Motoring show. Jeremy Clarkson asks why there aren't more three-wheeled cars in the world, while James May attempts to drive a Toyota Hilux up an active volcano in Iceland.
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Tonight in new, serious Top Gear, James catches fire.
Richard knocks something over.
And I crash a Reliant Robin into a lamppost.
Hello, we're back! We're back!
We're back and we are...
..more sensible than ever.
Well, we're starting sensibly anyway, with this,
the Bentley Continental GT.
It's not my cup of tea, if I'm honest,
but if you live in Cheshire and you have to travel great distances
at high speed in drinks globe luxury it really is in a class of one.
Now, however, there's a new version which is a bit different.
It's called the Continental Supersports, and this is it.
most outlandish car Bentley has ever made.
First of all, it's been lightened.
The rear seat has been replaced with air.
The sofas up front are now racing buckets trimmed in the Duke of Westminster's smoking jacket.
And there is carbon fibre on the dash rather than walnut.
The result is dramatic because that car weighs just two and a quarter tons,
about the same as a three bedroom terraced house.
Still, it's not like there isn't enough power to deal with the bulk.
It has the same engine as before, a 6 litre twin turbo W12,
but now it produces 621 horsepowers.
The result is 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.
God, that is 167, 168 and it's still pulling!
Flat out, it will do 204 miles an hour,
even if you fill the tank with Jerusalem artichokes.
That engine has been designed to run on something called bioethanol, fuel made from plants.
And if you use that rather than petrol the power output remains
the same, but you get fewer carbon dioxides coming out of the back.
Sounds wonderful, if you believe in this carbon malarkey,
but there are a couple of drawbacks.
First of all, there are 8,850 petrol stations in Britain, but only 20 of them sell bioethanol.
And, secondly, when you're running on maize it's not what you'd call economical.
Honestly, it gets through veg faster than Paul McCartney's ex.
The Supersports, then, it's all much as you'd expect,
very fast, very heavy and at speed about six miles to the gallon.
But don't be fooled by the headlines.
This is spooky.
I've got an automatic gearbox and air conditioning, satellite navigation and it's very quiet.
It's just like a normal Bentley, but look at the way it changes direction.
This car is like an elephant with the reflexes of a water boatman.
And if you're watching in Poland and you don't know what
a water boatman is, it's like an Evo X, it really is.
And if you're watching in Ethiopia and you don't know what an Evo X is,
what I mean is it does things rather well. No, not well!
Why did I say "well"? Oh, God.
Then you have the brakes which can tear your face off.
To make the Bentley a race track screamer it's been fitted with
carbon ceramic discs, new suspension bushes and different anti roll bars.
Though when I say different I mean, of course, enormous.
They've also reprogrammed the four wheel drive system so that now most of the power goes to the back.
Imagine then that if you mash the throttle into the carpets halfway around a corner
it will spin up its rear wheels and hang its tail out like a small dog.
Sorry, that was a dreadful simile, dogs don't have wheels.
Unless they'd been in an accident.
But here's the extraordinary thing, OK?
It doesn't! Coming up to the Hammerhead going the wrong way,
halfway round, foot hard down...
..it doesn't! It just grips.
Of course, you can make it misbehave if you go way too fast and poke it with a stick.
But even if you do that the computer steps in,
sends power to the front wheels and, bang, everything is sorted out!
It is uncanny.
It is a very impressive car, this.
But I don't like it.
What they've tried to do here
is turn an ocean liner into a speedboat.
And, yes, they have sort of pulled it off,
but it still feels very big and very heavy. Oh dear!
So big and so heavy in fact that I believe it has just shredded its rear tyres.
Oh dear! Now, I don't think that's legal any more,
The upshot then is simple.
If I wanted to spend £163,000 on a speedboat
I'd buy something that was designed to be a speedboat in the first place.
In short, I'd buy an Aston Martin DBS.
Thank you very much.
Really? You would have the Aston?
No, it's more nimble, it's got two more seats,
doesn't weigh the same as a church.
-Doesn't eat its own shoes.
-No, this is the best car in the world.
-No, it isn't.
Yes, it is. Anyway, we must now find out how fast
the Wilmslow Express goes round our track
and that, of course, means handing it over to our tame racing driver.
Some say that his discharge is luminous...
..and that even as we speak he is appearing on the main stage
at Glastonbury performing his most famous hit, Superstition.
