday, Hammond went to the Nürburgring to see if Clarkson's mentor from the previous Nürburgring challenge, Sabine Schmitz, could live up to her claim and do a lap in a diesel 2005 Ford Transit van in less than 9 minutes and 59 seconds. Despite minor aerodynamic modifications and weight-saving made to the van - removal of the passenger seat, spare tyre, tools, windscreen wipers, Hammond himself - and using a Dodge Viper driving in front allowing the Transit to slipstream behind it, Schmitz was unable to do a lap time of less than 10 minutes, achieving a lap time of 10 minutes and 8 seconds.
Convertible people carrier
Series Eight, Episode One
The presenters were set the task of building a convertible people carrier. They succeeded in removing the roof from a 1996 Renault Espace and replaced it with a canvas fold-down top. The resulting vehicle was able to travel at 100 mph without losing its roof, and was driven through an animal park without any incident. However, a trip through a car wash resulted in the brand-new million-pound wash facility catching fire.
Present a drive time radio show
Series Eight, Episode Two
The presenters tried to host a drive time radio show on BBC Southern Counties Radio in Brighton, but ended up with many complaints from the listeners. This was mainly because Clarkson's travel bulletins focussed on hounding motorists he could see dawdling on CCTV, rather than issuing the more normal information on the location of problem areas caused by such people and how to avoid them.
Series Eight, Episode Three
The presenters were set the challenge of building amphibious cars, and using them to get to—and across—a two-mile-wide reservoir. Hammond transformed a 1983 Volkswagen camper van into a narrowboat-style "damper van;" Clarkson attached an outboard motor to a modified 1989 Toyota Hilux pick-up truck, which he dubbed the "Toybota". May fitted a 1962 Triumph Herald with a mast and sails. This caused clearance problems on the road and he had to take an alternative route when on land due to a "low bridge." Hammond's dampervan was very heavy and slow on the road, and quickly sank after entering the water. Both the Herald and Hilux performed well in the water, however the Herald was slow due to the sails. Clarkson drove the Hilux at high speeds in the water and was making good progress, however he rolled it over while trying to enter the pier. May was eventually voted the winner by the studio audience. Winner: May [nb 1]
Car interior design
Series Eight, Episode Four
Clarkson bought a 1996 Mercedes-Benz S280 and designed his perfect interior based upon his imagined perfect house. The car, dubbed "Anne Hathaway's Cottage", featured a wood-burning stove, kitchen chairs, a flagstone floor, and wood with a cement base (weighing approximately two tons), even plastering the door trim. James May and Richard Hammond then tested the car. A lack of seat belts and unsecured seats meant they tumbled around inside the car. Eventually, with May holding Hammond's seat, a 0–60 time of 35.4 seconds was established.
Improve your lap time by 20 seconds
Series Eight, Episode Five
Series Eight, Episode Six
Clarkson, May and Hammond went on a caravan holiday in Dorset to try to find out more about caravanning, bringing along an Elddis Shamal XL as their caravan. The trio unsuccessfully tried to have fun and caused numerous traffic jams. May crashed the caravan into a bollard. Hammond and the show's pet labradoodle, Top Gear dog were kidnapped by an elderly female fan. Clarkson "accidentally" set the caravan and its neighbour on fire while trying to cook chips.
Kit car race
Series Eight, Episode Seven
The presenters, based at Knockhill Racing Circuit in Fife, were set the task of building a Caterham Seven Kit car from scratch and drive past the starting line, faster than the time it would take The Stig to reach the track from the Caterham showroom in Caterham using a pre-built Caterham Seven Kit car. The presenters won the challenge because The Stig was stopped by the traffic police just 3 miles from the finish. (The Stig "exercised his right to remain silent," and was taken into custody.)
Roadies van challenge
Series Eight, Episode Eight
The team decided to test some vans by being roadies for The Who. May picked a 2005 Renault Master, Hammond chose a 2006 Ford Transit, and Clarkson selected a 2006 Volkswagen T30 TDI 174 Sportline. After The Who's concert at Hyde Park, Clarkson, Hammond and May took some of their equipment 90 miles to the site of their next show. They concluded that the cheapest van for the task at hand should always be used. Subsequently, Clarkson admitted that the feature was not the greatest of ideas. This feature was directly followed by the Man with a van cheap car challenge.
Road works in 24 hours
Series Nine, Episode One
The presenters decided to speed up the road works on the D5481 near Bidford in Warwickshire. According to the County Council, it would take an entire week, but the Top Gear team achieved it in just one day (although they did have 32 men working with them). According to the film, Clarkson prevented them from having proper meal breaks and instead fed them on the berries growing on the bushes by the side of the road. However, for tea, Hammond provided fish and chips for all the workmen. The team worked through the entire day and night to get the job done. Jeremy decided to motivate the men by putting on Margaret Thatcher speeches on a loudspeaker and saying "The sooner you're done, the sooner I'll turn her off." James May took away the loudspeaker and had a road-roller crush it.
Reliant Robin Space Shuttle
Series Nine, Episode Four
Hammond and May tried to convert a 1992 Reliant Robin into a space shuttle. They were given 12 days to build it and help from the United Kingdom Rocketry Association. Eight tonnes of thrust was required to launch the Robin—the largest non-commercial rocket launch undertaken in Europe. The Reliant Robin took off; everything seemed to be working until a release bolt attaching the Robin to the fuel tank failed to detach. The combined result spiraled out of control and crashed on a nearby hillside.
Growing petrol using tractors
Series Nine, Episode Five
The presenters decided to grow their own environmentally friendly petrol by planting rapeseed in a field. For this challenge, each presenter needed to research and acquire a tractor. Each presenter then took part in a series of challenges at the airfield, including a "drag race," in which they raced each other while dragging something found around the airfield. In the end, it was discovered May had ordered the wrong type of seed, so they ended up with 500 gallons of Biodiesel which was later used for the Britcar 24-hour endurance race.
Series Nine, Episode Six
The presenters were sent out to buy normal cars that are available in Britain, then turn them into stretch limousines. Once the presenters had built their limos, they had to chauffeur three celebrities across London to the Brit Awards. Hammond chauffeured Jamelia in a 1996 MG F "Sports Limo," arriving with a stuck throttle and having to assist her exit with a pool ladder. Clarkson chauffeured Chris Moyles using a greatly lengthened, dual rear axle 1993 Fiat Panda, which as originally engineered had not been road legal, and arriving with only half a car after it split in two before reaching its destination.[nb 2] James May attempted to chauffeur Lemar in the "Salfa Romeaab" (a cross between the front ends of a 1996 Alfa Romeo 164 and a 1994 Saab 9000); Lemar ultimately got frustrated and got out of the car after May repeatedly got lost. Clarkson claimed victory as he got one photograph of his celebrity published in a newspaper. However, as his co-presenters pointed out, the image appeared in Clarkson's own newspaper column in The Sun (to which he responded that they both also have newspaper columns that they could have used).
Polar race special
Polar Challenge Special
In April–May 2007, Clarkson and May teamed up to race Hammond from Resolute, Nunavut to the North Magnetic Pole, taking the route set out in the Polar Challenge. The terrain in between is some of the toughest in the world—a mix of mountainous land masses and jagged sea ice where temperatures can drop to −65 degrees Celsius (−85 degrees Fahrenheit). Jeremy and James used a specially adapted Toyota Hilux pick-up truck, while Richard used a sled pulled by a team of ten Canadian Inuit dogs, driven by American explorer Matty McNair. In the end the truck won, although the sled overtook them at one point while they were crossing the first of two fields of ice boulders.
The Hilux used by the camera crew would later appear in Series fifteen, Episode One, modified to be able to drive near Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland to obtain a lava rock.
Amphibious cars: redux
Series Ten, Episode Two
The presenters made a second attempt to use amphibious cars—this time to cross the English Channel. All three presenters modified their original designs: Clarkson created an amphibious 1996 Nissan pickup truck; Hammond used a "new" 1981 Volkswagen Transporter; May upgraded and used the same 1962 Triumph Herald he had used in the original challenge. May was unable to sail the Herald out of the harbour, sinking twice and damaging the vehicle beyond repair. Hammond's Transporter worked well initially, but the engine was damaged in rough seas, necessitating the use of an outboard engine. It eventually flooded and sank. Clarkson won, while carrying his co-presenters, in his "Nissank" on the trip. The presenters had aimed for Calais, but missed, finishing in Sangatte. They also attempted (and failed) to break the record set by Richard Branson for the fastest crossing of the Channel in an amphibious vehicle. Winner: Clarkson
Driving a Formula 1 car
Series Ten, Episode Eight
Hammond sets out to complete two laps around Stowe Circuit at Silverstone driving the Renault R25 Formula One car, which took both the driver's (with Fernando Alonso) and constructor's championship titles in the 2005 Formula One season.
Britcar 24-hour endurance race
Series Ten, Episode Nine
In the previous series, the presenters planted their own biofuel crop, which was rapeseed. However, due to an ordering blunder made by James May they accidentally made 500 gallons worth of biodiesel. In order to dispose of it, they took part in the Britcar 24-hour endurance race at Silverstone Circuit using a modified 2003 BMW 330d. Arriving at the event, the team discovered that it was not an event for novices, as they had expected, but it was a fully professional endurance race and the team would be competing alongside actual 200 mph supercars. However, with help from The Stig, they eventually finished third in class and 39th overall, despite a fuel pump failure, only just making the start, several fuel leaks, going off the track many times, and a Mosler crashing into Hammond.
Renault Avantime tuning challenge
Series Twelve, Episode Three
The presenters were challenged to make an ordinary car lap the track as fast as a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, which has a time of 1 minute 28 seconds, using only the price difference from that ordinary car to a used Lancer Evo as their budget. They did not know what car they would have to work with. Despite May's prediction of a Hyundai Accent 3-cylinder diesel, the car was revealed to be a 2002 Renault Avantime. Notwithstanding various modifications—including wheels, tyres, brakes, the exhaust of an unknown TVR, the rear wing from a Super Aguri F1 car (which was later taken off), a wooden front splitter (which caught fire)—the presenters were unable to beat the Evo's time. They did improve on the original time by 7.1 seconds, but this was achieved mostly through a combination of swapping out the heavy, electrically heated seats that came with the Avantime for much lighter carbon fibre racing seats, and May servicing the engine to get it nearer its originally rated power. The presenters noted that the other modifications generally didn't help, and some even made the car slower. The only modifications that did work properly cost little beyond the time, effort and relatively simple equipment used.
From Basel to Blackpool on a single tank of fuel
Series Twelve, Episode Four
The presenters were challenged to drive from Basel, Switzerland to Blackpool, England, on a single tank of fuel, in order to switch on the Blackpool Illuminations. Although each presenter chose a different route, Clarkson estimated the distance as approximately 750 miles. Each presenter chose diesel vehicles: Jeremy used a 2007 Jaguar XJ6 Diesel, and in spite of using every feature in the car, and driving uneconomically, completed the journey. He was beaten by Richard Hammond, driving a 2008 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion. James May, driving a 2008 Subaru Legacy, arrived 40 minutes after Clarkson.
