James May has revealed that he ordered a Ferrari 458 Speciale to celebrate being on the brink of a new three-year contract with the BBC, before Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘fracas’ ruined it all.
In his column for the Sunday Times, May said the Top Gear trio were about to sign a new contract with a handsome salary, so he decided to treat himself to a new Ferrari.
The star has previously owned two Ferraris, but both were bought secondhand, and this time he wanted to buy brand new, in his specification.
In his column, May said order books for the last naturally-aspirated mid-engined V8 Ferrari were now closed, but the manufacturer agreed to build one more for the Top Gear presenter.
After agreeing to buy one of the last models of the 458, which is soon to be replaced by the turbocharged 488 GTB, May went to Yorkshire to film the last episode of the latest Top Gear series – and ‘everything in the future shattered like the mishandled Christmas bauble’.
Following the incident, May headed to Ferrari’s Maranello factory to specify his dream car. Concerned they might smell a rat following talks of a ‘tastefully austere 458 Speciale’, he opted for a stripe that ‘costs almost exactly the same as a basic Dacia Sandero’, along with luxuries including sat nav, reversing camera and a nose-lift system for speed bumps.
Admitting ‘there’s a cash-flow issue’, May said his order for an exotic Ferrari worth over £200,000 wasn’t a ‘financial disaster’ – more an ‘investment’.
He said: “I could resell it immediately and get my money back, maybe even more.”
The unemployed ex-Top Gear presenter quashed rumours that he, Hammond and Clarkson along with producer Andy Wilman were in talks over a new car show on a different channel.
May added: “Nobody yet knows what is going to happen in the future of Top Gear or its three former presenters. That is the honest truth, despite what you may have read elsewhere. No one has even arrived at a definitive pronunciation of “fracas” yet, so what chance is there that we’d have rescued our careers?”