Everything you need to know about TG TV from Series 25 right down to Series 1
Matt, Chris and Rory test some big V8s in America, head to Japan to by second hand cars to compete in a series of challenges and discover bosozuku underground car culture, test out the latest SUVs and build the ultimate farmer’s ride: the Track-Tor.
Matt, Chris and Rory tackle the world of luxury yachting with the help of a Ssangyong Rodius, along with a reliability test involving three 480,000-mile plus cars… in Kazakhstan. Elsewhere, Matt takes on the might of the Avtoros Shaman, Chris does battle around Daytona with the Ferrari FXX K, and Rory tackles the, um, Renault Twingo. We kick back with a not-so-relaxed drive through Cuba in some old cheap V8s, and Chris tries to drift a large Alfa Romeo through a small hole in a solid wall.
Highlights include Ken Block drifting MLB around London in a modified Mustang, thrashing Ferrari’s mad F12tdf at Paul Ricard in France, buying a second-hand car to race the Orient Express down to Venice, and a McLaren 675LT hooning around our test track, courtesy of F1 world champion Jenson Button.
Elsewhere, Matt took a bit of a wrong turn on his way to the West Country and ended up in Morocco… in an Ariel Nomad. Rory had to hotfoot it to Geneva in Jag’s nutjob F-Type SVR. Oh, and Harris got Vulcanised… thanks to Aston Martin and the Yas Marina circuit.
Clarkson, Hammond and May visit all four corners of the globe, as the trio herd cows in the far reaches of Australia in GT cars and conduct a half-hearted search and rescue operation in the wilderness of British Columbia in a pair of massive American pick-ups. Richard – without needing to be asked twice – takes the opportunity to make a tribute to the Land Rover Defender by driving one up the side of a Welsh dam, and James and Jeremy pay similar homage to the history of French manufacturer Peugeot, albeit with fewer compliments. The presenters are also tasked with building their own ambulances, while Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Olly Murs feature in the Reasonably Priced car.
Inadvisable amounts of radiation await James, Jeremy and Richard as the trio embark on a road trip to Ukraine’s deserted nuclear power station, Chernobyl in compact hatchbacks. Escaping without the inconvenience of additional limbs and mutated facial features, the presenters give road tests to the jaw dropping McLaren P1, the astonishing Porsche 918 in Hammond’s hands, and the less-scary-but-still-pretty-good Caterham Seven 620R. And before heading out for another classic Top Gear adventure to build a bridge in Burma, there’s just time to cram Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hiddlestone and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul into the Reasonably Priced Car.
The presenters provide some essential consumer advice as Jeremy and James use a hire car and a boat to find the quickest way to get around in New Zealand, while Richard gathers a selection of cabs together to determine which is the fastest taxi… in the world. Elsewhere, the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta gets the chance to show what it can do on the roads of Scotland, and TG tackles water-based motoring once again with the creation of the fabled Hovervan. Ron Howard, Rachel Riley and Benedict Cumberbatch are among the celebs let loose in the brand new Reasonably Priced Car: a red Vauxhall Astra Techline.
The Top Gear Technology Centre swings into action again as Jeremy aims to build a car even smaller than the Peel P50 - the P45 - while the subject of OAP transport is addressed as well with the creation of the ‘Rover James’. After proving itself with a host of celebrity names on our track, a batch of Kia Cee’ds are sent to Twickenham for what is assumed to be the first ever game of car rugby, and the presenters conduct a race from London to Milan with a Shelby Mustang GT500 up against public transport. Special guests include Mick Fleetwood, Amy Macdonald and James McAvoy.
James, Richard and Jeremy get back to business by taking a Lamborghini Aventador, a McLaren MP4-12C and a Noble M600 to Italy, and there’s also a trip to Beijing to meet the Stig’s surprisingly violent Chinese cousin. Top Gear is then invited to help film a car chase for the upcoming remake of The Sweeney starring Ray Winstone and Plan B, before taking on a trio of disabled war veterans on some DIY off-road mobility scooters. On the track, the dust is blown off the Suzuki Liana as Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen sets a lap time, while ordinary stars Matt LeBlanc and Slash compete in the Reasonably Priced Cee’d.
