Top Gear (partially found unaired segments of BBC motoring show; 2002-2015)

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Top gear logo.png

The series logo.

Status: Partially Found

The second incarnation of the BBC motoring show Top Gear ran from 2002 to 2015. Presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, several segments that were filmed were ultimately deemed as inadequate for airing on television. Some scrapped segments were discussed in various Top Gear books, including most notably The Big Book of Top Gear 2011 and producer Richard Porter's 2015 autobiography And on That Bombshell: Inside the Madness and Genius of Top Gear.[1][2] Additionally, following Clarkson's dismissal on 25th March, 2015, other segments intended for Series 22 were scrapped.

BMW M3 Road Test[edit | edit source]

In Series 1, The Stig could be seen driving a blue BMW M3 on the test track during the first episode of Series 1. Despite this, no review of the M3 would be aired until Episode 2 of Series 2, which featured a different coloured car. It was most likely scrapped because the producers aimed to include faster vehicles later in the show, instead opting to showcase a Citroën Berlingo road test for the first episode.

Hammond Tests the BMW 6-Series Convertible[edit | edit source]

According to The Big Book of Top Gear 2011, back in 2004, there was a need for more power tests featuring Hammond, most likely for Series 4 or 5. The issue was that Clarkson had driven virtually all the vehicles that the show was primarily based around. While Richard did make a review on the then-new BMW 6 Series convertible, it was ultimately a car that the show had never been interested in. Ultimately, the segment was scrapped when it was deemed too boring to air.

Rover Metro Airplane[edit | edit source]

Also in 2004, May attempted to convert a Rover Metro into an airplane, with assistance from some engineering students who would strip the car and incorporate wings onto it. According to Richard Porter, the problem was that the Metro was front-wheel-drive. As soon as the wheels lost contact with the ground, the Metro would slow down. As a result, it could never gather up enough speed to take off. Porter described the end result as "endless footage of a small car with wings on its roof doing tiny and rubbish wheelies." There was a plan to make the Metro rear-wheel-drive, but it ended up being abandoned for cost and safety reasons. It did however provide inspiration for the Caravan Airship that May demonstrated in Series 14.[3]

Fiat Panda Armoured Car[edit | edit source]

For Series 7, Hammond worked on converting a 1994 Fiat Panda into an armoured car on a budget. It was promoted in the May 2005 issue of Top Gear Magazine,[4] and some clips were featured in the preview of Series 7's first episode. The images showed that the Panda was shot at, set on fire, overturned and had rammed an attacking car. Despite the work that had gone into filming this segment, it was initially deemed underwhelming. The Big Book of Top Gear 2011 stated that a re-edit tried to make the segment more exciting, but it led to continuity errors where in one clip a broken window could be seen, only for it to suddenly mend itself in the next clip and then break again. Thus, it was never televised outside of the preview footage.

The Fiat Panda was known to have been placed in the Top Gear boneyard with many other vehicles that did make it to air, with The Big Book of Top Gear 2009 briefly criticising the segments quality.[5]

The Top Gear Bus[edit | edit source]

In 2005, London Transport was selling off its Routemaster buses for cheap prices, inspiring the production crew to purchase one. While there was concern over what to do with the bus, they got inspiration where "Top Gear doesn’t do buses, but if we did they’d be the best buses in the world." Armed with this premise, Hammond and May were given the task of improving the bus by equipping it with various devices and set-ups.

These "enhancements" included a system to improve the view from the windows (a roller blind with a picture of a sunset on it), a system to stop people from playing their music too loudly (a pair of scissors behind breakable glass, to cut the offender's headphone cord), a system to banish bad smells (a can of deodorant on a string) and an in-journey entertainment system (a tiny slotcar track on a board, attached to the bus's roof with string). Porter summarised the segment as one where the ideas in the office, while seemingly exciting on paper, actually turned out to be poorly executed. Particularly, the slotcar track, which simply dropped through the ceiling, caused Hammond and May to corpse at how bad the modifications were, and requested that the segment never air. It led to May creating a song entitled "The Unfunny Bus", with one verse written in Porter's book:

Get on board the funny bus
A comedy ship that is sinking
Get on board the unfunny bus
What the fuck were we thinking?


While the segment did not air, the Routemaster itself did make a few cameo appearances on Top Gear. One was when Clarkson experienced technical issues with his new Ford GT. The other known appearance came during the introduction of Richard Hammond's Top Gear Challenge,[6] where Hammond crashes into it, most likely referencing Hammond's distaste with the segment. A few photos can also be found in Porter's book.

