Top Gear (2002) s20e02 Episode Script

World's Best Taxi

Tonight, I play tennis.
Richard points at a minibus.
And James shakes hands with two men.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING Thank you so much.
Hello! Hello, everybody, and welcome.
Thank you very much.
Thank you.
Now Now, a few years ago, bosses at a Cheshire-based engineering company called BAC decided they'd like to make a car.
Now, because they're from Cheshire, I assumed it would be made from onyx and have bull's-eye glass in the windows and then door mirrors made out of Wayne Rooney's ears.
But no.
They decided it should have the four-cylinder engine from a Ford people van, the gearbox from a Formula 3 racing car and that it should be upholstered in the same stain-resistant and waterproof material that they use to line furniture in old people's homes.
And then they turned their attention to how it should look.
Most car designers, for their inspiration, go to big cats and bats and jet fighters.
But the men from Cheshire decided they didn't want any of that.
They decided to take their inspiration from this.
MUSIC: "All Is Full Of Love" by Bjork So, the styling of an Icelandic robot from a Bjork pop video, the gearbox from a racing car and the engine from a van.
Bring them all together, and this is the result.
It's called the Mono, and it's amazing.
The engine may be from a Ford people carrier, but it's been fettled by Cosworth, so now it produces 280 horsepower.
And fitting a 280 horsepower heart in a car which weighs just half a tonne is Well, the effects are going to be profound.
I can see why they lined it with material designed to resist trouser accidents, because my bladder's gone! It's completely gone! I've wet myself.
And in theory, the top speed is 170.
But in reality, it isn't, because the Mono has the same problem as the Ariel Atom.
No windscreen.
At 70 miles an hour, your face starts to move about.
And then when you get to 80, it starts to come off.
'At 90, you're forced to accept that really, you need a helmet.
'With a lid on, you can start to appreciate 'just how clever this car is.
' First of all, I fit.
I mean, only just, but I do actually fit.
And even though it has Formula One-style pushrod suspension, the ride is sublime.
You could almost call it comfortable.
Although, that said, at high revs, everything starts to tingle and vibrate.
I don't want to go into too many details, but let me put it this way.
If I were a girl, I'd like it very much.
Strangely, even cross-eyed women can drive this car legally on the road.
But realistically, it's built for the track.
So, let's see what's what.
It's not really about straight-line speed.
It doesn't actually feel that fast.
And when you get used to it, it's not that scary, either.
If I'm honest, it's not really like driving, this.
It's like conducting an orchestra of parts that know exactly what they're doing.
They're very well rehearsed.
There goes the French horns, and here are the violins.
VIOLIN MUSIC PLAYS The brakes, they're good.
Gearbox is fantastic.
It really is an absolutely instant change.
Bang, bang, bang, ready.
'And there's more.
' Because all the heavy stuff, the engine, the gearbox and the driver, is all in a line, low down in the middle of the car, it has the same centre of gravity as a worm.
Couple that to the F1 suspension and the specially-made tyres, and the cornering speeds are simply immense.
To demonstrate how immense, we've set up a radar trap on the follow-through, and coming through it now, as fast as possible, is a Peugeot 208.
'Then it was the turn of a BMW M3.
' Ooh, now, look at that.
'After a Nissan GT-R had a go, we unleashed the Mono.
' See my point? It is very fast, then, and it's fun.
But what about reliability, traditionally not a strong point for small-volume British sports cars? The first time I drove a Mono, it set fire to itself.
The second time, the engine went wonky, and the third time, it broke down before it had even left the factory.
So I thought of it, really, as another typically British, badly-executed good idea.
But since all those calamities, they've had 12 months to work on the design and the detailing, and I have to say, it looks not just very well thought out, but absolutely beautifully made.
And it's not just the detailing that's beautiful, either.
When you stand back, that's one of the most exciting shapes I've ever seen.
The Mono is the nicest thing to come out of Cheshire since the cheese.
But it does cost £102,000, and that, for a twice-a-year toy, is a lot.
In many ways, then, this is a bit like an iPad, because that's not cheap either, and you certainly don't need one.
But you want one, because it's such a lovelything.
- It is.
- It's gorgeous.
- I know.
And beautifully made.
It's a piece of jewellery.
But - What? - £102,000? I know, it is expensive, especially when you bear in mind all the other brilliant track-day cars you can buy for a lot less, the KTM, Radical, Ariel Atom.
- Morgan 3 Wheeler.
- No, I said brilliant.
All right, the Caterham R500.
That's a brilliant track-day car, and that's half the price of this.
Yes, and that is enormously fast.
But will this be faster? To find out, we shall hand it over to our tame racing driver.
