May’s Day: James May turns 54 years old today


James May is a true gentleman in the world of automotive journalism. His floral shirts are infamous, his laugh is infectious, and he always likes to begin with “Hello”. He’s also celebrating a birthday today – his 54th in fact. So, er, Happy Birthday May!

James Daniel May was born on the 16th January 1963, in Bristol, South West England. James’ parents, Harold and Ruth, had a total of four children – two girls and two boys. In his own words, James didn’t grow up in just a single house. “I moved all over Britain. Home life was very happy. We all had food and shoes,” he says.

His love of vehicles and machinery blossomed from a young age. “The first toy I remember receiving at Christmas was the Corgi Routemaster Bus. I can’t have been more than three years old. It was a gleaming, bright-red objet d’art with jewelled headlights; a Fabergé egg to a small boy. I still have it, though it’s not quite as shiny as it was,” James says. “When I was a child I wanted to be… a fighter pilot because I like aeroplanes. Or a surgeon.”


Once he reached schooling age, James’ parents enrolled him into the Caerleon Endowed Junior School in Newport. Like most young boys, he was rather fond of bicycles. “The toy I wish I’d owned, but never did is the Raleigh Chopper bicycle. My parents didn’t really approve of that sort of thing. I never actually had a new bicycle anyway. I was encouraged to make them out of old bits,” he explained. “I learnt to be quite thorough from my dad and to do things properly. And I learnt to be quite nice from my mum.”

James spent his teenage years in South Yorkshire, where he attended Oakwood Comprehensive School in Rotherham and was a choirboy at Whiston Parish Church. It was here that he experienced a moment that changed him forever…

Continue reading “Everything you need to know about James May”



  1. Without James, neither Hammond nor Jezza would have been able to put up with the other one. He is the x-factor that made this peculiar trio work the way it does.

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