Make a car advertisement
Series Thirteen, Episode Seven
James and Jeremy were given the challenge to create a simple, but effective, TV advertisement for the new Volkswagen Scirocco TDi. Several entries were made, including one stating while the Scirocco wasn't fast it was economical, a rehash of a previous Golf ad, and one detailing a funeral (slightly spoiled by Clarkson). All were rejected, leading Clarkson and May to create separate ads. Clarkson won with references to World War II.
Build an electric car
Series Fourteen, Episode Two
The presenters were challenged to create their own electric car that would rival the G-Wiz. The first car, nicknamed "Geoff", was put through its paces in the city of Oxford, before being re-built as the Hammerhead-i Eagle Thrust. The Hammerhead underwent a number of safety tests at the Motor Industry Research Association, with the Top Gear trio attempting to fool the examiners by using simple camera trickery. It was then reviewed by Autocar magazine, with the team disappointed by the review, while making a reference to OFCOM, the telecommunications regulator.
Build a snowplough
Series Sixteen, Episode Five
Due to the problems Britain suffered during the previous winter with snow, and local authorities not having the money to spend on road clearing equipment, the presenters came up with the idea of the Snowbine Harvester to save money, working on the theory combine harvesters were sitting idle during winter months so were readily available with a cheap conversion kit. The team fitted a snowplough to the front of a used Claas Dominator. It was also converted to a gritter using the grain chute, capable of blasting grit through the windows of nearby cars. A flamethrower was fitted at the rear, operated by Jeremy, and a Bovril boiler in the cab for James to counter the lack of heating. During testing in Norway, the team blasted grit through a house window, set fire to a man and ran into a car hidden by snow. They then successfully ploughed a road that had not previously been ploughed that winter. The team admitted that this was an unusual challenge in that they were ultimately "ambitious and successful" - contrary to the usual challenge results.
Build a train
Series Seventeen, Episode Four
The presenters believed that train travel in the UK is too expensive, and the main reason is that trains are expensive to build. They first of all converted a 1990 5.3 V12 Jaguar XJS to work on the railway, before building carriages from old caravans for the varying classes of passenger (first, second, "scum") and a Buffet car using wheels from Permanent Way[vague] trollies. The Jaguar was unable to pull the four "carriages" due to their weight, and the Jaguar's rear-wheel-drive. The presenters split into two teams, with Clarkson taking the Jaguar and promising to build a "Train GTI", later referred to as the "TGV12", and Hammond and May converting a four-wheel-drive 2001 Audi S8 to pull the existing carriages.
The presenters (with their respective creations) then raced from "near Leicester" (Leicester North) to "near Loughborough" (Loughborough Central) on the Great Central Railway with a number of railway experts as passengers. Clarkson won the race despite having been caught behind Hammond and May at times and almost colliding with No. 10119 Margaret Ethel-Thomas Alfred Naylor after attempting to 'overtake' the Caravan Train. Meanwhile, the Buffet car on Hammond's and May's train had caught fire, and after stopping short of Loughbourough, the "scum class" carriage was hit (and destroyed) by passing diesel locomotive D123 Leicestershire and Derbyshire Yeomanry.
Off-road mobility scooters
Series Eighteen, Episode Four
The presenters are tasked with creating their own off-road mobility scooters for rambling in the Welsh countryside. Clarkson builds an eight-wheeler with two engines from two electric scooters, with lawnmower wheels. May makes an electric wheelchair and Hammond creates his machine from a mobility trike and a petrol powered builders' wheelbarrow, with a single wheel at the front and crawler tracks at the back The task ends with a race in the countryside against three wounded soldiers. Only Hammond manages to finish the race, with Clarkson's scooter falling down a hill into a set of trees, and May aborting the mission and getting stuck outside a pub near Crickhowell.
Convertible supercars for all weather
Series Twenty Four, Episode Two
Chris and Matt are tasked with finding the perfect convertible supercar for all weather. Matt brought a Lamborghini Huracan Spyder and Chris brought a Porsche 911 Turbo S convertible. Both are told to report in Las Vegas for a series of challenges along a 400-mile road trip from Las Vegas to the Sierra Nevada mountains. The first challenge, named "Spring", was held at Spring Mountain Raceway, where they have to complete a lap of the track with the roof down at the beginning and finish with the roof up. Along the way, a firetruck is prepared to simulate the effects of a spring rain. Next, there was the second challenge named "Summer", where they have to switch cars (written as "take a vacation from your car", in keeping with the summer vacation spirit) and drive across the Death Valley. Before the third challenge arrived, both have to spend the night at Darwin, California. The following day, the third challenge, named "Fall" arrived, where they have to freewheel down a section of the Sierra Nevada mountain road, where it's slippery. As they climbed higher into the mountains, the final challenge arrived at Mammoth Mountain where they have to race across the snowy mountain. On the final challenge, Matt initially made good progress as Chris' Porsche got temporarily stuck, but Chris later caught up as the Lamborghini's low ground clearance made Matt temporarily stuck before he chained the Lamborghini's rear tyres. Despite this Chris wins the race narrowly.
Building the world's fastest tractor
Series Twenty Five, Episode Five
In an effort to fix the tractor's slow speed, Matt and Chris headed to the "Top Gear Agricultural Technology Centre", where Matt builds a custom tractor with a 500 hp Chevrolet V8 engine, dubbed the "Track-tor". To prove the tractor's performance credentials, Matt aimed for 81 mph in order to beat a previous world speed record set in Finland. Matt did reach 81 mph, however, in the hands of The Stig, it reached 87 mph, setting a new world record. Next, they headed to a farm to see if the Track-tor is as useful as other tractors, specifically the New Holland T7 tractor, driven by Robert Neill, winner of the 2017 Farmer of the Year. The first test was hedge cutting, where the Track-tor's power overwhelmed the presenters as it frequently did wheelies and killing the scarecrow in the process. The next test was ploughing, where the Track-tor did a rather poor job at it. The final challenge was to harvest vegetables from the farm and transport it to the freezer section of a local village market 8 miles away in under 23 minutes, assisted by The Stig. The presenters managed to do so with only ten seconds to spare.
Building the ultimate family car
Series Twenty Seven, Episode Three
Paddy, thinking that he can find the ultimate family car on the cheap, set out to buy a 1995 Daimler hearse for just £1,300. Over at the track, challenges include a "last space drag race" against Britain's best selling family cars; Chris drives a Volkswagen Touran, while Freddie drives a Kia Sportage (Damon Hill makes an appearance as guest driver in a Citroën Berlingo), which the hearse comfortably wins due to its 240 horsepower, 4.0 liter 6-cylinder engine, followed by a boot space challenge to test for practicality, which the hearse won again. A few days later, Chris and Freddie decided to modify the hearse and meet at Tenby. The hearse now sports a 4.0 liter V8 engine from a Lexus LS400, alongside a host of other modifications from full respray to Polestar Blue to amenities such as a ball pit and a "naughty step". Now dubbed "The Overtaker", the presenters have to do a family holiday in Wales. First, they head for the local beach, where they have to beat a rival holidaymaker in a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG estate; Paddy claims he scored a moral victory due to the hearse's cheap price. Next, they go to Walters Arena for their next challenge: a race to the campsite against Land Rover Discovery driven by a family of Stigs, where the hearse tipped over. The next day, the presenters mended the hearse and met at Mendips Raceway for their final challenge: banger racing to test the car's safety, which Paddy insisted on doing, with Chris and Freddie serving as Paddy's outriders; one of the competitors is Sabine Schmitz in a Volvo estate. Despite the harsh treatment the hearse received, its engine still runs by the end of the show, much to Paddy's joy.
Building a capable off-roader for less cost than the new Land Rover Defender
Series Twenty Eight, Episode Two
In a bid to beat Land Rover Defender's off-road capabilities with a much lower cost than one (a new Defender costs £70,000), Paddy decided to build an off-road vehicle dubbed the "Dirty Rascal", a combination of Daihatsu Fourtrak's powertrain atop a Bedford Rascal bodyshell and told to report to the Millbrook Proving Ground, where Chris and Freddie praised the work done to the car and the fact that it only costs £7,000 to build the whole car, amenities included. First, the car is put to the test against two of the cheapest brand new 4x4s available for sale in the UK, the Suzuki Jimny and the Dacia Duster in a timed lap challenge. The Dirty Rascal initially made a good progress, but soon stalled. Next, Paddy heads for Scotland for their next challenge: a 20 kilometer off-road race against a squad of fully-armed former British Special Forces. After getting bogged down thanks to a smoke bomb from the Forces, the Dirty Rascal caught up to the troops by following the nearby river and some gravel tracks; however, the car came just moments later than the Forces.
Building an all-terrain, all-electric ice cream van
Series Twenty-Nine, Episode Five
With ice cream vans falling out of popularity over time, Paddy decided to revamp it by building an all-terrain, all-electric ice cream van. Joining Chris and Freddie in Blackpool, he presented his creation, dubbed "Mr Nippy", where Paddy came up with an idea of serving ice cream for warmer months and mash cone with pea and gravy for winter. At the beachfront, Mr Nippy appears to be well-received by locals, however the producers set a challenge at the local airport against a Whitby Morrison Amalfi (an ice cream van based on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter): lapping a course in the airport's fire training area while serving 99 Flake ice creams to firefighters. Freddie, driving the Amalfi, set a time of 2 minutes and 25 seconds; Paddy's Mr Nippy initially overheated, but managed to clear the course after restarting, despite his 99 flake melting due to the restart, offering them pre-packed ice cream lollies instead. He cleared the course in 5 minutes and 12 seconds. Next, they return to the seaside and serving more ice creams to the locals before making their way to Imber for their next challenge: a paintball competition against a slew of hot food vans, all driven by Freddie. First, they have to face the burger van, which Paddy and Chris managed to win. Then, they head to a simulated train yard for their next round against the fried foods van. After facing the chip van, Chris and Paddy had to face a team of Freddie (driving a Citroën HY organic food van) and a Piaggio Ape mobile coffee shop.
The presenters are given a budget to buy a used car conforming to certain criteria. The budget is typically around £1,500, but it has ranged between £100 and £10,000 depending on the type of car. Once purchased, the presenters compete against each other in a series of tests to establish who has bought the best car.
The presenters have no prior knowledge of what the tests will be, although they generally involve:
- A long journey used to determine reliability and fuel economy
- A lap round a race track, usually by the Stig, to determine performance. In some cases the Stig sets a time in a similar car and the presenters have to beat it.
- An inspection to discover what is and isn't working or how much of the car is original
- Spending any leftover change from the initial budget on repairing and/or modifying the cars
- Selling the cars at the end of the challenge.