Some say that he breaks into people's houses at night and leaves two mysterious extra keys in a kitchen drawer And that as a result of buying Pirelli condoms this week, he now has 17 children.
All we know is, he's called The Stig! Stig snaps to attention, and he's off, flicking off the line like a flea, even though the start-finish line was damp.
Hopefully, the rest of the track's dry.
Flying into the first corner, he came in very hot there, but sorted it out.
No problem at all.
No stereo, of course, just the sound of that Cosworth-tuned engine as he zips round Chicago absolutely rock-solid.
Now, Hammerhead.
What will this reveal about the mid-engine balance? No drama.
That is properly nailed down.
But look, a well-orchestrated drift on the way out! High revs now.
The vibrations will be stimulating his lady parts.
Follow-through and yes, he actually changed up through there.
Stig is brave, even on the brink of a crisis.
Controlling it beautifully into the second-to-last corner.
Screams up to Gambon, racing gearbox whining.
Slides it through, and across the line.
Nowhere we have the Caterham R500, which did it in 1.
17.
9, yeah? BAC Mono No way! - Wow! - The second-fastest car we've ever had! That is something else.
Tremendous.
Excellent.
And now, now it is time for the news, and it's good news, because the Dacia Duster has been named budget 4x4 tow car of the year.
- Great.
Now, I've bought a bicycle.
- I thought you were looking a bit trim.
Well, do you know, it's not really the weight that I've lost, - but my core, what's it called? - Core strength.
Are we on Loose Women or something? No, James, as you well know, we have for many years been on Last Of The Summer Gear.
Since I bought my bicycle, what's driving me mad is the amount of people who come and say "You need to get lycra shorts now".
Well, you do, because it's more comfortable and it stops chafing.
No, Hammond, you don't.
People who wear lycra shorts go, "Look, it's difficult and dangerous, and I need special" You don't.
In fact, the only thing I do wear as a concession that I make is this T-shirt, OK? This is the back of it as I'm riding along.
"Motorists, thank you for letting me use your roads.
" LAUGHTER Because I think that's polite.
I don't believe you have a bicycle.
What kind of bicycle is it? I don't know, they're all the same.
Is it a mountain bike, is it a racer? When you went to the shop, you walked through the door of a bicycle shop and the man went, "Oh, my God".
And you went "I'd like"? I just said, "Can I have the one nearest to the door?" He was trying to say, "You can have this one for £10,000" I said "No, I just want a bicycle.
" This bicycle he sold you, - is the front wheel a lot bigger than the back wheel? - No.
It's just a bike.
They're all the same.
Has it got two little ones at the back? No, it hasn't got stabilisers.
I don't believe you, and I think this has become a new mystery.
It's like a yeti.
So if maybe somebody's seen him, if you have seen Jeremy on his bicycle, write to us, please, at "Help, I've Burst From Laughing", Top Gear, Wood Lane, wherever.
I don't believe you.
I'm going to ride No, I'm not going to ride down here next week.
That's idiotic.
I barely ride to the paper shop.
Now, who saw the British Grand Prix last weekend? AUDIENCE: Yes! You may have noticed there were a lot of blowouts, OK, and I must say, I feel rather sorry for Pirelli.
For the last few years, their tyres have been really good and grippy and lasted too long, so the organisers said to Pirelli, "Can you design a tyre that's a bit rubbish?" So they did, and now everyone's saying, "Your tyres are a bit rubbish".
So how rubbish is too rubbish? How much do you think Pirelli spent developing those tyres? It's got to be100 quid? It's going to be millions.
Yeah, millions of pounds developing a tyre, and all they get in response is people going into tyre warehouses and saying "I need four new tyres for my car, just not Pirellis".
- Right.
- And then I make silly jokes when introducing the Stig about it.
It's gone wrong! It backfired.
This is exactly why I don't get Formula One, because surely it should be the pinnacle of automotive technology.
Pirelli should make a tyre as good as it is possible to make a tyre.
They should have active aerodynamics, they should have traction control, the most sophisticated in the world, ABS, invisibility cloaks, all that.
They should be allowed to have anything they want.
The problem is, the organisers are trying to make Formula One a level playing field to make it a drivers' championship.
And it isn't.
You could put Sebastian Vettel in a Marussia - and he's going to come last.
- Exactly.
Let's just make it a championship for car-makers, and then let the designers have completely free rein.
You know what I'd do? I'd make a car that was the exact width of the track.
LAUGHTER - How clever's that? - That's interesting.
That would only work if you qualified at the front.
