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The third series of Top Gear aired during the latter half of 2003 and ran for 9 episodes, beginning on 26 October before concluding on 28 December, with the show being hosted by returning presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May. A new "Stig" was introduced after the previous "Stig" (referred to by the presenters as "Black Stig") was written out of the show in the first episode. A "Best of Top Gear" special for the series was aired on 4 January 2004. This series was first in the relaunched show's history to acquire more than 10 million viewers for an episode.

Top Gear (series 3)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes9
Original networkBBC Two
Original release26 October (2003-10-26) –
28 December 2003 (2003-12-28)
Series chronology
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Series 2
Next →
Series 4
List of Top Gear episodes



No. in
ReviewsFeatures/challengesGuest(s)Original air dateUK viewers
(millions) [1]
211Ford GTBMW 5 SeriesPorsche 911 GT3Can the diesel Volkswagen Lupo get better mpg than the petrol version?Martin Kemp26 October 2003 (2003-10-26)3.32

Clarkson heads to Detroit to find out how good the heavily-anticipated Ford GT handles against all its competitors, before finding out how well a diesel Volkswagen Lupo fares against its petrol version by doing a lap of the M25. Elsewhere, Hammond tests out the Porsche 911 GT3, May defends the BMW 5 Series, and the Stig drives fast with the trio's Jaguar XJS onboard HMS Invincible with disastrous results. Meanwhile, singer and Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp, tries to see is he is better than Ross Kemp when he takes the Liana for a lap of the track.

Note: This was the final appearance of the original Stig, Perry McCarthy; the segment involving him with the XJS and HMS Invincible was his scripted departure from the show.
222BMW M3 CSLBMW M1BMW M3BMW M5Volvo 240 attempts to jump four caravans • Best 2 seater sportscar: (Porsche BoxsterBMW Z4Honda S2000)Stephen Fry2 November 2003 (2003-11-02)3.41

Black Stig is gone, and in his place is brand new, White Stig, who is quick to get to work by seeing how fast the BMW M3 CSL is on the track after Clarkson tests it out. Meanwhile, the trio head to the Isle of Man to find out which old BMW sports car is the best - the 1970s M1, the original M3, and the second-gen M5 - before testing out three two seater convertibles on the Isle - the BMW Z4, the Porsche Boxster and the Honda S2000. Finally, a Volvo 240 tries to jump five caravans side-by-side, and Stephen Fry discusses the advantages of driving his London Taxi before seeing how he fared in the Liana.

