Top Gear (series 13)
Top Gear returned to BBC Two for a 13th series on 21 June 2009, with the usual presenting team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and The Stig. The series contained 7 episodes. Despite forced budget cuts, series 13 contained new challenges, new power tests, more foreign travel and more races. Features include the Top Gear Race to the North, a race from London to Edinburgh between steam locomotive No. 60163 Tornado with Jeremy riding in the cab of the train, James May in a Jaguar XK120 and Richard Hammond on a Vincent Black Shadow motorbike, Richard and James racing a letter sent by the Royal Mail in a Porsche Panamera, and a review of the best cars for 17-year-olds. Glamour model and Page 3 girl Madison Welch also made an appearance in the sixth episode.
|104||Series 13 Episode 1||21 June 2009||Michael Schumacher|
Review: Jeremy Clarkson takes the Lotus Evora around the track. The Stig takes it around with a time of 1:25.7. Michael Schumacher dressed as The Stig takes a Ferrari FXX around the track in 1:10.7, making it the leader on the lap times board. The Evora's lap was not shown, instead, the FXX's was aired.
Challenge: The team perform a three way race from London to Edinburgh, Scotland, dubbed the Top Gear Race to the North. A newly built version of a 1949 steam locomotive travelled up the East Coast Main Line, racing against 1949 models of a car and a motorbike travelling on the old A1 Road. The race begins at King's Cross[disambiguation needed] and finishes 400 miles away at the bar of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. The presenters decide who will go in what by randomly taking a folded up piece of paper with the vehicle type written on it out of a hat. Hammond goes first, and to Clarkson's delight, Hammond declares, "I've got the bike!" Clarkson exclaims, "There is a God! There is a God!" as he was dreading having to ride a motorbike from London to Edinburgh following his motorbike experience in Top Gear: Vietnam Special. Clarkson goes next and to May's disappointment, chooses the train. However, May later says that he's "chuffed to bits" to be going in the car. Jeremy shovels coal into the boiler of locomotive No. 60163 Tornado, while James May drives a Jaguar XK120, and Richard Hammond rides a Vincent Black Shadow motorbike. The train opens up a big lead although having to stop four times on the journey for water. The car and bike also have to stop for fuel and Hammond overtakes May during a fuel-stop, but May later takes back the lead and becomes neck-in-neck with Clarkson as they approach Edinburgh. James wins the race with Jeremy coming in second, and Hammond finishing last by a long way due to forgetting to switch off his reserve fuel tank tap and blocking the carburator.
Feature: It was revealed in this episode that The Stig was Michael Schumacher. However, after failing to do a lap round the track, Jeremy Clarkson declared that he may not be The Stig after all, keeping his identity secret once again.
|105||Series 13 Episode 2||28 June 2009||Stephen Fry|
Review: Richard Hammond tests the new Lamborghini Murciélago LP670-4 SV on closed public roads in Abu Dhabi and has a drag race against a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition, the Mercedes being the winner. Then The Stig takes the Lamborghini around the track and sets a lap time of 1:19.0 exactly the same time as the Enzo Ferrari. Clarkson removes the time of the FXX from the board (set in the prior episode), as it had slick tyres for the lap and was therefore not road legal.
Challenge: The three go out and buy cars that are perfect for 17 year-olds, their parents and the insurance companies with a budget of £2500 including insurance. Jeremy buys a Volvo 940 Turbo Estate, which he describes as "The perfect car for any 17 year-old." Richard buys a Hyundai Scoupe and James buys a Volkswagen Golf Mk III. The first challenge was to modify their cars accordingly in order to do what any 17 year-old would want to do — attract girls: Richard fits a body kit to his car, Jeremy fits a waterbed covered in animal skin in the back of his car, hand-paints "TURBO" on the sides of his Volvo (since it was Turbo charged) and May buys a stereo, which Hammond and Clarkson sabotage by setting the volume to full then gluing all the controls. The second challenge involved packing up a camp site and leaving it, which May and Hammond complete, but Clarkson can't get his Volvo up the steep hill out of the field (his car making it out of the field wasn't shown). The third challenge was to get the cars up a driveway at 3am without alerting the owners inside: Hammond scores 50.4 decibels by quietly parking his Scoupe near the door. Clarkson scores 66.1 decibels after crashing his Volvo into a Summer house then attempting to reverse it out, further damaging the Summer house but oddly not waking up the owners. But on May's attempt, Clarkson turned on the Golf's full-volume stereo by remote, causing the owners of the house to wake up. May's resulting score is 98.7 decibels. The fourth challenge is mending their cars after they'd been overturned and a "speed" challenge which was judged by three teenage girls. As the points are totalled up, Clarkson takes away all of Hammond's points just because he crashed into the first obstacle (which was a car) in the speed challenge. Clarkson and May both reveal that the teenage girls awarded them (May and Clarkson) 0 points for their attempted handbrake turns, to which Clarkson then asks female members of the audience why they are not turned on by handbrake turns. Clarkson is declared the winner after evaluating the scores, beating May by 3 points.