All we know is he's called The Stig.
He's off! Note the flags there, Stig displaying his support for the Norwegian football team.
I tried to explain they aren't actually in the World Cup, but this made him very angry.
Here he is, first corner, looking nice.
Interestingly, he's the only person in the world who
likes the sound of the vuvuzela, because he invented it!
There he is, round Chicago, very tidy for a big car.
Now, Hammerhead. This should be astonishing.
Oh no, it's exploded! It's rolled end over end!
This is incredible! But Stig's out of the wreckage!
He's dodging the naked waitresses and...he's on fire!
He's now coming up to Gambon.
No, no! He's taking his helmet off!
It's her! Right round the tiger!
He's just a shaken hands with Elvis and there he is, across the line!
I don't believe that, the most exciting thing I've ever seen and some idiot at Television Centre
cut to an advertisement for a stupid little Korean hatchback.
It's a good job ITV didn't cover the moon landings. 10 foot. BEEP.
Five foot. BEEP.
# If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit... #
Anyway, I have the time,
and it did it in 1:24.9, which puts it there.
And that's not bad, really, for a small moon.
Anyway, now we must turn our attention to the Icelandic volcano because although it went on
to become global news, the actual eruption itself started out quite
small and that got us wondering how close could you get to it in a car.
Now, obviously, this was a job for a rugged, outdoorsy sort of chap.
Unfortunately, Jeremy was on holiday,
so James went.
It's very hard to drive across Iceland at the best of times.
But luckily I had just the vehicle for the job.
This looks exactly like the Toyota that Jeremy and I
drove to the North Pole.
More to the point, this has been to the North Pole with us,
but you never saw it and it never got any of the glory
because it was the one driven by the camera crew.
After we got back from the Pole our car went off to a museum whereas this one was just left to rot.
Today, though, I'm going to bring it back to life and give it one more mission.
Wow, I never actually thought I'd be so pleased to see one of these again.
This really brings it all back,
the ice going on and on forever, the boulder field going on and on forever.
I can hear Jeremy going on and on forever.
No matter, my job is to turn this into the world's first volcano-proof car,
which means a visit to Emil,
the 4x4 genius who built it in the first place.
I mean, what are the unique risks to volcano driving,
apart from obviously being consumed by molten lava and burnt to a crisp?
It depends on how close you want to get.
Very close. As far as I can work out no-one's ever actually driven
right up to the mouth of an active volcano in a car, so it's another Top Gear first if we can do it.
Some people claim you can walk on hot coals if you wet the bottom
of your feet and I was just wondering, if there was some system
of continuously wetting the tyres would it be possible to drive across the hot lava?
If you don't fall through, possibly, yeah, if you drive fast.
Emile didn't look very confident,
but we set to work anyway...
..and by the next morning, the volcano-buster was ready.
I know I look a bit like a petty thief on my way home from some corrugated roof robbery
at the allotment, but there's a very good reason for all of this.
Their lava occasionally goes over an area of water and that
causes an explosion throwing bits of lava and rock up into the air,
so that's there to stop those lumps coming down and breaking the windscreen, or my head.
We've also fitted our new and pioneering tyre cooling system.
There's an oil drum on the back full of water and pipes feed the water to the tyres.
Now, obviously, there's a risk of it freezing and we can't put antifreeze
in the water because that pollutes the glacier, so we've added a dash of vodka.
As I drove onto the glacier, I stopped to hook up with
a volcanologist who couldn't get to the volcano because of the weather.
And it's fantastically windy. I've never seen or felt a wind like it.
Because of this storm that has been raging for the last few days, we haven't really been able to visit
the area to see what's going on there.
So at the moment, with this weather, in this white-out,
really nobody knows what's happening.
Exactly. Nobody can see.
As night fell, the storm became worse.
It was so bad that by morning, it had taken the lives of two locals.
This is what we're seeing, or what we're not seeing, I should say.
Visibility is probably less than 10m.
We reckoned that as long as we could follow the car carrying Emil and the camera crew, we'd be OK.
There it is. There he is.
But we weren't.
Oh, I've lost the tail lights.
Wow, that's dark.
Soon, we were completely lost.
-Can you see any red lights?
-I don't see anything.
Right, we are now, effectively, driving on instruments.
Outside the window is just... it's a complete sheet of white.
There's a blizzard going.
The windscreen itself is freezing up.
The windscreen wipers have frozen up.