It’s the 50th birthday of the Jaguar E-Type, which means a celebration involving a marching band, some Spitfires and the white cliffs of Dover is in order. Less bombastically, three hot hatches are driven around the circuit of the Monaco Grand Prix, the McLaren MP4-12C lines up against the Ferrari 458 on our track, and the presenters decide to have a go at improving the railways… with cars and caravans. Comedians Ross Noble and Rowan Atkinson get strapped in to the Reasonably Priced Kia Cee’d, as do music legends Alice Cooper and Bob Geldof.
Richard, Jeremy and James attempt to prove that they are three wise men by driving convertibles across the Middle East, before undermining themselves somewhat by landing a helicopter on top of a Skoda Yeti, robbing a bank in Albania and converting a combine harvester into a snow plough suitable for the roads of Britain. There’s plenty of action on the track as well as Hammond finally gets the chance to drive some of his supercar heroes from the 80s, and Top Gear Australia are in town to compete for a motoring version of the Ashes. John Bishop, Simon Pegg and Amber Heard are among the stars in the Reasonably Priced Car.
Top Gear dabbles with danger as James drives up to the edge of an active volcano in a Toyota Hilux, Richard holds an explosive funeral for our old Chevrolet Lacetti, and Jeremy drives - and crashes - the ‘widow maker’ that is the Reliant Robin. The trio recover by embarking on a relaxing holiday in Cornwall – which turns out to be anything but in their home-made motorhomes – while Captain Slow goes very, very fast in the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. Stars in the new Reasonably Priced Kia Cee-apostrophe-d include Rupert Grint, Peta 23 from Essex and F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello. Oh, and two little-known Americanists called Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise.
The three presenters push the boundaries of modern engineering as they build their own homemade electric car called GEOFF, and James takes holidaymakers into the realms of the unknown by inventing a caravan that can fly. Unfortunately the landing bit was more tricky. There’s also another ‘sensible’ road test, with Jeremy taking the Renault Twingo to its limits in Belfast, and the superb Lexus LFA takes to our track to demonstrate why it’s one of the best cars in the world today. And that’s according to The Stig. Guests include Eric Bana, Michael Sheen and the revelation that is Seasick Steve.
After weeks of speculation about the identity of our tame racing driver, the Stig finally summons the courage to remove his helmet in front of a studio audience. James and Richard find themselves racing the Royal Mail as they attempt to drive from Penzance to the Orkneys faster than a letter, while Jeremy puts the new Lotus Evora to the test out on the track. Sprinting superstar Usain Bolt finally sets a time that matters in the Reasonably Priced Car, as do Michael McIntyre, Sienna Miller and US TV legend Jay Leno. Ken Block introduces James to Gymkhana rallying in a deserted airfield.
Top Gear gets eco-friendly with an economy race which sees Richard, James and Jeremy attempt to make it from Switzerland to Blackpool on a single tank of petrol, while the electric Tesla and Honda’s hydrogen-powered Clarity also get reviewed. For balance, the presenters set a lorry on fire, race a powerboat against a Ferrari Daytona, and attempt to travel the length of Vietnam in just eight days and on two wheels. Meanwhile, Michael Parkinson and Sir Tom Jones join a plethora of guests lining up to have a go in the Reasonably Priced Chevrolet Lacetti.
After coming to the conclusion that the police force is too focussed on paperwork, Jeremy, Richard and James decide to build three alternative cars to replace the standard Police issue Vauxhall Astra. Needless to say things don’t go that smoothly as TG’s rozzers attempt to apprehend the Stig… Elsewhere, there’s a big race across Japan as the infamous bullet train takes on the Nissan GT-R, and the three presenters also head to Belgium to face down a challenge from the Germans. The Ferrari 430 Scuderia and the Bentley Brooklands star out on the test track, as do the likes of James Corden, Fiona Bruce and Jay Kay in the Reasonably Priced Car.
James, Jeremy and Richard get increasingly ambitious as they decide to head out to Botswana for an epic adventure, which sees them cross the Makgadikgadi salt pan and the Kalahari desert in a Lancia Beta Coupe, a Mercedes-Benz 230E and a 1963 Opel Kadett called ‘Oliver’… The boys also find themselves pushing the boat out – quite literally – as they build three more amphibious cars in a bid to cross the English Channel to France. In more familiar territory, the Audi R8 and the Porsche 911 Carrera S are out on the test track, while guests include Dame Helen Mirren, James Blunt and a Formula One rookie by the name of Lewis Hamilton…
Richard races the Eurofighter in a Bugatti Veyron, and all three compete in a diesel BMW at the Britcar 24hr endurance race at Silverstone.
