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Hi, I'm Rory Reid. Welcome to Extra Gear.
We are back for a brand-new series,
crammed full of Top Gear goodies,
and we've got a brand-new studio.
I like it, too. So good to be back.
OK, tonight, I get my hands on a Mk I GT40
with some special tuition from Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver.
Right, I want to open it up a bit.
Chris takes on Australian V8 around Dunsfold.
Is there any other way to behave?
Sabine joins us in the studio to explain what this is all about.
I can't see anything.
And John Hennessy is here, just in case you hadn't had your fill of V8 goodness.
That's how we roll.
This is Extra Gear.
First up, I want to get my guests out.
We've got a lot to talk about.
He is a Texan tuner whose voodoo engine upgrades
have taken Mustangs to another level.
Please welcome John Hennessy.
And she's the queen of the ring and an all-round automotive lunatic,
please welcome Sabine Schmitz.
Right, so, tonight's Top Gear was all about the V8.
I was in a Jag, Chris was in a McLaren, two very handsome
British sports cars.
But it wasn't really a surprise
that Mr LeBlanc went for an American car, was it?
Yeah, I mean, he's got to go for the Mustang.
He's playing on the home team.
So, this started life as a GT 350 R.
And that has 500 horsepower, but you felt the need to add another 300.
Yeah, it was my own personal car and I thought,
I'm probably not going to modify this car much.
But it didn't take long and I thought, you know what?
It's got great grip, great brakes and it handles wonderfully
but I find it just needs a little more torque, a little more horsepower.
-So you added 300 more?
Yeah. You know when a car needs more...
-Go for it.
-It just needed more... Needed more bollocks to go proper.
I've never heard anyone say that a 500 horsepower car
-needs more bollocks.
-That's what we did.
What's the process? What did you do? How do you make this car go faster?
This particular car, so it has a pretty highly tuned
5-litre V8 engine from Ford.
It turns 8,200 rpm.
That's a flat plane crank, which is pretty trick and pretty cool.
We added a 2.9-litre supercharger system to it,
so we upgrade the air intake, fuel injectors,
we pretty much leave the exhaust alone.
It just has an amazing sound.
Retune the computer, it's capable of turning 8,200 rpm
and it sounds like pure madness when it's under boost.
How do you know how much the engine can take, though?
Do you just, like, crank it all the way up to 300 and see what happens?
Or do you go up incrementally?
We don't really know. Kind of like a U-boat's commander doesn't
really know how deep his submarine will go, he just has to, like,
gradually test it out, and we built, gosh, in the last year-and-a-half,
be built probably 50 of those and...
So, essentially, Matt LeBlanc was kind of a guinea pig.
Well, look, if Top Gear can't break it, nobody can break it.
-So it's very reliable.
-Sabine, you saw the cars, I was in the Jag,
Chris was in a McLaren, Matt was in the bright-yellow...
..thing that makes 800-odd horsepower.
What would you go for? Would you go British or American?
Not British. Since got married, left McLaren, I...
His car is a beast.
I would love to drive this one.
-You're going to.
-I still think I had the best car, though.
Man, that Jag, I mean, it's a great all-rounder.
It's part 4x4.
It's essentially, like, a little bit of a Land Rover inside a sports car.
When you've got all-wheel drive, and you can put the power down in the Mustang,
forget about it in first or second gear,
it's a third gear and up car.
It is an extra gear kind of car.
Plus, I know you saw, when I won that shoot-out in the quarry...
I had no doubt. I had no doubt, when you guys did that...
The draw. That all-wheel drive was good.
-You rotated it well, too.
-Oh, thank you.
Now, while we're on the subject of Anglo-American relations,
the GT40 made an appearance on tonight's Top Gear
and, let's just say, it left a lasting impression.
This is the 1964 Mk I GT40.
Chassis number 1008.
Yes, it's been dressed up to look like a younger model but, trust me,
this is one of the originals.
A car that was born out of Henry Ford II's desire to thrash
Ferrari in their own back yard at the Le Mans 24-hour race.
And thrash them it did, winning four times in a row.
The Mk I was developed here in Britain by a team led by John Wyer.
The early cars performed pretty dismally at races, so Ford,
impatient to win, handed the project to a Texan, Carroll Shelby,
in time for the 1966 Le Mans.
