In November, we’ll finally get to see Clarkson, Hammond and May in The Grand Tour. Which got us thinking: if the relative merits of Top Gear or The Grand Tour were judged on the strength of the cars owned by the current presenters, which one would win? Forget ratings, this is what matters. We selected four cars for each presenter and formed a list.
Jeremy Clarkson: Ford Escort RS Cosworth
“One of my all time favourite cars”, is how Jezza summed up the Ford Escort Cosworth, a car he did “most things in and with” in the early 90s. “Why doesn’t Ford make stuff like this today?” questioned Clarkson at the turn of the millennium. Sixteen years on, it’s fair to say Ford does: the Fiesta ST and Focus RS are up there with the best of them.
James May: Rolls-Royce Corniche
You might remember James May’s 1972 Rolls-Royce Corniche which appeared alongside Jezza’s Mercedes-Benz Grosser in an episode of Top Gear. “Frankly if you have £25,000 to spend on classic luxury and you don’t buy one of these, you’re an imbecile,” is what May said at the time. And, right on cue, Clarkson wafts into view in a huge slice of Stuttgart.
Richard Hammond: Morgan Aeromax
The Hamster bought his Morgan Aeromax in 2009 and said “I can’t stop looking at it, driving it and thinking about it.” Later that year, he was involved in an accident in which he drove into the back of a Nissan. Hammond sold the Aeromax in 2011, before it was put up for sale again in 2014.
Chris Harris: Ferrari 512 TR
Chris Harris has owned not one but two Ferrari 512 TRs, breaking one of his own car-buying rules by revisiting an old motor. Of his second purchase in 2013 – a 56,000-mile 512 TR – Harris said on PistonHeads: “you buy it with your eyes open and, frankly, hope for the best”. This will chime with anyone who has bought a secondhand performance car.
Matt LeBlanc: Porsche 911 GT2 RS
Matt LeBlanc famously set the fastest time around the Top Gear Test Track, with 1:42.1 making him the fastest star in a reasonably priced car. Strong credentials when you’re in the running to take over as host of the world’s most popular motoring show. In a radio interview, LeBlanc said the Porsche 911 GT2 RS is the best car he has ever owned, but did claim the car scared him. For him, “nothing comes off the apex like a rear-engined car”.
Eddie Jordan: BMW M235i
In an interview with the BBC, the man with the loud trousers said his current car is a BMW M235i. When asked what car he’d buy to last the rest of his life, Jordan said: “Actually, I adore my little 235i, I think it’s the greatest car I’ve ever had.” Praise indeed.
Sabine Schmitz: Porsche 997 GT3 RS
As you’d expect, the ‘Queen of the Nurburgring’ has access to some of the fastest track cars on the planet and is a huge fan of all things German. Of all the cars she has owned, we reckon a hot lap in her Porsche 997 GT3 RS would be the most exhilarating. Schmitz admitted that thousands of people have thrown up after being in her ‘Ring Taxi.
Rory Reid: Hyundai Sante Fe
Social media sensation turned Top Gear hero Rory Reid has owned some rather interesting cars, but his current motor is a tad more sensible: a 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe. Reid told us it’s “fully murdered out: black paint, black alloys, black windows”. He said he bought it because he “needed something sensible for the family – I have two young children and a third on the way”.
Jeremy Clarkson: Ferrari F355
“This is the nicest car I have ever, ever driven”, said Clarkson when reviewing the Ferrari F355 on Top Gear. Little wonder, then, that Jezza spent over £90,000 to order one new from the factory. It arrived six months later and, during an episode of Clarkson’s Car Years he said “it can still electrocute every nerve ending… in my body”.
James May: Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera
Having decided he wanted something “a bit more fruity” than his Bentley and Range Rover, James May went out and bought a Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera. The screen price was £16,955, although he managed to knock £1,250 off the price and negotiated a pair of new inner arches. He claimed it was the first 911 he saw and buying it “was easy”.
Richard Hammond: Ford Mustang GT 390
Of his Ford Mustang GT 390, Hammond said: “The thing simply looks good and makes me feel a bit warm in the trousers”. Of the noise, he said “you either love the sound of a V8, or there’s something oddly wrong with you”.
Chris Harris: BMW M5 E28
“It’s the best money I’ve spent on a car,” said Chris Harris when waxing lyrical about his 1986 BMW M5. He loves the engineering, the fact that it was hand-built and the fact that it feels as quick now as it did in 1986. What makes his M5 all the more special is that it’s “a bit scruffy around the edges” and is certainly no trailer queen.
Matt LeBlanc: Fiat X1/9
When asked about his biggest mistake he’s made in a car, Matt LeBlanc told Top Gear: “I put the wrong plugs in my Fiat X1/9 and it ran like s**t. Took me a while to realise why.”
Eddie Jordan: Saab 99
We know that Eddie Jordan rates the BMW M235i as the best car he has ever owned, but what about the worst? That honour falls to the Saab 99, about which he said: “It didn’t have a brake pedal as such, it had a little ball, and if you put your foot on the ball, it slowed. It was the most ridiculous thing ever.” It’s fair to say he didn’t like the 99.
Sabine Schmitz: Ford Ranger Wildtrak
When Sabine isn’t terrorising people on the Nurburgring, you’ll find her looking after her horses on her huge farm in rural Germany. For this she uses her “very practical” Ford Ranger Wildtrak.
