For the first instalment of the 19th series, Jeremy returned to our screens in possibly the strangest mode of motoring transport viewers have yet seen. Following the mass popularity of his video demonstrating the many benefits of the world’s smallest car, the Peel P50, the big man was set a new challenge. His mission? To create and drive a car even smaller than the Peel P50. The result? The brilliant yet bonkers P45 micro car.
A team of talented students from Coventry University’s Automotive Design course were commissioned to work on styling, whilst the aluminium bodywork was hand crafted by the people who make the fabulous Petersen Bentley. Showing extraordinary attention to detail, the P45 was painted with blue twin stripes, paying homage to legendary AC Cobra creator, Carroll Shelby. Fortunately for Shelby, that was where the similarities between the two cars ended.
Ever the professional, Jeremy embarked on an extensive road test of the vehicle, which saw him driving at top speeds of around 30mph on the A3, taking the vehicle onboard a coach to London... to demonstrate how easy it is to get onboard a train, and then driving it through Westfield Shopping Centre and the British Library. Despite its many, many shortcomings, including a microscopic fuel tank, high risk of nose-smashing and inability to get through a car wash without jamming the machinery and soaking the driver’s suit, Jeremy then entered the Dragon’s Den, seeking investment from the dragons for mass production – their verdict was a unanimous and resounding “I’m out”.
Throughout the test drive, Jeremy was singing its praises, describing the car simply as “completely excellent”. Richard and James, however, were a little less enthusiastic, preferring to call it “utterly ridiculous” and “a complete death trap”. The P45 is now on display at Beaulieu’s World of Top Gear exhibition, where visitors can make a thorough inspection of the car and decide for themselves whether it is ingenious... or just plain insane.
The unique motor joins a whole host of cars at Beaulieu created by the Top Gear presenters for some of their most ambitious challenges. Another recent addition is the budget Bond Lotus Excel submarine car from the 50 Years of Bond Cars special and the collection is awaiting the arrival of another new creation from Series 19, due to be unveiled shortly.
The ‘Enormodrome’ recreates the feel of the Top Gear studio with regular features from the programme, including the Cool Wall and the Celebrity ‘Lap Times’ board, kept up to date in line with the show. Visitors can also watch behind-the-scenes footage of the Top Gear production zone and clips of some of the best Top Gear moments.
World of Top Gear can be seen as part of a visit to the whole Beaulieu attraction which also includes the National Motor Museum, BOND IN MOTION, Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey.
Beaulieu is open every day, except Christmas Day, from 10am. For more information telephone 01590 612345 or visit www.beaulieu.co.uk