Top Gear (2002) s18e06 Episode Script

Three Stripped Out Track Cars at Donington

Tonight, we get very cold and wet I re-enact the Battle of Britain Oh, nuts.
And there's a Blur in a reasonably-priced car.
Thank you so much, everybody.
Thank you.
We will begin with track days.
The idea behind them is simple.
During the week, when there is no actual motor racing going on, the owners of race circuits allow people to rock up and spend the day whizzing around in their own cars.
This is now so popular, you can even buy cars specifically designed with track days in mind.
We decided to go down to the Simply Sausages Donnington race track to sort out which one is best.
This is the original track-day car and, in my opinion, still the best.
It's the Caterham 7.
But it is no ordinary Caterham 7.
This is the R500 Superlight.
It is less heavy.
It has no frills, adornments, garnish, apart from a few stripes.
It is simple, pure.
It is an unadulterated driving experience and I absolutely love it.
But - and this is a weird thing Jeremy Clarkson believes he has come up with something better.
Woo-hoo! Yes, I have.
This is the KTM X-bow.
Part insect, part terrain-following missile.
Wait a minute.
What? I thought you were bringing that new thing they were making in Cheshire.
What, the BAC Mono? Yes.
It broke down.
Where did it break down? In the factory.
It broke down while they were still building it? It really did.
This is my second choice and, despite that, it is still better than yours.
Is it? Yes.
Why is that then? Because yours is from the 1950s and this is from this morning.
Carbon-fibre panels, mid-engined, pushrod actuated double wishbone suspension.
How much is it? so it is cheaper.
And it is better.
This was fine in 1961.
It is not the same car any more.
It has a better engine, suspension, materials, it has been made slightly wider.
It has modern instruments.
A sequential shift.
'At this point, we were joined by our colleague.
' What in the name of all that's holy?! You see, if you want a car built purely for fun, you want this.
It is made largely from aluminium which is mixed with wood, but that is the way Morgan build their cards.
Why does it have RAF roundels on it? It has been styled to look like an aeroplane.
It hasn't got wings! It has aeroplane-style gauges.
Why is the engine not in the car? Because it is an air-cooled V twin.
It needs to be outside because that is where the air is.
What's in there? Oil tank.
And the battery.
I think, move to the back, Hammond.
I have another question.
The question I am going to ask is it doesn't have any back wheels.
It has one in the middle, there.
So it is a tricycle? It is a three wheeler.
It is reminiscent of the original Morgan three wheeler.
Ask me what it weighs.
What does it weigh? 495 kilos.
Less than 500 kilos.
It is only half a car.
If I sawed my leg off, I would weigh much less than I do now.
I would keep falling over.
You could pick this up and put it in your pocket.
It looks like a coal scuttle.
I have got to ask, how much? With taxes and things? Yes.
£30,000?! It would be 40 if it had four wheels.
Did you say it is made from wood? That's how Morgan build cars.
I reckon if you went to Morgan and said would you like some diphtheria? They'd say, "Yes," cos that's traditional.
Wood is light and flexible and endlessly renewable and an excellent material to build cars from.
People don't do it cos you need craftsmen.
You cannot have some oik pressing a button and stamping them out.
The Nissan GTR would be worse if it was made of wood.
The early aeroplanes were made from wood but the Boeing 747 isn't.
There's no wood in it.
Eventually, the producers told us to stop arguing about wood and get on with the first challenge.
A simple straight-line race from nought to 100 then back to nought again.
Sadly, this led to another dispute.
What do you mean, "a Le Mans start"? On go, we run to our cars, jump in, start them and drive off.
Running? It is not a school sports day.
Will you have an egg and spoon? It is two against one.
Be ready.
Three, two, one, go.
This is stupid.
We could have been finished by now.
Hammond has already begun.
The 1.
9 litre V twin! 'Sadly, my elderly colleagues were struggling to get going.
' Very complicated starting procedure.
'Eventually, James was belted in place, 'a bit too tightly as it turned out.
' Oh, bloody hell! Why don't you start? Stop saying ready to race! Out of pity for their incompetence, I decided to abort.
Can I make a suggestion? What? We are here to test the cars.
We're not here to find out who is the fattest.
Or which has the most complicated starting procedure.
Or whose belts are badly adjusted.
Let's do it normally.
But with the Le Mans start, I won.
Yes, but that is just because you are the fittest.
I won the Le Mans start.
Let's do an old man's version.
Do I have to have my feet on the break? Yes! I should be all right here.
I have the best power-to-weight ratio.
I have the fastest car.
Sequential gearbox, good view ahead.
And three, two, one Great start into second.
Boy, did they get away! Jeremy has stopped on the way.
I will have to go past.
I am not sure that is miles an hour.
That might be fuel pressure.
It was, so we went back to the start line to try again.
Three, two No! James went on two.
This is ridiculous.
So we lined up for attempt number four.
How hard can it be for three grown men to see which is the fastest from nought to 100 then back again? Three, two, one.
