Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, ate truckloads of food, as well as presents! Well if not, I hope this Top Gear review will cheer you up for a while. Just like any other Top Gear Christmas Special, the three boys will be going to someplace exotic and film a special Top Gear episode for our enjoyment. And for this year’s special, they will be going to India! Let’s begin shall we?
Of course there must a reason or purpose the three boys chose India as their next destination. And before they head for India, they are right now in front of No. 10 Downing Street, which is where the British Prime Minister stays. Jeremy then explain the reason they are over there: “You see, shortly after coming into power, Mr Cameron noticed that Britain was, in essence, bankrupt. And to solve the problem, we needed to do more business in India.”
After some explanation by Hammond and May why Britain should do more business with India, Jeremy then said that they later contacted Downing Street to offer to go India to “run a trade mission on the nation’s behalf.” Jeremy then took out a letter sent by the Prime Minister, David Cameron himself in reply to their request. It reads:
“Dear Top Gear, thank you for your letter. Whilst it’s true I’m keen on us to build on our ties out there, sending you three is not quite what I had in mind. The Foreign Secretary did wonder instead about a fence mending trip to Mexico. Basically, my message is this. You do the cars, we’ll do the diplomacy.”
As Jeremy finished reading that letter, David Cameron was just coming out from his residence and heading towards his Jaguar XJ limo. Before getting into the limo, he looked at Jeremy and said: “Stay away from India.” As the Prime Minister left the scene, May said that they will obviously ignore their Prime Minister, buy three second-hand British cars and head for India in order to rescue Britain!
We are now instantly transported to Bombay, India. May described this place as “A vibrant, teeming mass of 20 million potential customers.” He was also the first to arrived at the meeting spot in his second-hand British car, a 1976 Series-1 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. The main reason he did not chose to bring the modern Rolls-Royce is because the boys’ budget was only £7000, and also because Rolls-Royce are now owned by BMW, which are Germans. “It is her Majesty the Queen, with a tax disc, and lovely carpets.” described May about his car.
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Jeremy arrived next. Unsurprisingly he brought a sports car, an old Jaguar XJS to be exact. May immediately gave Jeremy a good scolding for bringing their country’s “most historically unreliable car.” After some pointlessly lengthy arguments between Jeremy and May on whose car is better, Hammond arrived in a car which definitely represents Britain in the best way possible. The original MINI Cooper! Even Jeremy and May secretly admit that it was a great choice but decide not to tell Hammond. So they pretend to tease him instead.
After another long debate on whose car is most reliable. It’s time to start making progress as they have a 1300 miles journey lying ahead of them to the Himalayas. First however, they have to get to know their cars better while driving around the streets of Bombay. May then asked about the conditions of Jeremy’s and Hammond’s air-con. Both had non-functioning air-cons and May told them the same about his air-con, but in fact his was working just fine and lied just so they will not spoil it for him.
As of any other Top Gear road trip, the Top Gear producers will provide a backup car following the three boys wherever they go just in case one of their’s broke down. And of course the car they provide are usually terrible and unappealing. And for this road trip, the backup car was a rusty old Austin Allegro. Enough of cars, is now time for the boys to do their very first trade mission in India!
The three boys shall start off with one of India’s most famous institutions. Food delivery. As May explains: “Everyday an army of 5000 people called dabbawalas travel around the outskirts of the city, collecting lunches in tins. They’ve been made by the wives of working men, and from here they transported on foot, or by bicycle tothe nearest train station.” Each and every tin is also marked with different colors which tells the dabbawalas on the train which station it shall be sent to. “The tins are then picked up at city center stations by yet more dabbawalas, who bring them to the menfolk in their offices.”
“And the cost of having a piping hot, home-cooked lunch, delivered every day is £2…..a month.” The boys are also impressed by the fact that over 200,000 lunches are delivered everyday with hardly any mistakes despite the lack of technology aids. One mistake is made for every 6 million deliveries to be exact. “That works out at an accuracy level of 99.9996%.” And the boys are going to try to beat that by delivering food with their cars.