News: They once again discuss about the new government scrappage system and the new V8-powered Ariel Atom 500.
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Stephen Fry is the star in the reasonably priced car and sets a time of 1:51.0. Clarkson gives him a "Hot" (an "H" next to his time) adding that the people of Top Gear are responsible for that heat.
Feature: A drag race on closed public roads between two of the fastest cars in the world, the McLaren F1 (driven by The Stig) and the Bugatti Veyron (driven by Hammond), the Bugatti being the winner. In the series 17 Episode 4, it was revealed that the McLaren F1 used in this race was borrowed from Rowan Atkinson, which Clarkson and Atkinson discussed about this in the interview in Star in a Reasonably Priced Car session.
|106||Series 13 Episode 3||5 July 2009||Michael McIntyre|
Review: Jeremy tests the new face-lifted Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series. It set a lap time of 1:23.0, just 0.1 seconds behind the Ferrari F430. The Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series used in the filming of this episode belonged to Theo Walcott.
Challenge: To beat the recession, the three go out to find the best small "cheap and cheerful" car currently on sale in the UK. They test a variety of small cars including the Proton Satria Neo, Chevrolet Aveo, Perodua Myvi. Following a number of activities including haranguing bankers and protesting in London via loudspeakers, they decide the three are cheap but not cheerful. Then they are told to think of cheap cars that they liked. Jeremy picks the Škoda Roomster, Richard picks the Alfa Romeo MiTo and James picks the Toyota iQ. The team head back to the test track, where they do 3 challenges chosen by each other. Richard Hammond chose a 1/4 mile drag race, in which Jeremy explained and was mocked about the Roomster's bad acceleration. Jeremy comes last, James second, and Richard wins. The second challenge was James' idea, that being a sound and vibrations test, which James won as he had the quietest engine. The final challenge was Jeremy's, a lap of the track, whilst carrying a dog. Jeremy had a Great Dane, James had a Saint Bernard and Richard had an Irish Wolfhound. Then after going through Notting Hill with a street full of Fiat 500s, they decide the Fiat is the best cheap and cheerful car to buy in the UK.
News: They discuss the new Citroën C3 and its new 'Visio-drive'. They look at a handbag made of the seat of an old Chevrolet Camaro. Following heatwave warnings by the government earlier in the week, the presenters also discuss a new game they came up with called "Car Sauna" that can be played during a heatwave. It involves parking a car with the engine on, winding all the windows up, turning the air-conditioning off and the heater to maximum. The first person to get out of the car is the loser and pays the other players £10 each. Jeremy lost the game after the inside of the car reached at least 61.9 °C (143.4 °F) and later handed over a £20 note to James and Richard in the studio.
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Michael McIntyre is the star in the reasonably priced car and sets a time of 1:48.7, the same time as Mark Wahlberg. During his timed lap, McIntyre almost rolled the car at Gambon corner, in the same way Michael Gambon almost rolled it during series 1.
|107||Series 13 Episode 4||12 July 2009||Usain Bolt|
Review: Jeremy tests the new Ford Focus RS and then races against Richard who is in a Renault Mégane R26.R. The Focus achieves a time of 1:29.3 but is beaten by the Mégane with a time of 1:28.1. Jeremy claimed that the Renault was on semi[cut]-slick tyres, though Richard did put the time on the board.
Challenge: Richard and James race against a letter delivered by the Royal Mail from the Isles of Scilly (England) to Birsay on Mainland, Orkney (Scotland) in the new Porsche Panamera. Richard and James lose to the letter.
News: The presenters look at a new Lamborghini Gallardo that has been named after Valentino Balboni. Clarkson shows many pictures of burning Gallardos as a warning to people thinking of buying one. They mock the introduction of the Renault Z.E. at the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier in the week. A new Zonda is revealed that Clarkson claims can stop from 124 mph (200 km/h) to 0 in 4.3 seconds. They then look at a badly made, fake Rolls Royce, the GE created by Chinese company Geely.
