Jeremy Clarkson was on the right track in the Grand Tour’s ;Mongolia special‘. He aptly described Hammond and May’s skills in the workshop and stated that May “knows how to build a car” however, she takes too much time to finish the job while Hammond “sorta knows how to build a car” however, he can complete the task quicker.
We’ve witnessed Hammond performing throughout the history of Top Gear and the Grand Tour. And while we know that he’s very hands-on, taking after his family, his workshop abilities can occasionally fail him. So, to honour these failures that creates some of the greatest TV moments, we’ve put together five of the best.
Suzuki Vitara (Top Gear Series 11 Episode 1)
Hammond bought a Suzuki Vitara for the legendary Top Gear Police Car Challenge. This was a fantastic car and affordable at only £1,000. Hammond modified the car for the Police Car Challenge by installing an auto-deploying spike strip however, surprise surprise, it didn’t work.
In addition to the fact that it did not self-deploy at all for half of the time, it wasn’t long enough to do any damage anyway. So, Jeremy and James, the criminals in this scenario, could easily get away.
Land Rover 110 (Top Gear Series 15 Episode 4)
In this brilliant episode, the trio built their own motorhomes and campervans to travel to Cornwall. Hammond bought an older Land Rover 110 from the ’80s. It was a reasonable purchase, however, Hammond was too literal in the “home” part of the word ‘motorhome’.
He built a complete house inside the vehicle. The house encased the bodywork of his 110 and could be constructed there and then. But, and there’s a big but, the walls were too brittle and could flake when the wind became more powerful and eventually caused the whole home to collapse. This design really could have been better.
Porsche 924 (Top Gear Series 5 Episode 6)
Richard bought the Porsche 924 for the £1,500 Top Gear Porsche Challenge but its actual price was around £750. Unfortunately, when he used the remaining money he didn’t spend on the car, but the modifications didn’t do the car justice. May explained to him that he gave it “sporting credentials it didn’t deserve”.
The car was not well-represented with the black bonnet. The “creative” livery featuring flames and the number 54 also wasn’t very appealing.
This Hammond-owned Porsche 924 was offered for auction in the year 2017. It was sold at a reasonable €8,000 (£6,800).
1996 MG F “Sports Limo” (Top Gear Series 9 Episode 6)
It’s evident that creating your own limousine isn’t going to be a success. But I was pleasantly surprised to witness James’ limousine, the Salfa Romeaab, actually worked even though it appeared to be the most foolish idea. James was actually unable to win the contest not because his car was failing him, but because he simply got lost. And while Clarkson’s limousine split in half, he did… technically… win. Hammond’s limousine, however, was a bit off.
Hammond chose to construct his limousine by creating the longest MG ever built. The nature of the convertible made it extremely fragile and difficult to drive, particularly in cities. In addition, Hammond also added an absurd intercom system for the car as well as a massive rear wing. It didn’t quite go to plan.
Land Rover-Based Green Car (The Grand Tour Series 1 Episode 4 ‘Environ-mental’)
The three cars featured in the episode were horrible. May’s car had been built entirely from mud while Clarkson’s car had been made entirely of bones and flesh from animals. But Hammond’s car maybe even more so because it was even more fragile than the others. Hammond employed hazel to frame the car, with flowers for the bodywork. It’s safe to say, it didn’t go as he had hoped.
While Hammond’s car survived the entire event including the majority of it, even the race, it eventually ceased to exist after a fiery end.