- Jeremy, James and Richard race from London to Edinburgh in 1949.
- Jeremy tests the Lotus Evora.
- The Ferrari FXX laps the Test Track.
- The Stig removes his helmet.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Michael Schumacher.
The show opens with a video giving us a taste of what to expect in Series 13. Jeremy then moves on with a letter he has received, asking “What would your program have been like if you were making it 60 years ago?.” “Simple”, he says. “Exactly the same!”
We join the boys in the center of London for a 1949 style race across Great Britain – between the fastest car in the world, Jaguar XK120; the fastest bike in the world, the Vincent Black Shadow; and a Peppercorn A1 Pacific steam locomotive. While it may not have been the fastest train in the world in 1949, it is infact the most modern train in Britain. None of the original Peppercorns were saved and the one being used for this race is a replica, it was built over 19 years from the original plans and cost some £3,000,000. This 3-way race begins at Kings Cross in London, and finishes at the bar of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. The boys pick their vehicle via a lucky dip out of James’ old hat – Richard gets the motorcycle, Jeremy ends up with the train – leaving James with the car.
The race begins – Richard suddenly realises he has to put his leathers on and rushes off to the men’s room. Upon returning to the bike, he has trouble kick starting it due to his short legs. Eventually the owner of the bike comes along to start it for him, and he sets off. Jeremy jumps onto the train and is told the top speed of the Peppercorn A1 is limited to 75mph and is enforced by speed cameras. He also discovers that he will not actually be driving the train – instead he will be shoveling 30lbs of coal per mile to keep the monstrous locomotive going at race speed. In comparison, James hops straight into the XK120, turns the key, pushes the starter button and sets off. Jeremy gets straight to work, shoveling coal. He describes riding in the locomotive as being similar to “sitting under the stairs at home, during an earthquake, and spending 8 hours looking at your central heating system.” He also talks about the amazing reliability of the Peppercorn A1. “The A1’s in the 1940’s would do 250 miles a day, everyday. It could do 150,000 miles between services.”
Richard is on the move and is having trouble getting used to the controls of the Black Shadow. The gear lever and the brakes are on the opposite sides to where they usually are on a bike – he continues, “So at the moment every time I want to brake, I’m changing gear instead. And if I want to change gear, I’m braking. It’s not ideal.” He also mentions the brakes are the originals, and are made of asbestos. Back in the car, James has reached the A1 (road) with no mechanical problems and with everything going well in his world. However even though he is having a good run, he can’t match the speed of Jeremy in the train – the only issue is the train has to stop 4 times along the way to take on water and coal, while the car and the motorcycle would also have to stop for fuel.
We cut back to the studio for the news – Jeremy mentions the government’s announcement that people will receive £2,000 off the price of a new car if they scrap their old one – James and Richard wonder why this doesn’t apply to other things – such as old food in the fridge, or dogs. Apparently veterinarians also have the highest suicide rates in the world. Richard introduces the new Skoda Scout. James wonders if the Skoda Scout will go off and stay in the countryside every summer and be touched inappropriately, to which Jeremy replies “No James, that’s the Skoda Catholic Church.” The smallest car in the world is shown, along with some talk about little notices cars display on the dashboard if you don’t get them serviced when required.
Jeremy moves on to a new supercar from Lotus – the Evora. As with all Lotus cars, the Evora handles like nothing else – Jeremy says it’s amazing, even by supercar standards. He also praises the suspension after an extended offroad expedition. It somehow manages to be soft and comfortable, yet razor sharp through the corners. “It’s unbelievably good. It’s the only car I’ve ever driven, ever, which is a killer attack dog, and an old sofa” he says. The Evora has usable rear seats and a sizable boot – and hidden underneath that is a small V6 engine, which originally came from a Toyota Camry. 0-60 takes 5.1 seconds and the top speed is 163mph – he manages to hit 140mph on the runway. Jeremy criticizes the interior, describing it as “tinny”. The glass on the dashboard cluster does nothing except reflect the sky from above you and that the satnav is “un-understandable.” Despite the flaws, Jeremy maintains the Evora is a better car than the Porsche Boxter. The Evora manages a 1:25.70 around the track. However the lap isn’t shown, instead a Ferrari FXX is in the studio and it’s lap was shown instead. It manages a 1:10.70. After the time is put on the board, the boys wonder why one of the hanger doors opened briefly…
The Stig enters the studio and Jeremy explains “I know exactly what this is. He was telling me the other day he’s been fed up with newspapers, and I suppose Internet Geeks as well, speculating that he’s a photocopier salesman from Bolton, or that he lives in a pebble dashed house in Bristol – there’s been a lot of that going on, as I’m sure you know. So he said first program when we’re back on air, I’m going to come into the studio, and I’m going to show everyone my head.” Jeremy welcomes the Stig onto the stage and congratulates him on the Ferrari FFX lap he just completed. After some hesitation, the Stig is urged on by the audience and removes his helmet – Michael Schumacher appears from underneath. Jeremy quizzes him about some of the Stig facts, before pretending to suddenly realise, “It’s Michael Schumacher!!” Jeremy and Michael discuss F1 among other topics, with no lap of the track in the Reasonably Priced Car.
We get back to the 1940’s race that began earlier. Jeremy is in the lead approaching Doncaster, Richard was not far behind in second, and James was bringing up the rear. Richard switches to reserve to eek every last mile out of the Black Shadow’s fuel tank – and when he does finally stop for fuel James overtakes him. Up ahead, Jeremy reaches York and completes his second coal and water stop. The train gets a fresh crew and is running 3minutes early. Richard gets underway again, however he forgets to switch the fuel line back from reserve and as a result some sludge was sucked up from the bottom of the tank, blocking one of the carburetors. A mobile mechanic arrives as the rain sets in. Although Richard eventually gets going again, the amount of time lost meant that it had turned into a 2 horse race between James and Jeremy.
The train stops for a 3rd time in Newcastle, during which James takes the lead. Both the train and the car have 1 stop remaining, making it anyone’s race. James is falling in love with the XK120 and Jeremy shovels coal wildly in an effort to make the train catch up. Approaching Berwick, the Peppercorn A1 develops a problem with one of the water injectors, meaning the crew has to throttle the locomotive back to 60mph in order to stop it blowing the boiler. After cooling down for 10 minutes or so, the water injector rectifies itself. The train stops in Berwick for it’s final fuel and water top up – and after a call to James, Jeremy discovers they are within 7-8 miles of each other – neck and neck in the final sprint to Edinburgh. With less than 10 miles to go, James looks out the side window, expecting to see the monstrous Peppercorn A1 fly past. It didn’t. The train eventually makes it to Edinburgh and Jeremy sprints along the platform and up the stairs toward the Balmoral Hotel. As he enters the hotel bar, everyone looks at him as he is now black from head to toe. To his dismay he discovers James sitting at the bar. Jeremy collapses on the floor and James revives him with a cold pint of beer. Meanwhile, Richard is still 150 miles from Edinburgh and in a great deal of pain from riding the Black Shadow for such a long time.
In the final segment, a joke lap of Michael Schumacher (dressed as the Stig) in the Suzuki Liana is presented. He stalls the engine on the start line, misses a few gears, goes off the track and hits a cameraman, gets lost and generally drives slow. Jeremy finishes the show with a bombshell. “You know what I’m thinking. I don’t think Michael Schumacher is the Stig!”
“Some say that he invented the curtain, and that he recently submitted a £20,000 expenses claim for some gravel, for his moat. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”
Stig Power Laps
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car