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Usain Bolt is the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. He set a laptime of 1:46.5
Feature: Jeremy Clarkson takes a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII RS around a British Army testing area in Dorset against an array of new military hardware, including a Jackal, Mastiff PPV and a Trojan combat engineering vehicle in a point to point race. It starts with a close chase, which leads to Jeremy hiding while a Titan AVLB bridges a gorge which he sneakily crosses and gets a lead on the Army. Jeremy ultimately loses the race after being crushed by the scoop on the Trojan after hiding next to it. In part two, Jeremy comes to a minefield and as he is not able to cross it he diverts into scrubland and begins taking live fire after getting ambushed; his car is set on fire along with the surrounding countryside. It is worth noting that the British courts had asked for the car to be destroyed as its owner had been jailed for drug offences with the car being used as a transport vehicle for drugs, Also worth noting is the end where Clarkson shows the difference between a 7.62mm and a .50cal round damage on the radiator
|108||Series 13 Episode 5||19 July 2009||Sienna Miller|
Review: Jeremy Clarkson tests the new Jaguar XFR, a car he compares favourably to the BMW M5. He concludes by stating that it is not necessarily better than the M5, but as good as it, a compliment of the highest regard. After the review, he qualifies that by stating that the M5 is slightly better on the track, but the Jaguar is superior on the road. The Stig manages a lap time of 1:26.7, 0.5 seconds slower than the M5.
Challenge: When the producers claim that front-wheel drive is perfectly adequate for the driving enthusiast, the three are given £1500 to buy rear-wheel drive cars, which will then be put through a series of challenges to prove their uselessness. Jeremy buys a Porsche 944 S2, Richard buys a Nissan 300ZX, and James buys a Ford Capri 2.8L.
As in prior challenges, a back-up car is made available to any presenter whose car breaks down irreparably. In this case, it is a Morris Marina, a car ridiculed in the prior series.
The challenges include driving several hundred miles to a track without breaking down, a braking test, and participation in an ice-driving race. While May's Capri proves less than reliable, all three arrive at the track without serious incident. Upon reaching the track, the Stig sets a lap time in a Renault Twingo, a front-wheel drive car, which the three are then told they must beat. In this case, all three fail. They are then told to accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) and brake as quickly as possible. Items close to their hearts will be placed at the end of the track, similar to the lorry test in Series 12, Episode 1. Hammond stops well short of his motorcycle, Clarkson just barely avoids running into his drum kit, while May runs into his piano at near-full speed, smashing the piano and seriously damaging the Capri's front. As he departs the track, Hammond runs over Clarkson's drum kit anyway.
The trio are then told to travel 110 miles (180 km) to Val Thorens, a ski resort in the Alps. James finds the Capri running worse than ever after its impact with the piano, and after less than an hour the car completely ceases to function, forcing him to use the Marina, which Jeremy repeatedly allege belongs to the wife of the French President. Jeremy steals half the T-top roof off of Richard's Nissan and throws it into the valley, as a "punishment" of rolling over his drum kit formerly. Arriving at the destination, the trio participate in a snow race alongside three professional racing drivers, including former Formula One driver Olivier Panis. They all fail miserably compared to the other competitors, but of the three, James finishes first in the Marina, mainly due to Richard and Jeremy frequently trying to knock the other off the track. They are therefore forced to conclude that the best rear-wheel drive car for £1500 is in fact a Morris Marina. As happened in the prior series, a piano falls on the Marina to close the segment, leading the presenters to run in fear as the credits roll, fearing the renewed wrath of the Morris Marina Owners' Club.
News: They discuss the Autonomobile (a portmanteau of autonomous and automobile), a venture by Google, the makers of Android, to create a car that drives itself. They also joke about Jaguars, and how anyone who owns one is "slightly caddish" and can get away with anything simply by referencing their "Jaaaag", for example; I just ran over your dog... in my Jaaaag. This provides a segue into the review.
Feature: Jeremy attaches a greenhouse to a Range Rover, attempting to completely reduce the amount of carbon dioxide coming from the exhaust. After driving quickly, the greenhouse smashes. It is revealed that he would need a much bigger greenhouse than he used to offset all of the carbon emissions. He then attempts to reduce the emissions from another Jaguar XFR with a box of soda crystals, which he does successfully, although he points out a new box of crystals would cost seventy five pounds and will only last for six miles until which the crystals should be replaced.
