- Jeremy, Richard and James each make a stretch limo.
- Richard tests the Ford Shelby Mustang GT500.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Billie Piper.
Challenge: Clarkson, Hammond and May build stretch limos to drive celebrities to the Brit Awards. They first perform several tests on the Top Gear test track, including evasive maneuvers such as a J-turn. Both James and Jeremy got out of their vehicles during the challenges and were respectively shot in the groin by paintballs and knocked over by a blast from a fire apparatus water cannon. Clarkson chose a 1992 Fiat Panda to chauffeur BBC Radio 1’s Chris Moyles. After extending it to an absurd length (necessitating a wheeled platform to carry passengers to the back seat), he was forced to remove 7 feet to make it road-legal, causing it to break in half in the middle of London. Hammond chose an 1996 MG F and, after it is stretched into a limo (with no roof except at the very rear) has to take Jamelia to the Brit Awards. May chose a 1994 Saab 9000 and an 1996 Alfa Romeo 164, the two of which are conjoined into a limo with steering wheels at both ends. He has to take Lemar to the Brit Awards. Hammond arrived first and largely without incident, although the open-top nature of his limo and the throttle becoming stuck meant that Jamelia attracted more attention than she wanted. Clarkson arrived shortly afterwards, despite the entire rear half of his car being missing. May got lost and Lemar stormed out of May’s car after being an hour late to the start of the ceremony. The ultimate winner of the task was whoever got the most photos of their car printed in newspapers or magazines, and Clarkson earned that honor, by virtue of having a picture printed in his own column in The Sun.
The News: Richard met with the Prime Minister about road pricing. A new Ford Mondeo is coming and will be “brilliant.” Booster seat laws can’t be enforced because police don’t have the legal right to measure children (May has difficulty presenting this story without breaking into fits of laughter). Aston Martin is for sale by Ford.
Preview: Jeremy & Richard present the new Vauxhall Monaro VXR in the studio. It has been restyled and given four doors (instead of two), while retaining the same powerful engine as before, with an option for a supercharger.
Star In A Reasonably Priced Car: Actress Billie Piper posted a 1:48.3 around the track, until it was revealed that she had actually cut out Hammerhead during the lap and was on the wrong side of Chicago’s line. However, since she was wearing a see-through top, Jeremy couldn’t bring himself to actually apply the Stig’s recommended three-second penalty.
Review: Richard Hammond test-drives the latest Shelby Mustang GT500. Hammond suggests that the 500 horsepower (370 kW) rating of the car as indicated in its name is exaggerated. He has it tested on a portable wheel dynamometer which yields 447 horsepower (333 kW). He also put his own classic Mustang GT390 on the dyno and it had 250 RWHP. (This accusation of “false advertising” is incorrect, however, as the dynamometer measured wheel horsepower whereas the advertised output is brake horsepower, directly off the crankshaft of the engine. The losses in the drivetrain completely explain the reduced output). The biggest problem with the newer car, however, is the unaltered suspension with a live axle. As Clarkson later explains, “You can’t put that much power in a car without changing the suspension.” The Stig takes the Shelby around the track in a wobbly fashion in 1:30, beating the time of a Vauxhall Monaro VXR by .1 second. In response, Clarkson presents another Mustang altered by tuning house Roush. The Roush Mustang is less powerful than the Shelby with 415 BHP, but it has upgraded braking, more sophisticated suspension, and a limited slip differential. The Stig takes the Roush around the track in a much more controlled time of 1:28.
“Some say he isn’t machine washable, and all his potted plants are called ‘Steve’. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”
Stig Power Laps
Ford Shelby Mustang GT500
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car