James May ordered £200k Ferrari before Clarkson fracas

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Ferrari 458 Speciale

Former Top Gear presenter James May has revealed that he ordered a brand new Ferrari in anticipation of a lucrative new BBC contract, days before Jeremy Clarkson's infamous fracas brought the show to an abrupt end.

Writing in his Sunday Times column, May – who has previously owned two second-hand Ferraris – ordered a brand new £208,090 458 Speciale model; a limited-run car of which he managed to secure the last example, with his future at the BBC looking healthy.

"There we were, all three of us, on the brink of a new three-year contract to make Top Gear, after which we would definitely chuck it in with dignity and hand the reins to a new generation, assuming we were still alive," he said.

"This was a great privilege, and a once-in-a-lifetime event; an invitation to continue presenting the world's biggest TV show for – let's not be shy – a handsome salary."

Soon after, however, the furore surrounding Clarkson cast May's presenting future in doubt.

"It had all gone. All, that is, except the order for a 458 Speciale lodged in Ferrari's factory system, with only the final details to be confirmed. Oh c***, as I used to say when I was on telly," he wrote.

However, the car's sheer exclusivity means that May won't be out of pocket for long, with the 52-year-old describing it as more of an investment than a "financial disaster".

"I could resell it immediately and get my money back, maybe even more," he said.

Both May and co-presenter Hammond refused to renew their BBC contracts following Clarkson's suspension from the broadcasting corporation. While nothing has been confirmed, speculation is rife that the trio will start an all-new project, potentially with a rival broadcaster.