All three presenters are highly competitive; vandalism and sabotage are commonplace, and any presenter whose car breaks down during a challenge will typically be abandoned to make their own way to the designated destination. Certain challenges since the African Cheap Car Road Trip have had a back-up car made available for any presenter whose car breaks down and cannot be repaired. The back-up vehicle is generally a model that is loathed by all three presenters, or in some other way antagonistic to the current challenge.
Due to the controversial nature of some challenges, it is difficult to gauge who has been the most successful so far, but as a rough guide: May and Clarkson have won the most cheap car challenges with seven victories and Hammond has won three. Some challenges remain unclear, however, such as the £10,000 mid-engined Italian supercar challenge, where no presenter actually made it to their destination (although May came the closest to reaching their final destination, Hammond had won all but one of the challenges along the way and was leading on points). The genuine winner of the £1000 police car challenge remains unclear as a result of Hammond eating the final results of Clarkson's Fiat, and declaring himself the winner. The presenter who unofficially won the most challenges was Clarkson, with 10. May won 8 challenges, and Hammond won 6.
£100 Car challenge
Series Four, Episode Three
The presenters were given £100 to buy a car that was road legal (had current tax and an MOT certificate). This was to prove that a car could be purchased and driven from London to Manchester and back again for less than it would cost to take the train (around £180), including the price of the fuel. Clarkson bought a 1988 Volvo 760 GLE, Hammond bought a 1991 Rover 416GTi, and May bought a 1989 Audi 80 1.8E. The challenge included reliability, fuel economy, stopping time, safety, price, and lap-time testing. May's Audi won most of the challenges, but Clarkson was declared overall winner as he bought the Volvo for £1, awarding him 99 points. Winner: Clarkson
Cheap Porsche challenge
Series Five, Episode Six
The presenters were given £1,500 to buy a Porsche. Clarkson bought a 1983 928, Hammond bought a 1980 924, and May bought a 1984 944. The challenge included driving from London to Brighton, fuel economy, using the car in a lonely-hearts column, lap time, selling the car, and using the change from the £1,500 modifying the cars for judging by the Porsche Owners' Club. Clarkson won the challenge (despite bringing the most unreliable of the three cars) when he earned more by breaking up his car and selling it for parts. Winner: Clarkson
Cheap coupés that aren't Porsches challenge
Series Six, Episode Two
Following the previous challenge[nb 3] the presenters were sent to buy coupes that weren't Porsches for £1,500 and report to Millbrook Proving Ground. Clarkson bought a 1991 Mitsubishi Starion, Hammond purchased a 1983 BMW 635 CSi, and May bought a 1982 Jaguar XJS, which was leaking oil as soon as it arrived.
The first challenge was to see if they could exceed 140 mph. May won by reaching 140, though the Jaguar broke down and had to have its oil and water replaced. The Starion, thanks to a modified turbocharger and some accidental weight shedding, achieved 119 mph, beating the BMW's 115 mph. A test of ride comfort was then carried out; each presenter drove their car at 30 mph over a cobbled road with a bowl of water in their lap, losing points for every ounce spilt. The Jaguar won again, and while Hammond's sporty BMW did poorly, Clarkson fared even worse; the Starion's ride was so hard that the manual gearbox was of no consequence. The Stig then set a lap time for each car on the Alpine testing track, where the Starion narrowly beat the BMW. The Jaguar came last and lost its engine oil again. The three presenters were next asked to drive from Millbrook to the QI club in Oxford; points were awarded for the order of arrival, deducted for breakdowns, and fuel economy was measured. May's Jaguar broke down so many times that he eventually gave up, managing just 8 miles per gallon. Clarkson beat Hammond to the club, albeit with poorer fuel consumption.
The final challenge was an endurance race - each presenter was allowed to modify their car with the money left over from the original purchase. Hammond fitted a home-made bodykit to the BMW. May tried to paint the Jaguar in British racing green (only to run out of paint) and spent the rest fixing the engine. Clarkson had a more professional paint job, and installed an even more powerful turbo. The outcome was unexpected - while Clarkson's new turbo made the Mitsubishi the fastest car in the entire race, the engine repeatedly overheated and broke down after almost every lap, before one last blow up put him out for good. Hammond's gearbox failed in the final stages of the race, but he still beat May by two laps (although the Jaguar suffered wear during the race, it only broke down once when the brake fluid overheated).
Winner: May (Clarkson by agreement)[nb 4]
Italian mid-engined supercars for less than a second-hand Mondeo challenge
Series Seven, Episode Four
The presenters were given £10,000 to buy a 1970s supercar, which had to be mid-engined and Italian, and told to report to Bristol. Clarkson bought a 1974 Maserati Merak, (he was told it was an SS model, only to discover during the challenges that it only had a £38 SS badge). Hammond purchased a 1979-built (1983 late-reg) Ferrari 308 GT4, and May found a 1974 Lamborghini Urraco afflicted by electrical problems. Various challenges included a lap of the Castle Combe Circuit, changing the oil and sparkplugs of their cars and driving from Chippenham to a "gentlemen's club" in Slough on a set amount of fuel. Hammond won most of the challenges, and May's Urraco was a constant source of problems due to its poor electrics - it arrived in Bristol on the back of a tow truck, and broke down on almost every leg of the trip. The Merak began to deteriorate at Castle Combe, where it was revealed to have terrible brakes, and the engine began making worrying noises alongside very poor performance. It was later revealed in a rolling road challenge that it was only producing 80 bhp. Clarkson initially blamed the sound on the tappets, but as the day progressed, May declared that the engine was disintegrating. In the end, none of the cars survived the final journey to the finishing point at Spearmint Rhino. First, the Merak's engine exploded, showering the Urraco in pieces of the wreckage and forcing Clarkson to crash into a hedge, thanks to its brakes not being able to work without a running engine. The Ferrari appeared to run out of fuel 10 miles from Slough, although Hammond later explained that the entire electrical system had failed suddenly. Finally, the Urraco ran out of fuel on the outskirts of Slough, just one mile from the finish, causing a major traffic jam. The presenters therefore unanimously declared that the scores were useless, and Clarkson summarised with "yes, you can buy a mid-engined Italian supercar for less than £10,000, but for the love of God, don't!"
Winner: No one
The GT4 used in this challenge was later bought and being repaired by Hammond, only to be damaged again when he was in the Petrolheads, where he was tricked and rammed during a challenge.
Man with a van challenge
Series Eight, Episode Eight
As a followup from a previous challenge, and as punishment for the useless reviews of the vans tested, the presenters were given £1,000 to buy a van and face a series of challenges. Clarkson, following Hammond's original strategy of buying a simple van, bought a 1992 Ford Transit, while May chose a 1999 LDV Convoy box van for its considerable storage. Hammond arrived last with a 1994 Suzuki Super Carry, claiming that as it was mid-engined it was essentially a supercar.
The tests began with a drag race; Hammond won easily, Clarkson came second, and May last. They then performed a race to see how long it took to load and unload various items (each presenter was given an illegal immigrant). May had little trouble loading his van, but had an uncooperative immigrant. Clarkson, who continually moaned about his aversion to manual labour, simply threw most of his items into the Transit carelessly. He then wrongfooted May by parking just behind the LDV to stop it unloading. Clarkson consequently won, while Hammond, who had fallen far behind due to the comparatively small storage space of the Suzuki, lost badly.
The third challenge was tailgating a passenger car as closely as possible. Thanks to the Suzuki's flat front, Hammond came close to a centimetre. Clarkson crashed the Transit into the back of the car, and May's LDV was completely outpaced. Next the presenters were told to replace their driver's side doors. Hammond and May were able to remove their doors easily, while Clarkson simply rammed his off with the LDV. He then used tape to fix a new door on, while Hammond successfully fitted his with bolts; May eventually ran out of time. The fifth challenge tested how long a burglar took to break into the rear door of each van; the burglar failed to open Hammond's, smashed open May's in half a minute, but took only 10 seconds to break into the Transit. Finally the presenters were tasked with outrunning a police patrol car driven by the Stig on their test track. Clarkson won the event, which also featured a spectacular roll-over by Hammond trying to achieve the Scandinavian flick while going round the first corner. Hammond, however, still won the overall challenge. Winner: Hammond
US Special - Used American car for $1000 challenge
Series Nine, Episode Three
The presenters wanted to find out if it was easier to buy a car for a holiday rather than hire one, so each of them was given a budget of US$1000 to purchase a car, which they would take on a road trip across four US states, from Miami, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana. Clarkson bought a 1989 Chevrolet Camaro, May got a 1989 Cadillac Brougham Sedan, while Hammond bought a Dodge Ram pick-up truck.
During their journey they were given a series of challenges, which included the cars being driven around a track by The Stig's overweight "American cousin," doing 0 to 50 to 0 without over-running the track and thereby crashing into a river full of alligators, and camping a night in a field eating only roadkill. They also had to paint slogans on each other's car in order to get them shot at or arrested as they drove across Alabama. When the three pulled into a petrol station to refuel, the station's owner called a gang and attacked them and their film crew with stones and chased them out of town.
Upon arrival at New Orleans, the three presenters found the city was taking a long time to recover from Hurricane Katrina and thus could not bring themselves to ask for money for their cars. They instead gave them away to people who needed them. In the episode's credits, the presenters were credited as "Cletus Clarkson", "Earl Hammond JR", "Ellie May May" and "Roscoe P. Stig". All of the other credited crew had their first names changed to "Billy Bob". Winner: Clarkson Clarkson declared himself the winner and May as the loser (as he could not even give his car away).
