Top Gear

Top Gear’s Fight Against Tesla: Jeremy Clarkson Clarifies Exactly What Happened

There was once a time when Tesla was a small company with only an electrified Lotus under its belt that they called the Tesla Roadster. It appeared on Top Gear where it had a few issues, and this resulted in Tesla taking the car show to court. Jeremy Clarkson has now clarified exactly what happened.

What Is The 1st Generation Tesla Roadster?

the first Roadster was delivered in February 2008. It was based on a Lotus Elise chassis, and featured an all-electric powertrain that produced almost 250 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque which was instantly available to the driver. Later models would produce 288 horsepower.

It could sprint to 60mph in just 3.9 seconds (later models hitting 3.7) and had a top speed limited to 125mph. Its EPA range came to 244 miles.

The car started Tesla, and has since been immortalised after Elon Musk’s personal Roadster was sent to space.

What Happened On Top Gear?

During testing the car for Top Gear in 2008 on the Top Gear Test Track, Jeremy Clarkson loved that car, and while it didn’t quite hold its own in the corners like the original Elise the car is based on, Clarkson said the following about the all-electric sports car:

“God Almighty! Wave goodbye to the world of dial-up, and say hello to the world of broadband motoring!” and “This car is biblically quick!”

But then disaster struck as the battery ran down after only 55 miles of track use. The car was shot being rolled off the track with Clarkson writing the following in a follow-up article for The Times:

“Inevitably, the film we had shot was a bit of a mess. There was a handful of shots of a silver car. Some of a grey car”.

But as a device for moving you and your things around, it is about as much use as a bag of muddy spinach”

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Tesla Sues Top Gear

On seeing this, Tesla sued Top Gear for libel and malicious falsehood. Executive producer Andy Wilman explained Tesla’s attack on Top Gear as a crusade, with the car company starting a site called

In 2011, the High Court in London rejected Tesla’s libel claim. Tesla then appealed this decision, and the appeal was won by Top Gear once again, with Tesla being forced to pay the BBC’s legal fees or a reported £100,000.

As you can see from the tweet above from Jeremy Clarkson, he has clarified that the Top Gear feature on the Tesla Roadster wasn’t false as Tesla had argued, and that everything they showed and said on the episode was true.


“Yes. It wasn’t false. We won the case and the appeal. Everything we said and showed was true.”

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