James May is best known for him presenting on the popular BBC car show Top Gear, and more recently The Grand Tour and Our Man in Italy. And while he’s known as Captain Slow by his fellow co-presenters Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson, the presenter is keen on fast cars.
In fact, James owns the fastest cars of the three of them and has continually said how he now prefers more modern cars thanks to his interest in future technologies, especially that of electric and hydrogen cars.
Ferrari 458 Speciale
Let’s start with the fastest of his collection. As the majority of you know, James May has a strong passion for Ferraris. Or Fezzas, as he calls them. But despite this passion, he barely managed to get his hands on the very last special edition 458. He’s previously owned a 458 Italia and an F430, too.
He took his 458 on a drive with Richard Hammond and his lovely little Opel Kadett Oliver. This resulted in F1 driver Sebastian Vettel comparing the two cars, with the Ferrari obviously winning.
From Ferraris to Fiats, James has a large and weird range of cars. A Panda was his daily driver for years, and he greatly adored the car, stating that you can’t go fast on public roads anyway and that with this car, you use all the power all of time time. Unfortunately his Panda broke down in 2014 so he bought a BMW i3 instead.
He famously drives this around Italy during his latest travel show, James May: Our Man In Italy.
Costing him just £35,000 (because he got £5,000 from the government to buy the electric car), James May loves his i3 after having to give up the Panda. It’s fully electric and gets to 30mph extremely quickly. But overall, it isn’t a fast car at all.
It featured on The Grand Tour, in which Jeremy compared it to his VW Golf GTI and questioned why the tax payer helped by the BMW for the presenter.
Tesla Model S 100D
In a bid to learn more about the future of cars, James invested in a Tesla Model S 100D. “I don’t know what the future of the car is, but I do believe one way or another they’re going to be powered by electric motors,” he told fans at the time.
So, with this in mind, he wanted to take part in the experiment and find out for himself what all the fuss was about. Well, it turned out he quite enjoyed the Model S, despite him admitting that his fans would be “very disappointed” in him.
But to fully appreciate the powertrain of this Tesla – a couple of electric motors attached to a battery – he had to buy a competitor…
2015 Toyota Mirai
Alongside the arrival of the Tesla, James also ordered a hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai. He bought this specifically so he could compare it to the Tesla and the different ways they both create or store electricity.
The main difference is obviously the way both cars store their potential energy. The Toyota stores it as hydrogen, which is converted to electricity as you press the pedal. The Tesla stores electricity in a battery, just like your smart phone. The former can fill up like a normal petrol car in a matter of minutes. The latter takes much longer to charge in comparison.
He later admitted that it was the “nicest car he’d ever owned”, but sold it not long after buying it due to the lack of hydrogen fuel stations on the UK, of which there were only 8 when he bought it and 11 when he sold it.
2021 Toyota Mirai
He quickly replaced the old Mirai with the new 2021 version, which was just about better in every way including range, technology, and performance. “That is, I think, badass,” James tells the camera during the reveal video.
He was very happy with his new car, describing it as “very, very pleasant up to 8mph,” while driving through London traffic.
This car is well-known as the one James May reviewed on Top Gear during his first appearance. His film revolved around the idea that you should but a T2 over a used Ford Mondeo. Unlike his Rolls Royce which we’ll show you later on, he wasn’t allergic to the seats on this one. He said it was probably something to do with the seat stuffing.
He sold it in 2007 with 80,000 miles on the clock.
Rolls Royce Corniche
Popular celebrities with massive bank balances and armies of fans own Corniches. Names like Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, and oh… James May. He bought it in 2007 but only drove 10,000 miles in ten years. He sold it in 2017 because it turned out he was allergic to the seats.
1984 Porsche 911
Taking a leaf out of Hammond’s book, May bought a 911 and said it was “the best car I’ve ever bought”. It was one of the last air-cooled Porsches on the market and was sold by May in 2015 and fetched £50,000, double the expected sales price.
Known also as the Nissan Sunny, this car went head-to-head with the Nissan GTR during Top Gear in 2008 in a race across Japan. This persuaded May to go and buy his own. “This was the little Japanese car that showed our dads you didn’t need a Flaky Austin 1100 that broke down all the time.” How can you argue with that?
Alfa Romeo 164
After driving one as a company car in the early 90s, May had said that he’d completely forgotten about it. That was until he bought one for £1,000 in 2006 for a Top Gear challenge and praised it for having “Italy’s most charismatic V6”.
Other Cars He Has Reportedly Owned
Rolls Royce Phantom
2009 Porsche 911 Carrera S
2005 Porsche Boxster S
Saab 9-5 Aero
Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1
Ferrari 458 Italia