£1,500 two-wheel drive African cross-country car challenge
Series Ten, Episode Four
The presenters were sent to Botswana to buy a car that was not an off-road vehicle and had only two-wheel drive, which they would drive across the country, from the eastern border of Zimbabwe to the western border of Namibia (approximately 1,000 miles). The challenge included a drive over the Makgadikgadi Pan, which left Clarkson and May's cars filled with dust after they had been stripped of excess weight as to try to prevent their cars sinking through the thin surface, and over the Okavango Delta. This was to prove "to the people of Surrey that they don't need 4×4s in case there are leaves on the road." This challenge introduced a new rule that stipulated if any of the presenters' cars were to break down beyond repair, they would have to complete the journey in a substitute vehicle - for this challenge, a Volkswagen Beetle (the Beetle being the presenters' unanimous choice as their least favourite car). Clarkson bought a 1981 Lancia Beta Coupé, which was the most unreliable car of the lot. Hammond bought a 1963 Opel Kadett, which he named Oliver (consequently becoming the butt of jokes of the other presenters), while May bought a 1985 Mercedes-Benz 230E. Hammond felt such affection for his car that he subsequently had it shipped to the UK (which resulted in Clarkson and May making fun of him), and it now has the occasional cameo on Richard Hammond's Blast Lab. Oliver was Hammond's "prized possession" in the Top Gear 'Lorryist' challenge. All three made it to the Namibian border. Clarkson declared the Beetle as the winner, since it had no documented mishaps during the trip, much to the shock of Hammond, with which May answered "he's right!" Winner: Volkswagen Beetle (back up car)
British Leyland did make some good cars after all challenge
Series Ten, Episode Seven
In an argument with the producers of Top Gear, the presenters claimed British Leyland did produce some good cars, despite being on strike most of the time and not producing cars at all. So, they were given a budget of £1,200 (of their own money) to buy a British Leyland car in which they would face a series of challenges, for which, instead of points, they would earn money back. These mostly took place at the MIRA proving ground, though the last one was at the Top Gear test track, where they tried to see how much of the track they could complete whilst their cars were full of water. Hammond went over the budget to get a 1974 Triumph Dolomite Sprint for £1,250, Clarkson got a 1981 Rover SD1 for £1,100 which consequently lost two doors in unrelated incidents, whereas May spent £1,000 and acquired a 1978 Princess that was likened to a wedge of cheese. The boys also reproduced the intro of Money from the various squeaks and clunks their cars made. After all the challenges, Clarkson summed up the money and declared May the winner of the challenge, as not only did he get back all that he had paid, he made a £20 profit. Winner: May
Make a police car for a lot less money than the real police spend on their cars challenge
Series Eleven, Episode One
The presenters were all given £1,000 to buy a car and turn them into police cars able to surpass the Police's standard-issue Vauxhall Astra Diesels. Clarkson bought a 1998 Fiat Coupé 20V Turbo for £900, painted it in Italian Polizia di Stato livery (although the colour was wrong), and fitted it with "Boudicea" wheel covers. May bought a 1994 Lexus LS400 for £900 as well, which he painted in a traditional 'jam sandwich' livery, fitted with a siren from an ice cream van, and armed with paint sprayers at the back. Hammond bought a 1994 Suzuki Vitara for £750, and equipped it with light bars and a self-deploying stinger on the front (actually several doormats stitched together with nails poking through). The presenters' cars were then put to test around the Top Gear track, which included beating the Stig's lap in the Vauxhall Astra diesel (coupled with extra points for flamboyance), clearing a crash site in less than two minutes, and then stopping the Stig in a police chase (the latter driving a BMW 7-Series) "Without using £125,000 worth of Volvo, the RAF, and 16 health and safety forms." The real police first demonstrated how to stop the stolen car using four Volvo V70 estates, boxing in the car to the side of the road, following the fulfillment of "13 separate health and safety criteria." All three cars were subsequently displayed at the British Motor Show 2008. Winner: Hammond[nb 5]
Can you buy an Alfa Romeo for £1000 or less without it completely ruining your life all the time? challenge
Series Eleven, Episode Three
The presenters were challenged with proving to the show's producers that in order to be a true "petrol head", you need to have owned an Alfa Romeo. So, they were each given £1,000 to buy their own Alfa Romeo. Clarkson bought a 1989 Alfa Romeo 75 3.0 V6 (for £450), Hammond bought a 1984 Alfa Romeo Spider 2.0 (for £1,000), and May bought a 1996 Alfa Romeo GTV 2.0 TwinSpark (for £995). The cars were put to a series of tests, which included participating in a track day on the Rockingham Motor Speedway road course, featuring their cars on a calendar which they must sell at a newsstand, and then lastly entering an Alfa Romeo exclusive Concours d'Elegance event, traveling as far as 80 miles to get to the event area.
At the race circuit, the presenters were to gain a point for every car they overtook and lose a point each time they were overtaken. As the field consisted predominately of high-end sports and supercars, none of the presenters managed to overtake any competitors. Clarkson rolled his car attempting to overtake a Ford Focus.
In a side challenge, each presenters had to create a calendar featuring their cars which was to be sold at a newsstand. None of the presenters' calendars managed to sell even a single copy.
After the track day, the presenters then had to prep their cars for a Concours d'Elegance competition. Clarkson decided to respray his car in Skoda Green, a colour he used on his Fiat Coupe in the Police Car Challenge. May meticulously cleaned his car, being careful to remove all the dust from the interior and bodywork, and Hammond re-upholstered his seats using Clarkson's leather jacket.
During the journey to the Concours, Hammond had to manually send coolant into his engine using a hand cranked pump (due to a broken water pump during the track day challenge). This eventually broke, and his engine seized, forcing May to tow him. After crashing into May a few times, May got fed up and abandoned him. Clarkson helped to tow Hammond despite his gearbox nearing the end of its life, and the two sabotaged May's engine bay with cheese. After the judges finished, James was awarded 74 out of a possible 150 points while Jeremy and Richard were given 23.5 and 9 respectively - the lowest scores in Concours history.
Clarkson was declared the overall victor (largely due to the car's low price), which pleased him greatly as it was his first victory in three years for a cheap car challenge. Winner: Clarkson
Mercedes-Benz 600 vs Rolls-Royce Corniche Coupé challenge
Series Eleven, Episode Five
Clarkson and May attempted to find out which of their classic luxury limousines—Clarkson's 1969 Mercedes-Benz 600 "Grosser" or May's 1972 Rolls-Royce Corniche—was better. So they brought their cars to the Top Gear Test Track for a series of challenges. This was not a real "Cheap Car Challenge", as Hammond did not participate, the presenters owned the cars prior to the challenge, and neither cars were particularly cheap. They summarised the choice as "...between 'Camp' and 'Camp Commandant'..." based on the previous owners of the vehicles they were using in the challenge. No winner declared
How much lorry do you get for £5000 challenge
Series Twelve, Episode One
Unable to understand how lorry-driving can be so hard, the presenters each bought a second-hand lorry for under £5,000. May bought a Scania P94D, Clarkson bought a Renault Magnum and Hammond bought an ERF EC11. Clarkson painted his lorry black, resulting in multiple visibility problems (because he also painted 2/3 of the windscreen black). Hammond tried to Americanise his lorry by attaching a dog kennel to the front of his lorry. May attached many flowers and decorations to make it look like an Indian lorry. After decorating their lorries, they were sent to Millbrook Proving Ground, where the first challenge was to successfully powerslide their lorries on a skid pan (as demonstrated by "The Stig's Lorry-driving Cousin"). None were successful, May's mudguard fell off, Clarkson got his "gear lever up his arse", while Hammond's dog kennel fell off.
After several attempts at attaching trailers, the second challenge involved driving round the Alpine handling course in the fastest time possible with their trailers loaded with various awkward loads (Hammond an unsecured Nissan Micra, May a wedding cake, and Clarkson hay bales and an electric fire). Hammond was left far behind as he was unable to get his lorry in gear, and Clarkson took the lead until he forgot to change down for a steep hill and stalled. May broadsided him on as he passed, causing the brakes to become jammed on. A victorious May discovered his wedding cake had toppled over, while Hammond drove so violently his car fell out of the lorry. After fixing his brakes, Clarkson arrived last with his trailer on fire.
The next challenge featured the lorries speed limiters removed, in a race around the two-mile bowl of Millbrook to see which was fastest; Hammond won with his lightweight ERF hitting 90 miles an hour. The fourth test had each presenter attempting to perform a hill start with their vehicles, and to encourage them, prized possessions were placed behind each of their lorries. Jeremy, with his drum kit placed behind his lorry, was successful as his vehicle had a crawler gear, although May and Hammond promptly ran over and smashed the drum kit. Oliver, Hammond's restored Opel Kadett from the Botswana adventure, was placed behind his lorry and he eventually forfeited rather than risk crushing it. May's grand piano was smashed when he failed to prevent his lorry from rolling backwards, although the production crew had already damaged it while positioning it.
The final challenge, for speed, braking, and toughness had each presenter driving their vehicles through an obstacle at 56 miles an hour, and the winner going the shortest distance after hitting it. Hammond managed to stop his lorry in a shorter distance after driving through a mobile home than May did after driving through a structure built out of six hundred water coolers. Clarkson travelled the shortest distance, but was injured after driving his lorry through a brick wall. Each of the presenters complained that they had not received the best obstacle. At the end, the "hopelessly complicated" scores were tallied, and May was declared the winner. Winner: May
Series Twelve, Episode Eight
The three presenters went on a trip to Vietnam where they were each given 15 million Vietnamese đồng to buy a "set of wheels" able to drive 1,000 miles from Ho Chi Minh City in the south to Halong Bay in the north. However, due to the car prices and the money they were given, the task was completed using cheap motorbikes. The goal was essentially to do in eight days what the Americans failed to do in the ten years of the Vietnam War.
As in previous challenges, the producers provided a replacement vehicle to any presenter whose vehicle broke down, in this challenge a Honda minibike decorated in a stars and Stripes livery with Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen playing on an iPod (redubbed with The Star-Spangled Banner in some versions), causing much distress to the presenters due to the Vietnam War with America.
Upon reaching Ha Long, the presenters were given the task of modifying their bikes to reach a floating bar. Both Clarkson and Hammond reached the bar on their bikes/boats. May's bike/boat sank and he finished by swimming to the bar. Clarkson emerged victorious by reaching the bar first. Winner: Clarkson
Safe, interesting cars for 17-year-olds that can be insured challenge
Series Thirteen, Episode Two
With a budget of £2,500 each including insurance, the three bought cars that were "ideal" for 17-year-olds. Clarkson bought a 1995 Volvo 940 estate, Hammond a 1993 Hyundai Scoupe and May a 1994 Volkswagen Golf Mk III. They were then given a series of challenges, including driving across a field after a rave, parking cars at night, and an obstacle course in which each presenter had to drive round the course and hit as many of the obstacles as they could. Winner: Clarkson
Seeking petrolhead heaven in three £1500 rear-wheel drive coupes
Series Thirteen, Episode Five
With a budget of £1,500, Clarkson, May and Hammond had to buy a rear wheel drive car. Clarkson bought a 1991 Porsche 944, May bought a 1983 Ford Capri (but switched to the 1977 Morris Marina backup car after the Ford broke down) and Hammond bought a 1991 Nissan 300ZX. They faced numerous challenges including trying to beat a 1-minute, 32.31 second lap time set by a Renault Twingo, and accelerating to 60 mph and then braking to 0 mph within 200 metres or risk destroying something belonging to them. May ended up destroying another one of his pianos. As a finale, they participated in an Andros Trophy ice race (which included F1 driver Olivier Panis) against heavily modified hatchbacks, ultimately being lapped several times (on one occasion, Panis referred to the Marina as "a shitbox"). May emerged victorious (mainly due to Hammond and Clarkson duelling throughout the race,) in the Morris Marina, which had a piano dropped on it in the end. Winner: May
Buying a pre-1982 car for less than £3,000
Series Thirteen, Episode Six
The three were told to go to a car auction and buy any car for less than £3,000 that was built before 1982. Clarkson wanted a convertible and bought a 1969 Austin-Healey Sprite, although he used some of his own money to buy it, as he bought it for £3,600. Hammond "went ugly early" and bought the first lot, a 1953 £1000 Lanchester LJ 200. May was set to buy a Bristol, which went over his budget in bidding, and because there was only one car after the Bristol he was forced to buy the last car of the auction—a £1500 1977 blue Citroën Ami 8 Estate. They were then told to go to Mallorca for a rally, with two challenges spread over two days. They were also introduced to their co-drivers by the producers. Clarkson was given the head of Balaeric Rallying Club, who spoke no English. Hammond was assigned Brian Wheeler, a sarcastic dwarf mechanic. May was given glamour model and Page 3 girl Madison Welch.
