Greatest hits of Top Gear: in pictures

We say goodbye to the Clarkson, Hammond and May era of Top Gear by looking at the best bits

The greatest hits of Top GearSo, that is it. The last Top Gear…in the world. OK, so that’s not strictly true, as Chris Evans will be slipping into Top Gear in the not too distant future.

But it’s the final Top Gear to feature Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

Here, then are what we think are the greatest hits of the Clarkson, Hammond and May era. Which is your favourite? Start discussing below…

Drive across America

The greatest hits of Top Gear

In 2007, Clarkson, May and Hammond set off for a trip across America in a trio of American cars, each one bought for less than $1,000. The boys were run out of Alabama and shots were fired. It was one of the most memorable Top Gear challenges ever filmed.

Race to Monte Carlo

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Back in the day, the Top Gear challenges were properly tense and nail-biting. In 2004, Messrs Hammond and May raced Clarkson to Monte Carlo. Naturally, Clarkson drove a car – an Aston Martin DB9 – while the duo took to public transport. It was the first of the big races.

Toyota Hilux indestructible test

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Jeremy’s attempt to destroy a Toyota Hilux will go down as one of the greatest features ever to appear on Top Gear. The tough Hilux survived an attempt to kill it with fire, drown it in the Seven Estuary and drop it from a tower block in Hackney.

Motorcycling in Vietnam

The greatest hits of Top Gear

The Vietnam special of 2008 has to be up there with the best-ever episodes of Top Gear. Clarkson’s hatred of motorcycles made it even more memorable. They managed to ride across the entire country in eight days and Hammond’s bike turned pink.

Visiting the ‘Baby Jesus’

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Only Top Gear would think of taking three open-top sports cars to the Middle East and following a star to Bethlehem. The Christmas special involved Clarkson, Hammond and May flying to Iraq and racing around an ancient Roman chariot track. They even saw Jesus. Of sorts.

Ford Probe and knicker elastic

The greatest hits of Top Gear

‘The first Ford that I can remember that looks good enough to snap knicker elastic at 50 paces’ – even in 1994, Top Gear wasn’t afraid to make controversial statements. Clarkson went on to greatness. The Ford Probe didn’t.

St Petersburg special

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Series 22 opened with the brilliant race across St Petersburg. Richard Hammond rode a bike. And fell off. James May drove a Renault Twizy. Clarkson somehow managed to control a hovercraft without killing anyone. And The Stig used public transport.

Amphibious cars

The greatest hits of Top Gear

First they tried to sail their amphibious vehicles across an English lake. Then they went one step further by making an attempt to cross the English Channel. Hammond’s ‘Dampervan’ and May’s Triumph Herald were, quite frankly, rubbish. But amazingly they all managed to reach France in Clarkson’s ‘Toybota’ – brilliant stuff.

Rolling in a Reliant Robin

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Jeremy Clarkson’s Reliant Robin in Yorkshire feature is destined to become a YouTube classic. It was Clarkson at his brilliant best.

The face of the Ariel Atom

Do a Bing search for ‘Jeremy Clarkson Ariel Atom face’. Enough said.

Driving a Peel P50 through BBC TV’s offices

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Given the size of the Peel P50 (it’s the smallest car in the world), maybe Richard Hammond should have covered this feature. Instead it was left to Clarkson and the results were, predictably, brilliant. Even Fiona Bruce’s bottom got a mention.

Creating the P45

The greatest hits of Top Gear

We all enjoyed watching Jeremy Clarkson drive the mad-as-a-box-of-frogs P45 through the busy streets of London. Along with a shopping centre. A theatre. A library. A car wash. A petrol station…

The Botswana Special

The greatest hits of Top Gear

All the cars featured in the Botswana Special deserve a medal. Clarkson’s Lancia and May’s Mercedes-Benz were good, but Richard Hammond’s Opel Kadett stole the show. He liked it so much, he did everything in his power to keep it looking good. He even christened it Oliver and brought it back to the UK.

Caravanning in the New Forest

The greatest hits of Top Gear

James May and Jeremy Clarkson went caravanning in the New Forest. Seeing them racing a pair of caravan-towing crossovers was funny enough, but the scenes leading up to the race were superb. A classic episode.

Paying homage to the E-Type

The greatest hits of Top Gear

For all the nonsense, mayhem and controversies, Top Gear does the serious stuff extremely well. So when Clarkson organised a celebration for the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type, it was soul-stirring stuff.

That Peugeot episode

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Top Gear’s feature on the history of Peugeot certainly divided opinion. In truth, if you look beyond the nonsense, Clarkson and May spoke a lot of truth. The only thing missing was a recognition that Peugeot has returned to form.

Creating the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust

The greatest hits of Top Gear

The Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust was supposed to represent the start of an exciting future for the electric vehicle. Even with James May involved with the project, it turned out to be brilliantly rubbish.