It's quite unnerving.
Eventually, I had to get out to unjam the wipers.
-Oh, my God.
Look at that.
God, I've never known anything like that.
I hadn't realised how strong that was, being in here.
I could hardly stand up.
We ploughed onwards until, at last, salvation.
-Lights! Look, lights! There they are.
Eventually, the storm cleared and we arrived at
our overnight stop, where we were greeted by a spectacular sight.
-Wow, look at that!
How far away is that?
About one and a half kilometres.
I can hear it, as well.
It's like cannon fire.
The next morning, still with no idea how big this eruption would become, I dropped off the professor...
Thanks for a ride.
..and headed on alone, until at last I got my first close-up look at the volcano.
God in heaven, look at that.
Lava was spewing out at a temperature of 1,200 degrees centigrade,
and right in front of my eyes, a brand-new part of the world was being created.
It was now my job to test our volcano car by driving up to
the crater and scooping up a fresh piece of landscape as a souvenir.
And to help me with that, they've given me a garden trowel,
on an extending pole, held on with sticky tape, and...
And of course, I have my corrugated roof
and I'm in the best off-road vehicle I've ever driven.
So, piece of cake, really. Here we go.
Does look quite angry.
Oh, God, look at that.
Even though I was driving on lava that had fallen days ago,
it was still red hot, and the Top Gear vodka tyre cooling system was working overtime.
Right, what I need is for a piece to land quite near me,
and then I can reach out of the window and grab it.
Bravely, I decided that was far enough.
Oh, my word.
I don't know if you can see this but it's raining red-hot lumps.
God, that's hot.
It was time to break out the lava scoop.
Whoa! Bloody hellfire.
Look at the size of that!
A piece of that would do nicely.
It's still glowing slightly.
God, that's hot.
Oh, that's getting a bit frisky.
In the excitement of bagging a souvenir, I'd stayed still for too long.
We're on fire. Right, I'm off.
With the tyres steaming, I beat a retreat from the volcano,
clutching my brand-new piece of planet Earth.
I claim you for Queen Elizabeth and Top Gear.
And best of all, the unsung hero finally got the recognition it deserves.
Ferrari has broken the lap record of the Nurburgring for production cars with this, the 599XX.
It did it in six minutes, 58 seconds.
-That's faster than than Clay Regazzoni's lap record in an F1 car.
I know the track's a bit shorter now, but that is almost unbelievably fast.
-For a road car. For a production car.
It does have a six-litre V12 and 772 horsepower,
and it costs £1.2 million.
And, you can't actually have it.
Well, unless you've got £1.2 million, obviously.
No, you can buy it, and you own it, but then they don't let you have it,
but they do let you drive it occasionally, if they feel like it.
Can I just say, this was the actual photograph that Ferrari sent to us
to show what the car looked like at the Nurburgring.
Now, I'm not sure it's particularly brilliant. If we look at the graffiti on the track...
-Yes, a normal Nissan GTR costs, what, 60 grand?
OK. Well, this is the new one. It's the Spec V. V Spec GTR.
That is £125,000, all of a sudden.
-Why is it £125,000?
-It's difficult to tell.
It doesn't have more power than the normal car, but it does have something
called a boost-control device. Basically, it's a button.
When you press it, it spools up both the turbos and releases a sudden burst of more power!
I just hope that button is mounted on top of the gear lever
under like a little cage and you lift it and go, "Ohhh!"
And then you've got to know the code word. And maybe two keys in the dash have to be turned simultaneously...
-Like on a nuclear submarine?
-Yes, that's what I'm thinking!
A mission from the president. It's a go. I want it, just for that button.
-Because this is sensible Top Gear, I will say
-it also comes with a very competitive three-year warranty.
Now, are there any girls here? Good.
Don't ever faint in Holland.
That would be my Top Gear top tip for the night.
We've got some footage here, explains what I'm on about.
Start of a race. There's the grid girl. Oh, she's gone a bit wobbly.
And she's fainted. There you go.
So you're thinking, "Poor girl." You're thinking, "Ooh, no - now she's lying on the track."
So, as we can see, men in high-visibility jackets have come over to make sure she's OK.
Or are they making sure she's OK?
How do you...? Oh, put your hand on her bottom.
-That's the ticket. That's what he's done.
-Checking for her pulse.
Now let's hear what the driver's got to say.
Get the girl off!
