“Factual” is not an adjective I’d use to describe Top Gear. However, the BBC show was last year recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the most widely watched factual television programme… in the world. It’s shown in 212 countries, and ranks incredibly highly among the most illegally downloaded TV shows...you guessed it...in the world. Consequently, a great deal is known about Top Gear and its presenters, but with any luck, we think we might’ve unearthed a few tidbits of info’ you may not have known before.
6. Ferrari Missed Out
Jezza originally wanted to take a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta on the trio’s latest US road-trip, to do battle with Hammond’s Viper and May’s Vanquish. However, as Ferrari wasn’t able to deliver the goods, he was forced to take a Lexus LFA, a car he’s since called the best he’s ever driven. Similarly, JC was forced into a KTM X-Bow after the BAC Mono he was scheduled to drive for the track-day challenge was damaged. So, even TG doesn’t have free reign over whichever car they so choose…
5. Clarkson Doubled As A Car Salesman
TG doesn’t bill itself as a legitimate consumer advice show, chiefly because they spend most of their time cocking about. However, TG does have a track record when it comes to shifting cars. After the DB9 vs. public transport race was broadcast, Aston reportedly took a whole year’s worth of orders in a matter of days. Moreover, the Citroen Berlingo allegedly became an overnight success after JC’s glowing review. Most recently, searches for used Subarus skyrocketed after the team’s African adventure.
4. James May Used To Have Normal Hair...
Those of you who’ve been watching “new” Top Gear since the very beginning may remember that Cpt. Slow only joined the team at the beginning of Series Two, after Jason Dawe was unceremoniously dropped from the ticket. This wasn’t May’s first appearance on TG, however. He appeared in a few episodes of “old” TG in 1999 (when he had proper hair), where he filmed the worst link in the history of television.
3. ...And Isn't The Sensible One After All?
This isn’t the only skeleton in Slow’s closet, however. In 1992 he was fired from Autocar Magazine after studiously editing the articles to create a hidden message. The first letter of each article in the magazine’s Road Test Yearbook formed a part of May’s message. It read: "So you think it's really good, yeah? You should try making the bloody thing up; it's a real pain in the arse." You probably knew this one, but it was just that good…
2. The Ford Fiesta Isn't Watertight?
Remember the first of “new” TG’s “sensible” road tests? Jezza put a little lime green (or “Squeeze” as Ford called it) Fiesta through a host of “real life” tests. He was chased by baddies through a shopping mall, and helped the Royal Marines with a beach assault. TG actually used six Fiestas to make that film, at least one of which was completely waterproofed for use in the final scene. Rumour has it Ford of China wanted to use the Fiesta’s water-wading capabilities as a selling point - until Ford of Europe told them...
1. Lotus Designed The TG Track
We’ve spent many an hour at CT longing for our very own testing facility. When TG was commissioned in 2002, Lotus stepped forward to design the now famous circuit around the Dunsfold Aerodrome. It has since been used by McLaren as an official testing facility.
Do feel free to regale us with your top TG facts in the comments!