God! Why has that happened? Is that 100 already?! Why did he break so soon? Ow! As it turned out, James' celebrations were premature.
He had been reading his speedometer in kilometres an hour.
Oh, cock! Still, it could be worse.
and going to have to do Oh! This is impossible.
James decided that rather than do the test again, he would show his car was the fastest using maths.
I have a sheet of all the facts.
Yours weighs almost twice as much as mine.
Hang on.
He is still not doing 100.
Now the speedo has died.
It has a better power-to-weight ratio than the Bugatti Veyron.
I was forced to agree with James' conclusions.
So I came up with a new test.
Cornering is everything and with pushrod-actuated suspension, I will go round corners faster than you can.
And there is no arguing with that.
There is, actually, because I have had these photographs printed and they are all photos of X-bows just after they have done some cornering.
That one is parked in a tree.
It is hanging from a crane near a tree.
That is just outside a bend there.
A ditch near a bend.
Near a corner.
Look at that.
Even though there was evidence to suggest I would be killed by a cornering test Richard would not fare much better either - the producer said we should see which car would be fastest through the old hairpin.
Because we were having such trouble reading our speedos, they set up a police style radar trap.
Why is everything breaking today? I do not know.
Why doesn't that happened to the police? It doesn't.
The NHS computer would not work.
There is a man who can print out a receipt for us.
He will tell us the cornering speed.
With the speed equipment working, I set off to disprove James' photographic evidence.
It is not just the pushrod-actuated suspension, it's the tyres that will put me in good stead.
Very sticky tyres.
I doubt he has a clue what pushrod suspension is.
No idea.
And the time is? 69.
419 miles an hour.
Is that good? I have no idea.
Then it was James' turn.
Listen to that.
He has gone right up nearly to the red light.
Where does it go? Yes, down here.
Here we go.
He went the right way.
He was going the right way but did you see how far he was from the apex? How fast was he? 59.
What do we call him? What's his nickname? Captain Quick.
It isn't that.
Finally, Richard took a brave pill and stepped into the tricycle.
I am so screwed here.
The wheels! Those are not wide tyres.
What do they do, the pushrods? Many things.
They must do something specific.
They don't make the engine go.
What do they do in the suspension? Everything better.
Yes, yes.
I have some.
Some there and some there.
And a bit back there.
More than that.
They're better.
Why? They just are.
Yes, but why? Many reasons.
Come on, my little three-wheeled friend.
Here he comes.
Doff your hats.
Roll out the barrel.
Any old iron, any old iron Any, any, any old iron I am going to give it the full Stirling Moss.
Ya-a-ah! Did you see him clinging on with his elbow? You could see the sinews in his arm.
The sound is from the 1930s.
Did the picture go black and white as he went past? Wow! Hammond, James' fastest time was 59.
Your fastest time, Ha-ha! In the Morgan, well done.
James and I had been greatly looking forward to Richard's car falling over in the cornering challenge.
Since it hadn't, we quickly came up with another idea.
We're going to see which one of us can do the best doughnuts.
It was James' idea.
Are you trying to think of challenges that you think my car can't do? Yes.
The trouble is I didn't think the X-bow would be much good either.
I am not sure, with these tyres, which are so sticky, that this is going to work.
It's like driving on superglue.
You do it.
So he did and he was rather good.
That is a doughnut.
James May doing a doughnut.
That is like watching a vicar play poker.
Strip poker.
Then came the moment we'd all been waiting for.
Ladies and gentlemen, sit back now and get ready to laugh your ears off.
As Hammond does a dough.
It only has one wheel so he can't do a full doughnut.
How is that possible? Ha-ha-ha-ha! You didn't expect that, did you? It was a stupid test.
Because I won.
At this point, we decided to abandon the tests and do what people do on track days drive.
This design may be as old as Jeremy, but if you are interested in the sensation of driving a car and everything that involves, then you will love this.
I know Jeremy's blathering on about pushrods, but this has quite sophisticated suspension as well.
Fully adjustable, and let's not forget that Caterham now is an F1 team.
'In fact, I had only one complaint about my car.
' Put a windscreen on it! Oh-ho-ho-ho! I was expecting it to be quite sudden when you get to the limit, but it isn't! It's remarkably forgiving.
But if I've got one criticism of this car, I'd say it's a bit safe, a bit soft.
It's almost like they've edited it to make it easy for everybody.
I'm not entirely sure that this is, strictly speaking, a track-day car as such.
But God, it's fun! I'm having more fun than I remember having in a long time, actually.
top speed 115mph.
Two big pistons firing away.
Ha-ha-ha! On a track day, of course, there's always one absolute rule.
No racing.
Must get past James! Must overtake.
Two-litre engine in that Caterham is the same basic unit you find in a Ford Galaxy people carrier, whereas the two-litre turbo in this is from a Golf GTI.
It's just better.
Right, now here's the problem.