That's a racing driver, isn't it? All over.
Everybody, good news.
No, wait. It's better than you think.
The new Dacia...Duster...
-IS coming to the UK.
-That's great. Good.
-Now, for this new series of Top Gear, we have a new reasonably-priced car.
I know, exciting. But it gave us a dilemma -
what to do with the old one.
Every year in Britain,
over two million cars go to their deaths.
And frankly, it's a pretty cold and clinical affair.
Tyres are made into carpet underlay.
Dashboards are melted down to make garden furniture.
The once-sleek bodywork gets reincarnated as a washing machine.
All in all, a lot of eco-worthiness but absolutely no emotion.
And that's quite sad when you think about it.
Because the car doesn't just carry people. It carries memories.
Take this one, for example.
It's an ancient Mazda 323 that will never go up the hill at Goodwood
or turn on a plinth at a motor show.
But it's been with the Lister family of Maidenhead for 23 years.
It took Mum to and from hospital when the kids were born.
It did years of school runs.
And when Daniel and Rachel turned 17, they learned to drive in it.
And then adopted it as their passport to teenage freedom.
Sadly, the Listers' 323 is soon to be scrapped.
And it makes you realise that when a car dies,
it should be treated like a death in the family.
And today we find ourselves in that very position.
Because it's time to say goodbye to a special member of the Top Gear family.
Our old reasonably priced car.
The Chevrolet Lacetti.
As a machine, it was never destined to set the automotive world alight.
But it's certainly got some memories.
Think of the real fear and exhilaration experienced by real-life celebrities in this car.
The celebrity sweat from celebrity bums in this seat.
What a life it's been.
But now, it's at the end of its useful life,
and because it's been such a hard life, we're not allowed to sell it.
So with regret, the Lacetti must die.
But the thought of it being crushed and recycled...
and these tyres - Michael Gambon's tyres - being turned into carpet underlay...
I'm sorry, no.
So instead, we've decided to give it a Viking burial.
These magnificent chimneys were built in 1969.
They're 550' high,
and they weigh 7,185 tonnes each.
Except today, they weigh a little bit more because each has been stuffed with 25 kilograms of nitroglycerine.
In a few minutes, that'll go boom, and these will come crashing down.
And in the process, they'll create a fitting tomb for our heroic little car.
I can see already this is the right thing to do.
If I were a reasonably priced car that had been driven round a television show's test track
hundreds of times by celebrities from all over the world, that is the way I would want to go.
I've never thought about it, but that is how I'd want to go.
With the assembled mourners looking resplendent in high-visibility jackets,
the funeral service was about to begin.
And there we are.
A dignified Viking burial.
You know, I can just see the nose of the car sticking out, which is pretty shoddy.
You're supposed to cover the whole body, that's the basics, you don't walk away with an arm
sticking out of the ground and say, that's that done!
You cover it all up.
Oh, my God.
What? How was I to know?
"I nearly buried it"? Nobody "nearly buries" anything!
Anyway, we are very sad to say goodbye to the Lacetti...
No, we're not, actually, we never really liked it.
It was rubbish, to be honest. Now it's time to unveil its replacement.
And here it is. Anybody want to guess what's under here?
A Lamborghini, no, it isn't, it's the same height as him, so it can't be a Lamborghini.
They just haven't got this at all, have they? Shall I just reveal?
-Are we ready? Here we go!
-This is the big moment!
It's a Kia!
the Kia cee'd,
-the only car in the world that actually has an apostrophe in its name.
-And what a machine it is.
It has a 1.6 litre engine,
which means it can go from 0-60 in a dazzling 10.4 seconds.
And it'll go on to a mind-boggling top speed of 119 miles an hour.
Engineered in Korea, built in Slovakia. Finished in brown.
It is on sale to you for an incredibly reasonable £14,000.
-That's amazingly reasonable.
-It is incredibly reasonable.
Astonishing. But there is one more issue, because new car means we've got a new lap time board.
We couldn't just invite a celebrity tonight, and ask them, "So!
"Where do you think you came on the board?"
because there's no other names on it. So we've thought of a way of getting lots of names on it all at once
by inviting lots of celebrities to an all-star celebrity summer barbecue festival event.
Since it was going to be a celebrity-packed day,
we arrived at the track good and early to sort out the catering.
I've got 32 sausages. That's going to be enough.
I've got a cauliflower for if a vegetarian comes.