The boys’ main goal would be to beat the dabbawalas in the train delivering food starting from Andheri Station to the finish point at Churchgate Station in the city center. As the challenge began, the dabbawalas were doing their job efficiently just like any other day while the boys are already wasting time arguing. May was spending too much time arranging the tins according to order while Jeremy decided to not bother about that and just put them in a trunk.
As the train departed, Jeremy quickly throw (yes he actually threw) in 17 tins into his boot and left the scene. Leaving Hammond to take the rest of Jeremy’s tins. And how on Earth would Hammond carry so much tins in his MINI? Well, he actually strapped them all onto the top of his car creating a three row high full of tins. It’s sheer weight also meant that the MINI bounce over uneven surfaces and potholes, leaving Hammond with an uncomfortable spine. After Hammond had left long ago, only then has May finally left the place.
Right in the middle of their journey, there was a heavy downpour which immediately slowed down the already congested traffic. Jeremy did not let Mother Nature interfere with his lunch delivery and put the pedal to the metal. Unsurprisingly then, Jeremy beat the train and arrived to the finish point first. With many dabbawalas already expecting his arrival, they immediately opened the Jaguar’s boot only to find out that Jeremy had only brought a handful of lunch tins. To make matters worse, most of the tins had already been banged up and spilled hot food all over.
After an hour and 20 minutes, Hammond finally arrived with only half of what he had at the beginning. That is because Hammond previously took a wrong turn and had to make a sudden sharp turn which caused the top crates of tins to fall to the ground. Most of them were destroyed and spilled food everywhere on the ground. That incident also causes a jam and even the police arrived to control the chaotic traffic. Oh and May never arrived because he was lost and ended up in the middle of a jungle.
After leaving that failed trading mission behind them, the producers required them to park their cars into a train carriage to be transported. The three boys are then asked to go to Jaipur by train along with their cars. Of course in order to go to Jaipur by train, they would have to buy the tickets themselves.
Sounds simple enough, but did I mentioned that May had to queue well over 3 hours just to reach the wrong booth and had to re-queue because May was not waiting at the correct line the first place? While James was lining up, Jeremy and Hammond was at a restaurant enjoying cold drinks. Jeremy also got Hammond a double bass violin as a gift. And you are not sure what is a double bass, it is a huge violin as tall as Hammond.
While Jeremy and Hammond was at the restaurant, Jeremy suggested that they organize an ambassadorial party where all high ranking Indians and British people would attend and improve the relationship between the two nations. Hammond thought it was a great idea and even decided to have them all three perform as a band during the party. When May finally got the tickets, they went up their train and brought along with them musical instruments for their performance at the party.
Believe it or not, their journey to Jaipur on the train would take a whooping 18 hours to arrive! And what better way to spend their time wisely than to practice their song which they will be performing at the party in the train! Their vocals may not be the best, but at least they managed to convince the other local passengers to sing along with them. Next morning, and they have still many many hours to go…
Jeremy then had a brainwave. He thought that the train itself can be a huge billboard to promote British things. After deciding on what to promote, they quickly went down during the next stop to get all the materials they need. After completing their huge banners, they foolishly decided to hang their banner while the train is still in motion. Using the force of the wind, they wanted to blow the banner to the other end where Hammond is supposed to catch it and hang it onto the train. It was extremely dangerous as the banner kept catching onto the electric poles outside with high speed and the banner almost fell out from the train. Eventually they began thinking rationally and shall wait till the next stop to hang their banner.
As the train stopped at the following station for only 18 minutes, they decided to use the help of the whole Top Gear crew to assist in putting up the promotional banner. As they are not allowed to promote any form of brand and their products, the boys cleverly promote things that not only represents Britain, but also does not interfere with any company names. The first banner was written: “THE UNITED KINGDOM PROMOTES BRITISH I.T. FOR YOUR COMPANY” while on the other side was : “EAT ENGLISH MUFFINS”.
