Since its debut in 2002, the near-perfect mix of nerdy car facts, performance reviews and British dry humor has ensured that Top gear a worldwide success among both hardcore car enthusiasts and casual fans. In addition to testing cars, creating awesome mini-documentaries and getting celebrity guests to hit the track, the hosts take on challenges around the world in special episodes. They often take used, affordable cars for the journey or the challenge. In most cases, they eventually adapt it to their needs, and the results are always ingenious, out-of-the-box, and often wild.
However, some of them are so outrageous that we feel they deserve a special mention, which is exactly why we’ve put together this list. Note that the original three presenters of Top gear-Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond – are the ones who made the show what it is today, so for this list we’re focusing on the modified cars that were featured on the show before Jeremy Clarkson left Top gear and the trio broke up. Let’s get to the list!
10 Burma Special: Jeremy’s Sports Lorry
Let’s start with a big one, shall we? The Burma special episode may not be the best trip, but it sure is a unique one. The trio used worn-out trucks to travel through Burma (aka Myanmar) to Thailand. Jeremy Clarkson chose an Isuzu TX for the quest, but of course the trucks didn’t want it, so they converted them.
Jeremy, Jeremy, went for the sporty approach and made a convertible! It now has a white paint job with blue Shelby-esque stripes over it, a fake 6.3-litre AMG badge and luxurious living space in the same color scheme.
9 Homemade limousines
Just listen to us. The trio made their own versions of cheap car limousines. One of them used a 1996 MG F as the drive component and attached a long body to the rear. Oh, and like the MG F, the entire limousine is convertible. The second limousine was a 1992 Fiat Panda that was converted into a limousine 7 feet longer than the legal limit on the road.
Finally, the trio made a limousine consisting of a 1994 Saab 9000 CS V6 on one side and a 1996 Alfa Romeo 164 on the other. The person who built it appropriately named it the Salfa Romeaab. Now we’ll leave it up to you to wonder who made what… or you can watch the episode, which we highly recommend.
8 The Robber James
The Rover James is a creation that still haunts many car enthusiasts who have seen the show in their dreams. As an aside, this time the guys took a Fiat Multipla and turned it into something suitable for the elderly. The guys oversimplified the interior with an inaccurate but reassuring speedometer and a minimalistic GPS that goes to predefined stereotypical destinations like the nearest hospital and bingo house.
The car was eventually stripped of all doors with huge bus mirrors on the sides, not to mention Jeremy’s parking spot finder and the contingency that forbids them from going the wrong way.
7 The Ski Jump Mini
The concept of this project alone is ridiculously absurd. The trio strapped a rocket to a Mini and attempted a ski jump anyway. But the whole context around it is also quite misleading. The Winter Olympics Special is a very interesting release from Top gearand you should check it out if you haven’t already.
They also play ice hockey with a Suzuki Swift, but none of that is as crazy as the rocket-powered mini.
6 Richard Hammond’s Chevy Ambulance
this episode of Top gear saw the hosts trying to make a better ambulance than the one used by the government. Richard Hammond took the Chevy G20 (the A-Team had one) and turned it into a nuclear waste van from the outside. But inside there are things you would see in an ambulance, like a bed and some other medical equipment.
Not only that, but Richard added a nitrous oxide button for two purposes; one is to give the 5.7-liter small-block Chevy V8 some extra juice, and the other reason is just too diabolical to list here. We’ll leave it up to you to watch the episode, if you haven’t already.
5 Jeremy’s RAMbulance
Let’s stick to the ambulance subject, because Jeremy did something even worse and interesting at the same time. In classic Jeremy Clarkson fashion, he chose an old Porsche 944 Turbo to turn into an ambulance. After figuring out how the patient would actually fit into the so-called ambulance, Jeremy went nuts with the mods.
He used the Bee Gees song ‘Stayin’ Alive’ for the ambulance horn for reassurance and some help with CPR. And then there’s the rattle on the front. We are short of words.
4 All amphibious cars
Before the Hovervan, we had glimpses of the three hosts’ genius at crafting amphibious vehicles in the 3rd episode of Season 8. The ideas were pretty compulsive to say the least. Richard Hammond bought a Volkswagen motorhome, turned it into a narrowboat and named it ‘Dampervan’.
Clarkson took a modified Toyota Hilux and added an outboard motor to it. However, the only person to take on the challenge of crossing a two-mile-wide water reservoir was James May with his classic Triumph Herald which he turned into a sailboat.
3 Jeremy’s camper
A silhouette is all you need to recognize this iconic motorhome. People would normally extend the length of their RV or get a longer one if they need more space. But as you guessed, “normal” doesn’t work for Jeremy. He got a Citroën CX Break and built a three-storey campervan on top of it! Cooking facilities like a toaster and grill? He has it. Accommodation to sleep? Two hammocks on the top floor. Jeremy even included a “Japanese contemplation room” on the middle level.
You name the facility, Jeremy has it. All he has to watch out for is high winds, low-hanging things like wires and gates, and big half-passes at high speeds.
2 the hovervan
The Hovervan Mark 1 was a complete failure. The two 90-horsepower BMW motorcycle engines in the Ford Transit didn’t have enough lift and thrust to go anywhere. But the host’s second attempt had the strength of 600 horses to support the hovervan upwards.
James also replaced the skirts with better, heavier ones. The new creation of the gentlemen still had a lot of work to do, so no one will wait outside Top gear‘s store to buy one. But as a concept, we find it really fascinating.
1 The Vampire Dragster
The Vampire Dragster is undoubtedly one of the most infamous and memorable cars in the world Top gear history. It’s the one Richard Hammond crashed during testing at high speeds. The incident surrounding it was one of the worst things that could ever happen.
But the car itself is one of the fastest ever seen at the show. It could theoretically travel at speeds of up to 370 mph! It’s actually a skeleton roughly shaped like a dragster bolted to a Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus turbojet engine. It held the UK land speed record of 300.3 mph (483.29 km/h) since 2000.