James has no spatial awareness at all, so there's no way of knowing what he's going to do next.
What happens next? Oh, ha-ha! I might have gone off a bit there.
Jeremy's in the gravel Ha-ha ha-ha ha-ha Oh, ho-ho-ho! It is incredible to think that today, you aren't allowed to smack a child or ask your dogs to get rid of the rats in the shed, and yet you CAN do this! Just brilliant - you and your mates just belting round indulging your passion for cars.
'And better still, it costs less than a speeding ticket.
' Anyway! How much fun was that? Loads! It was brilliant! You pay, what, 100 quid, and you get a day doing 100mph.
Well, YOU don't.
Look, as a fun car, mine was best.
Hang on a minute, Hammond.
The idea was to find out which was the best track-day car, yeah? And that was mine.
He's right, it was.
What? No, it was.
Mine I mean, I know it has pushrod activated suspension, which moves the weight in-board and What's the other thing it does? By adjusting No, I'm not interested.
Er, despite all of that, it feels a bit heavy and a bit predictable and a bit boring.
This is where the Morgan shines.
It is exciting and different and it vibrates as you drive it.
Let me interrupt, if I may.
Who here would like to see The Stig attempting to get that Morgan round our track? Play the tape.
And he's off.
The single rear wheel fighting for grip.
Never seen anything as ridiculous as that in my whole life.
Looks great.
Where's he going there?! Oh, he nearly lost it! But he's held it together.
Look at that! Yes, he's made it round the first corner.
There he is, looking terrified.
As he comes into Chicago.
Oh, he's drifting it! He is actually drifting it, you're right.
Be interesting to see what happens in Hammerhead.
Here we are.
That little 1.
9-litre twin-cylinder engine's got so much torque, they had to invent and fit something called a radial deflection damper so it didn't lunch the Mazda MX5 gearbox.
OK, well he must be up to at least 45mph now.
No, he's changing down for the Follow-through, to maybe 40.
Yeah, but he's having fun! Missing the dent there, so he doesn't break his spine, if indeed he's got a spine.
Whoa! Struggling to He's missed the apex there quite badly.
Only Gambon to go - can he make it round there without incident? Yes no, wait! He's lost it! And across the line backwards! I have the times.
Now, the Caterham, as we know, cos it's been around before, did a 1:17.
The X-bow we ran this morning, And the Morgan point 4, which is the same as one year.
It's pathetic.
That is the fastest three-wheeler we've ever had round our track.
The only other three-wheeler we ever had was the Reliant Robin, and he fell over in that in the first corner.
And that was faster.
So there we are.
The Morgan is faster than a Reliant Robin.
Anyway, we will be picking that up again later on, so if you want to see us endure the most dreadful misery, please stick with us.
But now, it's the news.
Right, listen.
I have got a photograph of the replacement for the Ferrari 599, here it is.
It's called the F12 Berlinetta.
It's smaller than a 599, which is a good thing, it's also lighter and more powerful.
It's got a 730-horsepower V12.
730! V12? V12! Are you not the same Mr So-Called Jeremy Clarkson who on this programme but a month ago, driving the Lamborghini Aventador, said, "This is the last of the V12s.
From now on, "all engines will have turbos on them.
" You did say that.
I did say that.
And now how do you feel? Foolish.
I did say.
You were really unequivocal on that.
I was unequivocal, but I was wrong.
For the first time since 1974.
Citroen has sent us a picture of this.
Now this is a sporty version of the DS4, and I think it looks rather good.
from its 1.
6-litre turbo engine.
Same engine as you get in a Mini Cooper.
It's not bad.
I think that looks rather good.
I prefer this, though.
This is the, er, Renault Megane 265, which has got horsepower that's got.
Have a go.
Is it 312? No.
Is it 8? No.
What is it? 265.
Is it?! Yeah.
It's quite a powerful car, and it's got a clever diff, it has a cut chassis, it's got, you know, stiffened springs, all that sort of thing.
It's £26,000, which is sort of Golf GTI money.
I think that looks brilliant.
Except for the red brake callipers.
What's wrong with red brake callipers? How empty and shallow and pointless and meaningless must your life be for you to say, "Yes.
I'd like red brake callipers"? I've got red brake callipers on my Fiat 500 TwinAir.
They look cute! They look great! Why have you got them? When I bought it, the man said, "Would you like red brake callipers?" And I said, "Yes, I would.
" But Hammond, I was once in a pub, and a man came up to me and he said, "Do you want a smack in the mouth?" And I said no, because you can say no! "Do you want some?" "No!" You see? Did you have to pay extra for them? Yes.
How much? £300.
But they look great! How'd you explain that to your family?! "I'm sorry, kids, we can't go to Countrywide for our lunch this week "because Daddy's spent all the money painting his brake callipers red.
" Hold on a minute.
What? He said they were £300.
They won't be able to go to Countrywide all year! Oi! Ooh, hey, listen.
Hammond and I went to Moscow last weekend.