Trying to outrun the British Army

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Seeing a Mitsubishi Evolution VII being pulverised by the British Army was hard viewing. That was until we found out it was owned by a former drug dealer.

The ultimate test of the Skoda Yeti

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Clarkson subjected the Skoda Yeti to one of the most thorough road tests ever to appear on Top Gear. It involved a Ferrari, firefighters, ice cream, fire, dogs, tattoos and a helicopter. Skoda’s website crashed.

Creating the Hovervan

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Turning a Ford Transit into a Hovervan and taking to the River Avon, what could possibly go wrong? Well quite a lot, actually.

Driving a Toyota Hilux to the North Pole

The greatest hits of Top Gear

In 2007, Clarkson and May drove a Toyota Hilux to the North Pole. Quite an achievement, although some people couldn’t look beyond the fact that the pair enjoyed a Gin & Tonic at the wheel.

Cars for pensioners

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Clarkson and Hammond decided it was time somebody built a car for pensioners. So they took a Fiat Multipla and set about converting it. As you do. Naturally, it was painted ‘hearing aid beige’ and featured a grille taken from a Rover. Brilliant.

The ambulances

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Another feature that split opinion, but Clarkson’s attempt at being a paramedic in the back of a Porsche 944 being driven by The Stig completely stole the show.

A new breed of locomotives

We’ll gloss over the fact that two perfectly good cars were ruined during the making of this feature. In order to create a new breed of locomotives, Hammond and May chose an Audi S8, while Clarkson opted for a Jaguar XJS V12 to make his Sports Train.

The Bolivia Special

Episode six of Series 14 was truly epic. May, Hammond and Clarkson were dropped in the Bolivian rainforest with the 4x4s they bought with a budget of £3,500 each. It was hard enough getting the cars off the boat, but the subsequent and quite literal highs and lows associated with getting to the coast were truly epic.

In Search of Driving Heaven

The greatest hits of Top Gear

The trio set off to find the best driving road in the world. Seeing a trio of brightly-coloured supercars on some of the best stretches of road Europe has to offer was memorable. As was the Stelvio Pass. We should also give an honourable mention to the ‘Supercars do France’ episode.

The Source of the Nile

We’re pretty sure this challenge would have sent the Auto Trader website into meltdown. Armed with a trio of £1,500 wagons, Clarkson, Hammond and May set off in search of the source of the River Nile. We couldn’t decide what we wanted more. Clarkson’s 5 Series, May’s 850R or Hammond’s Impreza.

Vauxhall Vectra review

The greatest hits of Top Gear

‘Trying to road test the Vauxhall Vectra is like trying to road test a microwave oven’, ‘said Jeremy Clarkson, back in 1996. He wasn’t too complimentary about a later update, claiming that if his company gave him a Vectra, he’d drive it into his boss.

Racing Transit at the Nürburgring

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Jeremy Clarkson set a lap time at the Nürburgring in a Jaguar S-Type. Later, Sabine Schmitz nearly kept her promise to beat his time at the wheel of a Ford Transit. A van at the ‘Ring – classic Top Gear.

The Britcar 24-Hour race

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Deciding they needed to burn the biofuel they planted in the previous series, Jeremy, Richard and James entered the gruelling Britcar 24-Hour race. The result was a tense and genuinely compelling feature. You could tell the boys put everything into this one.

The Argentina Special

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Yes, that episode. Quite obviously, this was the most controversial Top Gear feature…in the world. A certain number plate on a certain Porsche 928 resulted in a certain amount of rocks being pelted at the cast and crew.

The £1,500 Porsche Challenge

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Another classic challenge, in which the trio were given a budget of £1,500 and told to buy a Porsche. Hammond and May played it safe with a 924 and 944 respectively, while Clarkson, predictably, went wild and opted for a 928. Clarkson’s Porsche did arrive in Brighton…on the back of an AA truck.

Budget Supercars

The greatest hits of Top Gear

Is it possible to buy a £10,000 supercar and not face financial ruin? It all looked so promising when the trio turned up in Bristol in a Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati. Naturally, things didn’t go according to plan.

Thank you, Top Gear

We could have gone on and on. There are many, many more classic Top Gear moments to choose from. But we finish with a thank you to Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May for years of automotive escapism. We’re going to miss you, chaps.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


New 2020 MG5 EV news, prices, specs and on-sale date

The MG5 EV is a family-sized family fully electric estate car on sale from October 2020 with prices starting from £24,495

Aston Martin Vantage Roadster (2020) review

Aston Martin has removed the roof from its V8-engined supercar. Is the new Vantage Roadster as good as it looks?

FCA car insurance proposals to stamp out ‘price walking’

The Financial Conduct Authority wants car insurers to stop penalising existing customers with annual price rises, which cost drivers billions.

Caura app aims to save motorists time, money – and fines

Caura wants to be the only smartphone app to manage motorists’ car ownership by aggregating parking, tolls, MOT, car insurance and more