Top Gear Wiki
Top Gear Restoration

James May presents the board.

Restoration Ripoff, also referred to as Top Gear Restoration, was a minor segment in Series 5 of Top Gear produced with the intention of allowing the viewers a chance to give the Top Gear trio an opportunity to 'mend something' for a change. Prior to the series commencing, a list of 5 cars were submitted:

  • James Dean's Lotus 10
  • A Range Rover previously belonging to Princess Diana
  • The Adams Probe 16 from A Clockwork Orange
  • Keith Moon's 1938 Chrysler Wimbledon
  • Or a raced Mini Cooper believed to have once been driven by Paddy Hopkirk

With the Mini eventually being declared the winner in the eighth episode of the series. However, this is the last time we ever hear of the segment of the show, and speculation soon followed once nothing was heard of it in neither Series 6, nor Series 7 a full year later. Eventually the story was followed up by Sean McKellar of, who published the following in 2011:

Shortly after 407 ARX won the competition, questions began to surface over the car’s true originality. Eventually it was found that what the BBC actually purchased was a car log book, along with a body shell, an engine and a collection of parts which were required to restore it. The problem here is the log book and the body shell had most likely never met before in their lives – the same could probably be said for the rest of the parts. As a result, restoring the car using these parts would make it nothing more than a “log book restoration” or perhaps a “replica”.

The logbook had ties to Paddy Hopkirk, but the car itself didn’t. The world of rallying is a very harsh and punishing environment – so harsh in fact that back in the 60’s and 70’s it was common practice to re-shell a car in order to keep it as straight as possible. ID numbers and registration plates would be carried across onto the new shell – not to defraud anyone (as the team owned all the cars) – but more so because the body shells were considered as being just another part number. Some estimate that 80-90% of the cars were re-shelled at least once during their rally duties, not counting the ones which have been re-shelled privately since then.

The problem is that some Mini Works cars now exist that have been totally re-shelled using little of the original and leaving one to evaluate whether the sum of parts constitute a genuine car or not. All of these factors make it pretty much impossible to determine whether or not any parts on this car went anywhere near Paddy Hopkirk, or in some way were responsible for anything noteworthy in the world of rallying.

Because of these issues, the BBC failed to get authentication on the car which then brought on the initial delays. But the exact details on what happened next may always remain a mystery. What we do know is that the car was eventually restored, and was seen in 2006 – it “looked fantastic” according to those who saw it up close.