The seventh episode of the tenth series of Top Gear aired on the 25th of November, 2007. It was presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May and The Stig. Jennifer Saunders was the guest star.


Next year sees the 40th anniversary of the formation of British Leyland, and the trio thought it would be a brilliant idea to celebrate this automotive milestone, but unfortunately the producers told them that there was nothing to celebrate, because BL was a miserable disaster and everything they ever made was "rubbish". Regardless, they insisted that in spite of reliability and build quality issues, that some of the designs they made were quite desirable.


  • In a well-balanced show, James gets egg on his face...
  • Richard runs himself over...
  • And [Jeremy] powerslide[s] the new Aston Martin DBS.


British Leyland Challenge

Main article: British Leyland Challenge

Introduction & Choices

The presenters began the challenge at Warwick Services on the M40, where the trio revealed their choices:

Vehicle Driver
1982 Rover SD1 Jeremy Clarkson
1974 Triumph Dolomite Sprint Richard Hammond
1979 Austin Princess James May


Test 1 - Reliability

Instructed to travel 40 miles from their starting point, the presenters mistakenly arrive at each of the three previous British Leyland factories, only to find each of them with a different lease of life, before ending up at the MIRA test track, described by James as an "automotive torture chamber." The journey served as a reliability test, but no presenter earned money because none of them had managed to complete the journey without having reliability problems.

Test 2 - Power

The power test consisted of timed laps on the handling circuit, with the mark to beat set by the Stig in a Datsun 120Y. The benchmark was 1:11, and despite having more powerful cars, none of the presenters was able to beat it. Jeremy came closest at only a second behind in the Rover, while Richard ended up five seconds slower. James missed a turn and then got lost on the track.

Test 3 - Handbrakes

The test that followed called for each presenter to drive up a 1-in-3 (33.3% grade) hill, stop at a specified stopping point, put on the handbrake and get out, with £100 awarded for a success. James went first and succeeded, while Jeremy raised a cloud of smoke from wheel spin while trying to get to the stopping point. He claimed he had done it - a claim that neither Richard nor James contested. Richard then tried it, but the Dolly's handbrake failed to hold it, sending James and Jeremy into fits of laughter at the sight of it rolling back down the hill, whereupon it hit the grade sign.

Test 4 - Ride Comfort

The presenters were shocked to find that the fourth test, designed to test ride comfort, called for them to drive on the rough road at 30 miles per hour (new cars are typically tested on that road at 25 miles per hour) - with a colander of eggs attached to the roof lining of each car above the driver's head. Each would earn £10 for each gram of egg left in the colander at the end but lose £10 for each trim piece that fell off.

James went first, and though he wound up looking "like a spaniel that's crashed into the back of a hen" according to Jeremy, he only had his glove box lid and radio panel dislodged while having 4 grams of egg left in his colander, giving him £20. Richard was at a disadvantage with the Dolly's sports suspension - and it showed as he lost six trim pieces and had no egg left in his colander, leaving him £60 down. Jeremy, like James, retained 4 grams of egg in his colander but lost 2 trim pieces - but one of those trim pieces was an entire rear door.

Test 5 - Water Test

The final test called for the presenters to return to the Top Gear Test Track - in dry suits. The challenge was even more incredulous than the previous one and stipulated that each car would be filled to the brim with water (with a snorkel stuck through the roof allowing each presenter to breathe) and then driven around the track until they drained below the bottom of the steering wheel, with 20 pence earned for every yard covered. Each presenter recognized that this would be a thorough test of both performance and build quality.

Richard went first and completed more than half a lap (1500 yards) in the Dolomite Sprint before James stunningly lapped him in the Princess and covered 4500 yards before bowing out. Jeremy's SD1 didn't even fill even after a third fire hose was brought in, so he set off with not nearly as much water as the others - and he lasted just 10 yards before a rear door fell off again.

Results & Conclusion

When the results were tallied back in the studio, the presenters found that they had succeeded because James, with his great performance in the water test, had gained back 20 more pounds than he had paid for the Princess - though, Jeremy conceded, though British Leyland had made a good car, they had only made the one good car because the SD1 and the Dolomite Sprint had done badly.


Car Spending Reliability Power Handbrakes Ride Comfort Water Test Total
Jeremy Rover SD1 -1100 0 0 100 20 2 -978
Richard Triumph Dolomite Sprint -1250 0 0 0 -60 300 -1010
James Austin Princess -1000 0 0 100 20 900 20
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