Top Gear has taken decrepit old cars all over the world, from Bolivia and Botswana to Bristol and just outside of Bristol. The most remarkable thing about these endeavours was that, despite the abuse thrown at them, the knackered old cars generally kept going. But then they would, given they are largely simple and mechanical. But what about the cars of today with their complex electronics and computer radar-guided Bluetooth massaging seats? How would they get on in a harsh, dusty environment? To find out, Jeremy, Richard and James were told to pick a brand new GT car each and assemble in one of the toughest places on Earth, a place where General Motors once fetched up with a Euro-spec prototype and promptly went back to the drawing board when outback roads made it snap in half. We’re talking of course about Australia.
The V stands for value
SUV-type cars are very fashionable these days. They’re also rather expensive. A Range Rover Evoque, for example, will easily set you back £30,000, and that’s before you go mad with the options. But what if you fancied a trendy sports-utility vehicle for less? A lot, lot less. Armed with just a few hundred pounds, the presenters were each told to buy a serviceable, roadworthy 4x4 and then report to Top Gear’s top-secret SUV testing centre.
Top Gear believes there are several carmakers who can be considered truly great. Ferrari, for example. Or Lancia. Or, for that matter, Jaguar. But in this series, Jeremy and James pay tribute to perhaps the most brilliant and innovative carmaker in history: Peugeot.
Nee norr nee norr
We’re all familiar with ambulances. They’re big, they’re noisy and they’re usually glorified vans driven by blokes called Josh in green overalls. At least, that’s what Casualty would have us all believe. But what the Top Gear presenters would have you believe is that these emergency vehicles could be better, so Jeremy, James and Richard asked if they could reinvent the ambulance to make it vastly more effective.
Rushing through Russia
A few series ago, Top Gear engaged in a dramatic Race Across London between a car, a bicycle, a boat and a Stig on public transport. The bike won and the car came bang last, not least because this was James’s department, and he foolishly chose an enormous Mercedes ML 4x4 in which to negotiate London’s narrow and often congested streets. For a car show, this result didn’t go down well. But, worry not, because few realise that Top Gear is engaged in a very slow but extremely thorough project to find the fastest way across every single city in the world… a mere seven years after the Race Across London, we move on, naturally enough, to Saint Petersburg.
If you spend any time poking around the inky corners of the internet, you might have noticed that classic cars are going up in value. Real gems like Lamborghini Countachs and Mercedes SLs are already soaring out of reach of mere mortals, but what about more modest and affordable sports cars like old MGs, Fiats and Peugeots? Should you grab one now before they become worth eleventy trillion quid at auction? In the interests of the real-world consumer reporting for which Top Gear rightly isn’t known, the three presenters were told to grab an affordable classic each and then live with it in the manner of those who enjoy such things.
Fish & computer chips
The new BMW M3 sounds like a fine thing, what with its 425 horsepower, twin-turbo straight-six and rear-wheel drive. But it’s not the only sporty BMW to come out in recent times. There’s also a new and rather radical coupe that looks like something from German science fiction (the most precise of all science fictions) and it’s called the i8.
Frankly my dear, he doesn’t give a dam
When, in the Forties, Rover bosses used a stick in the wet sand of a Welsh beach to crudely sketch their plans for a 4x4, they could barely have imagined the same basic idea would remain in production some 66 years later. But it is, conquering continents and attracting celebrity owners as diverse as the Queen, Fidel Castro and Bill Murray along the way. There’s bad news on the Land Rover front, however, because 2015 is the Defender’s last year of production, after which fiendish regulations will finally kill it off. But not before Top Gear has paid tribute to a legendary machine that’s as much a fixture of the countryside as electricity pylons and cow poo.
Thunderberks are go
If you hang around long enough in the right sort of bar, you’re bound to meet one of those people with a chunky watch containing a built-in distress beacon, which they claim can summon help in the event of an emergency anywhere in the world. Question is, do these devices work? To find out, Top Gear gave Richard Hammond just such a watch and then dumped him in the frozen wastes of Canada.
No series of TopGear would be complete without a snorting, shiny roster of exciting cars being tested at the track and then handed to The Stig for a brisk and unspeaking lap against the clock. In this run of programmes, cars to enjoy this treatment include the Mercedes-AMG GT, the Lamborghini Huracán, the Eagle Low Drag GT, the Jaguar F-Type R, the Porsche Cayman GTS, the Corvette Stingray and the Lexus RC F.
The Eagle E-Type has often been described as ‘the finest hand-built car in the world’ and the reaction of the world’s press to the successive ‘special edition’ Jaguar E-Types developed in-house at Eagle has been rapturous.
Leading the way was the Eagle Speedster, which was developed from a client request and then feted around the world. It has been the subject of countless magazine features and covers, articles in national newspapers and also starred on Top Gear in 2011 where Jeremy Clarkson described it thus:
“I think this, by a long way, is the most beautiful car I have ever seen. It might actually be the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”
The Eagle Low Drag GT - inspired by Malcolm Sayer’ s exquisite Low Drag Coupe developed for Jaguar in 1961 - followed soon after. International press coverage and ecstatic reviews again followed, culminating with a feature on BBC’ s Top Gear in 2015.
Now these two exceptional E-Types are joined by the third in the trilogy - the Eagle Spyder GT.