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Sienna Miller is the star in the reasonably priced car. Despite having passed her driving test only 5 days before the show (her Virgin Islands driving licence allowed her to drive in the UK for 1 year), and not being used to manual-drive cars, she sets a time of 1:49.8.
|109||Series 13 Episode 6||26 July 2009||Brian Johnson|
Review: Jeremy reviewed the new BMW Z4 and the replacement of the Nissan 350Z, the Nissan 370Z. It involved Animatronic Walking With Dinosaurs and a bit of Springwatch. The BMW did it in 1:28.2, the Nissan in 1:27.5.
Challenge The team was told to go to a classic car auction with £3,000 to buy a pre-1982 car. Richard, who claimed he was 'going ugly early' brought the first lot, a 1953 Lanchester Fourteen, Jeremy bought the first convertible for sale, a 1969 Austin-Healey Sprite Mark IV, which Richard kept calling a MG Midget, for £3,600, so he reluctantly had to spend £600 of his own money on it, and James, after being cautious and being outbid on a Bristol 401, reluctantly had to buy the last item, a 1976 Citroën Ami, which was equipped with a starter handle inserted into the front of the car. After buying their cars, they were told to go to Majorca for the Rally Clásico Isla Mallorca (Majorca Classic Car Rally), a classic car regularity rally. Before they went though, Hammond, who repeatedly claimed that his grandfather had made his car, had to get his car an MOT. This proved difficult, as shown later in the show his long list of errors with the car.
After getting his car an MOT, Richard had run out of money to spend on preparing for the rally. Jeremy had removed the roof and painted green racing stripes down his car and inserted racing seats and a roll-bar, and James had fitted a spare tyre and shovel. They were told to race around a set route passing checkpoints at a set average speed of 50 km/h (31 mph) on public roads with traffic. Points were given for going too fast/too slow, and the one with the fewest points points won. The producers had also chosen their assistant drivers. Jeremy was given Joan Verger, the head of the Balearic Motorsport Federation and former SEAT works driver, who knew the roads well but didn't speak English. Richard was given an English mechanic, Brian Wheeler, who is a little person, and ironically James was given glamour model and Page 3 girl Madison Welch. Jeremy bet £25 that he'd win, which the other two agreed with. At the rally there were many better cars, such as Lancia Stratos, Lancia Delta, Ford Mustang and many Porsche 911s. The co-drivers proved troublesome, as Jeremy struggled to communicate, Richard constantly and accidentally offended Brian with 'short' quips, and Madison was being very uncooperative and didn't know much about car rallying. Jeremy won the challenge, with around 3,000 penalty points, by going too fast initially before reducing his speed due to a clutch fault. James came second with around 44,000 points, and Richard came last with 47,000 as he had frequent breakdowns, the lowest score ever in rallying history.
The next and final challenge was to run 3 Laps round a race track at the same lap time in all 3 laps. Everyone understood, except Jeremy who asked seriously, "If you break down, do you then have to repeatedly break down on the other 2 laps?" Jeremy did 2 very smooth laps at similar speeds, but on his final lap he went mad and raced a Ford Mustang who overtook him, as he said being overtaken is a sign of weakness, and James did 3 laps at the same time "to the nearest second." At the end of the show, it was revealed that James had won in his Citroën Ami, therefore getting £50. After the races, James and Madison are seen having lunch on a picnic blanket. In voice over, Clarkson said, "Some of us... had fallen a little bit in love."
At the end of the show, Jeremy said that all three of them loved their cars so much that they actually bought them for themselves off the BBC. Jeremy then revealed to Richard that he knew all along that the Lanchester in question was actually built at a factory in Wales, meaning that while someone's grandfather probably worked on it, it certainly wasn't Richard's.
News: The three discuss the new Range Rover, and talk about its many cameras. Jeremy mentions using the rear camera view to look at a pretty lady behind him zooming in. He compares this to directing Wimbledon. They also discuss the idea of driving somewhere and then getting off and going on public transport, and compare it to going to the cinema and then seeing a sign saying "Have you thought about reading a book?". They also talked about the Morris Marina that they had destroyed in the prior episode, and show a film clip of Carla Bruni singing a song about how much she wanted her Marina back and how much she hates the 3 presenters (she hates James the most).
|110||Series 13 Episode 7||2 August 2009||Jay Leno|
Review: Richard reviews the Vauxhall VXR8 Bathurst Edition, a modified version of the VXR8 with a supercharged LS2 V8 engine. He also reviews the Maloo E Series, a ute built on the same body with a naturally aspirated LS3 engine. The Stig tests both cars on the track, with the Maloo clocking in at 1:27.1 and the VXR8 coming in at 1:26.3.