It seemed as though the Brits had missed their chance,
as Shelby's team drove their more powerful 7-litre GT40s to victory
in both '66 and 67.
American engineering might have won the day initially,
but the Brits never gave up.
John Wyer continued to modify the Mk I GT40
using his smaller engine and, by a twist of fate,
larger engines were banned in Le Mans,
and that meant Ford had to turn to British engineering once again.
Shelby was out and Wyer, the plucky Brit, was back in.
It's a fascinating story
and one that's best told by a man who was there.
I'm riding with Jackie Oliver, who won Le Mans in 1969 driving a GT40.
Jackie, this is a bit of a homecoming for you, isn't it?
Driving a Mk I GT40.
Absolutely. And it's brilliant to be back behind the wheel of it.
The car you won in, that wasn't the Shelby version,
it was the British JW version, wasn't it?
Explain to me the difference in philosophies between the two cars.
Shelby was all about horsepower.
They turned the engine into a 7-litre from a 5-litre.
JW took the car over,
they refined the chassis to make the cars go quicker around the corner
and for the drivers to be more comfortable driving them.
So there were clear differences between the two cars.
Tell me about the differences between the two men,
Carroll Shelby and JW.
Carroll was a...
That's the way he went racing.
John Wyer, we used to call him Darth Vader,
because there was something a little scary about him.
A minute ago you said to me that these cars were comfortable to drive.
How could it be that at Le Mans, when you're doing 200mph,
-these things were comfortable?
-Well, it's an easy car to drive.
Very light on the steering, very comfortable driving position.
That was the most satisfying thing about racing a GT40.
JW never gave up, even though Henry Ford took the project away from him.
What was the feeling in the camp when they got another shot
and actually won?
That was very satisfying for John Wyer and the drivers who drove for
them, and I'm sure Carroll Shelby was very gracious
with regard to the success,
but I think when he got back home he was saying, "Dammit.
"The Brits did it."
Far from landing on the scrapheap of history,
the 5-litre British GT40 finally had its day,
winning Le Mans in '68 and '69, rivalling its American cousin.
Jackie, I'm sat next to a Le Mans winner in a Mk I GT40.
Please tell me I can have a go.
-You can have a go.
It's a tiger.
What an opportunity.
And what a car. I can't believe this thing is more than 50 years old.
It's responsive, isn't it?
I was expecting an absolute animal
but it's actually quite a refined car.
Right, I want to open it up a bit.
Carroll Shelby, I'm sure he did a fantastic job, but, I mean,
this JW thing, it just proves...
..bigger isn't always better.
Oh, it sounds so good.
I love this story.
I think we have to tell the story, though,
because whenever we talk about the GT40, everyone assumes it's this big
American icon, but without the Brits it just wouldn't have happened,
-The chassis basically started as a Lola Mk VI,
so, really, there's a lot of British DNA in the GT40
before the car was even born.
And, Sabine, you've driven the GT40?
Oh, yes. I've driven it in South Africa in Kyalami on the racetrack.
Yeah. What do you like about it?
I love that pure driving.
You know, I don't like that computer stuff.
You know, even for a seat you have five computers to move it forward,
-to heat it up and everything.
So to drive such a pure car with your hands
and you feel it with your back
and with your bottom, you have the feeling to the road,
you're connected to the steering wheel and the road and the tyres.
-John, you've driven a GT40?
I have not. I've driven the Ford GT, the newer one they built,
Ford built in '05 and '06,
but the original GT40, I haven't had my chance.
-Maybe you could hook me up.
-I'll try and sort you out.
But you've got a heritage edition, don't you?
One of the new ones, the 2018 Ford GT.
It's the heritage edition.
It's the red with white, like AJ Foyt and Dan Gurney drove to win
the overall at Le Mans back in '67.
So it's kind of Ford made that to commemorate that win 50 years later.
They didn't make many of them, though, did they?
No, the new one, they're only making 18.
I think I've got number three of the 18, so I feel pretty honoured.
Ford picked everybody that got one of those cars, and I honestly didn't
think I'd be in that list, but I feel very fortunate to get one.
There's something else that comes out of America
that I feel needs discussing - figure of eight racing.
More specifically, figure of eight chain racing.
Sabine, you and Chris were lucky enough
to experience this in America. Well, let's have a look.
-Oh, God, no.
-Let's smash some stuff.
