Hot on the heels of the India Christmas Special cars, the mobility scooters from the 18th series of Top Gear have (just) survived the presenters’ challenge to become the latest addition to Beaulieu’s World of Top Gear exhibition.
These unique machines were created by the three presenters when Top Gear decided that more could be done to help disabled people get out into the great British countryside for a spot of rambling. Whilst there are ramps leading into public buildings, pedestrian crossings that beep, buses that kneel, and so on, Top Gear felt that off-road mobility scooters just aren’t rugged enough and they are expensive too. And so it was decided.
The presenters’ challenge was to design and build true off-road mobility machines at an affordable price and then race them against some wounded servicemen driving off-the-shelf scooters. It didn’t end well.
Jeremy Clarkson’s machine is constructed from two normal scooters, thereby giving it four-wheel drive (which didn’t work) and four wheel-steering (which wasn’t much use). When viewing the scooter, note the damage to the sides, caused by an oaf letting it fall over, and the damage to the rear, caused by that same oaf deliberately pushing it down a hill so he could make Fenton jokes about it.
The off-road scooter created by Richard Hammond combines the front of a normal mobility trike with the motor and tracks from a powered wheelbarrow used to move heavy objects around building sites. Astonishingly, Hammond managed to make a machine that actually worked well off road and was, uniquely amongst the presenters’ efforts, able to make it to the top of a mountain. Unfortunately, it was also rather noisy, and a bit smelly.
Bringing up the rear, Captain Slow, aka James May, opted to create a wheelchair with thoughtful design touches, such as the adjustable seat angle, built-in grit dispenser, and the mounting for a tablet computer device. However, all of these things were rendered irrelevant once May drove towards a slightly muddy meadow and his machine rather embarrassingly ground to a halt. He was eventually forced to abandon his off-road journey and head directly to the pub – which he couldn’t get into either – useless.
All three of these creations can now be seen at Beaulieu’s World of Top Gear, which features a collection of vehicles, created by the presenters, for some of their most ambitious challenges on the show over the years. Exhibition highlights include the Top Gear ‘Enormodrome’ which recreates the feel of the Top Gear studio, where the TV show is filmed in front of a live audience, and regular features from the programme, including the Cool Wall and the Celebrity ‘Lap Times’ board which is kept up to date in line with the show. Visitors can also watch behind-the-scenes footage of the Top Gear production zone and clips of some of the best Top Gear moments.
World of Top Gear can be viewed as part of a visit to the whole Beaulieu attraction, which includes the National Motor Museum with its collection of over 250 vehicles, the brand new BOND IN MOTION exhibition which showcases 50 original vehicles from the James Bond films, On Screen Cars featuring TV and film favourites, Palace House, home of the Montagu family since 1538 and the 13th century Beaulieu Abbey.