It wasn't a honeymoon thing.
No, more a spur-of-the-moment thing.
We weren't hand-holding or anything like that.
There was some ice skating going on in Red Square, we thought we'd go and have a look at this.
But there was The only gap in the fence where you could see, Audi, as a marketing thing, had parked a Q3 there, so we couldn't see.
So never mind, somebody told us about this bar, OK? So 12th-story bar, and it overlooked the Kremlin and Red Square and Basil's.
We thought big picture windows, we'll have a look.
So we went all the way over there, climbed up the top.
Now, Hammond took a picture of the view we had - here it is.
It was another You can actually see bits of the Kremlin, but mostly you could just see the stupid Audi Q3.
We hadn't gone to see that! Somebody at Audi has obviously thought, "All these people are going to these places to look at things, "so let's have them look at our cars!" You are not joking.
I've got a photo here of the players' tunnel at Old Trafford.
There you go.
In the way! Giggs and Pearce there - or whatever his name is, that ginger.
But you can't see him cos there's an Audi in the way! Exactly.
I've got another picture of the Grand Canyon.
These are real pictures! It's not just cars either.
Fancy having a look at the Sydney Opera House? Here it is.
Oh, no! You can't see it, there's What are they doing?! We parked our boat in front of it! What worries me is how many views in the world that they could still ruin.
Here's the Taj Mahal.
I've always fancied seeing the Pyramids.
But you can't.
There you are.
Or the scene from Basic Instinct.
There you go.
Once again, an Audi in the way of what you actually want to see.
A couple of weeks ago, the three of us went motor-racing, for something you'll see in next week's show.
I bring it up now because I discovered while racing against Hammond that he is actually Alain Prost.
Really? You mean like The Professor, calculating and No, not that, no.
What I mean is, when he has lost the corner to a superior driver, he tries to ram that driver off the road.
I did not! You did! I remember the corner.
I rubbed you, at most.
You rubbed me like David Haye rubbed that man in Germany.
That wasn't rubbing, mate! I ran a bit I leaned on you at most.
I ran a bit wide.
Now hang on a minute.
Because I wasn't in this race, but I was watching it from a grassy knoll, and I was! I think Hammond behaved correctly.
Thank you.
I did.
There were on-board cameras in his car, so next week, we'll have a look at the footage, and you'll see.
You're right, the on-board footage will be key to it, but I will be the steward.
I shall adjudicate.
I'm not having you judging.
What? You can't play a game of Monopoly without cheating.
No, you can't.
He did cheat at Monopoly.
I played these two and he cheated! We played for four hours and you cheated! I did not cheat! You ruined the game! You robbed the bank! There was a There was a bank robbery.
You don't get those in Monopoly, and I thought it would make it more authentic if the bank was robbed.
You stole it! So you're a cheat, a liar and a burglar! If I'm going to use a judge for this motoring incident, I'm going to use Ofcom, because they are wise.
Don't go there.
Don't go there.
And you, you are going to be shot in front of your family.
LAUGHTER Something, it turns out, you can say on television.
Oh, for God's sake! Yeah, what you've done there, Jeremy, is taken leg out of the bear trap, turned round and put your head in instead.
Donk! You're an idiot.
Anyway, that is the end of the news.
Now, matters more serious.
Back in the Second World War, the Top Gear test track was home, at one stage, to a squadron of Spitfires.
And the skies above it were a giant blue canvas on which the brave airmen, British and German, could weave their feathered artistry using contrails and phosphorous.
It must have been incredible.
Suddenly we heard the drone of planes behind us.
Turned round and saw a line of four fighters, and tracer bullets from machine guns and pom-poms were cutting through the air.
There was beauty.
There was death.
There was skill.
And then there was the soundtrack which today is back.
What you're listening to here is a 46-litre BMW V12, an engine that was originally used to power the Heinkel He 111 bomber.
Only, as you can see here, it's being used now to power a car.
The car they call the Brutus.
Well, when I say "car", the chassis is actually taken from a 1907 New York fire engine.
The chain drive from a machine the Devil uses to rotisserie those who displease him.
And the brakes, well, they exist only really in the imagination of the madman who built this thing.
A man so mad, he's going to let me take his extraordinary creation for a spin.
First, you pull on the fuel pumps.
These are these two buttons above the ignition.
Then you have to pull out this button.
What's that one? This is the decompression.
Oh, Christ, right! And then you have to start with the black button.
A little gas.
Whoa! All the explosions are happening on the outside of the engine.
Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho! 'Almost immediately, Brutus began to spit hot oil into my face.
' Aaah! What was that?! 'And that was just the start of my problems.
' Oh! There's so much torque and so little grip from the rear wheels, that if you even go near the throttle, you get massive wheelspin.
Look at that.
Oh, this is so complicated! All the controls are on the outside of the car and the pedals are the wrong way round.
It's like trying to do a crossword puzzle while you're being eaten by a tiger! No brakes, nothing.
