If you’re in London, and you hail one of those famous black cabs, and it looks like the photo to the right, you should probably watch out. First, it’s not really a regular cab. It’s been fitted with a very powerful and fast Mitsubishi Evo MR engine. Second, it’s probably being driven by The Stig. It’s in preparation for Top Gear Live 2011, which opens in November. The Stig’s rehearsal, according to Top Gear UK, includes “launching off service ramps, drifting through big concrete pillars” and, most importantly, “generally making his rearward passengers feel a bit uncomfortable.” For an example of the kind of driving you might encounter, take a look here.
• We’ve seen soldiers wounded in battle take on such challenges as death-defying Arctic treks with Prince Harry. Now, a group of vets, injured in Afghanistan, join with Richard Hammond to take on a racing competition in the Dakar Rally. And they’re joined by the Stig, in Monday’s season finale of Top Gear.
Also in the show: a look at two new electric cars, as Jeremy and James take the Nissan Leaf and the Peugeot iOn on a drive to the beach. And there’s also a test drive of the Lamborghini Aventador.
• If you’re in the mood for some recent nostalgia, the boys look back on last season, season 16, in a “behind the scenes” clip:
• And here’s another “behind the scenes” look at the Top Gear production offices:
• Like everything else, driving is apparently all about sex, at least for male drivers. Richard Hammond says he discovered this when he took his wife’s Fiat 500C out for a recent shopping expedition in Cheltenham with his two daughters. In a Top Gear column, he reports that he faced a “non-stop onslaught of bullying and harassment by other drivers” and says that he was at one point even forced to pull over to the side of the road out of fear for his safety. Hammond discussed his travails with his wife, who told him that she never faces any problems on the road while driving the diminutive Fiat. She says, however, she’s constantly harassed when she drives the couple’s Range Rover.
Hammond then realizes that all his bullying came from other male drivers. From this very small-scale independent study, Hammond comes to this conclusion: ”A man in what they see as a man’s car: fine. A woman in what they see as a woman’s car: cool.” But if men see a man driving a woman’s car, men react “like confused guard dogs.” Or if they see a woman, “in what they, in their reptilian way, regard as a man’s car,” he writes, “their tiny minds order them to pounce, because they don’t understand.”
But how do women drivers react?
• We all know that Jeremy Clarkson gets around. He also hobnobs with lots of other celebrities. Two weekends ago, for example, he spent some time with his Oxfordshire neighbor Prime Minister David Cameron, at a local music fair, hosted by their mutual friend Alex James. This week, he attended the UK premiere of The Debt, the thriller starring Helen Mirren. Clarkson is pictured to the right with one of the guests who apparently didn’t see the movie.
By the way, while interviewed by Witney TV at Alex James’s fair, Clarkson let slip that the upcoming Top Gear Christmas special is being filmed in INDIA. He also revealed his dream Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
• The Daily Mail has a photo Clarkson enjoying a curbside spot of tea in London’s swanky Notting Hill neighborhood. Yeah, not that out of the ordinary. BUT check out his wheels: a silver Mercedes SLS AMG roadster worth around £180,000 ($276,318). The Mail speculates that it was “on loan” from the German luxury car manufacturer.
• Two weeks ago, we reported on Jeremy Clarkson’s new star turn as a GPS (or, in Brit-speak, “Sat Nav”) narrator. Our friends over at the Top Gear Tumblr unearthed this clip of James May and Oz having some fun with a multi-lingual Sat Nav.