Bethlehem to Beaulieu as latest Top Gear cars join exhibition

Like me, fans of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May's Top Gear adventures were glued to the sofa on Boxing Day, to witness their most dangerous mission to date. The three presenters were dispatched to Iraq in roadsters to follow the path of the three wise men.

Fancy getting closer to the real stars of the show? Well, now you can as the three cars from the Christmas special are now on show in the World of Top Gear exhibition at Beaulieu.

Jeremy Clarkson's car of choice for this epic journey was a Mazda MX5. Modifications include a unique 'car of many colours' paint job, evidence that the car was once fitted with an 'axle of evil' and holes in the bodywork left behind by Clarkson's rubbish 'bulletproofing' plan. It was also fitted with a hookah pipe, but this fell off after a crash with James May's BMW Z3. Sadly not a runner, if it was you'd probably be able to hear it sounding sick on three-cylinders like in the show.

James May's BMW Z3 probably wasn't a good example of the 'ultimate driving machine' as it was the first of the three cars to break with head gasket failure. Still, in my view it looked the coolest with its cunning camouflage paint scheme, the extra jerry cans mounted on the front wings, the tools fitted to the bonnet and the mean looking light bar.

Richard Hammond's Fiat Barchetta was the pleasingly odd-ball choice of the three. It certainly surprised with its reliability. Modifications were probably the silliest of the three with bits of actual desert actually applied to the front of the car and a Bedouin tent fitted to the back, of which some parts are still fitted.

World of Top Gear is a collection of cars created by the presenters for some of their most ambitious challenges on the TV show over the years at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. Exhibition highlights include the Top Gear 'Enormodrome' which recreates the feel of the Top Gear studio, where the TV show is filmed in front of a live audience.

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