No point using the brakes, they don't work.
Turn! Turn, you brute! No, that's the wrong pedal! Yes, that's the throttle, that's good.
Basically, this is Sodom and Gomorrah with a steering wheel.
That's what it is.
'Plainly, then, putting an aeroplane engine in a car is idiotic.
'Or is it?' 'To the casual observer, this looks like a '20s Bentley.
'A car that won Le Mans four times.
'A car Ettore Bugatti called "the fastest lorry in the world".
' 'But actually, it was built last year, 'in Devon, by a man called Bob.
' He and his little team hand-crafted the aluminium body and the wooden frame.
The chassis is from a 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom, and the brakes? Well, they're big modern discs, which are needed, because of what's under the bonnet.
'In essence, that's the same 27-litre V12 'that you would find in the front of a Spitfire.
' Right.
64 litres of coolant and 54 litres of engine oil are now circulating and warming up.
What a thing.
Here we go.
We've got a gear there.
'It may have modern brakes and power steering 'and an automatic gearbox, but from behind the wheel' God Almighty! 'It feels about as modern as James May's shoe-cleaning kit.
' What I'm doing now is driving.
In a modern car you just sit there and things happen.
Not in this! Massive sensory overload as you drive around in it.
And towering above everything is the knowledge that up there under that bonnet is the engine from a Spitfire! Putting a Spitfire engine in a car is like putting a whole Jolokia chilli in a boiled egg.
You're going to notice.
And you do.
You really do! They say it has a top speed of 160mph.
'But can it really be faster than the insane Brutus? 'Time, I think, for a drag race.
' So.
England vs Germany.
Three, two, one Scramble! Here we go.
Oh, yeah.
A-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! He's got 750 horsepower, I've got 650.
My car weighs three tons, his weighs 2.
He's got 46,000CC, I've only got 27,000.
But look! Of course, it could be down to the skill of the Tommy pilots.
'So what about manoeuvrability? What about the corners? 'Well, let's cue the music and find out.
' Ahoy! I am Robert Shaw, and once again, Dunsfold is echoing to the sound of an Anglo-German dogfight.
At this precise moment I would gladly swap my automatic gearbox for eight Brownings.
Da-ga-da-ga-da-ga! Truth be told, this was a walkover.
The Brutus won't stop and it won't corner.
Come on, Jerry! Whereas the Bentley will.
Come on! Oh, yes.
This is a car you really have to drive.
You have to take it by the scruff of the neck.
You steer it using the throttle.
If you want to get the back end out, there's only one way to do so, and that's to give it a bootful of power.
There you go.
This is one of those cars where the greatness is measured only in the diameter of the driver's testicles.
I love this thing.
I love it! The fact is, the Brutus was built for fun, to be a fairground attraction.
It's just the Germans displaying their usual sense of humour.
The Bentley though is typically British.
It's much more serious.
It's also exquisitely finished.
The map light, for example, is from a Lancaster bomber.
The aviator's rear-view mirror incorporates an altimeter and an air temperature gauge.
This isn't a toy or a fairground attraction.
It's a real car.
It even has squidgy carpets.
And it's road legal.
You could, says Devon Bob, use it every day.
If you did do that, I can imagine there might be one or two issues.
It's very cold in here.
I'd imagine it's very hard to park and it is quite conspicuous.
It wouldn't really work if you were, say, a private detective.
People are going to notice you following them.
Then there's the fuel consumption.
Realistically, it's going to do two miles to the gallon.
Three at a pinch.
And filling the tank would cost £420.
Plus there's the cost of buying the thing in the first place.
It's £500,000.
The thing is though, if you have that kind of money, you could put it in the bank and get half a percent interest and wake up every morning terrified that the bank had gone bust.
Or you could spend it on one of these.
Frankly, that's the easiest decision you'd ever have to make.
No, hang on.
I'm not sure it is the easiest decision.
You know that Eagle E-Type Speedster we had on the show last year? Yeah? That's half a million quid as well.
So which would you have? I'd still have this, I'm afraid.
It's very you.
It's very desirable.
I know what you mean but I think I'd rather have the Eagle.
It's very close.
That's magnificent.
Anyway, that's by the by.
Now it's time to find out how fast both these magnificent machines go round our track, which of course means handing them over to our tame racing driver.
Some say that he stores all his shoes and his cassette tapes on the motorway central reservation.
And that since he can easily stay quiet for two hours, he's wondering why he didn't win an Oscar! All we know is he's called The Stig! And they're off.
Popping and spluttering away from the line, fuelled by fire and lashings of hot brimstone.
Moving at a stately pace up to the first corner.
Brutus is sliding.
Stig actually has to look through the steering wheel of that thing.
Not a problem since he can also see through walls and clothes.
Coming through Chicago, not looking fast but still rather splendid all the same.
So down now to the Hammerhead.
This could be interesting.
The thing we've had on the track this week basically has pram wheels.
Both got a bit of a drift on.