No, you wouldn't have to, because it would be a Top Fuel-type dragster, OK? So it'd be very poor around the corners and I'd qualify last, but I would accelerate really quickly past them all before the first corner, and then it would expand.
- Oh, it grows.
- I've just won the championship.
Jeremy, what you're proposing is Wacky Races.
I know! Just think, you could have, like, - a dog as your co-driver that goes - IMITATES MUTTLEY LAUGH I want a giant circular saw on the front of my car.
But here's the clever thing.
I can only use it once a lap.
So you've got DRS zone, then the saw zone.
It's a good idea.
I'd fit my Formula One car with time travel.
Think about it.
The commentator would go "And they're off! And James had won.
" - That's clever.
- We've solved Formula One.
- Again, the world just doesn't work without us in it.
- No.
- Volvo News! - Hooray.
- They have launched a car which parks itself.
And I don't mean you sit in it.
The idea is, you pull up outside your office, get out, go into your office.
It goes off, finds a space, I'm not making this up, and parks in it.
The only problem is, when you come out of your office, how do you know where it's parked? But what if it had to park three streets away? Or what if it's just given up and gone home? Hang on, how does it know what the rules are? You know those signs that go with single yellow lines and those ones where there are two lines on the kerb? They're complicated.
And it's Swedish anyway, so it can't read it.
What worries me about this is, the roads will be full of driverless, slightly panicky Volvos scurrying about going, "Can I park here? Can I park there? Where can I go?" - It's going to be terrifying.
- It's the lampposts.
- What? - All the lampposts will have missing Volvo pictures on.
- Aww.
"He's only a year old and he's called Tiddles "and he went off to find a parking space and I haven't seen him since!" Anyway, let's move on.
There has been a whole rash of new supercars launched recently.
- This is the one I'm interested in, this Ferrari.
- Ooh.
Indeed, ooh.
It has an 800 horsepower V12.
It has a KERS system like a Formula One car.
It's going to cost around a million quid, but I think they've got a bit of a problem with the name, because they've called it LaFerrari.
Sorry, what's wrong with that? I mean, it is.
No, but that's the model name.
LaFerrari means "the Ferrari", so that's the Ferrari the Ferrari.
Oh, yeah.
The supercar I really want is by Pagani.
They've got a new car out, except they sort of haven't, because it's yet another version of the Zonda, their old car.
There it is.
- And what's new about that? - Not a lot, really, apart from the price.
- It's now £2.
3 million.
- What? - Yeah.
- For a second-hand car? Yeah.
You know, the one I'm most interested in, this is the McLaren P1, because this is just shy of a million quid, so it's almost a bargain.
And it's got a 903 horsepower engine.
903.
What fascinates me is, there's a wing that comes out of the back of it which has got DRS on it.
You know what DRS is, with the In Formula One, it opens.
If you've got 903 horsepower, when would you ever think, "Right, I need more straight-line speed.
"I'll deploy the DRS wing"? Well, it could happen.
"That post office van is getting a shift on.
I'll deploy DRS.
" No, you will need that, your DRS, when you come across me in the Ferrari the Ferrari, because, I hadn't read this properly, it has got 800 horsepower in the engine, but of course, it's got a KERS system.
When you deploy it and use the electric bit as well, ahem, 963 horsepower.
- And is that all going through the rear wheels? - Yes, it is.
Hang on, that's broadly the same amount of power you get from a Bugatti, which is almost exactly twice as heavy as the Ferrari the Ferrari, and it has four-wheel-drive.
- That's going to be "an handful".
- Yes.
- Exciting, though.
I want a go in it.
- I really want to go in the McLaren.
That would be an epic test.
You in that Ferrari, you in the McLaren, me in that Zonda.
Anybody want to see that? AUDIENCE: Yeah! - So do I.
- Let's see if we can put that together.
But you know how people often come up to us and say, "When will Top Gear end?" About three minutes after us three have set off.
Yeah, in a big fireball.
Does anybody want to see THAT? AUDIENCE: Yes! Right, let's move on, because it is now 11 years we've been on air, and in all that time, there is one vehicle that we have never reviewed, which is a surprise, because it's the most popular, important and used vehicle in the world.
I'm talking, of course, about the taxi, the lifeblood of people movement wherever you go in the world.
And Britain's contribution to this effort needs no introduction.
It's a staple of any London street scene.
There are currently around 19,000 black cabs moving people across the capital, and this vast fleet covers almost half a billion miles a year.
There's another.
They are literally everywhere.
London life has caused the black cab to evolve into an amazingly efficient vehicle.
Its famous tiny turning circle, for example, is the result of the need to tackle the roundabout outside the Savoy.
Then there's the black cab driver.