With the barbecue lit, we turned our minds to the guest list.
Well, I've invited Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp...
-Oh, you invited Johnny as well?
-I invited Johnny Depp.
He's been invited twice, but he won't mind. I've invited her again.
Look, if you invite Angelina, she won't come.
-No, she won't.
-We're bigger than ever. She will.
By 9am our spread was ready and we'd laid out a selection of toys to keep our A-listers entertained.
I can't give Harrison Ford this.
Do you think she saw when we went to Vietnam on those bikes?
No. She isn't coming.
-And she wasn't. Who's that?
-That's not Angelina.
I know who that is. Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor.
-I knew that.
-Jeremy. How are you?
Nick was looking forward to driving our new reasonably priced car.
Over there, in brown, the Kia cee'd.
Now that is my sort of car.
-But the Political Editor's start was far from slow.
Ooh, I like the smell of burning rubber. God, it's addictive!
It would've been polite to show an interest in Nick's lap.
Here we go! Don't brake!
But we got distracted by our next guest - Al Murray...
-..who is my kind of guy.
My favourite medium tank of the war, T-34-85 with the larger calibre gun that could take on a tiger.
As Nick was on his hot lap, we should've paid attention.
-Not fifth, you
But sadly, we got distracted again.
Oh, I love it!
Just give me a news conference now. I tell you what, no politician is safe!
It was time to put the first ever result on the new board.
Here it is.
Nick Robinson, 1.499. First!
-You're the first!
The fastest man ever to go round this track in that car.
As Al Murray roared off...
Turn, turn, turn, turn, you doughnut.
..tall Dragon Peter Jones arrived.
My day just immediately takes a downturn. No offence.
With the hellos over, Peter unleashed his killer instinct to win.
Wait a minute! You're supposed to let the other person...
How competitive. He's actually playing himself!
With the game over, we should've turned our attention to Al.
-But at that moment, a Page 3 girl arrived.
-Peta, 23, from Essex.
-Hello, Jeremy Clarkson from Tops Gear.
-Tops Gear?! How are you?
-You're not Jewish, are you?
-I'm not, no.
Good. So we've got sausages and we've got bacon and everything.
Peta didn't fancy ham and sausages, or my vegetarian option.
So at last we turned our thoughts to Al...
..just as he crossed the finishing line.
Yes. Thank goodness it's a one.
You, sir, the fastest.
A fact that Al was keen to point out to Nick Robinson.
Whenever I see you on TV now I'm going to think, "Quicker than him".
Whatever your Downing Street analysis might be, you might know more about
the inner workings of the coalition, but I'm quicker than you.
As the competitive Dragon pounded round, we decided to spy on him.
He doesn't know we can see him.
# Come on baby, light my fire. #
Next to arrive was Johnny Vaughan.
-All right, Clarky.
Who as a former star in the car was keen to gen up on the cee'd.
We're talking 124 brake horse power.
What was the last one?
The last one was 119.
OK. So we're packing five more here.
Five more horses in the stable.
The competitive Dragon had finished his whole lap.
Whoo-hoo! Please tell me that was quick.
Now we would find out the difference between our old Chevy and the new Kia.
This is where all of South Korea is sitting and going, "Do we make a faster car than Chevrolet?"
Seriously, can we go toe-to-toe with the North across the bamboo curtain?
Where were you in the old car? 1.469.
You did it in one minute...
-That's going to take some strangling, that.
-That's a second faster.
-As Peta, 23, from Essex hit the track...
-I cannot change gear.
..Hammond's dreams finally came true.
-Make-up does a lot.
-You might gain a few pounds on the telly, but it doesn't do that.
It does. It does. Get off!
-Cos when Angelina comes, if you've bent the badge, she'll be cross.
-You can't have it!
Out on the track, it was starting to get wet and slippery.
The chaps were desperately concerned for Peta's welfare.
-When does a gazebo become a tent?
-All right. This is not even a tent, is it?
-It's a gazebo.
-No, it's not. It's not even that.
Despite the rain, Peta matched Nick Robinson's time.
Then Johnny Vaughan set off.
Ignore the weather.
To an inspiring soundtrack from Angelina.
Don't lose your bottle, don't lose your bottle.
Keep your foot down, keep your foot down, keep your foot down.
The weather got worse and worse.
-Someone left a cake out in the rain.
This is where you've got to have balls. This is where it counts.