Brutus is smoking.
Is Jerry hit? No, it's just that massive engine expressing its fury.
OK, follow-through.
A chance to really open them up.
Stig knows this sound well from when he was a Spitfire pilot.
Look at that.
There they go! This does beg the question, if the Bentley is capable of 160, how long would you need to get there? Coming to the second to last corner.
Still going nicely.
Two cathedrals going through that there! And here we go across the line.
I have the times here.
The Brutus did it in 2:02.
So that's down there, second to last.
the pedal-powered Porsche.
The Spitfire Bentley, 1:50.
So 10 seconds faster and amazingly slower than Hammond's tricycle, which is staggering.
What? Before we go on.
Is that actually a supercharger? It's an oil cooler made to look like a supercharger so it looks like a Blower Bentley.
So this isn't a supercharged engine? No, it isn't.
But a Spitfire's Merlin was supercharged.
But this isn't.
Then that's the Meteor - the same engine but the land-based version.
The un-supercharged one.
And this obviously Once again, we don't have time for your lecture on all aeroplanes since 1941! I'm sorry but we do have to put a star in our reasonably priced car.
Now, my guest tonight has a farm in the Cotswolds where he makes cheese and yet weirdly he's been chosen to headline the closing concert at this year's Olympic Games.
Ladies and gentlemen, from Blur, Alex James! Have a seat.
Now, first of all I need coffee.
My heart is beating like a train.
That is absolutely terrifying.
Being on the track? Oh, man.
The Stig said just relax.
Sit in a steel cage with a crash helmet on and drive really fast And relax! Easy-peasy lemon squeezy.
I wanted to begin by congratulating you heartily on your Lifetime Achievement Award.
Thank you very much! At the BRITs.
It must have been something else.
Well, it was utterly magnificent to get back together and smash those songs out again.
Were you aware while up on stage, banging out tunes, that ITV had gone through the credits and we were watching an advert for panty liners and the news? Did anyone see that? Were you watching the BRITs? They just cut it.
How many songs did we miss? No idea.
I was just up there rocking.
They cut you off.
I wanted to watch Blur but we couldn't.
Of course you are getting back together because of the Olympics.
The Olympics Closing Ceremony Celebration Concert is its full name.
That's in Hyde Park? Yes.
It's not the Olympics.
It's sort of a people's version.
Nobody managed to get tickets for the Olympics, have they? Who else is playing? We've got The Specials and New Order.
All our favourite bands.
That's going to be August 12th and it's all sold out and we have a new song to unveil.
You have a new song? Yeah.
I listened to it this morning.
It's like a hymn, a real tearjerker.
Look forward to that.
It all began, your show business career, when you were a Scout.
It did, in a Gang Show.
I had to dress up as Big Brownie.
It was quite a big part.
It was actually very good training.
If you dressed up as a Brownie in front of everyone, you're not scared of Jeremy Paxman.
How was the scoutmaster? He did film it.
He what?! He filmed you as a Brownie? A little bit, yeah.
I never saw the film.
Obviously after you'd been a Brownie you did hit the show business life hard with Blur.
Well, I think things were different in those days.
It gives you everything you want when you're young, being in a kick-ass rock 'n' roll band.
Lots of travel, lots of girls, lots of booze.
What was that birthday party in Mexico that I read about in your first book? Go to bed, kids.
Now! Yeah, your children.
You go to bed while Daddy tells us all about his birthday party.
Where was it? Mexico? Yeah.
Great food in Mexico.
This is like Hammerhead.
I'm looking for the exit! How far into your career with Blur was it that the fans discovered that your first love was cheese? Oh, before I mean They presented it to me in hotel lobbies.
Fans did? Yes.
It was well known.
I was well known for enjoying cheese.
In Smash Hits it said "Alex likes cheese".
It was like the one word thing to describe me.
Cheese? Cheese.
I mean, they threw it at me in Japan, where it comes in tins! I'm not here to plug your book but it's all Cheeses Great And Small, yeah? Yes.
You paint this fantastic picture of becoming a farmer, which is what you now are.
I guess it's a love story, really.
I was very much a man of the city and a nocturnal creature.
Then I met a girl, fell in love with her and we got married very quickly and thought it would be a really good idea to buy a farm on our honeymoon.
So we basically got married and moved to a farm at the exact point that Blur disintegrated.
I very quickly realised I didn't know very much about farming.
How's it gone? Well? I absolutely love it.
So many musicians do end up living on farms.
It's sort of natural habitat.
The toys are quite good.
You get a tractor.
I haven't got a tractor.
I've got a mini digger that's a Cabriolet.
It has an open cab.
I had a dumper this weekend, a three-foot dumper.
What? For the weekend, including VAT.
You really have got into the whole thing.
Your car history, that's not so brilliant, looking into it.
What are you talking about? Come on! Tell the ladies and gentlemen what your first car was.
It was a chocolate-brown Austin Allegro estate! There's another word for that kind of brown as well.