No cabbie in the world has to go through an ordeal as fearsome as The Knowledge, which requires that all London taxi drivers memorise 25,000 streets.
The test is so tough, in fact, that cabbies develop an extra large hippocampus, which is the area of the brain associated with memory, navigation and views on immigration.
Put this combination of man and machine together, and what you have is indisputable.
What you have is, without doubt, obviously, unquestionably, no arguments, the best taxi in the world.
Or is it? The thing is, a New York taxi driver would probably disagree with that statement.
He'd say "Yeah, you may have more space in the back, "but your London taxi is slow and the ride is terrible, "whereas my yellow taxi has a big V8 and proper suspension.
" But then a cabbie in Delhi would say, "My Indian taxi is built to last longer".
Basically, every cabbie everywhere in the world could argue for one reason or another that their taxi is the best.
Which means, if we really want to find out which is the greatest taxi in the world, there is only one way to do it, and that is, as ever, in the prism of the furnace through the looking glass of the crucible of motorsport.
That means a race, and the venue for our global showdown will be Lydden Hill in Kent, famous throughout the motorsport world for being the only race track with its own cab office.
That plywood cab office looks perilously close to the track.
I sincerely hope no harm befalls it.
Anyway, let's now meet our grid of taxis from around the world.
Representing Great Britain, we have a 1997 Fairway driver which, with a mere 320,000 miles on the clock, is barely run in.
From Mexico, a 1970 Volkswagen Beetle.
their trade in Mexico City alone.
From America, one of the titans of the taxi world, a New York yellow cab.
This particular one is a Ford Crown Victoria, rear-wheel drive, and in its day, good for 130.
That's one to worry about.
From India, the Hindustan Ambassador, very much the old-timer here.
The Ambassador has been India's favourite taxi for an incredible 55 years.
Next, from South Africa, we have this.
A Toyota HiAce.
Whereas in most countries, they will be rooting for their local taxi, you can expect the South Africans to be booing, because these things are hated and feared for their wild aggression.
Moving on to this, from Germany.
It's the Mercedes E-Class.
Neat, smart and fastidiously maintained.
And finally, from Russia, a Stretched Lincoln Town Car.
Now, that might not look like a cab, but it is.
In Russia, rich oligarchs hail limos just like this to get around.
So if you think we've included a powerful rear-wheel drive that it will cause chaos, get that thought out of your head.
So there we are, then - the world's most iconic taxis, each poised and ready to defend the honour of its country.
Now, the cab drivers.
And naturally, because of the magnitude of what's at stake here, each country has sent its very best.
But they all must have got lost or something, so instead, we have the usual ragtag bunch of racing drivers.
For Russia, touring car legend Anthony Reid.
For South Africa, touring car legend Matt Jackson.
For Germany, touring car legend Matt Neal.
For India, touring car legend Gordon Shedden.
For Mexico, touring car legend Paul O'Neill.
For America, touring car legend Tom Chilton.
And in the black cab, me.
So here we are, ready to plunge once more into the abyss of motorsport-based scientific research.
I should point out that it's the custom for Indian taxi drivers to carry a figurine of their chosen God on the dashboard of their car.
I think our guy may have overdone it a bit.
ENGINES REV, HORNS BEEP The guys are getting impatient.
That's good.
Five-second board.
Yeah! The South African is through.
New York taxi alongside, Germaneverybody is through.
Absolutely everybody has passed me.
But this is a marathon, not a sprint.
'As ever, I'd issued strict instructions 'for the drivers to avoid body contact.
'Clearly, the South African hadn't got the memo.
' The South African is completely insane, largely out of control.
Huge slide from the limo! That's incredible.
'But while the Russian limo may have been struggling in the corners, 'I had issues everywhere.
' Yeah.
I'm quite badly outpaced on the hill, on the straights and in the turns.
This is all I've got.
'However, I had a plan.
' When it comes to cunning, remember, black cab drivers do The Knowledge.
I know where all the shortcuts are.
I'll nip down here, love.
Thanks to my super tight turning circle, I can make this.
That's me back in the race.
I'd say more than back in, I am leading it.
'Sadly, my fellow cabbies weren't impressed by this tactic 'and when they caught up with me, 'they were quick to show their displeasure.
' He's just ramming me! That is justoh, you're joking.
Yeah.
Some good-natured jostling from the other nations.
'With the race now at the halfway point, no clear leader was emerging, 'which meant inevitably that the drivers began to turn up the heat.
' There's been a crash, but we're OK.
'Fed up of the South African's hooliganism, 'the limo gave him a taste of his own medicine.
' Oh! Whoa! Getting a push now.
This is by far the fastest I have been.
