Top gear best episodes
Wednesday 31 May 2017

Top Gear — in the form we know and love — began airing on BBC Two in 2002, and over the ensuing 15 years it became required viewing for any serious gearhead, even managing to bring many non-car fans into the fold.

For your viewing pleasure, I won’t give away the endings or meat of our favorite episodes. Instead, I’ll give you just enough info to get the gist. I hope your interest will be piqued enough to seek the episodes out for yourself. Enjoy!

Although I had been watching Top Gear for a while before I saw the wanton destruction of the Toyota Hilux, I wasn’t yet sold on the show. After this episode, though, I was hooked. Not only was I hugely impressed with the Hilux’ ability to just keep living; I was also impressed with the creativity of the script and shot selection. On a larger scale, I consider this episode the beginning of the current Top Gear style. Putting a pickup on the roof of a building during a controlled implosion effectively separated modern Top Gear from the previous iteration. I truly believe it was that moment that marked the beginning of what we know now as Top Gear.

When the boys set out to find the ‘greatest driving road in the world’ in three of the greatest lightweight supercars in the world, I am sure they didn’t expect to suffer so much. That is exactly what happened though — especially for James May. While this episode isn’t broadly as memorable as others, the hijinks — and the cars — on the road trip have stuck in my mind. Clarkson rips around in a lovely Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera. Hammond pushes a Porsche 911 GT3 RS to its limits. And, amusingly, James May (aka “Captain Slow”) chooses an Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24, which has absolutely no frills and a suspension made of stone. Not only does he get pummeled, without air conditioning, he’s forced to get naked to stay cool. While seeing a skinny, pale Englishman might not sound like your idea of viewing pleasure, it’s hilarious enough to make it worth your while.

This episode combines two of Top Gear‘s best features: Jeremy Clarkson’s metaphors (“the Lotus Exige is like putting a Saturn 5 rocket in a food blender”) and insane showdowns. There are a few car vs. military machine face-offs throughout the show’s history, but the Exige vs. Apache is one of the best. Not only do we get to completely nerd out over the Apache’s bonkers weapons systems — it can identify 256 targets from 8 kilometers away, pick the 16 most dangerous, and eliminate all of them — we get to watch the Lotus attempt to evade the helicopter’s missile lock. Does the Exige avoid certain death? Watch and find out.



This episode was a double-whammy of entertainment, with two different vehicles highlighting the show. First up was the Peel P50. Clarkson was on the lookout for a small car, but simply wasn’t satisfied with traditional “small” vehicles. Compared to the Peel P50, everything is massive. Clarkson pilots the tiny production vehicle to work at the BBC, but instead of parking his car in the lot, he proceeds to take it in the elevator and drive it around the office (and into the background of a live news broadcast). Afterward, the crew decided a good matchup for the Veyron (top speed of 250 mph) would be the Eurofighter jet (top speed of 1,500 mph). The Veyron would race down a mile drag strip, turn around and race back while the jet would hit an altitude of one mile, and come back down. First back across the finish line wins. Go on and join the 31 million other people who have watched this race.

Top Gear‘s hosts spend a lot of time in cheap old beaters, but they also drive amazing supercars to even more amazing destinations. Even that isn’t always glamorous, though, as Clarkson, Hammond, and May found on this road trip through France. The cars — a Ford GT, a Ferrari 430, and a Pagani Zonda — were great, but living with them in the real world proved to be a challenge. From negotiating Paris’ legendarily treacherous traffic to trying to extricate the cars form a cramped parking garage, the Top Gear trio provided a more realistic portrayal of the supercar experience.