Upon arriving in Mallorca, the presenters discovered that they were almost two days late for the rally, which was a five-day event, and thus had no chance of winning. They chose to bet £25 on whichever one of them had the best score at the end of the rally. Clarkson's malfunctioning gauges made calculating his speed difficult, May had to cope with Welch's initial lack of interest and navigating experience, and Hammond's Lanchester proved incredibly unreliable, breaking down several times per stage and overheating constantly. While Clarkson was in the lead heading into the final day, May posted the most consistent lap times at the regularity track day and inched out Clarkson in the final challenge. After the challenge it was revealed that all three presenters liked their chosen cars so much they had bought them from the BBC. Winner: May
Series Fourteen, Episode Six
The three presenters travelled 1,000 miles through the rainforests of Bolivia to the Pacific coast of Chile. They used pre-owned off-road vehicles, bought in Bolivia (unseen via the internet) for less than £3,500 each. Hammond bought a tan Toyota Land Cruiser, which had been converted into a soft top convertible by a previous owner. Despite the car's reputation for durability, it turned out to be the most unreliable car, suffering multiple drivetrain and suspension breakdowns right from the start. It was damaged beyond repair on the sand-dune descent. Hammond nicknamed his Land Cruiser "Donkey." Clarkson bought a red Range Rover, which he believed had a 3.9-litre fuel-injected engine. However, when he showed his co-presenters under the bonnet, May noted it had carburettors, making it the older 3.5-litre model. Overall Clarkson's Range Rover turned out to be the most reliable, despite the car's reputation otherwise. May bought a red (although "..in the advert it was blue...") Suzuki Samurai with a 1.3-litre engine, which was the smallest of the three vehicles. Despite this, May made no modifications, and it had the least breakdowns. One disadvantage of the Suzuki was its open differentials, which until fixed made it "3-wheel drive" Winner: Clarkson
A track day car which is as good in the real world
Series Fifteen, Episode Two
The three were sent to Germany, and given a budget of £5,000 to buy a 4-door saloon that would be as good in the real world as it would be on a track day. May bought a 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16v Cosworth, Hammond a 1996 E36 BMW M3, and Clarkson a 1989 Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth. Challenges included determining their cars' top speed on an unregulated autobahn, interior space (by carrying a German Oompah band), and an ADAC evaluation of the cars. The BMW initially performed well until it came last in the evaluation test, revealing badly repaired accident damage. Finally, the presenters went to a circuit, where the cars were lapped by the Stig's German cousin. In the studio there were the results of two more unbroadcast challenges: points for each viewing of a track day video uploaded to YouTube, and an economy run. The last test was based on price - each pound under the budget received one point - meaning that the £4,999 Sierra and the £3,990 M3 lost to the £2,990 190E. Winner: May
Series Fifteen, Episode Four
Bemoaning the fact that campervans are either the huge American style motor homes unsuitable for European roads or the tiny and cramped European models, the presenters were challenged to construct inexpensive campervans that would be comfortable to sleep in yet manageable on narrow twisting European roads. They had to have a sleeping area, a toilet and a cooking area. Clarkson constructed a three-storey Bauhaus inspired campervan on a 1988 Citroën CX chassis. May attached a roofbox with a sleeping bag on top of a 1987 Lotus Excel and Hammond constructed a collapsible cottage on the back of a 1984 Land Rover 110. Clarkson found his Citroën difficult to drive and nearly toppled over several times. May’s Lotus was cramped and Hammond’s design was cumbersome and impractical. Challenges included driving to a camp ground in Polzeath, Cornwall, changing into a wet suit inside the campervan, sleeping, 'going to the bog' in their campervans, and cooking a meal. During the meal challenge, Richard set fire to his cottage. Later, the three took a trip to a beauty spot in Hartland in North Devon where Hammond and May 'accidentally' rolled Jeremy’s Citroën over a cliff. Back in the studio, Clarkson protested but all three presenters reluctantly came to the conclusion that although James had the fewest problems with his campervan (the only one being space), all of their designs were rubbish. No winner.
British Sports Car challenge
Series Fifteen, Episode Six
The boys attempt to prove that old British sports cars never deserved to be killed off by the hot hatch. Jeremy buys a 1974 Jensen-Healey, James buys a 1989 TVR S2 and Richard buys a 1994 Lotus M100 Elan. The trip involved going to the places where all their cars were 'born', beginning at the Lotus factory in Norfolk, then onto the Jensen factory in West Bromwich, before finishing at the TVR factory in Blackpool. There was no winner, as the team said that all of their cars were the best. All winners
Middle East Special
Series Sixteen, Episode Zero-Two
The three were given £3,500 to buy a 2-door convertible sports car, find their way to the birthplace of Jesus, and provide Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh as per the Three Wise Men. Hammond bought a 2000 Fiat Barchetta, Clarkson bought a 2000 Mazda MX5 and James cheated and bought a 1998 BMW Z3 over budget for £3,966. The starting point was Iraq - which the three were unaware of until they landed. They were given flak jackets and helmets to get to their location. There was also at least one armed guard travelling with the group.
As has happened on previous challenges, a spare car was provided by the producers should any of the cars critically break down. In this case it was an Opel Astra 1.6 convertible - a car loathed by all three presenters.
During the challenge, May had a concussion in the middle of the desert, resulting in a trip to hospital. He was discharged later in the episode and continued the journey.
Upon reaching their final hotel, the three set out to buy gifts: Hammond bought a gold necklace of Jesus' face, May bought a bottle of Frankincense — in fact, a bottle of hotel shampoo — and Clarkson was unable to find any Myrrh, so bought a Nintendo DS. After following a star they were led to a stable containing shepherds (who apparently arrived on quad bikes,) Mary & Joseph (although not identified as such,) and a manger. They presented their gifts, and asked to see the child, which was revealed to be a baby Stig.
Hammond's Fiat was voted the best by both Clarkson and May, to Hammond's obvious surprise. Winner: Hammond
Four seater convertibles for less than £2000 (that all turned out to be BMW 325i's) challenge
Series Sixteen, Episode Four
The three were given £2,000 to buy a four-seater convertible car. However, they all buy the same car: a BMW 325i. Hammond bought a 1987 model for £1,600 which had done 94,318 miles according to the odometer, and had aftermarket wheels, aftermarket alarm, a lower suspension and extra locks fitted. Clarkson bought a 1988 model for £1,950 which had done 137,488 miles and had a paving slab in the boot (to improve handling) and May a 1989 model for £1,900 with no modifications. Clarkson decided to turn the challenge into a test to see how different the three supposedly identical cars had become over time, so the trio ignored the producers' challenges and devised their own.
First there was a drag race which Hammond was unable to take part in as his car broke down due to the alarm (for which he was deducted 1,000 points): accelerate to 100 mph then stop again. May won comfortably as his car proved to be in better mechanical condition than Clarkson's. This led to Clarkson claiming that speed is not everything and May disagreeing, in stark contrast to their usual opinions. Next the cars were examined by a forensics team to test the condition of their interior. Clarkson's car contained crisps, leaves, and his own dried skin, which he claimed was not disgusting at all and lost no points. May's car was in worse condition with nasal mucus, scabs and saliva costing him 30 points. Hammond again fared the worst with saliva, blood and pubic hairs, losing 30 points and, worst of all, faeces losing another 1,000 points. Next, thieves attempted to steal all three cars: Clarkson and May's cars were still there after 20 minutes, but Hammond's was stolen almost immediately losing him yet another 1,000 points.
The trio were then required to lap the Top Gear Test Track in their cars, trying to match the Stig's time done in a modern BMW 325i. Clarkson recorded the fastest time despite blowing his engine, followed by Hammond with May slowest. After that, the three cars were filled with helium and the presenters were required to sit in them to test for leaks. Clarkson and May's voices went high and squeaky due to the gas, but Hammond's did not as it had leaked out, once again leading to a 1,000 point deduction. The cars were then inspected to determine how much money was needed to restore them to showroom condition. May's required £5,500, Hammond's £7,500 and Clarkson's £11,000. Finally the presenters decided to form a stunt driving team in front of a live audience at the Essex County Fair (this did not count towards the points challenge), they all collided almost immediately.
When the points were tallied up, May won easily due to his car being in the best condition so having the lowest restoration cost. Clarkson narrowly beat Hammond to second place as his far higher restoration cost was marginally outweighed by Hammond's numerous thousand-point deductions. This led Clarkson to conclude two things: 'all identical cars aren't necessarily identical' and 'Richard Hammond, who buys more used cars than any man alive, is useless at buying used cars'. Winner: May
Super Coupes for less than the Nissan Pixo
Series Seventeen, Episode Three
Jeremy and Richard were given the challenge of buying the best car possible for less than £6,995, the price of a Nissan Pixo, the cheapest car on sale in Britain at the time. Clarkson chose a top of the range 2002 Mercedes CL600 for £6995, and Hammond bought a 1994 BMW 850ci for £6,700, which he declared the best because it had pop up headlamps. Challenges included a drag race which Hammond lost badly, a dyno run, (which showed Hammond having 269 bhp against the original 296 bhp, and Clarkson with 352 versus 362,) and a return to the forensics lab to establish what contaminants were present in the cars. (The forensics test is usually edited out on repeats.) During a drive in the countryside Clarkson commented that that there was no reason to buy a new Mercedes when his 2002 £6995 car drove just as well and everything still worked - except for the voice recognition which he reasoned never worked, even in new cars.