Oh, Jesus.
Sorry about that.
Oh, God, it's the Mexican, isn't it? It's going to be bad.
'With just two laps to go, everybody was still running.
But then' Oh, the limo takes himself off entirely.
Oh, my word! That is Russia taken out.
In fact, America has taken itself out as well.
Right, still in play, we have the Beetle The Mercedes is holding up well.
It's really sustained very little damage.
'But the marauding South African had other ideas.
' Oh! Bad luck.
'Now into the final lap, 'and desperate to beat the remaining runners, I took another sneaky turn.
' Ha-ha! There is the finish line.
I think I can win this.
I think I can win Oh, no, no! It's entirely possible that I am a bit last.
'Nevertheless, the crucible of motorsport 'had once more given us the answer.
'As it turns out, the greatest taxi in the world 'is the Hindustan Ambassador'.
Well done, mate.
Excellent.
Excellent.
Good science.
But may I ask, Hammond, an important question? How many people were killed in the making of that film? - Actually, only three.
- Three.
See, that's more than I was hoping for.
But with science, there often has to be sacrifice.
But you've decided, have you not, after subjecting those cars to the white heat of the crucible of motorsport, that the best taxi in the world - started out in life as a Morris Oxford.
- Yeah, and there it is.
That would explain why the company that makes the London black cab - has gone bust.
- You say that, but they're back.
They've been rescued.
They're going to start production again very soon.
Pointlessly, as it turns out.
Yes, absolutely.
So, let's put a star in our brand-new reasonably-priced car.
Now, you may be aware that later on this year, we're going to be treated to a film called Rush.
It's about the epic battle in 1976 for the Formula One world championship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, and my guest tonight is the man who directed it.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Ron Howard! CHEERING Ron Howard is here.
How are you? He's here! The man who made Rush.
Have a seat.
Now, Ron, over the years, your films have been nominated for and I think you've won two yourself.
And now you've made a historical film about a sport that most of the world doesn't really watch.
So why did you think, "Yeah, Hunt and Lauda"? Great story.
Great human interest story, and I knew just enough about Formula One to just know how cool it was.
And I felt like the combination of those characters, the kind of human drama, the world of Formula One, particularly in the '70s, was a chance to offer something fresh to audiences.
It was a movie I wanted to see.
I was nervous about it because I thought oh, no, they'll make it too nerdy and everyone will say Formula One's boring, or they'll do a Hollywood number of "I love speed!" and it will all be set in NASCAR to make it easy for the Americans to understand.
And yet, it's neither of those things.
It is genuinely a film that takes you back to the '70s, when motor racing was bloody dangerous.
You weren't the only one who was nervous.
You certainly want the fans to feel the sport's respected, but you also need to make a movie that works on a lot of levels for a lot of people.
I had that opportunity with Apollo 13, and it's one of the films I enjoyed making most.
And I've got to tell you, Rush was right up there.
I had a blast.
We've got a clip for those of you who want to see what it looks like.
We'll show it for you now, because it is quite something.
There's a lie that all drivers tell themselves.
"Death is something that happens to other people.
" What kind of person does a job like this? Each year, two of us die.
I accept every time I get in my car that there's a 20% chance I could die.
Being driven round at 170 mph? This thing's a bomb on wheels.
- I'm quicker than all of you.
- Then let's race.
I'm a world champion on the verge to become world champion again.
I could beat this guy.
Trust me.
The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel.
This lot are going to wet themselves.
In the film, you show Niki Lauda, warts and all.
I had no idea he was like that, this OCD, very straight guy.
How did he react when he saw the finished product? When he saw it, he was moved by it, and I think it was because he never really had a perspective on that period around the accident.
First of all, he couldn't remember much of it.
Secondly, what he does remember was all about the anger that people were writing him off, thought he had died.
He could hear that.
And also the myopic drive to get back in the car.
He was so single-minded that he blanked everything else out and when he saw this he began to realise what other people around him, Marlene, his wife then, in particular, what they were going through, and a more human side of it.
and I think it was emotional for him to deal with.
Then of course you've got James Hunt as the complete counterbalance to that.
We've got a picture of James Hunt which we keep on our office wall.
This just sums him up.
His pop-riveted car.
He's thinking, "When I've finished this cigarette "and this can of beer, you, my dear, are next.
" You just don't see this today.
It is one of the tragedies.
You can't see Nico Rosberg posing.
"I would like to thank my watch manufacturer "and my hat manufacturer and the people who made my oil.
" That's what I really like about it.
There are two guys, who bowed to no-one.
There was no Yoda guiding them to their higher purpose.