Clarkson Tests the Pontiac Solstice[edit | edit source]

During the 2005 challenge where Jeremy went to Laguna Seca in the United States to not only test the Honda NSX but to try and replicate a time that was set virtually on Gran Turismo, it was decided that a review of the Pontiac Solstice could be filmed around the same time. However, enthusiasm was already low for the segment as the car was not going to be sold in the United Kingdom, and support for it further dipped when Clarkson thought the car was awful. While it was filmed, it was scrapped in favour of more relevant segments, and a review of the car was published in the November 2005 issue of Top Gear Magazine.[7] A photo of the segment can be found in Porter's book.

Clarkson Tests the Lotus Europa S[edit | edit source]

Throughout Series 8, the Lotus Europa S was a frequent talking point in the show's The News segment. For Series 9, a test was conducted, but it ended up being underwhelming. The main issue was that the Europa S was merely a rebodied Elise that was going to be rebadged as a Proton. Additionally, the new interior failed to meet expectations of being luxurious. Clarkson according to The Big Book of Top Gear 2011 attempted to make an entertaining track test, but the segment only ended up as "passable" according to Porter. Thus, when there were so many other segments to fit into Series 9, the segment ended up being scrapped. A trailer for Series 9 does feature a clip of the test.

Series 9 trailer featuring a clip of the Lotus Europa S test.


Beach Buggy Road Test[edit | edit source]

In 2007, Jeremy declared that beach buggies were the coolest cars in the world. Because it was decided that more Hammond films were required to balance out the series, he was sent to test a converted Volkswagen Beetle that Porter had obtained. However, upon getting the beach buggy onto the sand, it got constantly stuck, even with the presence of off-road tyres, before ultimately breaking down. The test was subsequently dropped.

Car vs Submarine[edit | edit source]

Porter also revealed that Clarkson was to enter a nuclear submarine, where it would race against an unknown car up the coast of Florida. However, before Clarkson could enter the submarine, it was revealed it had broken down and had begun leaking. Because this issue could not be fixed easily, filming was cancelled almost immediately after it began.

Deal or No Wheels[edit | edit source]

At some point, Clarkson and executive producer Andy Wilman decided that a revamp would be necessary for Top Gear to retain its popularity. One idea for the revamp was a game show where Clarkson would ask a selected audience member questions. If they answered wrong, their car would get wrecked, before being ultimately destroyed. This caused several concerns with the BBC's Health and Safety department, even after some attempts were made to cut back on the amount of damage inflicted. In the end, it was decided that the game show, nicknamed "Deal or No Wheels" by Porter, did not fit in with the tone or structure of the show and it was never aired.

One pilot is known to have been filmed and put into a mock episode and in a DVD. Despite Jeremy repeatedly badgering Porter about reviving the game show concept, the latter states that while he had a copy of the DVD with Deal or No Wheels on it, he ended up throwing it out. Thus, the segment is likely permanently lost.

Star in a Reasonably Priced Car Revamp[edit | edit source]

Another concept in an attempt to revitalize Top Gear, was an extension of the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment. Along with the celebrity's lap, a camera crew would follow them throughout their entire day at the Top Gear track. A pilot featuring Linda Barker as the star was filmed, but it was decided that the segment would be better off as a DVD bonus feature, at which point it was fully scrapped.

Scrapped Series 22 Segments[edit | edit source]

In Episode 8 of Series 22, Hammond was going to compare the new Subaru WRX STi with the VW Golf R on the test track.[8] This also suggests that The Stig was to make a power lap in both cars to find out which was faster. It was also reported in that in Episode 9, Clarkson was expected to review a three luxury limousines, one of which was the Bentley Continental Flying Spur. Neither segment was likely completed by the time Clarkson was dismissed.[9]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Big Book of Top Gear 2011 discussing five of the scrapped segments, including the Fiat Panda Armoured Car; the Lotus Europa S, Pontiac Solstice, and BMW-Series 6 Convertible tests; and the Top Gear Bus. Retrieved 3 Jul '15
  2. And on That Bombshell: Inside the Madness and Genius of Top Gear where Porter discusses many of the scrapped segments. Retrieved 10 Nov '18
  3. Archived Top Gear page discussing the Rover Metro Airplane segment. Retrieved 18 Aug '15
  4. May 2005 issue of Top Gear Magazine promoting the Fiat Panda Armoured Car segment. Retrieved 3 Jul '15
  5. The Big Book of Top Gear 2009 discussing the Fiat Panda Armoured Car. Retrieved 3 Jul '15
  6. Richard Hammond's Top Gear Challenge where the Top Gear Bus makes a cameo appearance. Retrieved 3 Jul '15
  7. November 2005 issue of Top Gear Magazine reviewing the Pontiac Solstice. Retrieved 4 Nov '21
  8. Cars UK reporting on the scrapped Series 22 Episode 8 segments. Retrieved 19 Aug '15
  9. Daily Mirror reporting on the scrapped Series 22 Episode 9 segments. Retrieved 19 Aug '15