Oh! Go, go, go, go, go, go!
-I can't see anything!
Oh, my God! This is the worst thing I've ever done.
Chris, good job.
Are you still there?
You total lunatic.
That was absolute carnage.
I've got to say, I preferred watching rather than being in there.
What was it like, actually driving from the front?
Perfect. I had a good position, I had no mirrors,
I couldn't see what's happening behind me,
so it was really scary for...
..poor Chris. I enjoyed it.
The look on his face when you were in the car. Look at that.
I think I might just set that as my phone wallpaper.
You want that place.
He had the brakes, I had only the acceleration
and the steering wheel. And he was screaming, "Brake, Sabine!
"Please, brake!" I said, "Honey, I don't have brakes."
"Oh, yeah!" And then he starts braking,
but after a couple of laps he said, "I don't do anything here,
"I just sit here and wait what happens."
-It's a bit like me and you at the Nurburgring that time.
I think I had a similar facial expression.
And the producer... Yeah.
They insisted that we show this.
Bad times. Bad times.
John, this figure of eight racing is actually a real thing, isn't it?
People actually do this.
-You know, look, it's one of these things,
it's kind of like a lot of what we do, it's pointless,
and that's the fun part of it.
-So, it's good entertainment.
-I suppose it is.
Our producer's also managed to dig up this little gem.
Let's take a look at this.
-Get ready, get set
and ho-o-o-o-o-old on!
Look out in the middle.
Look out in the middle! No, no, no, no! Oh!
Scary Gary in the middle!
Yo! In the middle again!
They're getting a little randy.
Yes! How about it for the school buses?
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
What a thing.
Absolutely insane. I should point out, though,
that the schoolchildren were actually unloaded before.
I think. I don't know.
All right, I want to talk about your Venom project.
Back in 2014, the Venom GT
recorded the highest speed ever for a road car.
You smashed the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
and that had set the record back in 2010.
How much did that actually beat it by?
That car went 270.
We beat the Bugatti guys by a couple of miles per hour.
I think the interesting thing to note was that we hit that speed
in less than half the distance.
The Bugatti took almost five miles to hit their speed.
We did it in a little less than 2.5.
We actually have a clip of it. Let's roll this.
By the way, just as a side note, something that I'm proud about,
we consider that an American car but, don't misunderstand it,
it had a lot of British DNA.
Basically, the Venom GT started as a Lotus Exige chassis, and we wanted
something very lightweight, so give yourselves a handclap.
-We just gave it a little extra horsepower.
Let's talk about the actual runway.
-How long is that?
-This particular runway,
this is the Shuttle landing facility.
This is where they used to land the space shuttle at Nasa,
the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. So the total distance
end to end from grass to grass is 3.2 miles,
and we calculated that we needed about seven-tenths of a mile
to slow down, so we set cones up at 2.4 miles
and allowed ourselves about a tenth of a mile...
..fudge factor in terms of just being able to brake.
Is that when you scream, "Fudge"?
There's actually alligators in that swamp.
So you're going to have some serious fudge if your brakes don't work at
-the end of the runway.
-You'll be their fudge.
Presumably you can't just rock up to Nasa and say, "Look,
-"let me borrow your track?"
you're dealing with the government
so it took us two years to get into Nasa. We asked very politely,
but they weren't interested in allowing anybody to come in there
to set some sort of speed record, but then we found a little bit
of a loophole in their rules in that if we were showing up
to do proper engineering testing and validation of the car,
they were fine with that and they said, "Look,
"if you're here validating your tyres and the safety of your car
"and you happen to set a record, then we'll allow that."
So, two years later, we finally got the chance to run it there.
Since then, Koenigsegg have actually smashed that record
and word on the street is that Bugatti and you guys
are actually hot on their heels.
Hey, you know, the Koenigsegg guys, I mean, they destroyed our record.
And I'm glad that they did because our record stood
for almost four years and I'm like, if nobody else wants to play,
it doesn't really give us any relevance to come back
-and run a big number.
-Yeah, they hit 284.
They went 284. And I'm sure that the Bugatti guys
are not going to take that sitting down so I imagine they'll jump back
in and go out and possibly better that number.
And once those guys duke it out a bit, we'll come out with our new
car and see if we can settle it once and for all.
-OK, what's your number?
-I'd like to get 300.