These were guys who defined themselves on their own terms, very different terms, and they would bear the scars of those decisions, but they also could certainly claim the triumphs.
I'm sure everybody in the room here We move off Rush.
I'm sure everybody in the room here is looking at you thinking, everyone over 40 that is, thinking that is a familiar face, because a lot of people don't realise that you were in Happy Days.
You are Richie Cunningham.
I was him.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE It's one of those things I think people find hard to equate.
Here's this amazing film director, but you were, so you really did obviously switch into directing and I was just making a list of the better-known ones that you've directed and This is extraordinary.
It's Splash, Cocoon, Apollo 13, Da Vinci Code, Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon, Angels & Demons, Backdraft, Parenthood - that's very funny - Ransom.
I'm just thinking, "Hang on a minute, he did Happy Days and all "that.
I do a car show and I'm flat-out.
" How do you find the time? The simple answer is I enjoy what I'm doing, so I don't need a hobby.
I love this.
Having been on a show like Happy Days, you sort of are doing the same character over and over and when I realised I had a chance to be a director I thought, "I want to do as many diverse things as I possibly can.
" So I was renting 16mm cameras, making my own little independent movies.
Eventually doing my first movie, which was a car movie, - Grand Theft Auto.
- Of course.
- Car crash comedy.
I did that during one of the hiatuses from Happy Days.
- Moving onto personal life if I may, four children? - Yes.
- Their middle names interest me.
- Oh, yeah, I guess they might.
- You've got one called, middle name of Dallas.
- Yes.
- Which I believe was named - After the city.
- Where? She was conceived.
Yes.
Then you've got twins, both of whom have the middle name Carlyle.
Yes.
In New York there is a lovely hotel called The Carlyle - OK.
- And LAUGHTER And we sorted that one out, kind of backtracked, and thought, - "That's a very beautiful middle name, let's keep the tradition.
" - OK.
- The youngest son is called Cross.
- Cross.
Reed Cross Howard.
We sort of found out we were pregnant again.
Great.
"All right, well let's sort through it.
"I wonder if we can figure it out.
"Volvo is not much of a middle name.
" LAUGHTER - And - Yeah, Volvo doesn't work.
But there is a road near us called Lower Cross Road.
Which is where the Volvo was.
LAUGHTER - We have a good marriage.
- Evidently.
- Richard Hammond does the same.
I was talking to his kids the other day.
They're called Bus Stop and By The Bins.
LAUGHTER Now, you are the first person to properly drive our brand-new reasonably-priced car.
- Yes.
- What did you think of it? First of all I will say the right-hand drive and the gearshift on the left was a concern to me.
The correct way round.
It was It definitely threw me.
And I also implore, before you get into all this, I implore anyone who has any interest in seeing my movie Rush, I didn't drive in the movie.
Real drivers drove in the movie.
Right, there's your excuses out of the way.
Now who'd like to see Ron's lap? AUDIENCE: Yes.
- Let's have a look.
- Oh, Lord.
Let's have a look.
Look at that mighty machine leaping off the line.
AFFECTED ACCENT: You've got to stick it, Ron.
You've got to really stick it.
Niki was giving me a little coaching the other day.
That's Niki Lauda's explanation.
"You've got to stick it.
You've got to really stick it.
" - Holy smokes.
- Is that sticking it? - I don't know! - Not using all the track.
Smooth.
- Right.
- I don't know.
That car is gripping quite well there.
This is the one that always destroys me.
The fearsome Hammerhead.
I look like I'm being destroyed, don't I? This is looking good.
That's very good.
Very tidy.
Listen to that engine(!) - Wow, what a machine this is(!) - Concentrate here a little bit.
See, I'm taking it seriously.
You were.
That is a man who is concentrating.
Tyres tortured as he goes through the follow-through.
Nicely done.
Nicely cut.
Let's have a look at the second-to-last corner.
This is the bit normally catch Oh! Bang on.
And then on into Gambon and look at that grip.
That's bloody good.
There we are across the line.
Wow.
- Thank you.
- So, Ron, not many times on the board.
- Where do you think you've come? - Lord.
It wasn't quite as ugly as I imagined it would be.
My director's eye on the outside had it looking pretty bad.
It looked smooth.
Not sure about fast, but it looked smooth.
Where do we think? I'd like to think I'm not flat on the bottom.
That would be Mike Rutherford out of Genesis.
I suspect I'm right down there.
- That's where I think.
- Ron Howard, you did it in 1 - Right.
- So that's good.
- OK.
- .
.
40.
- Oh, OK, not the very bottom.
- So that's good.
- OK.
The next bit's not so good.
.
.
9.
9.
- OK.
- You're not the bottom.