Rory Reid: 1988 Yugo
We said Rory Reid has owned some ‘interesting’ cars. He told us his 1988 Yugo was “reddish orange” in colour and that it “broke down all the time”. It featured a “very loud” Beetle exhaust and, when the car wasn’t working, he simply jumped in his 1984 Volkswagen Polo. His worst car? According to Reid, that would be a 1995 Hyundai Accent.
Jeremy Clarkson: Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser
In 1963, the Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser was the most expensive car in the world, driven by only the wealthiest and the most powerful. According to Clarkson, the Grosser cemented Mercedes’ reputation for engineering integrity. Of all the cars Jezza has owned, this one could be the best.
James May: Ferrari 458 Speciale
James May ordered his Ferrari 458 Speciale before the infamous ‘fracas’ led to the downfall of the what we now refer to as old(ish) Top Gear. Having failed to cancel the order when he became ‘suddenly unemployed’, he pressed ahead with the purchase of the last ever Ferrari 458 Speciale, in dark blue. But then, in a last minute change of heart, he ordered it in bright orange.
Richard Hammond: Dodge Charger R/T
In case you haven’t guessed, Richard Hammond loves a classic American car. Along with a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T, he also bought a 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT-8 during series 18 of Top Gear.
Chris Harris: Citroen AX GT
You might associate Chris Harris with big, powerful supercars, often accompanied by a cloud of tyre smoke. But he’s also a bit partial to small French cars, owning the likes of a Peugeot 205 XS, Citroen 2CV and a Citroen AX GT. His “completely standard” AX GT was purchased from a fellow motoring journalist.
Matt LeBlanc: Ferrari 360 Modena
In a radio interview with Chris Evans, Matt LeBlanc said that although Ferraris are “great cars”, he much prefers to drive a Porsche, claiming the cars are “the most practical, real-world supercars”. LeBlanc bought a 2000 Ferrari 360 Modena and immediately added black five-spoke alloy wheels. Later, he traded it in for a Ferrari 458 Italia.
Eddie Jordan: F1 team
Does this trump them all? Why restrict yourself to cars when you can own an entire F1 team? Eddie Jordan Racing was founded in the early 1980s and raced in F1 from 1991 to 2005. In 2014, Jordan sold his collection of racing cars and memorabilia to raise money for charity.
Sabine Schmitz: John Deere
Sabine Schmitz posted this photo on Facebook, saying: “Warm up for the WTCC on my John Deere, I didn’t use 4 wheel drive today.” Turns out Sabine’s life is one of horsepower and, er, horse power.
Rory Reid: Vauxhall Astra GTE
Rory Reid has owned not one, but two Vauxhall Astra GTEs, including a 1987 Mk2 16v. It was “modified with an aftermarket exhaust”, but the ABS didn’t work, a fact Reid found out the hard way when an attempt at an emergency stop resulted in “me careering straight through a junction”. Fortunately for Reid, he didn’t hit anything.
Jeremy Clarkson: Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder
Jeremy Clarkson is a big fan of the old Volvo XC90, having owned three of them. He also owned a Ford GT, which he sold to buy a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder.
James May: BMW i3
James May’s ownership of a Fiat Panda has been well documented and was often referenced during episodes of Top Gear. Sadly, ‘Captain Slow’ has since sold his Panda, and can now be seen pootling about London in an electric BMW i3.
Richard Hammond: Opel Kadett
Richard Hammond fell in love with ‘Oliver’ the Opel Kadett during the filming of the Botswana special. He drove the Kadett A across the spine of Africa, with the only problem occuring when he drove the car into a river. Once filming was complete, Hammond had it shipped over to the UK.
Chris Harris: BMW M3 E30
Chris Harris has an enviable back catalogue of motors past and present, including a 1990 BMW M3 E30. Other gems include a ‘soft dash’ first generation Range Rover Vogue SE, a Mercedes-Benz W124 E320 convertible and a Range Rover 5.0 Autobiography.
Matt LeBlanc: Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG
Quite clearly, Matt LeBlanc likes nothing more than hooning about in a Porsche or Ferrari, and he’s certainly got the skills required to drive them properly. But when a little more comfort and practicality is required, LeBlanc climbs aboard a Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG.
Eddie Jordan: Sunseeker 155
In 2014, Eddie Jordan took delivery of a Sunseeker 155 for a reported £32 million. The yacht, named Blush, was the biggest project undertaken by the famous luxury yacht builder. It can cover 4,500 miles on a tank of fuel, although you’ll need deep pockets to fill the tank.
Sabine Schmitz: Fendt tractor
From a yacht to a tractor – the current presenters of Top Gear have eclectic tastes. Sabine Schmitz owns a Fendt tractor.
Rory Reid: Ford Focus EcoBoost
Rory Reid says the Ford Focus EcoBoost is a great car with a great engine, but is quick to criticise the “terrible fuel economy”, claiming “you’d be lucky to get 30mpg.” Having watched the last series of Top Gear, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Rory Reid behind the wheel of a Focus RS. Or maybe a Mustang. The V8, of course.
The Grand Tour
Which brings us to the end of this Top Gear vs. The Grand Tour special. We’ve selected a small number of cars for each presenter and it’s hard to pick a winner. We’ll let you be the judge of that…
The Grand Tour will premiere on Amazon Prime on 18th November 2016, while Top Gear will return to our screens without Chris Evans at the helm. Let the ratings war commence.