At Market Harborough they displayed their cars to the public, asking what the perceived value was, with general estimates being from £12,000 to £20,000. Back in the studio May criticised the two for eschewing the reliable, economical and practical Pixo, saying he was prepared "to bet his hair" that within two weeks one of the two cars would require expensive servicing or repairs. Later in the series May was proved correct when Clarkson's Mercedes broke down and he had to spend several thousand pounds fixing the engine's injectors. No winner declared
Series Seventeen, Episode Seven
The three were given £7,000 to buy a reliable British classic car and use them on the streets of India. Jeremy bought a 1995 Jaguar XJS 4.0 Celebration Edition, James bought a 1976 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and Hammond bought a 2000 Mini 1.3L. As in previous challenges, a backup car was also present, a 1979 Austin Allegro. Challenges included bringing Western-themed goods with their cars and building a stall to promote them, A mountain rally and modifying their cars to be better able to tackle the dangerous mountain roads. All Winners
Rallycross with less investment than golfing
Series Eighteen, Episode Seven
The three criticise the sheer amount of money people have to spend just to play golf, and they claimed that you can invest less money in car racing, or in this case, rallycross. To prove this, each of the presenters must find a cheap, race-worthy car and modify it so it can be race-ready. Clarkson bought a BMW 328i, Hammond bought a Citroen Saxo 1.6 VTS, and May bought a Toyota MR2. Hammond was the most successful of the three, finishing third in two heats and coming second in the final, ahead of Clarkson. Meanwhile, May was the least successful, finishing last in two heats and third in the 'loser's final'. The trio then conclude that you can go motor racing with less investment than golfing (all the cars, including race modifications, costs less than £2000, whereas golf costs more than that). Winner: Hammond
Finding the source of the river Nile
Series Nineteen, Episode Six and Seven
The three were given a budget of £1,500 to buy a second hand estate car in Britain which they would then be using to find the source of the River Nile in Africa. Clarkson bought a 1999 BMW 528i, May a 1996 Volvo 850 R and Hammond a 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX. The Backup car was a 1998 Ford Scorpio, a car loathed by all three. The starting point was a small town in Uganda. After travelling to Lake Victoria, generally considered to be the source of the Nile, the guys reasoned that as Victoria is fed by many other tributaries, one of those must be the true source. After spending the night at an unhygienic hotel the guys decided to convert their cars into 'mobile homes'. Hammond installed a kitchen, Clarkson a cool box full of beer, and a toilet on the outside of his car. May fitted a library at the front of his car, and a workshop complete with tools at the rear. All of them also installed some sort of bed. After a long drive through Africa, which showed that Hammond made a clever choice with his all wheel drive Subaru, the guys had to cross a wide river, and built a raft to convey their cars. All three made it across safely, but the producers lost the Scorpio after it fell off the raft and into the river.
During the journey as each presenter's car suffered and broke down they stole bits from each others cars to carry on. Eventually Hammond's car broke a wishbone and had to weld it back together in order to finish the challenge. Near the end of the challenge, the guys were informed that only one presenter could find the source and get his name in the history books, so each raced to where they suspected the source would be. Despite Hammond making best progress thanks to his AWD, May was the first to find the true source of the Nile, making him the winner. Winner: May.
Proving that hot hatchbacks from their youth are better than their modern equivalents
Series Twenty-One, Episode One
They were sent out to buy any hot hatchback from their youth - specifically the 1980s. Clarkson bought a 1989 Volkswagen Golf GTi for £800, May bought a 1992 Ford Fiesta XR2i for £750 and Hammond bought a 1992 Vauxhall Nova SRi for £700. Challenges faced included a hill climb (during the return trip, Hammond crashed his Nova, setting up a running joke throughout the challenge,) a "supermarket sweep" gymkhana event through a closed supermarket, (with Hammond again finishing on his side), and a drag race, in which Hammond critically damaged his car's engine after accidentally changing from second gear into first instead of third. The last challenge involved the cars being chased by the "TGPD" (Top Gear Police Department) to see how long they could evade pursuit. Hammond was caught instantly due to his damaged engine, while both Clarkson and May had their cars destroyed after long drawn out pursuits. In the end the presenters decided that as all their cars had won an individual event, all three were the winners. All winners
Series Twenty-One, Episode Six and Seven
The three presenters find themselves travelling out to Burma for a road trip to Thailand and the River Kwai, each taking with them a second-hand lorry that they will use to build a bridge over it - Clarkson buys an Isuzu TX that has an extensive stereo setup in the cab and a dumper truck layout in the back, Hammond purchases another Isuzu TX, but modified with extensive space for carrying large volume loads, while May acquires a Hino FB110 with a crane on the back. Starting their journey in the country's old capital of Rangoon, they continue through Naypyidaw, before crossing into Thailand. They are challenged with building a bridge across the River Kwai, then driving over it with their trucks, but realise when constructing the bridge that they are actually at the River Kok. All Winners
Homemade ambulance challenge
Series Twenty-Two, Episode Three
The men decide to improve ambulances. Initially, they modify a P45 (Series 19, Episode 1) with a flashing beacon and a gurney which attaches to a rear-mounted hitch, but this fails when the gurney jackknifes and ejects the patient. The producers then instruct the presenters to 'do it properly', and each buy an alternative to the standard ambulance used by the NHS (a Mercedes Sprinter), with their choices being tested in a series of challenges. For £5000, Hammond bought a customised Chevy G20 V8 Van, which he lauded for its 5.7 litre V8 engine and its bargain price (compared to the £150,000 cost of a standard NHS ambulance). Clarkson bought a Porsche 944 Turbo, with the idea that the patient could be stowed under the all-glass hatchback; Hammond points out that the patient would bake in the tight, glass-enclosed space. May bought a Ford Scorpio Cardinal hearse which was initially mocked by the others, despite May pointing out the potent Cosworth-designed V6 engine and traction control. Winner: Hammond
Find a cheap car that still lives up to the title of classic
Series Twenty-Two, Episode Eight
Due to rocketing classic car prices, a Jaguar E-Type is worth £200,000, whereas a Ferrari Daytona is worth £700,000, and an Aston Martin DB5 is worth £1,000,000. The trio are told to buy affordable classics and report with them to an old railway station in Buckinghamshire. There, they are told they must live like classic car enthusiasts. Hammond arrives first in a 1972 MGB GT, a car that he believes is the most iconic British sports car. Clarkson arrives next in a 1978 Fiat 124 Spider which he admits is incredibly pretty but predicts it will go wrong all the time like all classic cars. He also bemoans the fact that it is an American specification vehicle with 5-mph bumpers, raised ride height, and oversized aftermarket wheels, giving it poor handling. Finally, May arrives in a 1986 Peugeot 304 S Cabriolet which arrives already broken down. The trio are challenged to 'tinker' with their cars, with May simply fixing his so it works and adding continental yellow headlamps, Clarkson returning his to its original European specification (and having an epiphany as he did so), while Hammond gave his MGB sporting credentials with a new exhaust, bucket seats and a sporty paint scheme. After being allowed to take part in a Japfest show at Castle Combe circuit it is ascertained that May has the worst car, yet Hammond & Clarkson are tied for points. Both cars suffer badly during the Japfest race, and are on the verge of breaking down - which Clarkson's eventually does leaving Hammond the winner by default. Hammond expected to be part of the aerial display, and was made to take part in a Wing walking demonstration during which he spent most of the time screaming. Winner: Hammond
Cheap SUV challenge
Series Twenty-Two, Episode eight
In response to the growing numbers of lifestyle SUVs, they were challenged to buy a lifestyle SUV with a maximum budget of £250. May was the first to arrive in a little 2001 Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin which he bought for £150, followed by Hammond in a 1997 Jeep Cherokee which he bought for £250, and then Clarkson in a 1998 Vauxhall Frontera Sport RS which he bought for £140. Challenges include a snow slope climbing test (where Hammond failed to engage his 4WD), a game of tag with caravans hitched to their cars and featuring 'Leisure Stig' in a Kia Sportage, a 0-60 acceleration and braking test at a muddy test area with 'Leisure Stig' setting the benchmark in the Sportage, (which May failed to complete, and drove into a muddy pond,) modifying their own cars to suit the lifestyle theme better and doing some 'leisure activity' at a nearby pond, rolling their cars down a steep cliff to test the car's robustness and safety, and a five-mile-long off-road race from a Yorkshire grouse moor to a conference and dinner held at Yorkshire's Broughton Hall, where the last to arrive had to do an after-dinner speech. During the race, James was initially left far behind, but caught up later due to his finding a farm track that enabled him to overtake Clarkson and Hammond, who were bogged down. Hammond eventually freed himself from the mud, and Clarkson, upset for not being able to climb the riverbank after fording a small river, had to cut the Frontera in half. Eventually, Hammond had to deliver the after dinner speech, which didn't please the crowds. This challenge was the last completed by Clarkson, Hammond and May. Loser: Hammond
Find something that offers more luxury than the Orient Express
Series Twenty-Three, Episode Four
Evans, Sabine and Matt were given a maximum budget of £3,066 - the price of an Orient Express ticket - to buy something equally luxurious, while Eddie boarded the Orient Express itself. Evans opted for a 2002 Jaguar XJ8 which set him back £2,100, Sabine bought a 2002 Audi A8 for £2,750, while Matt bought a 1989 Honda Goldwing for £2,500. The presenters raced against each other with Eddie boarding the Orient Express from London to Venice. On the way, Matt, Evans and Sabine were presented with a challenge: pick a Michelin star chef in Paris and allow them to prepare food to be presented at a chateau along the way. Evans and Sabine found the challenge to be a relatively easy one, since their cars' cabin space allow the chef to prepare the food and the heat from their cars' engine (and from the exhaust pipes in Evans' case) allowed the food to be cooked along the way. Matt, however, had to make several stops to allow his chef to prepare and cook the food, slowing down his progress. Sabine was declared winner of this challenge. During the next leg, Matt was hindered by his motorcycle's small fuel tank, and Sabine ran out of money, forcing her to reach the destination on foot. Evans on the other hand had enough money left from his purchase to hire a water taxi until Venice's water speed limit hindered him. Eddie made it first to the finish, joined by Sabine, and soon after Evans. Matt was still on the road, but he believed himself to be in the lead. Once back in the studio Evans, Sabine and Matt pointed out that they still had their vehicles (although Matt decided to sell his Goldwing,) while all Eddie had as a souvenir was a pair of spoons from the train. Winner: Eddie
Kazakhstan Road Trip
Series Twenty-Four, Episode One
Matt, Rory, and Chris were instructed to buy a car with at least 480,000 miles on the clock - a distance equal to driving to the Moon and back. Chris bought a Volvo V70 Bi-Fuel, Matt a Mercedes-Benz E-Class that was previously used as a taxi in Germany, and Rory bought a London black cab. They were told to report to Kazakhstan, where they were to drive to the Baikonur Cosmodrome. During the first part of the challenge, they raced against each other at a quarry, with Chris crashing into Matt, then heading to Kyzylorda to participate in a game of auto-tag against locals in Lada Rivas. The next morning, Matt fitted a custom crash bar made out of steel pipes to protect his damaged back end, and Rory set a challenge of who can reach the closest top speed to its original factory claims. Chris clocked 104 mph against 125 mph, Matt clocked 100 mph versus 112 mph, while Rory clocked 84 mph - higher than the claimed top speed of 81 mph.