So what this means is we've finally found something you can't do.
Good at directing, brilliant in Happy Days, a charming human being, but utterly crap at driving.
- Fair enough.
- Ladies and gentlemen, Ron Howard.
- Thank you.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE Now you may have seen that a few months ago the famous BBC TV Centre closed down.
When it did, the airwaves were swamped with emotional tributes from the giants of television.
Ronnie Corbett, David Attenborough, Michael Parkinson.
But nothing from Top Gear.
Until now.
This is the building in question.
For 53 years, it was the engine room for some of the most iconic television in the world.
But now, today, this is all that's left.
And that is great news because what we've realised is that once you take away all the people and the tea trolley and you've locked all the doors this abandoned building makes an excellent venue for a race.
You have these curving corridors that could be long, fast sweepers on a top F1 track.
You have these beautiful offices full of interesting obstacles and technical turns.
And you have all this outdoor area where you can literally get some air.
All in all, a unique and exciting racing circuit I think you'll agree.
And so to the racers.
Now, unfortunately this building isn't very suitable for cars, as indeed Jeremy proved a while back with the Peel P50.
So today we'll be racing these two.
Of which there are three.
We have Dougie Lampkin MBE, a trials rider with 16 World Titles to his name.
And he's up against Tim Shieff and Paul Joseph, two of the finest Free Runners on the planet.
They may not have an engine between them but apparently they can run along corridors and scamper over balconies and fire escapes like a couple of randy squirrels.
So with the introductions over, let's look at the route of the race itself.
Here we have a birds' eye view of Television Centre.
It's actually only a model.
And you will see it's shaped a little bit like a question mark.
So what I'm proposing is we start here, which is roughly where we're standing now, enter the building at the base of the question mark and then race all the way through it to finish here which is up there.
'As an excited crowd gathered, I positioned 'myself on the finish line.
' Are you ready? In three, two, one.
HORN This is interesting.
Dougie Lampkin has chosen to go through the door.
'But the youths are making their way up the outside of the building 'which actually isn't such a bad idea' because once you're inside here, you will be completely baffled.
'If they stay on the outside they will have some idea 'of where they're going.
' Good thinking.
Right, this should allow me to get a direct feed from any of the CCTV cameras around the building.
And there are the jumpy boys.
They are literally breaking news.
'As the youths made their way through the newsroom, 'Dougie was looking for a way upstairs.
' There is Dougie Lampkin.
'In the Newsnight office, the youths had found their path blocked 'and were having to make their way down again.
' 'Having found himself literally in a lock-in in the BBC bar 'Dougie too needed to find a way back down.
' So he is, God knows, somewhere over in the main leg of the question mark just approaching the curvy bit.
I've no idea who's in the lead, but it's very exciting.
'That, chaps, is a locked door.
' The Health and Safety department will have something to say about that.
Into the studio and the Daleks still waiting at the bottom of the stairs there.
'Amazingly even though the youths were now at the management 'offices on the sixth floor 'they were having no trouble making decisions.
' 'Meanwhile Dougie, now completely frustrated by the maze 'of BBC corridors, had decided on a more direct approach.
' Oh.
And Dougie Lampkin is going onto the roof I believe.
I can hear a bike.
It's Dougie Lampkin, ladies and gentlemen! What a fantastic two-wheeled tribute to BBC Television Centre W12 8QT.
Congratulations, sir.
Where are the Free Runners? And here they come.
Tim Shieff, Paul Joseph, close, not quite close enough, but well done anyway.
- Well done, great race.
- Your victor, Dougie Lampkin.
How was it? I'm knackered.
That thing's a labyrinth.
You know there's a lift? In that tall bit there.
You just go straight up to the top.
That was incredible.
I couldn't do a single thing that those guys did.
I was going to do the bike.
I couldn't put the helmet on.
The jumps were amazing.
I just want to say that when I made that film Television Centre had closed, but since then, owing to the unique way the BBC is run, they've decided to open it again.
LAUGHTER - Right, so you've made a tribute film to a building that isn't shut? - Yes.
- Isn't that like making an obituary for Holly Willoughby? - Yes.
But imagine how pleased you'd be when you found out she was still alive.
- That's a point.
- Chaps, may I interrupt? Because I much enjoyed your smashing-up-the-taxi film and your race between the motorcyclist and the two pedestrians, but I'm afraid we have to get serious now.
- Because we've had a letter.
- Oh, no(!) - It's from Well, it's from a mealy-mouthed, small-minded idiot.
And it says, "Dear Jeremy Clarkson, because Britain is so crowded "and there's so much traffic, there's no point owning a Ferrari "and therefore no point road testing them on your programme.