Meanwhile, I'd spotted our next guest.
Someone I'd first encountered on The Jonathan Ross Show.
Oh, my God!
-It's Angelina Jolie.
-No. Hammond, I've just remembered.
-It's June 10th, isn't it?
-Er, yes, it is.
-My wife's birthday.
-I'm going to, no, seriously, I'm going to go now, this second.
This second and I'm going to get her a birthday present.
Next guest is here. He's brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
Real man's man, you know? I'll be back, I'll be back.
-So I'm looking after the...?
-What's he called?
Where's Jeremy going?
-Oh, hello. All right?
-Nice to meet you.
-Hello, Louie. You all right?
Louie seemed very friendly.
Oh, mind. You're getting dribbled there, darling. Just dribbling on you.
Yeah, it's dribbling on you.
Johnny was still out driving.
Come on, come on, come on, come on, come on!
Bill went bird watching and that left me all alone with my new best friend.
-I'll be over here.
-I'm just having a little stretch just before I get in there. Try it.
-Flat back over and just stretch out your hamstrings.
-I'm, I've got a war wound from fighting a rugby player.
-No, no, no.
No, honestly, you'll be surprised.
With Jeremy still not back, the celebrities were getting more and more unruly.
-Bill, get off the track!
-are you doing, Bill?
-The race track is no place for fancy cakes.
-Do you want something to eat?
All right. Custard cream if you're asking.
And one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
And side, two, three, four, catch, take it down, walk around, walk around.
Flip ball change, flip ball change, step turn, step turn, in and look.
Mercifully, I had to go and put Johnny's time on the lap board, but even that was stressful.
We knock five seconds off, or we add five seconds for a wet lap in our mind, so it's five seconds gone.
That's how it works!
'Worse, Johnny started giving advice to Louie.'
Watch your big end as you slide through Hammerhead.
Your back end will slide out if you don't get the purchase up there.
Also, watch your helmet against the steel bars.
'Clarkson finally got back.'
-'Just as the fire was being put out.'
-Don't put the fire barbecue out!
-I wanted one of those sausages.
Louie, what have you done with the fireman who was in that jacket and helmet?
Have things not been going smoothly since I just...
-Yeah, yeah. It's gone well.
As Angelina wrestled with the Kia...
Turn! Turn... We get out of the turn with speed, yes, because speed is our friend.
..our next guest arrived.
Amy Williams, Britain's only gold medallist at the Winter Olympics.
What is it that's worrying you?
I'm quite scared and I'm worried that I'm just going to skid off course by trying to be too quick.
Wait a minute. You earned your notoriety
-from, let's be honest, skidding down a mountain at extremely high speed.
I think that was... Was it a crow? Or was it a raven?
In the celebrity gymnasium, I too was enjoying a spot of bird watching.
Take your arms up to the side.
-Meanwhile, Richard Hammond is with Louie Spence.
And you go flat out through there, and you come to a tight left here.
-Quite a wide bit of the track there.
So I can just go back to the flat out but up here, this tight bit here?
You just go flat out through there, and then flat out round there.
So, why am I so tight up to the edge here?
As Jeremy tried to impress Amy...
I'm extremely fit. I don't think a lot of people realise that.
..Angelina was finishing her lap, confident that she'd beaten Johnny Vaughan.
Ha ha ha ha ha!
He was 1:53.3. You did it in 1:50.8.
-Oh ho ho!
..when Louie out on the track.
BLEEP! Where's that corner gone? There it is.
I wanted to say hello to Amy, but unfortunately she was still being monopolised.
I can do Congratulations, are you ready?
-Despite a few pirouettes...
..Louie finally banged in a lap.
You did it in 1:53.69.
Louie was very unhappy.
I gave a better show than Johnny.
I mean he took no chances.
-No chances at all!
-So I left him and Hammond to say a tender goodbye...
Can I have my helmet back now?
..and escorted Amy to the car.
OK, so, skeleton run, here we go. But in a car.
I was looking forward to watching her lap.
But Hammond kept shouting at me.
I've been running all of his.
I've been in charge of everything you see here.
This whole operation takes a lot of looking after.
-I've been back for hours.
-Standing on wobbling machine with a sports girl.
-Why can't I look after the girl?
-You can, but I'd like to have talked to her.
Maybe you could have talked to Louie for a couple of minutes?
I did! I said goodbye.
Out on the track, Amy was displaying all of the raw skill...
