Isle of Man has released a set of six stamps featuring a selection of the most bizarre and ingenious automotive challenges featured on the most popular motoring programme on British television. This collection of lavishly tooled stamps commemorates some of the bravest and most innovative transport solutions created by Clarkson, Hammond and May in the course of Top Gear’s most fiendish challenges.
Over the years, Top Gear has waged war on caravans and motorhomes, destroying these slow-moving, jack-knifing road menaces in ever more inventive ways. But how would our intrepid presenters respond to the challenge of building their own compact-yet-stylish motorhomes? Richard devised a Land Rover Defender that transformed into a three-bedroom bungalow, James converted his Lotus into a streamlined ‘aero-pod’ while Jeremy built a two-storey modernist Citroen. Then they set out on a nice beach holiday in Cornwall, where their trio of modified motorhomes proved to be both impractical and entirely dangerous. One of them didn’t return…
TRIUMPH HERALD SAILBOAT
No one has ever designed a successful aquatic car, a vehicle equally at home on both road and water. The reason for this, according to James May, is because aquacars have always embraced the wrong power source. Ever at the forefront of technical innovation, wind-loving Captain Slow turned a classic Triumph into a classic schooner, complete with billowing mainsail and 20-foot mast. The ‘Mayflower’ was a simple, eco-friendly solution with just two fatal weaknesses: James’s total lack of sailing ability… and low road bridges.
ROBIN RELIANT SPACE SHUTTLE
Space shuttles are among the most expensive pieces of engineering in the world, costing literally billions of dollars to build, send into space and bring back down again. James and Richard believed they could save the space industry a bunch of cash by bolting a Reliant Robin – every Yorkshireman’s favourite three-wheeler – to a blooming great rocket and standing well back. The Reliant Shuttle took off with a bang, but the landing didn’t go so well…
When Jeremy and James were ordered to drive to the North Pole, they declined, pointing out that the Arctic is very cold, very dangerous and very lacking in good pubs. But when Richard rolled up on a traditional polar sled with a team of huskies, James and Jeremy felt obliged to defend the honour of the car and reach the top of the world first. In a Toyota Hilux modified with huge tyres and an escape hatch in the roof, they became the first men to reach the North Pole by car, defeating Hammond and his gang of fetid dogs in the process.
As we may have mentioned, Top Gear isn’t very keen on caravans. But what if, instead of clogging up our roads, the caravans took to the skies? With the aid of a giant balloon, an old caravan and a dangerous volume of propane, James May set out to discover whether a wobbling holiday home on wheels could be turned into a majestic airship. After causing a national security scare by wandering into the fly-zone of Norwich airport, he concluded it probably couldn’t.
HAMMERHEAD EAGLE i-THRUST
Electric cars should, in theory, be relatively simple to design, with far fewer moving parts than one of those tricksy petrol vehicles. Turns out they’re actually quite complicated. Tasked with building their own electric car from scratch, the boys borrowed the chassis from a TVR Tamora and the electric motor from a milk float, adding a range of innovative design features including a ‘visibility hatch’ for Richard’s head. Despite its rakish good looks and blistering performance, the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust failed to impress the independent road testers from Autocar magazine. On the plus side, it did dispose of Stig’s vegetarian cousin.