" Well, now I disagree, Mr Small-minded Idiot.
Because there are plenty of places in Britain that aren't crowded at all.
This is Hertfordshire.
It's just 40 miles from London and it's motoring nirvana.
Mmm! We have everything we need.
Huge scenery, swooping road, no traffic.
The Holy Trinity for anyone whose communion wine comes with an octane rating.
Can't enjoy a Ferrari in Britain? Oh, yes, you can.
But can you enjoy THIS one? It's called the F12.
It costs £240,000 and thanks to a 730 horsepower V12 it's the most powerful road-going Ferrari ever made.
It's almost as powerful, in fact, as Fernando Alonso's Formula 1 racer.
Of course, at this point, people with mouths of meal would say, "What's the point of all that when we've got speed limits?" You don't have to use all of it all the time.
In a town, you can sit back, turn on the radio, put the suspension in bumpy road mode to make everything nice and comfy, set the gearbox in automatic, the air conditioning just so, and then you can drive along quite happily at 20 miles an hour.
Easy.
'It's not even especially big.
' I'm not saying this is tiny, but it's not preposterous.
You don't go through every gap like that.
So this car works in Letchworth just like any other car.
But when the built-up area ends, it's not like any other car at all.
Wow.
Wow, this is fast.
Ferrari say it will go from 0 to 60 in 3.
1 seconds.
And that flat-out, it will be doing 211 miles an hour.
And it's not just the massive engine which makes it all so savage.
Unlike the old 599, this has a double clutch gearbox, so gear changes are immediate.
You build up the speed until the noise gets too much and your ears are bleeding and then you change up and there's no gap.
How do you do that? They've also fitted a more sophisticated traction control system which lets you have fun without allowing you to crash.
But the most impressive thing is how this car manages the air.
These flaps down here, when the brakes are hot, they open, to allow cooling air to pass on to the discs.
But the rest of the time, they're shut for better aerodynamics.
And then you have these channels on either side of the bonnet.
The air is funnelled along them into here and out of here so it provides a boundary layer of smooth air passing down the flanks of the car making it more slippery.
There's real downforce as well.
At 125 miles an hour, the weight of the air pressing down on the car is 19 stone.
That's like having half of John Prescott on the roof forcing the tyres into the Tarmac, giving better grip.
They have done everything in the book to exploit the colossal firepower.
And the results are mesmerising.
In the past, big Ferraris felt big.
The Testarossa, the 612, they were immense.
They were fat-boy cars.
This isn't.
This is light and nimble and sharp.
It's It is spectacular.
I must confess though that while the car is fine, I am struggling, because it is a bit frantic in here.
I just went airborne then.
You read about those early test pilots in Mach Two jet fighters going to the very limits of what was possible.
That's what it feels like in this - like you're sort of out of control.
And it has incredibly fast steering, so the slightest movement of the wheel causes an immediate dart one way or the other.
And then there's the throttle.
You put your foot down and you think, "Whoa, yes," and then immediately you think, "No, actually.
Too scary.
" And when life is as hectic as this, what you really want are for all the controls to be conventional.
And they're not.
All the knobs and buttons for the lights and the wipers and the indicators are all on the steering wheel which moves about, so they're never where you left them.
You can't even sneeze when you're driving this car because if you did Well, they'd have to hose you off the road.
To try and explain what I'm on about, I've come to this tennis court.
This is what it's like to drive an ordinary car on the roads of Hertfordshire.
There you go, Golf GTI BMW M3, Ferrari 458.
This is easy and manageable and I could do it all day.
Now let me show you what it's like to drive a Ferrari F12.
Ugh! Ugh! Oh, in the face! The Stig says, this is the only car in the world that can hold a candle to the Lexus LFA.
He also says it's the first Ferrari he's ever driven that he would actually buy - if he had any concept of money, which of course he doesn't.
Me, though It is brilliant, but I think it would be better still if it had slower steering and it's hard for me to say this, but a bit less power.
Yes, you can really enjoy it in Britain, but you can't really enjoy all of it.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE It is frantic.
I'd still have an LFA.
The LFA is 100 grand more although the options on this, they do take it up to 350 as well.
- Hang on, hang on, hang on.
- What? Did I just hear you, Jeremy Clarkson, - say that you'd like "a bit less power"? - Yes, you did.
Isn't that a bit like Gordon Ramsay saying, "Yes, I like this dish, "but I wish it had a bit less flavour.
" Or James May saying, "Yes, I like this, but can it be "a bit less brown?" No, it is like that, but it is a bombshell, which means we can end.
Thank you very much for watching.
See you all next week.
Take care.
Good night.