At the next station stop, May the perfectionist decided to get out from the train to mend the banner and hang it up properly. May was spending too much time on it and despite Jeremy’s and Hammond’s advice to go back to the train, May was still busy doing what he is doing. Eventually the train departed and May was unable to catch the train leaving him behind. Jeremy and Hammond then found out that there is a cord inside the train which can be pulled to stop the train in an emergency. However, it would cost them a fine of 1000 rupees in which they jokingly said they would not be willing to pay just for May to get into the train.
As Jeremy and Hammond reached Jaipur, the train carriages separated and tore their banners. The result of that was hilarious as you can see below.
It’s now time to unload their cars from their carriages. As May is not here, Jeremy had to unload it for him and he found out that the Rolls-Royce’s air-conditioning is working just fine and felt cheated as May told them it was not working. Obviously, Jeremy and Hammond spoiled it for him and everyone is now even. At this very time, May finally arrived.
Before they head for the location where they will have the party, they encounter a one mile hill road which gave them an idea. They had that place all to themselves and had a Top Gear All India Classic British Hill Climb Event! All locals are welcome in any form of transportation are to race up the hill as fast as they could.
The event was surprisingly well received. Vehicles such as old motorcycles, classic old cars, tourist coaches, police vehicles, an elephant (yup!), Tuk Tuk, and even the cheapest car, Tata Nano was there as well. The leader board was soon filled up and it’s now time for the boys to do the hill climb.
They promised to do the hill climb slowly on purpose just so to allow the locals to win and therefore have a better relationship between the two nations. Unsurprisingly, Jeremy was the only one who ignored that and got first place. It was therefore another diplomatic failure.
But no matter, as the boys shall do something to their cars to make it up for it. “In 1876, the whole city was painted pink to celebrate a visit by the then Prince of Wales.” The boys was then inspired to decorate their cars with the theme of India to celebrate this country.
Hammond’s MINI already had a Union Jack flag on top of the roof and Hammond decided to paint the Indian flag on the bonnet to represent the greatness of the two nations. Hammond unfortunately got mixed up with the similarities between the Indian and the Mexican flag and ended up painting the latter. May’s Rolls-Royce was Ganesh themed, which is the elephant god. Jeremy just applied two floral design lines on his car and a toilet bowl on the boot of his car. They shall now head toward Delhi where their party will be held.
The drive to Delhi took so long that it was soon in the middle of the night and they still have over 80 miles just to reach their hotel and would still have to continue driving to Delhi the next day. It was also a great chance to experience one of the world’s most dangerous road. With no proper road signs and regulations, locals are seen driving on the wrong side of the road, cars with absolutely no lights on, and of course cattle walking dangerously close to the main road. During the journey, May finally realized that his air-con have been compromised and had his revenge the next morning. Hammond’s seat was permanently set to the very front and Jeremy’s seat heaters are set to max with the switches taken away.
They soon reached Delhi and they head to their chosen bungalow house located in the extremely wealthy area of the embassy district. With guest arriving in a few hours, the boys had to get cracking and set up the venue. Hammond is in charge of the tents and decors, Jeremy prepares his very own firework as he thinks the ones May bought are not going to be spectacular enough, and May shall be in charge of the finger food.
May’s idea of a very British finger food would be “coronation chicken” which is a mixture of chicken, salad cream, and curry powder serve on top of a digestive biscuit. He also prepared alternatives such as Marmite paste serve on digestive biscuits. Uhh yum?
Guest have begun to arrive and May shall be serving the guest with his food and Hammond shall be doing the valet parking for the wealthy, high ranking guest. Based on the vehicles the guest are arriving in, it is obvious that the guest here are no ordinary people. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Range Rovers, BMWs, and Bentleys makes up most of the cars the guest came in with.
When the sky began to go dark, even more guest came and Hammond alone is not enough to deal with parking all of the guest’s cars and there is now a jam. All waiting for their cars to be parked, and with no proper valet system, Hammond just kept all of the car keys in a bucket he found in the house.