Captain Slow goes where few drivers have gone before by taking the Bugatti Veyron to its maximum speed at Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien test facility, while the three presenters endeavour to resurface a road in less than 24 hours. There’s also a bid to join the space race as Jeremy and Richard attempt to create a reusable shuttle out of a Reliant Robin. Jeremy has the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 out on the track, and the likes of Simon Pegg and Kristin Scott Thomas take a spin in the Reasonably Priced Car.
The presenters take on a raft of engineering challenges as they build a convertible people carrier out of a Renault Espace, make three amphibious cars to cross the Channel and attempt to build a Caterham Seven faster than the Stig can drive one from Surrey to Scotland. The trio also take on a drive-time radio show and a quest of van-based idiocy. The terrifying Koenigsegg CCX visits the track and defeats The Stig, while the not so terrifying Sir Michael Gambon drives the new Reasonably Priced Car: a Chevrolet Lacetti, and ends up renaming the last corner of the track as a result.
Jeremy, James and Richard take a Ferrari F430 Spider, a Pagani Zonda S and a Ford GT to the Millau Viaduct in the South of France, with another shootout taking place between the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the BMW M6 and the Porsche 911 Carrera S on the Isle of Man. Dame Ellen McArthur navigates her way round the test track, and Jeremy takes on his most ambitious challenge yet as he tries to get from Alba to London in a Bugatti Veyron faster than his colleagues can make it in a plane. The series ends with a trip to Lillehammer where the boys stage the first – and so far only – edition of the Top Gear Winter Olympics.
Clarkson takes on the military this series in various guises as he pits a Range Rover up against a Challenger 2 tank, before seeing which of the Porsche Boxster S and the Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG is best at dodging bullets from the Irish Guards. Balance is restored somewhat as the presenters’ mothers take to the track to test three small city cars, while Sabine Schmitz attempts to get round the Nurburgring in a Ford Transit in less than ten minutes. Damon Hill and Mark Webber bring some Formula One pedigree to the test track, which also hosts a review of the Maserati MC12.
The carnage continues as James and Richard upgrade the traditional playground game ‘Conkers’ with a selection of specially painted caravans. Similar destruction arises at the inaugural People Carrier Racing meet at Essex Raceway, while the presenters find out how sensible it is to buy three Porsches for less than £1,500. There’s also an epic battle on the track as Jeremy puts the Ferrari Enzo up against the Pagani Zonda and Porsche Carrera GT, and Bill Bailey, Joanna Lumley and Eddie Izzard drive the Reasonably Priced Car.
Top Gear completes its first ever cross-continent race as James and Richard aim to beat Jeremy’s Aston Martin DB9 to Monte Carlo with a combination of the Eurostar and other fast trains. Elsewhere, the boys invent ‘Car Darts’, use MPVs as minicabs, and find out what happens when you drive behind the jet engine of a Boeing 747, with metal-breaking results. Sirs Ranulph Fiennes and Terry Wogan feature in a roster of less decorated guests, including Paul McKenna, who has a go at hypnotising TG’s resident Hamster…
The series begins with a bang as the Stig drives off the end of an aircraft carrier and into the sea, never to be seen again. A new tame racing driver is hastily found, and is quickly put to work with numerous power laps following the presenters’ road tests. Several caravans meet their fate as Richard attempts a spectacular jump in a Volvo 240, while Jeremy and James spend two episodes trying - and failing - to kill a resilient Toyota Hilux. Stephen Fry, Rob Brydon and Carol Vorderman headline the list of celebrities vying for top spot on the Reasonably Priced Car leaderboard.
A scruffy man named James May debuts in series 2, immediately launching into a rant about his Bentley T2 and how it ruined his life. Highlights of the series include a drag race to find out which country makes the fastest supercar, an attempt to set a land speed record whilst towing a caravan, while Jeremy endeavours to drive a Vauxhall Signum… from the back seat. Jamie Oliver, Neil Morrisey, Jodie Kidd and Patrick Stewart are among many the famous names squeezed into the Reasonably Priced car for a timed lap of the track.
First airing on BBC 2 on 20 October 2002, the newly reinvented Top Gear featured motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and used car expert Jason Dawe. Harry Enfield was the first ever Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. In amongst the Pagani Zonda, Ferrari 575M, various challenges and an oddly empty studio, someone decided it might be fun to jump motorcycles with a bus and get grannies to do donuts in a Honda S2000. Who could have imagined where all this would lead…