Note: This was the first appearance by Ben Collins as the new Stig; his identity would remain a secret until August 2010.
233Bentley Continental GTSubaru Legacy OutbackSaab 9-5 Aero versus a BAe Sea Harrier • How to Escape from a Sinking Car • Top Gear SurveyRob Brydon9 November 2003 (2003-11-09)4.02
Clarkson is unimpressed when he manages to secure the rights to test out the Bentley Continental GT, while he compares the hot Saab 9-5 Aero to an aeroplane. Meanwhile, May finds out whether the aristocracy will go for the Subaru Legacy Outback, Hammond investigate the dangers of being in a car that is sinking in water and how to quickly escape such a scenario, the Stig races a Saab around the track against a Harrier Jump Jet, and the results of the Top Gear Survey are in. Finally, Rob Brydon becomes the first Welshman to do a lap in the reasonably priced car.
244Lamborghini MiuraLamborghini CountachMini Cooper S WorksLamborghini GallardoLamborghini TributeRich HallJay Kay16 November 2003 (2003-11-16)4.59
Top Gear celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Lamborghini by looking back at some of the classics by the company, including the 1967 Lamborghini Miura, an improved 1971 SV, the Lamborghini Countach, while there is a look at the Lamborghini LM002, Clarkson tests out the Lamborghini Gallardo, and the Murciélago is back to set a time on a dry track. Meanwhile, Hammond tests out several versions of the Mini Cooper S - the BMW-official Works Cooper S, the third-party tuned Hartge Cooper S, the Digi-tec Cooper S and the wild 275 bhp (205 kW) BBR Cooper S - while American comedian Rich Hall improvises a country song about a Rover 25 before seeing how he fared in the reasonably priced car.
255Mazda RX-8Fiat PandaIs the Toyota Hilux really indestructible? • Hammond searches for future classic carsSimon Cowell23 November 2003 (2003-11-23)4.80
Clarkson sees how tough a Toyota Hilux pick-up truck truly is by putting it through a series of tests, including driving it through Bristol and nearly losing it to the sea, before returning to the test track to see what else it can withstand. Elsewhere, he tests the Mazda RX-8 on the track, while May drives the Fiat Panda up in Hertfordshire, and Hammond looks at several cars deemed to be good investments as future 'classic' cars. There's also the task of finding which is the best wig for a fast drive in an open top convertible, while Simon Cowell stops judging future singers to see if he can be judged the best at driving fast in the Liana.
266Citroën C2Renault Mégane CCPeugeot 307 CCAston Martin V8 Vantage (1977)Holden MonaroIs a Toyota Hilux really indestructible? – Part 2Sanjeev Bhaskar7 December 2003 (2003-12-07)5.40
May sees what else can be done to prove that a Toyota Hilux is tough by placing the same Hilux from the last episode on top of a tower block due for demolition. He also reviews the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and discusses how British supercars differentiate from those elsewhere in the world, while Hammond sees whether the Renault Mégane CC and the Peugeot 307 CC are good hard-top convertibles, and Clarkson reviews the successor to the old Citroën Saxo, the Citroën C2, and takes a drive in Australia's first contribution to the motoring world - the Holden Monaro. Meanwhile, Sanjeev Bhaskar is the latest star to drive in the reasonably priced car.
277MG XPower SVPorsche Cayenne TurboMercedes-Benz SLR McLarenWhich professor can do the best burn-out • What is the best British car: (Rover 75Morgan Plus 8Noble M12)Rory Bremner14 December 2003 (2003-12-14)3.35
The beautiful and powerful MG XPower SV hits the track, but Clarkson is less impressed with it, while he also sees how good the off-road abilities of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo are by taking it to Bovington, Dorset. Meanwhile, Hammond travels to South Africa to review the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, there's a burn-out contest between Heinz Wolff, Brian Sewell and Colin Pillinger, and the presenters see which car is the best British car - the Noble M12, the Morgan Plus 8 and the Rover 75. Elsewhere, Rory Bremner impersonates voices for car adverts before seeing how he fared on the track in the Liana.
288Mercedes-Benz 280SLNissan MicraAston Martin LagondaAudi TTTop Gear Generation GameJohnny Vegas21 December 2003 (2003-12-21)3.15
Hammond sees how good a Nissan Micra is in comparison to a Boeing 737 (BBJ-2), while Clarkson tests out the Audi TT V6 after dressing for it, before seeing if car designs peaked in the '60s by testing out a '60s Mercedes-Benz 280SL (W113). Elsewhere, May drives the crazy and bold 1970s Aston Martin Lagonda, there's a duel-out between 5 of Hammond's modern cars versus 5 of Clarkson's older cars in a 1/5 mile drag race, and comedian Johnny Vegas proves he can drive fast in the Liana, even when he has no driving licence.
299Chrysler CrossfireSmart Roadster (Brabus V6 Bi-Turbo)Jaguar XJ6Honda Civic Type RHonda NSX Type RTop Gear Awards 2003Carol Vorderman28 December 2003 (2003-12-28)4.24
It's a Cut-Price version of Top Gear this episode, after the budget for the series has been exhausted. The trio shoulder on regardless, with Clarkson driving the Chrysler Crossfire, Hammond handling a Smart Roadster Brabus V6 Biturbo and the Honda Civic Type-R hot hatch as well as the Honda NSX Type R Supercar, and May reviewing the Jaguar XJ6. The trio also host the Top Gear Awards for 2003, while Carol Vorderman sees if she can do better than (the late) Richard Whitely, when she takes the Liana around the test track.

Best-of EpisodesEdit

Total No. Title Feature Original air date
S2CEThe Best Of Top Gear: 2003Best moments from Series 34 January 2004 (2004-01-04)
A look back at some of the best moments from Series 3, including how much was done to the Indestructible Toyota Hilux, and the demise of the Original Stig.

Criticism and ControversyEdit

Hilux Toughness ChallengeEdit

Following the broadcast of the fifth episode of the 3rd series, the BBC was contacted by the Churchill Parish in Somerset in regards to the tree that featured in the segment where Clarkson was proving the sturdiness and reliability of the Toyota Hilux. Up until the episode had been broadcast, villagers had presumed that the damage had been done accidentally or by vandals, until they watched what had happened on the show. After the BBC was contacted, the director of Top Gear admitted guilt and the broadcaster paid compensation.[2]


  1. ^ "Weekly Top 10 Programmes". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
  2. ^ "BBC stumps up for tree stunt". BBC. 21 February 2004. Retrieved 9 January 2006.