The 10 Best Top Gear U.K. Episodes of All Time
Fan-favorite episodes and specials you should watch online right now with MotorTrend On Demand.
If you're into cars, chances are you've not only heard of the U.K. 's Top Gear but also watched at least a few episodes of it—it's the most popular TV show about cars and driving in the world, after all. But even if you're not really into cars, there's plenty to enjoy, as the oddball trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May horse around with pretty much anything that moves under its own power—or doesn't. Now nearly the whole series—more than 170 episodes spanning 240 hours of programming—is joining the existing 4,000 hours and 7,000 episodes of automotive entertainment already on the MotorTrend app for iOS and Android, including shows like Roadkill, HOT ROD Garage, Dirt Every Day, Head 2 Head, and Wheeler Dealers.
Even if you've seen every episode of Top Gear U.K. or you're completely new to the series, the arrival of 25 seasons on MotorTrend is reason to celebrate. To get you started, here is a list of the 10 highest-rated episodes according to viewer rankings on IMDb. (Note: The episodes are arranged by season and number as you'll find them in the MotorTrend app.)
- Top Gear: Vietnam Special - Specials Season 1, Episode 2
With just eight days to traverse 1,000 miles of Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh City to Ha Long Bay on motorcycles that might better be called scooters, the Clarkson/Hammond/May trio are the focus of this episode rather than the machinery—though the characters of Hammond's Minsk, May's Honda Super Cub, and Clarkson's Piaggio Vespa all lend color to the debacle, making it clear why this is the best Top Gear U.K. episode ever.
- Top Gear: Bolivia Special - Specials Season 1, Episode 3
Once again Hammond, May, and Clarkson face a 1,000-mile trek—but this time through the Amazon rainforest, over the Andes, and to the Chilean coast, in used off-roaders bought for less than $5,000. Their chariots? May bought a Suzuki Samurai, Clarkson snagged a Range Rover Classic, and Hammond landed a Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40. Let's just say none of the vehicles was delivered as expected, making for an interesting time for the crew and one of the highest-rated special episodes.
- Cheap High-Mileage SUV Challenge - Season 22, Episode 8
The challenge of finding a good classic car to own and drive is something many enthusiasts has felt at one time or another. In this episode—one of the most popular challenge episodes—May, Hammond, and Clarkson feel this pain acutely, being forced to find a cheap car that's still worthy of the "classic" title. In the end, May winds up with a Peugeot 304 S Cabriolet, Hammond with an MGB GT, and Clarkson, looking like King Koopa in Mario Kart, ends up behind the wheel of a Fiat 124. Unlike so many Top Gear U.K. challenges, however, the guys get several months to improve and restore their cars before facing a range of tests including a car meet, track testing, and a classic-car show.
- Top Gear: Africa Special Part 1 - Specials Season 1, Episode 6
This two-part special sees the gang headed for source of the Nile river in sub-$2,000 cars bought in the U.K. Starting in Uganda and searching through Tanzania and the Serengeti, this episode combines some fantastic wagons (BMW 528i, Subaru WRX, and Volvo 850R) with a pair of topics not often addressed in vehicular video but which make a natural fit: exploration and geography. Who says no one loves wagons? None of the people who made this one of the best Top Gear U.K. episodes of all time.
- Top Gear: Burma Special Part 2 - Specials Season 1, Episode 9
Revisiting the namesake of the 1957 movie based on the 1952 book by Pierre Boulle, this episode sees Clarkson, Hammond, and May traveling across Thailand in rather unlikely vehicles: Isuzu and Hino commercial trucks (one of which has a crane on the back—May's, naturally). Along the way, they face numerous challenges, but none is greater than the final task of building an actual bridge capable of supporting their heavy trucks to reach their destination—except, perhaps, finding the actual River Kwai.
- Top Gear: Botswana Special - Specials Season 1, Episode 11
This episode is beloved to many Top Gear U.K. fans because it was the genesis story for one of the best man-car love stories on the show, featuring Richard Hammond and his 1963 Opel Kadett, which he names Oliver. Clarkson's Lancia Beta and May's Mercedes-Benz 230E also bring plenty of excitement—err, frustration?—to the party, too, as the three attempt to cross the harsh and beautiful terrain of Botswana. We're glad they did, and we're glad the viewers found fit to make the story of Oliver and the boys one of the highest-rated episodes of Top Gear.
- Top Gear: Middle East Special - Specials Season 1, Episode 5
While it's unlikely anyone could confuse Hammond, Clarkson, and May for the Three Wise Men (well, maybe May), they nevertheless set out to replicate their biblical journey, although on much more modern mounts, including a Mazda MX-5 (Clarkson), a BMW Z3 (May), and a Fiat Barchetta (Hammond). Crossing Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Jordan on their way to Israel, the road trip traversed the region just months before the Arab Spring.
- The Boys Build Their Own Motorhomes - Season 15, Episode 4
This episode encapsulates the sheer ludicrous inanity of the Top Gear U.K. ethos as well as any, and that's what makes it brilliant—and one of the best build episodes in the history of Top Gear. Hammond starts with a Land Rover 110, converting it into an expandable camper—sensible enough, no? But then May kicks it into overdrive with his Lotus Excel bedecked with a shuttle-style pod complete with escape chute. And for the final push into ludicrous, Clarkson tops a Citroën CX with not one, not two, but three stories of apartment building, complete with landscaping. If it sounds unbelievable, it is. Predictably, it all ends badly.
- Volkswagen Touareg vs. Swedish Snowmobiles - Season 15, Episode 5
While the top-billed shenanigans on this episode see a tweaked Volkswagen Touareg facing off against a Swedish snowmobile-racing duo, the real heart of the episode is about pure speed, with May taking the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport to Ehra-Lessien for a run to 258 mph—that's right, Captain Slow isn't so slow after all, at least when he's driving a Veyron Super Sport.
- The Boys and the Stig Race Across St. Petersburg - Season 22, Episode 1
After losing the race across London, the Top Gear U.K. team head to St. Petersburg to seek redemption for the Renault Twizy city car, this time pitted against Clarkson on a hovercraft, Hammond on a fancy bicycle, and The Stig on public transit. We also get a special appearance from the Lamborghini Huracán, reviewed by Hammond.
Honorable Mention: U.S. Roadtrip Special - Specials Season 1, Episode 10
If you're American and you've already seen this episode, you're probably amazed the three plucky Brits aren't dead by the end. If you haven't, trust us, you'll be wondering the same thing before long. Digging deep into the stereotypes of the American Redneck—justified or not—the trio travel from Miami to New Orleans in $1,000 cars: For Hammond, a Dodge Ram pickup; for Clarkson, a Chevy Camaro RS; and for May, a Cadillac Brougham. Hilarity and potential homicide ensues.
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And that's not all! Every Tuesday starting September 3, MotorTrend will add to its incredible Top Gear U.K. collection with exclusive new episodes of Best of Top Gear U.K. , as well as full seasons of related series including Richard Hammond's Crash Course and James May's Cars of the People. In all, MotorTrend will roll out 40 Best of Top Gear U.K. episodes, and 46 episodes of motoring content from the BBC in addition to future seasons of Top Gear U.K.