And the first three letters of the registration were URD and it was known as the Turd Machine! And it is the best car I have ever, ever had because This is going to be the longest "because" in history.
No, because of what it gave me.
As a teenager, it's freedom, it's romance, it's somewhere to smoke.
You're absolutely right.
After Blur, you got rid of the Allegro? Yes.
Doing world tours, you spend so much of your time in airports.
It's hard to describe.
Well, it's easy to describe! Many hours a day.
If you're in Belgium today, Frankfurt tomorrow, Lucerne the day after, it's a lot of airports.
The drummer and I went halves on a Cessna.
You went from an Allegro to an aeroplane? Yeah! Half a Cessna.
Sounds quite glamorous, maybe, but it was like a flying Allegro.
It wasn't posh.
It didn't even have a GPS.
It was amazing.
How do you navigate? A longwave radio that picks up Morse code signals.
So you can do Morse code? Uh-huh.
That's A! Is it? Don't tell James.
You'll be here for a week.
We've established it was Allegro.
Allegro, half a Cessna.
Half a Cessna, which was like an Allegro.
After that, well, I've got a van now, a black van.
Five kids.
A van? It's a black Mercedes Viano.
It's got eight seats, which is room for five kids and Granny.
TV screens? No, not TV screens.
I think it's really important for children to get bored in cars.
That's how I really got into music, listening to the top 40 in the car on a Sunday afternoon.
But no TV screens for the kids? Oh, deary me, no.
I rang you last night to see if you were ready to come down and do this show and you were playing this track on a computer game.
I couldn't get it in time.
Oh, no! I wanted to do it on the Xbox.
How did you prepare to do this, then? I just had six cups of coffee! Who would like to see Alex's lap? Yes! Let's have a look.
Play the tape and here we go.
Once again, we're off.
This is how we get the groceries in, in my house! Actually, where are you going? Braking, accelerating, turning in, all manner of things.
Oh, dear.
Too wide.
Bit too wide but not too bad.
Oh, nuts! Now that is wide! Yeah, you could catch a bus to the Apex there.
I'm a superstar waiting to explode I'm a driver Go, go, go, go explode! Second week on the trot we've had somebody singing their way round the Hammerhead.
Just about kept it in the lines.
Tortured tyres.
Poor old Cee'd.
Come on.
Let's rock, baby.
Woo hoo! Follow-through.
Were you flat out through there? Yes.
Were you flat out through there? Yes, yeah.
That's hairy.
Avoiding the uncomfortable bump and into the second to last corner.
Wobbly on the way in Oh! I'm afraid I have to explain this.
We allowed the lap this week to be edited by ITV so we'll never know what happened at the end.
So, anyway, um I've got the time, don't you worry about that.
Where do you think you've come on the board? It was wide, it was noisy, it was It was wide and noisy and a lot of tyre squeal, which indicates the tyres are making a noise rather than getting you going.
Yeah, I You know, I think, bottom half, but Near Bob Geldof, that's comfortable.
Al Murray.
Near Bob Geldof, that's a 1.
OK, well, Alex James you did it in 1 Point 2, so you're way ahead of where you thought you were going to be! You are, in fact level with Cameron Diaz.
So, just tell us is there going to be an album? Tell us, tell us No, there's not.
Just this one song that you're going to be performing at the Olympics? Well, well done for that, for the lifetime achievement award and of course, most of all, well done for that.
Ladies and gentlemen, Alex James.
Thank you.
Now, earlier on, we found out which of these the £30,000 Morgan three-wheeler, the £40,000 Caterham R500, or the £50,000 KTM X-Bow made the most convincing track-day car.
Thing is, if you're going to spend that much money on a car, you want it to do something else.
Can they? For instance, could you use them to go to work? We decided to find out.
Getting to work would involve going from London to just south of Guildford.
It's about 40 miles.
Now, as we know, once a man is past the age of 28, he may not, under any circumstances, drive through a built-up area with the roof down on his convertible car, but I have no roof.
I have no choice.
And what I'm saying to onlookers is, "Driving is my hobby, "I'm very keen on it.
" And that's a bit like a keen angler going to work in some waders.
The difficult thing about driving a Caterham in slow-moving traffic like this is not the clutch, or the gearbox or anything like that.
It's that you feel a A bit of a berk, if you're honest.
I mean, a lot of people will be driving past and their children will be saying, "Daddy, why's that man's car's windscreen fallen off?" Morning, Jason.
You all right? Obviously, I know everybody in Hammersmith.
I feel some people may be making character judgements based on the RAF roundels and pretend bullet-holes, scantily clad ladies adorning my three-wheeled car.
The fact is, I'm not really a fighter pilot, nobody has ever shot bullets at this car, they're just stick-on.
Speed humps, let's Woo-hoo! Ooh, yeah.
The front two wheels, sort of, went either side of it, but the middle wheel at the back Eurgh puts me out a bit.
