Herefordshire celebrity and beloved car enthusiast Richard Hammond recently took fans on a nostalgic journey as he revisited some of his favourite vehicles from his tenure on the BBC’s Top Gear.
Richard, who worked alongside Jeremy Clarkson and James May on the show, was presented with a ‘world cup’ of TV cars devised by his friends Mike and Lucy. This involved a list of notable vehicles he’s interacted with during his career, which he was tasked to whittle down to one ‘favourite ever TV car’.
Opening his trip down memory lane, he spoke of the Rover 416 GTI, which featured in Top Gear’s first hundred-pound car challenge. Richard recounted buying this in the Ross-on-Wye area, choosing it over a Jeep Cherokee from a later challenge in a show he amusingly referred to as ‘that show that rhymes with flopped here.’ The Rover, costing only a hundred pounds and symbolising a form of heroism in the face of a challenge, emerged as a favourite for the TV personality.
However, as Richard moved on to the next stage of cars, he was faced with a tougher decision between the Mini from the India Special and the Suzuki Super Carry from the ‘Man with a Van’ segment. The Suzuki ended up progressing, with Richard describing it as a car with ‘character and personality’, which were his primary criteria for this nostalgic ranking.
The next duo was the Nissan 300ZX, from the 1500 quid rear-wheel drive coupes, and the Toyota Land Cruiser. Richard expressed his distaste for both cars, even remembering a time when Clarkson threw his sunroof off a cliff. Despite his reservations, the Land Cruiser was chosen due to its reputation as an ‘Outback legend’.
Later in his review, he encountered ‘Oliver’, a little yellow OPEC car that he had once predicted would increase in value. Despite its failure to do so, Oliver was an easy choice for the presenter, beating out the Saxo VTS rallycross car it was up against.
Richard’s journey took a turn towards the more controversial when the Dodge Ram from the thousand-dollar US cars segment was up for consideration. He recalled an incident in Alabama, where local residents took offence to the humorous messages that had been written on the cars, leading to a high-speed escape from the disgruntled locals. Despite the controversy, Richard seemed to look back on the adventure with fondness, describing it as ‘invigorating’.
From all the memories shared, it was the Rover 416 GTI, a car with an intimate connection to the Ross-on-Wye region, that progressed to the final stage. Richard chose it for its symbol of early Top Gear days, when cheap cars were a novelty on the show, rather than expensive and flashy ones. As he put it, ‘no other car show had done that before.’
Viewers can enjoy the chance to revisit the presenter’s long and storied career through the lens of the vehicles he’s encountered along the way. You can follow more of Richard’s motoring escapades on his Youtube channel: DriveTribe.