..that had won her a gold medal. In my mind, she was brilliant.
-Watch, watch, watch.
Amy, you did it in...
Now, bear in mind we've got a 1:53.7, and a 1:50.8.
-These are the wet times.
You did it in 1:50.9.
-So, you're there.
-I'm just disappointed about that.
I think I do have to come back and practise a little bit more.
I'd be delighted if you came back. Absolutely thrilled.
-When it's not raining.
-Maybe you could use a faster car?
Come back any time. Move in. Practise constantly.
With Amy gone, Jeremy decided there was no reason to stay.
So, I sat down to wait for the real Angelina.
Just give it another hour.
-She was so stunning. She is.
-Louie is a nice guy.
-Let me ask, let me ask. Did she turn up?
-No, I didn't think she would.
Anyway, I'd now like you to have a look at this motorcycle.
Now, I know it's not a motorcycle, OK? But the Government says it is.
They say that because it only has three wheels, it's not a car.
And as a result, you save £55 a year on your tax disc.
Now obviously, the best way of exploiting this loophole
is to take a wheel off your car and drive round on the other three,
but we don't recommend that.
So is there another way?
This is a Reliant Robin.
On the face of it, it's hard to see how it ever caught on.
Even though it was made from plastic rather than steel, it cost more when it was new than a Mini.
Catch on it did, though.
The American Embassy in London ran three as diplomatic cars.
Princess Anne had one.
Here in the North of England, it was such a hit that by the middle of
the 1970s, Reliant was the largest consumer of glass fibre in Europe.
Even to this day, this remains the second best
selling plastic car in history, after the Chevrolet Corvette.
Unlike other three-wheelers, the Reliant's single wheel was at the front rather than the back.
I've always been rather worried that this might have a profound effect
on the handling.
That's why I'm so scared about the challenge which has been set for me today.
I have to drive that car all the way from here, on the outskirts of Sheffield, to a pigeon loft here,
That's a distance of 14 miles.
On the way, there will be many perils such as roundabouts,
pedestrian crossings, pedestrians and traffic lights.
That's why I'm wearing a helmet.
It's also why I insisted the car was fitted with a four-point
safety harness, because I really genuinely believe that what I'm about to do is as dangerous as...
Inviting you mum round for an evening on Chat Roulette. Why?
Here we go. Reliant Robin.
Oh, no. I've crashed it. I've crashed it almost immediately.
I mean, literally, 20 feet.
I can't get out, obviously.
I'm completely stuck.
Luckily, people in the North of England are friendly and keen to help out.
Oh heavens, look who it is! It's Phil Oakey.
Do you think you can push me back on my wheels?
-Thanks very much.
Thank you, so much.
-Thank you very much, Phil Oakey, out of the Human League!
I suppose as a Sheffield boy, Phil Oakey spent a lot of his youth
putting Robin Reliants back on their wheels.
When he wasn't rescuing waitresses from cocktail...
Where's Martin Fry out of ABC when you need him?
That's a...useful feature.
In the early days, the Robin had a 750cc engine.
With 32 brake horse power on tap, 0-50 took 22 seconds. 0-60...
wasn't really possible.
In 1975 though, Reliant fitted an 850cc engine.
This improved the acceleration enormously.
But the consequences were catastrophic...
The big engine increased the top speed too... It would now do 85.
That was catastrophic as well.
Oh no! I'm 50 years old.
I'm on the side of a street in Sheffield.
Oh, is that the sound of somebody?
Hello? Peter Stringfellow!
Were you just walking by, or...
Thank you so much, Peter Stringfellow out of lap dancing clubs.
-I can't thank you enough.
To try and understand why the Robin was so popular up north, I pulled over to chat to some enthusiasts.
-How do you drive a Reliant?
You don't go round roundabouts.
You get to it and you see where you're coming off, and you go straight across.
Try to avoid t'hill in t'middle.
-Cement on the passenger seat.
Sack of cement on t'passenger seat belt, helps the balance.
Why do you think Reliant owners have big tool boxes?
To weigh it down. I was going to say...
Your teeth, did you lose these in a Reliant accident?
You did, didn't you?
Why do you think, everybody, Reliants were so popular in t'North?
-The miners used them.
-But why? Because they were more expensive than Minis.
Because a lot of miners originally started with motorbikes, and they didn't have a full driving licence.
