HOT AND BOTHERED
We watch helplessly as a one-off concept goes up in flames Issue 183 – this month in 2008
This was never going to be a normal day, but it starts innocuously enough. A nervous TopGear journalist standing around on a wind-swept airfield, waiting while men cleverer than us fiddle with and prime a priceless concept car – one that just happens to be a full-blown, 460bhp triple-rotor, LMP2 racer underneath.
Stig appears from nowhere, as he generally likes to do, and goes first, ripping around the airfield sending up a huge rooster tail of dust in his wake. Bill Thomas is next and spends the following hour firing the car up and down the tarmac under the watchful eye of the Furai support team, works driver Mark Ticehurst and the local fire crew.
Job done, Bill retires to write his words, while photographer Lee Brimble snaps another few fast runs, determined to make the most of this exclusive opportunity… and to capture the blue cone of flame that shoots out the exhaust. End of the runway, Ticehurst turns the car and there it is, a lick of fire at the bottom of the engine bay, and a terrible noise to boot. But Ticehurst has no idea, so we honk and wave and scream and eventually he gets the message and jumps out just as the flames, fanned by a strong wind, take hold. The fire crew arrives and tries in vain to put it out, but the high-pressure hoses simply rip the bodywork from its skeleton. Lots of heads in hands.
The worst part? We had to keep it secret for five years until allowed to tell the full story in our 20th anniversary issue in 2013. Drama of the highest order, but a piece of TG history we’d really rather forget.