The final challenge was to see who could log the most miles from the starting point to Baikonur with a condition: only the winner can attend the launch event, and the losing cars will be subjected to 'hard labour'. In preparation, Matt stripped the Mercedes to make it quicker, Chris repainted the Volvo so it resembled the Volvo 850 BTCC and installed a 'high-mileage fuel tank' - a 55-gallon oil drum - while Rory did nothing to his London black cab. Matt returned to a salt bed he previously passed through (where his silencer and makeshift crash bar fell off), Chris went into town to look for an airfield to race around, while Rory jacked up the back wheels of his cab and put it in gear so as to run up easy miles. While refuelling he knocked the jacks and the car drove off by itself, before beaching on a dune. At the cosmodrome the results were announced: Chris did 211 miles, Matt did 284 miles, Rory did 329 miles, and the losing cars were turned into taxicabs by locals. At the end of the show, Rory showed that his black cab had been mounted on a plinth beside the Buran spacecraft at the cosmodrome. Winner: Rory
Cuban road trip in secondhand sports cars
Series Twenty-Four, Episode Six
Rory and Chris were instructed to buy a classic car with a budget of £5,000 and report at the Bay of Pigs. Chris bought a Maserati Biturbo while Rory got himself a third-generation targa top Chevrolet Camaro RS. Along the way, Chris bragged about Maserati's victory in the past Cuban Grands Prix. Arriving at the first stop in a small town called Coliseo, Rory bragged about his Chevrolet V8 that was quickly recognised by the locals, compared to Chris' Maserati. Next, they headed to Varadero to see the local racing scene, where, along the way, Rory decided to allow locals to hitch a ride in their cars, much to his fear as one of his passengers brought a chicken inside. Upon arriving in Varadero, Rory and Chris decided to race the locals in a drag race, where both of them lost in a considerably large gap. Afterwards, they raced each other, where Rory claimed a "moral victory" due to his Camaro winning the locals' hearts thanks to the car's V8 engine. After the race, they headed to Havana, where Chris' had a nostalgia in the Malecón road, where the first two Cuban Grands Prix were held. In the final part of the trip, both returned to Varadero to have a rematch with local street racers, only this time, they race in a makeshift oval track made using used tyres. After the grid's drawn through a drawing of straws, where Chris started second to last. During the race, Chris made a significant progress due to his agile Maserati, eventually winning the race. Winner: Chris
Secondhand sports cars in Honshu
Series Twenty-Five, Episode Three
Matt and Chris were instructed to buy a second-hand 1990s Japanese sports car for a budget of 1 million yen (the equivalent of £6,900) at the USS Tokyo car auction center to be shipped back and sold in Britain. Chris got himself a Mazda RX-7, while Matt bought a Nissan Skyline 25GT-T, which he mistook for a GT-R. Their first challenge was to do a two lap race in the Gunsai Touge while carrying sumo wrestler as a passenger, which Chris won. Next, they head to Fukushima to reminisce the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Afterwards, they head to the Ebisu Circuit to receive the next challenge: drifting against local drifters in Kei trucks. In order to aid the presenters to do tandem drifts, both cars' rear tires were swapped with space-saver spare tires and tied using a rope and secured with a pair of used tires. However, near the finish line, one of the tires blew up, damaging both cars. Then, the final challenge arrived: racing to Enbu to reach the transport, as there can only be one car that can be transported back to Britain. Matt and Chris go separate ways: Matt tried the highway approach, where he got stuck at a tollbooth, while Chris decided to take the mountain pass and the backroads, where he had to deal with local traffic. Chris won the race by a small margin, however, back in the UK, his RX-7 didn't get a profitable offer. Winner: Chris
Secondhand luxury cars for less than Dacia Sandero
Series Twenty-Six, Episode Four
The presenters are looking for a secondhand luxury car that costs less than a brand new Dacia Sandero, which has a price of £6,000. Matt bought a 1988 Bentley Turbo R, Rory bought a 1975 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, while Chris bought a 1992 Mercedes-Benz 600 SEL, which the other two presenters loathe. For the first challenge, the presenters head to the track for a top speed drag race. In this challenge, Rory scored 70 mph, Matt scored 110 mph, while Chris scored 135 mph. Next, the presenters are faced with a series of challenges, beginning with a beat-the-clock challenge in a simulated urban driving environment against The Stig in the Sandero, where Matt's Bentley suffered a breakdown and Rory wrecking the market square part of the course. Afterwards, to test if the cars can still run straight and true like when they were new, the cars were put on a "no-hands" drag race against the Sandero, where all of the used cars failed the challenge. Then, the presenters are instructed to do a pursuit race against the Sandero in a single lap of the track, preceded by a dyno run to measure how far will the cars have to be behind the Sandero. At the rolling road, Rory's Rolls-Royce scored 161.9 hp from its original 189 hp, Matt's Bentley scored 262.1 hp from its original 300 hp, while Chris' Mercedes 379.7 hp from its standard 394 hp. This makes Rory has to start 87 meters behind the Sandero, followed by Matt at 187 meters behind the Sandero, and Chris at 305 meters behind the Sandero, however, Matt's Bentley refused to start at this point. The Sandero won again this time, out-gripping both the cars. As a final challenge, the presenters have to participate in a six-hour endurance race (the Birkett 6 hour relay race) at Silverstone, with the Sandero as a backup car. Initially, Chris made a good progress, managing to catch up a considerable number of cars at the early stages of the race. However, he soon had to pit due to his Mercedes running out of fuel, and Matt's hastily refurbished Bentley didn't make much progress due to him having no time to address the car's brakes. Rory didn't fare much better, as his Rolls-Royce lacking grip, slow, having no working gauges, and poor fuel consumption. In the middle of the race, Chris' Mercedes lost one of its wheels, causing a considerable damage to its running gear. Later on the race, due to all of the cars terminally damaged, Chris was forced to use the race-prepped Sandero. In a last ditch attempt, Matt's Bentley received a brake caliper donor from Rory's Rolls-Royce to address the Bentley's failing brakes and enabling them to reach the second-to-last position that they've aimed for.
First cars for less than £4,000
Series Twenty-Seven, Episode One
The presenters were given a budget of £4,000 - the average cost of a first car in the UK - to hunt for secondhand as close as possible to their respective first cars and report to Ethiopia. Paddy settled for a Mark II Ford Escort which he bought in Gauteng, South Africa for £2,100, Freddie bought a 1999 Porsche Boxster for £3,700, and Chris chose a 1990 Mini for £3,300. The presenters set off on a journey from the city of Gondar to the Afar Triangle, a place thought to be the birthplace of humankind.
On their way, Freddie revealed that his Porsche wasn't in the best mechanical condition, with a faulty roof, overheating and clutch issues, while Paddy and Chris were pleased with their choices. The first challenge was a compilation of rally-style driving tests done in a quarry where despite cheating from all presenters Chris and Paddy completed the course, with Chris claiming a moral victory over Paddy, while the Boxster failed to complete after getting beached. Mishaps on the way to Dallol included a flat tyre for Paddy and Freddie's Boxster overheating so needing a tow from Paddy.
The next challenge was a blindfolded acceleration and braking test, with the aim to be as close to a traffic cone at the end of a runway. Paddy stopped almost next to the cone, amid accusations of cheating, beating Chris & Freddie.
At the edge of Afar Triangle, they had to cross the Danakil Depression to reach Dallol. The extreme heat prompted Freddie to cut his Porsche roof off, while Chris suffered a heat stroke and had to stop to recover. The conditions damaged both Freddie and Chris' cars, causing Freddie to lose his extra cooling fans, and Chris had his first mechanical breakdown of the journey. Winner: Paddy
Budget electric sports car
Series Twenty-Seven, Episode Two
With electric cars gaining popularity in recent years, the presenters are tasked to build electric sports cars on a budget. Chris bought a Triumph Spitfire that he modified with BMW i3 batteries and electric motor that produced 260 hp. Paddy acquired a Nissan Leaf that he visually modify, while Freddie settles for a Subaru BRAT that had its engine retrofitted with Tesla's electric motor, putting out 500 hp and dubbed "Mute".
Taking place at the disused Ironbridge power stations complex in Telford, their first challenge is a timed lap around the power stations complex. Freddie went first and clocked 1 minute and 10.5 seconds, followed by Paddy who clocked 1 minute and 5 seconds, and Chris who clocked at 1 minute and 8 seconds.
Afterwards, they head for the open road and go to Tamworth. However, Paddy's Leaf ran out of range, prompting him to search for someplace to charge his car. Along the way, the presenters managed to find places to charge their cars: Paddy charged his Leaf at a local neighborhood, while Chris and Freddie charged theirs at the local service station; Paddy's method of charging leaving him hours behind schedule. Over at Tamworth, their next challenge is a handling test based on the classic buzz wire children's game at the Daytona Tamworth go kart track, where each presenter will receive electric shock if they nudge the barriers. Paddy went first, followed by Chris and Freddie; the challenge was won by Freddie.
Next, they return to Telford to see if their cars can garner enough publicity at the Energy and Rural Business Show, judged by the number of likes received by each presenter. Freddie, being a former athlete, sets a gimmick where he runs on a treadmill to charge his Subaru, while Paddy staged a raffle and Chris went outside to set a small gymkhana course for his Triumph. Paddy won the challenge, scoring 174 likes (dubbed as "green smiley faces").
After the expo, the presenters make their way to Mansfield. On their way, Freddie revealed that he still kept the BRAT's original petrol engine to beat the range anxiety. Their challenge at the city is an endurance race dubbed "24 Minutes of Mansfield", putting their electric cars against some of the latest electric cars on sale. Despite his early lead, Paddy only scored 15 laps, fewer than Chris and Freddie's 18 laps respectively; Paddy revealed that all of their cars were outperformed by the much newer rivals.
Cheap, rare cars in Borneo
Series Twenty-Seven, Episode Four
Paddy and Freddie are tasked to find cheap and rare cars and report to Borneo to do a series of challenges. Paddy acquired a Matra Bagheera for £6,000, while Freddie bought an Austin Allegro estate for £3,500; Paddy's car was used as press car, featured in the original brochure, and one of four remaining in the UK. They were tasked to go from the local airfield to Brunei "until they can drive no more".
Along the way, the presenters have to navigate arduous jungle terrain, which damaged Paddy's Matra, while Freddie's Austin fared better. By nightfall, their trip was temporarily halted by British Army's Royal Gurkha Rifles' 2nd Battalion, who provided necessary assistance to navigate the jungle to their final destination: presenting their cars before the Sultan of Brunei.
During the night, Freddie decided to modify the Austin to better cope with the jungle condition. For the second leg of their journey, Paddy decided to part ways with Freddie and followed a logging track which led his party to a nearby river, using makeshift rafts to transport the Matra through the river; on the other hand, Freddie's party managed to clear the jungle and found smooth tarmac road after Paddy departed for the river.
The final leg of the trip is a 40 mile race to Bandar Seri Begawan. While Freddie managed to make good progress through tarmac road, Paddy's river approach puts him closer to the finish line, despite him having to navigate gravel tracks before finding smooth tarmac. While on the highway, Freddie's Austin overheated, giving Paddy an advantage. Despite the setback, Freddie managed to arrive at the palace earlier than Paddy; however, they were declined entry to the palace. Back at the studio, the cars were presented with rainbow colours, in solidarity with the LGBT community following Brunei's recent anti-LGBT laws. Winner: Freddie (after final deliberation by Chris).
Series Twenty-Eight, Episode Zero
The presenters head to Nepal to see what is the best city car for less than £6,000. Paddy bought a Peugeot 106 Rallye for £3,500, Chris a Renault 4 for £5,000, while Freddie chose a local Hulas Mustang for £6,000. They are instructed to drive from Kathmandu to Lo Manthang.