So to get out of t'weather in winter when it were absolutely siling it down,
-they bought a Reliant.
-So it was just because miners didn't have a driving licence?
Some of them. But other ones, also in t'winter, with them being light,
you'd get your normal car stuck in t'snow or whatever.
These just simply glide over top.
Until you get to a corner!
Well, long as you live somewhere with a straight line to t'pit.
Soon, I was back on my perilous journey.
In this, it feels like I'm driving through South Yorkshire in the 1970s, again.
I grew up not far from here, so did James May, for that matter.
When I were a lad round 'ere, all t'rich people, them as could
afford four wheels on the car, they all had Ladas.
Lah-de-dahs we called them. You didn't want to hit one of them,
I'll tell you that for nowt, they were built like tanks.
One of the best ways to protect your Robin was to lavish it with
an exotic paint job, such as this Starsky And Hutch homage.
The idea was that having spent many hours with the spray cans
and the masking tape, you'd drive more carefully.
But this didn't always work.
It really is a wonder how anyone in the North survived the 1970s.
Of course, a lot didn't.
In 1971, the population of Sheffield was 573,000.
Since then, it's dropped to just 513,000.
Some of the lost 60,000 moved south, of course.
But many, many, many more were wiped out by their three-wheelers.
Today, of course, most of the Robins are gone and people up here drive Kias and Hyundais instead.
This means the local TV news channel has to think of things
other than Reliant crashes to put in its bulletins.
To Braithwell in South Yorkshire and a blooming mystery that's baffling its green-fingered residents.
Harry is there for us. Harry, what's going on?
Welcome to beautiful Braithwell.
You can see the sun exploding on a kaleidoscope of colour.
I have to say, there has been a real area of controversy here, because over the last few days... My God!
-Are you all right, sir?
-I'm getting used to it now, thanks.
Thanks, very much.
If you could just pop me back on the wheels.
Thank you, so much.
-Thank you, Harry Grayson, out of Look North.
Thank you, so much.
The Reliant three-wheeler soldiered on until 2001,
but then with the mines gone, the customer base dried up.
And it was gone too.
I don't know why Jasper Carrot ever thought that this could be the basis for a joke.
I don't know why we all laughed at Del Boy's Reliant, because it wasn't funny.
It was a complete menace.
Oh, dear. Look at the pitch.
I'm very glad I've put these safety things in.
That's marvellous, thank you. Oh yes, that's comfortable.
Thank you, very much. That's Dickie Bird MBE out of cricket umpiring here, he's not pleased.
It's a cricket match on here!
After this latest accident, I decided to see if there was
some way of correcting the car's flawed design.
I therefore found a workshop and cued the music.
Oh, God, I've driven into the inspection pit.
Soon though, the car was out, and we set to work.
What staggers me most of all is that the Reliant was engineered and built
in Tamworth in Staffordshire, and Tamworth over the years has produced many, many brilliant men.
It was a Tamworth man who captured one of the Enigma coding machines from the Germans in the war.
It's a Tamworth man who fronts The Teardrop Explodes.
I mean, how many more do you want?
So, how come no one in this town of excellence was able to see
that the Reliant could be fixed in a trifle?
How brilliant is this?
It's still a three-wheeler.
You still only pay motorcycle tax, but now,
thanks to these stabilisers...
it can't roll over any more.
I only had six miles of the journey left.
But with my new anti-capsize solution in place,
I knew nothing could go wrong.
And I knew that right up to the moment...
when it did.
Oh, my God!
Neck broken, and drowned.
You can save £55 off your annual motoring costs?
Yes, you can.
But you will be killed doing it?
Yes, you will.
And on that bombshell, it is time to end what I think has been a very serious show.
I think we should congratulate ourselves on that.
Very good work, well done.
We'll see you next week for more sensible buying advice.
Thank you so much for watching and do please remember, drive safely.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and the Stig return.
Jeremy asks why there aren't more three-wheeled cars in the world and investigates further with a closer look at the 1980s comedians' favourite, the Reliant Robin.
Meanwhile, James gives Top Gear's favourite warhorse, the Toyota Hilux pick up, one final assignment as he attempts to drive one up an active volcano in Iceland and the Stig rips up the track in the new Bentley Continental Supersports.
Plus, Richard gives the old Chevrolet Lacetti a dignified send-off before he and Clarkson host a star-studded tea party to welcome in a shiny new Reasonably Priced Car.