News: The trio discuss two new Ferraris; the F430 Scuderia Spider 16M and the upcoming 458 Italia, which replaced the F430 later that year. They comment on how stupid all 499 people who pre-ordered a Scuderia Spider will feel when they realise its replacement has already been announced. Jeremy asserts that the 458 will be a great car, despite the fact that no one has driven one, because of an apparent inverse relationship between the success of Ferrari's Formula One team and the quality of their road cars. They also discuss Ferrari's announcement that legendary F1 driver Michael Schumacher will be stepping in to replace injured driver Felipe Massa for the rest of the season. They offer their condolences to Massa, and comment on their astonishment that despite being hit by a spring at 140 mph (230 km/h), Massa survived and is on track to fully recover. Finally, they comment on how convenient it is that Schumacher has found the time to drive in Formula One now that the series is over and the Stig will have no more cars to test until November. This is a reference to the "unmasking" of Schumacher as the Stig earlier in the series, though Clarkson and Hammond insist that they were just stating the facts.[original research?]
Challenge: James and Jeremy are given the challenge to create a simple but effective TV advertisement for the new VW Scirocco TDi. They are told by their advertising exec mentors that VW insists on centring their advertising on truth, and that they should take the car out to discover its truth. They find that the car is good-looking, well-furnished, and has excellent brakes and handling. However, owing to its 2.0L diesel engine, it has very little power and a very small powerband. They come back to the execs lamenting about this fact and saying that VW have ruined the Scirocco by giving it a weak engine, and the execs spin it around by suggesting that VW instead have made diesel more attractive by wrapping it up in a great package.
Jeremy insists that advertisements are about saying as little as possible with as much fanfare as possible, and his attempts incorporate explosions and severed limbs. James takes a more factual approach, discussing the various efficiency characteristics of the car. Their attempts are met with much criticism, and then they collaborate on an advert centred on a funeral. This does not go well either, and finally they remake the classic VW ad they were shown at the onset of the challenge, with a certain negative ending.
In the end, James makes an ad showing a plant's germination, implying that the Scirocco combines power and eco-friendliness. Jeremy's ad shows clips about the evacuation of Poland following the German invasion in WWII, overlaid with various news anchors' reports about the events, and finally ends with the catchphrase "VW Scirocco: Berlin to Warsaw in one tank". Jeremy asks the audience to, through a show of hands, determine which ad was the best. The audience overwhelmingly votes for Jeremy, who receives a pair of slim glasses as a prize.
Cool Wall: For the first time in the series there is a segment on the Cool Wall. Several cars are ranked, including the BMW Z4 and Nissan 370Z shown in the prior episode, and the Lamborghini Murciélago LP 670-4 SV and Ford Focus RS from prior episodes. Hammond believes the 370Z is worthy of cool status, but because Jeremy disagrees he places it in the top corner of the "seriously uncool" section, well out of Hammond's reach. Hammond responds by driving a power lift up to the wall, removing the 370Z, and placing it well above the wall on a ventilation duct in the "cool" section. Clarkson then kicks the kill switch on the lift, leaving Hammond stuck up there while he places the Pagani Zonda (one of Richard's favourite cars) as well as various pictures of Hammond at the bottom of the "seriously uncool" section.
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: The guest is American talk show host Jay Leno. After discussing his extensive car collection, his lap is shown. He clocks in at 1:48.8, faster than Helen Mirren, who he hoped he would beat, and making him the second-fastest American behind Mark Wahlberg.
Feature: Jeremy drives the Aston Martin V12 Vantage, a modified version of the V8 Vantage with a V12 engine pulled from the Aston Martin DBS V12. The feature shows a montage of rolling and interior shots of the Vantage, with Clarkson remarking very little on the car itself (he says it is an Aston Martin Vantage with a V12 engine, what do you think its going to be like? Stating that it should cover everything he desires.), and more about how various factors such as the Environment, the Economy, the war on speed and problems in the Middle East mean that in the future such cars will be consigned to the history books. Clarkson ends the series by simply saying 'Goodnight', as the credits roll over continuing shots of the Vantage driving through mountainous British countryside.