All the guest were bored to death and the boys decided to get their band performance going in order to entertain the guests. Everyone disliked their humiliating performance and Jeremy lighted up his self-made firework as a last resort in entertaining the guests. Unsurprisingly, Jeremy’s firework was extremely flawed and it ended up breaking a window followed by a very loud bang.
All the guest decided to leave the party, but it was more harder than they expected. As mentioned before, Hammond kept ALL the guests’ car keys in a bucket and he is now having huge trouble returning the keys to their respective owners. The party was another total failure.
So far so bad, and they now have to start heading for the Himalayas. Knowing the Himalayas will consist of rough and rocky tracks, they decided to tweak their cars before going there. Obviously, all three of them raised their cars’ suspension and fitted chunky of-road tires.
Those huge tire poses as a problem for May’s Rolls-Royce as the rear wheels are constantly rubbing against the wheel arches and thus creating smoke. But for Jeremy’s low slung Jaguar, the only way to have more ground clearance is to remove the whole exhaust system.
He then made a huge opening on the bonnet, fitted pipes to the exhaust outlets in the engine to allow the exhaust gas to exit directly. This was not a wise move as it the exhaust was extremely loud, as if someone was revving the whole time but with a more intolerable noise. Hammond kept it simple and only added an electric winch in front of his MINI.
Many many miles later, they finally reached to foothills of the Himalayas. Still quite far away from the actual Himalayas mountain range though, but at least they manages to enjoy the great view over here. During the night, they went to a busy local night market to promote their products such as their British made lawnmower. Obviously they sold none.
The next morning, they continue their journey and Jeremy finally fixed his loud exhaust, he fitted mufflers onto every outlet which lowered the noise significantly, instead it now makes a faint sound of bells ringing. However it also restrict Jeremy’s view of the front windscreen.
Countless miles later, they eventually reached the Himalayas mountain range and there is no more tarmac to be seen, all surface is now stones and rocks. Such rocky surfaces was a bit annoying to Hammond as his lightweight MINI bounces to every bumps and holes on the surface.
Due to the constant small landslides which occurs regularly on these mountain road, huge rocks and boulders could sometimes block the road and the only way to get rid of them was to destroy them with dynamite. This of course creates more landslides and soon the road the boys are using are blocked. Thanks to their off-road modifications, the boys could use the alternate route which consist of a very steep rocky hill.
By gathering enough momentum, Jeremy and Hammond manages to drive up the hill. May’s much more heavier Rolls-Royce almost made it but ended up got stuck and required winching from Hammond’s MINI.
Due to the lightness of the MINI, they connected the MINI to the Jaguar to prevent the MINI from pulling itself forward. Thanks to the sheer weight of the Rolls and the sheer strength of Hammond’s winch, the front of the MINI was completely torn off. Hammond was not pleased. As they continue their journey till the night, Hammond who is leading the way decided to not drive another 2 more hours to their hotel as only one of his headlights are working and it’s very dangerous not able to see where they are going. So Hammond decided to set up a camp and continue to next day. It was Hammond’s idea and therefore Jeremy and May was not particularly pleased with them camping.
As they continued their journey the next day, they came past a group of locals playing one of India’s most popular sport, Cricket. In their final effort in improving each other’s relationship between the two nations, Jeremy decided to improve the way people play Cricket. They took some empty tin cans, cut the top of and fitted them onto the Jaguar’s exhaust.
As Jeremy fired up his engine, the pressure shot the tins so high up, and people can hit them with their bats. The boys and the locals had a great time, but before Jeremy used up all his fuel, they had to leave.
As they almost reached their destination, the three of them confirmed that they had made the right choice with their cars, none has ever broken down and the only problems they had was the one which they had created. ” The truth is that these three fantastic cars have been better ambassadors for Britain than we could ever be.”
This though also gave them an awesome idea to mount their cars on a plinth on the high mountain road connecting India and China. So that “people travelling between these two great economic superpowers will be reminded that far away, there’s a small island called Britain . Great Britain. This epic episode then ended with a hilarious credit in which everyone’s name is changed into funny Indian names!