We'll see. We think the car's capable.
It's got enough power and the aero's right, just got to make sure
it has the proper balance of enough downforce but
not too much downforce. The Venom F5.
So maybe we'll see some time next year.
And, Sabine, what's the fastest you've gone?
-You had him worried there for a second.
-What was that in?
-In the Bugatti Veyron.
-In Abu Dhabi on a normal road.
Well, maybe we'll come back and we'll film with you.
Yeah, or we borrow it and we go on the Nordschleife again!
No, no, you're not driving.
-Come on, Rory.
-Only if I can drive.
You have no clue about the Nordschleife.
-It's too dangerous.
-Be careful what you wish for.
This is true. This is true.
All right. Now, no episode of Extra Gear would be complete without
a Harris Hot Lap, and this week Chris takes what might be
his last chance to fling the Vauxhall VXR8 around Dunsfold.
Is there any other way to behave in an HSV GTSR?
I think you've got to do it, haven't you?
I love this thing. I know it's not as polished as an AMG
or an M car, but it has a personality all of its own
and one that we have to celebrate because, sadly,
we're not going to see another one. It's the last of the lot.
I think they're great cars.
The interior's a bit ropey and the plastics aren't as good and all that
stuff, but who cares? It's bright-green and it's a larrikin,
or is it a bogan? It might even be a bogan, you know.
It's a yobbo of a car.
It's one of those cars that feels enormous when you get in it.
595 horsepower, 460-odd foot-pounds of torque.
But it's quite nimble.
It's really well sorted.
You can tell it's been developed by a bunch of people
that really know how to drive and enjoy driving.
It stops well, too.
Pretty much two tonnes of car and it holds itself down very well.
Brakes are good, grip is good and, when you want it to slide,
you just sort of think about it and what happens?
Here we go. Look at that, it's wanting to slide the whole time.
Chris doing what Chris does best.
Let's talk about this car.
The VXR8 is...
I guess it has something in common with the Mustang, doesn't it?
It's just this kind of affordable, raw,
high-performance car that is aimed at the common man.
And it's... It's there to be enjoyed
and tyre smoke and wild sideways action
is kind of what it's all about. Can you...
-Does that kind of resonate with you?
-Yeah, it does.
I had a car very similar to that. It was my daily driver
for a couple of years. In the US, they sell
a similar version called a Chevy SS and we tuned it up a little bit.
-So a lot of fun. Great value.
Sabine, I know you're all about precision on the Nurburgring,
making sure your lines are tight, coming out of a corner
and accelerating at just the right point,
braking at just the right point. But, surely, you...
You know, you've got to enjoy being a hooligan sometimes as well.
Yeah, I'm a big fan of the V8 stuff from the Australian race...
..like the Holden Commodore, yeah?
-These things are so good.
A friend of mine, he bought one and I had a look at it.
It was a piece of...rubbish.
But it was a Holden Commodore! We had so much fun with it.
Yeah, but it might be the end of an era. These things are dying out.
-It's kind of going down...
-It's a shame.
-It's going down the road
of, you know, hybridisation and electric cars, and things like that.
You're not a fan?
Not a fan. Anyone else in here a fan of electric cars?
-All about the V8, yeah?
I mean, if I want to drive a golf cart, I go to the golf course.
-Well said. Well said.
-100% with you.
Now, I need to address Chris Harris.
He was calling Australians bogans.
And our producer's actually found a clip of Chris
when he was down under reviewing the HSV Maloo,
where he kind of did the same thing.
I'm not going to resort to crude stereotypes.
So, I'm going to don my bluey.
I've got my Vegemite.
And I've got my can of VB.
We shouldn't be clapping that. We shouldn't be clapping that.
What is going on with the shorts?
-That is truly offensive.
Chris, ever the diplomat. Anyway, that's about all
we have time for tonight. Let's give a big thank you to my guests,
John Hennessey and Sabine Schmitz.
Cheers, guys. See you next week. Goodnight.
Extra Gear is back for a series packed full of Top Gear exclusives, special guests and even more motoring madness. In the first episode Texan tuner John Hennessey and Sabine Schmitz join host Rory Reid in the studio to celebrate all things V8. Rory gets behind the wheel of an MK 1 GT40 with 1969 Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver, and Chris Harris takes a Vauxhall VXR8 GTS R around the Top Gear test track.