Just outside London, we met up at a service station to compare notes.
Is this the worst trip to work you've ever had? Not so far.
Mine's the most embarrassing.
If you were going to work today to a factory that you owned to lay off ALL of the staff my car would not be the car to make that journey in.
Or, "I'm going to have to tell that patient the news is not good.
" Or if you were a funeral director.
No, no.
"I'm very sorry about your loss.
" 'Since we were in no hurry 'to get back on display in the rush hour traffic, 'I decided to kill some time with a little challenge.
' If you can start that car with that key, I will give you this crisp £10 note.
How long have I got? Long as you like.
Take a week.
It can't be that hard.
There'll be an immobiliser button somewhere.
So, is there a hole for this key? Oh, yes.
So, they'll have Let's think about this.
They'll have put it somewhere Does it go in there? What, like that? I seriously want to try and do it.
I think THAT'S going to have something to do with it.
Well, it does.
It says, "Ignition on.
" Right.
Hang on.
Stopwatch, lights Horn.
Let's face it Have you got the clutch? Yes.
So, I think "mode" No.
Could have something to do But that does set the ignition.
No, there's another button in there which is ve Yeah! So, that button says start, but that could be a trick.
It IS a trick.
Now press "stop".
A-ha! Right.
So you press "stop" first Yes and then "start"? "Mode".
Oh, this is idiotic.
It's perfectly straightforward.
Ignition on, key in, press "stop" till there's a clonk.
Press "mode" once it says, "Ready to race," then put your foot on the clutch, then the brake FULLY down, THEN press start, then it begins.
The "stop" being the button to start it, is, with the best will in the world, a bit misleading.
And a mad starting procedure is only one of many things wrong with Jeremy's X-Bow.
The turning circle's just shocking.
Oh, God.
Come on! By the time we were back on the A3, the weather had changed.
No! No, it's raining! It's hurting my face.
It's agony.
Ow! Ow, ow, ow! Ow and mega-ow! Oh, God.
I need a hat or some Oh, Jesus wept.
My right hand is completely frozen.
It's just a claw.
Also, there are holes in the floor behind the pedals, and all the air, and the wind, and the rain is going up my trouser legs.
Also, rain is running off my jacket into my lap.
None of these things are good news for my genitalia, which has run away.
If you're watching, Caterham Heater.
And windscreen! 'BBC London, 94.
9' 'And finally, the weather.
It's not looking good out there, I'm afraid, 'with a maximum temperature of just one degree Celsius, 'and the rain is expected to get heavier as the day goes on.
' Oh I am going to have treble pneumonia.
There's going to be no doubt about that.
'We were all so miserable, 'we decided that even shopping would be preferable.
' I just hope I can still do the seatbelts up.
What? Oh, my seat's wet.
Are you on motor-bicycles? Are they KTM motor-bicycles? Two of them are.
Can I just say, KTM is the stupidest company in the world? Well said.
That is ridiculous.
Right then.
Oh, wow.
Look, it's Douglas Bader-Meinhof.
Come on, then.
Let's get on with it.
and then I can pretend I've never heard the words "KTM", "cross" or "bow.
" Oh I've been coming to work now down here for ten years.
I've never had to stop and buy another outfit on the way, I've never been so miserable.
OK, this is getting heavier now, and it is becoming less pleasant.
It wouldn't make a very good wedding car for winter weddings.
That's another thing it wouldn't be good for.
One of the other advantages of the traditional car windscreen is that you can have windscreen wipers on it.
I just It'd be nice to be able to see.
And here we are.
At work.
Frankly, I wish it was the gallows.
Oh, bloody hellfire.
The bit of your face that's exposed has gone all funny.
It's got mud and bits of stones on it.
You know when you find a potato that's been in the bottom of the fridge for a while? It's rotted your face off.
My job, from now on, is to drive cars with roofs.
And with that, back to the studio.
Did you tell him about your claw? Yeah, my hands.
My face was a claw.
I had three claws.
Anyway, can I just say, for around the same sort of money as the KTM, you could have a BMW M3, which is a good track-day car.
It is also good for taking you to work, taking the kids to school, going to the supermarket, it has a roof, has a heater, has a windscreen, has windows.
It is amazing that we have reached a point in the development of our civilisation where you can buy a car that does only one thing.
Yes, I know what you mean.
My Morgan, it turns out, is brilliant for taking one friend to the pub on two days in June.
The Caterham is superb for blasting around Simply Sausages No, no.
Everywhere else in the world, all racetracks, they're called the Tag Heuer or the Red Bull but Donnington is sponsored by Simply Sausages and it is very good at getting round it.
It is brilliant at Simply Sausages, and yours is frankly peerless at making you look like a cock.
Oh, it's brilliant.
It is.
What we've got here are three cars, they're like Swiss Army knives where there's only one attachment, and it's that prong for getting a stone out of a horse's hoof.
That's all they are, and on that bombshell, it is time to end.
Thank you for watching, see you next week.