Challenges Cheap Car Challenges Epic Roadtrip Top Gear Series 9 Top Gear Specials

Top Gear: Series 9, Episode 3 – America Special

  • The boys each buy a car for $1000 and go on an American Road Trip from Miami to New Orleans.

Episode Guide

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The trio point out the hassle of renting out a car, ranging from ignorant rental agents to not being able to find their car once it’s pointed out to them. Their premise was to see if it could be cheaper to buy a car rather than rent so, as a result, on their trip to the United States, the three were given $1000 to find a used car. Clarkson bought a 1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS; Hammond a Dodge Ram 150 pick-up truck; and May a 1989 Cadillac Brougham that was the only car that had air conditioning. The trio had radios in their cars, so they pretended to be like truckers while communicating with the local truck drivers, and use codenames during their journey. Clarkson’s codename was “Murderer,” Hammond’s was “Brokeback,” and May’s, being rather obvious, was “Captain.”

The goal was then to get from Miami to New Orleans, with challenges along the way.

Challenge 1 (Fastest Race Track Lap): At the Moroso Motorsports Park, the 3 cars had to complete the track length in the quickest time possible. Though, with no Stig in America, they had to do with the Stig’s American counterpart; a rather more obese version of the British original, dubbed Big Stig by the hosts. Clarkson’s Camaro was quickest, and surprisingly May’s Cadillac beat the pick-up truck.

Challenge 2 (0 mph-50 mph-0 mph): At a drag strip in the heart of Florida, they all had to reach 50 mph (80 km/h) and brake as soon as they got to the speed. Ahead of them was a river, with a selection of Alligators. The closest to the watery grave was, yet again, Hammond, for failing to look up when he reached 50 mph (80 km/h) and poor brakes.

Challenge 3 (Roadkill): Each presenter was given money to buy something for their car that would “make the journey more comfortable”, Hammond bought a grill, Clarkson bought a shower to replace his air conditioning and May bought a shirt rack. they were then told that they would be camping that night and dinner was whatever they could find dead at the side of the road. Clarkson found an opossum but May ran over it then found a tortoise but refused to run it over and set it back in a nearby swamp. Hammond found a squirrel which was collected and spent a while trying to figure out how he would “peel” it. As Hammond and May set up camp, Clarkson went to look for more roadkill; he came back with an enormous dead cow. May refused to eat it. During the night Clarkson and Hammond successfully destroyed the Cadillac’s air conditioning.

Challenge 4 (Car decorating): The team had to decorate each other’s cars with slogans which might lead to them getting shot at in Alabama. May painted pro-homosexual slogans on Hammond’s car (“Man-love rules OK”), Hammond painted “Country and Western is Rubbish” on Clarkson’s, and Clarkson painted “Hillary for President, “NASCAR sucks” and “I’m bi” on May’s car. All three offended locals, and led to both the presenters and the crew members being chased out of town by friends of the owner of the State Line Pride gas station in Seminole, AL, who pelted the crew’s vans with rocks, leading to a mad dash to wipe the paints off the cars.

Challenge 5 (Sell car): The team were originally going to sell the cars in New Orleans, and the winner would be whoever made the most profit. However, after seeing the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, the team decided to give away the cars for free to a Christian mission. However, while Clarkson’s and Hammond’s were given away, James May was declared the loser as he was unable to find any claimants for his car. Also, a lawyer threatened to sue Clarkson for misrepresentation after she heard the car wasn’t a 1991 Camaro (it was a 1989 model) and would drop the suit on payment of US$20,000.

Final results: Clarkson declared himself the winner and declared May the loser, although no points were given. They concluded that it was viable to buy, rather than rent, a car. Clarkson summed up the trip with his long-held opinion: “Don’t go to America!”

Similar to the credits of the 2007 Polar Challenge Special and Series 10 Episode 4, other than the four main presenters (who are credited as Cletus Clarkson, Earl Hammond Jr., Ellie May May, and Roscoe P. Stig), each crew member name is listed with the words “Billy Bob” attached to the start, a reference to the American redneck stereotype.

Some say…

“Some say that he’s a CIA experiment that went wrong, and that he only eats cheese. All we know is he’s not the Stig, but he is the Stig’s American Cousin.”


Rating: 9.2/10. From 228 votes.
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AR July 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

I love the Top Gear USA special, it’s the best one in my opinion. Because the presenters always have that cheeky schoolboy glint, like when Clarkson & Hammond broke Mays air-con, and when Clarkson had a calf on the top of his Camaro !! it was also genuinely frighting when they ended up at the petrol garage in the hick town. And got pelted with rocks. Suddenly, Top Gear, becomes Top Radio for a couple of minutes !! Going to relax on my Top Gear cushions with my Stig Mug & watch this 😀

Shane Fell July 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I don’t get James’ line about ‘I wouldn’t have the chinese food ’round here’. Is it meant to mean like drugs or something?

roger August 25, 2014 at 8:19 pm

the line that james said about “I wouldnt have the chinese food around here” well, its an old tale of how chinese food is usually made with small animals, like cats and dogs. And james was making a funny by saying the rode kill in the south could be used in the local chinese resturants. It’s a southern thing.. I’m actually from Alabama, trust me we are not all like those folks at the gas station they were at. And we for sure dont eat road kill, well at least I dont! LOL

Tim August 21, 2014 at 6:12 pm

How can you react that badly on something that’s clearly a joke, you have to be stupid?!

the guy with no name August 7, 2015 at 12:52 pm

You’re forgetting one key fact; they’re American, words like, humor, civilization, tolerance, common sense, etc… are not ones they are synonymous with. Not to mention that they were rednecks so said problem is multiplied by 10 at minimum.

_NMcC_ December 2, 2015 at 8:00 am

*Pulls up in Alabama Petrol Station with Hillary Clinton slogans*

“Oy, jump leads!”

Best moment.

Nicolas Molli February 7, 2018 at 5:34 am

My Favourite episode ever.


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