While leaving Kathmandu and heading to Pokhara, Paddy got stuck and had to be towed by Freddie, revealing that the Mustang was only two wheel drive.
On the way to Jomsom, rough roads damaged both Chris and Paddy's cars to the degree where the Peugeot required garage repairs prompting the presenters to stay the night instead of travelling on. The next morning on the road Paddy's Peugeot got stuck again, once again being towed by Freddie. During a river crossing, both Chris and Paddy got stuck so Freddie had to tow both of them out each time.
In order to prepare for the final leg of the journey, the presenters split up: Chris and Freddie went to purchase trekking equipment, while Paddy heads to the local market to buy necessary rations. After this they had to give locals a lift to Muktinath Temple. Freddie some sherpas, Paddy local women, and Chris some holy men. Nearing the temple, the trio decided had a hillclimb challenge, with the finishing line set at the temple's car park. Despite a 30 second head start, Paddy overtook both Chris and Freddie and reached the temple first.
From the temple, they resume their journey to Lo Manthang, a distance of 40 miles. At the high altitude the Mustang had to tow the other cars at various times. While trying to start Paddy's car, Chris forgot to apply his handbrake and his car rolled back and tipped over, damaging it beyond repair, meaning he had to car share with Freddie. Both surviving cars made it to Lo Manthang where Paddy's Peugeot passed the city gateway with a very small margin and the Hulas being unable to clear it. Winner: Paddy
Secondhand convertibles for less than £600
Series Twenty-eight, Episode One
The presenters are told to buy secondhand convertibles for less than £600 - the average cost of summer holiday in the UK. Paddy bought a Ford Escort Cabriolet for £500, Chris settles in for a Mercedes-Benz SLK which cost £600, while Freddie bought a Chrysler LeBaron for £450. They were told to report to Bognor Regis before heading for Essex for a road trip. Early on their trip, Freddie discovered that his Chrysler has no power steering, which makes matters worse in roundabouts.
Their first stop was at Thruxton Circuit for their first challenge: driving around the track against "summer holiday traffic" before being overtaken by The Stig in a Ford Mustang convertible. Freddie barely got started before retiring due to a puncture, while Paddy managed to survive longer before being overtaken by The Stig. Chris on the other hand, nearly made it to the finish line.
They then drove 20 miles to a motocross track for their next challenge: timed lap challenge while their cars are rigged with "low friction, synthetic sweat substitute" to simulate moist conditions caused by sweating. Paddy, who went first, only managed to do 42 yards before crashing his Escort, Chris managed to do a full lap in 1 minute and 45 seconds, while Freddie completed the course in 1 minute and 48 seconds. Paddy restarted and managed to do the course in 1 minute and 36 seconds.
Afterwards, Freddie's Chrysler suffered from overheating issues, forcing Paddy to tow him to their next stop: a driving range. There, the presenters are faced with a test of "agility": driving around the range and catch as many golf balls as they can in two minutes. Freddie went first, where his Chrysler caught 9 golf balls. Paddy was next, where he managed to catch 38 golf balls. Lastly, it was Chris' turn, where he ended the day with 16 golf balls.
The next day, they are met with their next challenge: going through a causeway during high tide, which Paddy managed to do without much trouble. Chris decided to go right after Paddy, but his SLK's engine cut out early on, prompting Freddie to push him for a good part of the challenge, until his Chrysler was beached near the finish line. Freddie admitted that his car was the worst of the three, while he and Chris noted that this was the second time Paddy had won a challenge using a Ford Escort. Winner: Paddy
American road trip in cars costing less than £5,000
Series Twenty-eight, Episode Three
The presenters are told to buy "the ultimate American road trip car" for less than £5,000 online and meet in Peru, specifically in the city of Cusco. Chris purchased a Dodge Dart, Freddie bought a Volkswagen Bus, while Paddy went for a second-generation Pontiac Firebird that had its roof chopped off. They are tasked to go from Cusco to the Vilcabamba mountains, tracing the road networks made by Inca people.
A short while from the start, Paddy and Chris had to deal with their cars' problems: the Pontiac's overheating problems as well as obvious lack of roof and the Dodge's sketchy brakes and barely-functioning wipers. During their trip, the presenters found an empty stretch of road and proceeded to do a drag race; however, Paddy cannot join because his Pontiac's rear axle came loose, much to Chris and Freddie's amusement.
The following morning, the presenters continue their trip from Ollantaytambo, now with Paddy managing to acquire a new car: a fourth-generation Oldsmobile Cutlass that he bought from an American car meet the day before. At the local market, the presenters decided to do drive-thru shopping: Chris bought some fruits and vegetables, Freddie purchased a bunch of flowers as his Bus' decoration, while Paddy bought two wooden phalluses. Their next stop after Ollantaytambo is the Abra Malaga mountain pass, where the presenters enjoy the mountain pass' excellent view and smooth road.
On their third day, the presenters went for a stop to check the local "motorcar cross" scene: a dirt track racing involving a three-wheeled motorcycle manned by two people, a rider and a passenger. Chris, being a professional racing driver himself, went first, followed by Paddy and Freddie. Upon leaving the dirt track racing scene, the presenters are faced with a challenge: reach the Abra Yanama mountain pass, notable for being one of the most dangerous roads in the world, having an unpaved surface and located at a height of more than 4,600 meters above sea level. Along the journey, Freddie put his Bus' "secret weapon" to use: an electrolysis kit installed to the Bus to help supplying the engine with fresh oxygen, supplementing performance, while Paddy and Chris suffered some damages; Chris' Dodge lost its clutch, prompting him to abandon the car, while Paddy's Oldsmobile blew a fuse (causing its horn to ring at times) and had its driver side door removed. Freddie's declared the winner, as his Volkswagen Bus lasted from the start to finish. Winner: Freddie
Written-off performance cars for less than £6,000
Series Twenty-Nine, Episode Two
Considering that insurance write-offs may be a good way to purchase interesting cars on the cheap, the presenters set off to find performance cars that have been written off by insurance companies and meet at the track. Paddy bought a Porsche Cayman S for £5,500, Freddie acquired a Maserati Quattroporte for £5,750, while Chris purchased a Ford Focus RS for £5,000.
Their first test is an acceleration test to test for mechanical soundness. Paddy initially took the lead, but he ran out of runway and got himself beached. He managed to reach 141.6 mph, compared to Freddie's 135.8 mph and Chris' 125 mph in the Ford Focus; however, Chris won the challenge as he's the only one who actually stayed on the runway, as dictated by the rules.
Next, they have to play a game of musical chairs in a simulated car park to test for low-speed agility against some Toyota Prius driven by The Stig's teenage cousins. Paddy got eliminated first, putting Chris against Freddie all the way to final round, which was won by Freddie; Chris veered off the track after he got nudged by Freddie.
Afterwards, the producers said that they should use whatever's left from their £6,000 budget to fix the car and make it road legal. Paddy and Chris managed to mend theirs to full working order, however Freddie chose a different path by stripping his Maserati and dubbing it "Mad Max-serati". They then head for Alexandra Palace for their next test: reaching 50 mph in the wall of death, with Ken Fox from Ken Fox Wall of Death providing necessary lessons and instructions. Paddy went first, where he clocked 55.72 mph while breaking his Porsche's rear suspension. Next, Chris went in and clocked 54.85 mph, followed by Freddie, who clocked 56.92 mph, however his Maserati was unable to make it to the top of the wall, and lost multiple pieces of the car.
Cheap rental car in Cyprus
Series Twenty-Nine, Episode Three
First, they head to Achna Speedway for a "hot lap challenge"; lapping the track against "local traffic" (simulated traffic running in opposite direction) while their cars' cabin is heated. Freddie went first and clocked 3 minutes and 15 seconds, followed by Chris, who clocked 3 minutes and 4 seconds, and Paddy, who went slightly quicker than Chris by three-tenths of a second.
Next, they head to the reservoir through gravel roads, where Freddie's Jimny gave him an advantage. Arriving at the reservoirs, the presenters are instructed to do a "drag race": using their cars to pull a water skier across the lake. Chris went first and clocked 15 mph, followed by Paddy at 3 mph, while Freddie did 12 mph.
The following day, they head to Mount Olympus ski resort to receive their next challenge: racing around the ski resort complex to test cold weather performance. Freddie went first, followed by Chris, while Paddy struggled to unhinge the Focus from its chain.
After the ski slope challenge, the presenters made their way back to Paphos International Airport to return their cars while having their cars inspected by the rental agent. Both Freddie and Paddy's cars were heavily damaged, with the agent even scrapping Paddy's Focus, however Chris's Picanto escaped with only minimal damage. Winner: Chris
- After the show, Clarkson and May insisted that their own cars were best; Clarkson said the Toybota was best because it would have reached the finish if it didn't roll over at the last moment in a good time, but James hit back, saying that it wasn't a race, and the Toybota rolled over anyway.
- He had been required to shorten it to comply with the maximum length of an unarticulated car allowed on a British road, and subsequently the join in the middle made out of masking tape failed.
- Clarkson: "We proved that you can't buy a Porsche for £1,500."
Hammond: "Well, not if you actually want to go anywhere that is."
- On points, May narrowly beat Hammond in the challenge, but Clarkson then attempted to claim victory by pointing out the Starion had been superior until the endurance race. May and Hammond acknowledged this, saying that the only problem with the Starion had been Clarkson's modifications. So they offered Clarkson the win if he admitted that, 'you're a clot and you ruined your car', which he did.
- During the results, Hammond claimed that Clarkson got 98 points (if he had 100 he would win the challenge), and eating the paper saying Clarkson had "98 points," suggesting Hammond was hiding something. Clarkson claimed "Since I am not prepared to go through your stools in the morning, we have to conclude that the best car for the British police is a Suzuki Vitara with a doormat on the front."
- "Series Two, Episode Four". Top Gear. Series 2. Episode 4. 1 June 2003.
- "BBC stumps up for tree stunt". BBC. 21 February 2004. Retrieved 9 January 2006.
- "ScooterMan". www.scooterman.co.uk. Retrieved 26 January 2008.
- "Series Eleven, Episode Six". Top Gear. Series 11. Episode 6. 27 July 2008. BBC Two.
James May: Alan Partridge once said that Lexus is Japan's Mercedes-Benz, in which case the Mitsuoka Galue could be, but this is only a hunch, Japan's Rolls-Royce.
- Bellicoso, Louise (15 February 2007). "Amazing space launch for ...Delboy's motor!". Buxton Advertiser. Retrieved 21 February 2007.
While the show alludes to a 12-day build, in reality, it took over 4 months to build the final product.
- Discussion upon arrival:
- Clarkson: "And so there we are - for once in our wretched lives on this programme we'd actually done what we set out to do."
- Clarkson: "You know what - we've been ambitious and brilliant, and it's all due to the Dominator."
- Hammond: "Successful!"
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Exclusive - the video you didn't see on last week's show. Archived 17 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Top Gear (series 16)#ep2