Jeremy Clarkson was fired last week. It's looking more and more likely that Top Gear won't survive in any recognisable form, with James May sounding down on the possibility of continuing and Richard Hammond calling it "the end of an era".
With that in mind, we've picked the 10 episodes of Top Gear you absolutely have to watch, whether you're a fan of the show or a complete newbie.
I'm A Noob. What Is Top Gear, Anyway?
This is Top Gear. It's a fun show, it's a silly show, it's a show vaguely about cars. Three middle-aged men talk about cars, put themselves through a series of ridiculous challenges, and occasionally make ill-considered politically incorrect remarks. (Which brings us to where we are today, incidentally.) But it's all in good fun.
And these are the 10 episodes that you absolutely have to watch. Make some time, cancel your meetings, block out your calendar, watch these — you won't be disappointed.
(And, yes, before we get into that argument, these are my favourites, but I've also tried to be objective and pick the crowd-pleasers. Feel free to disagree in the comments below. Or check out our sister site Jalopnik's ranking of every episode of Top Gear ever.)
The boys head for Europe’s most astounding driving road with three lightweight supercars – the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Lambo Gallardo Superleggera and Aston Vantage N24.
The boys try to burn off all the fuel they planted in the previous year’s biofuel film by taking a modified BMW 330d and sharing the driving over 24 gruelling hours.
Why shouldn’t the Renault Espace have a race series? And why shouldn’t other classics like the Nissan Serena join in? Gawd, look what Hammond’s started now
Richard buys a Ferrari 308, Jeremy a Maserati Merak and James a Lamborghini Urraco. Will they make it from Bristol to a questionable men’s club in Slough?
Jeremy Clarkson jumps on board a steam train for a race to Scotland against James May in a classic Jag and Richard Hammond on a classic bike.
Top Gear ends series 12 in epic style as the boys try to travel the entire length of Vietnam in just eight days, thereby achieving what the American military failed to do in 10 years.
The one that ended up with gunfire in deepest Alabama. The boys each buy a car for $1,000 and head south to New Orleans. Any lessons learned about not upsetting the locals? No.
The Botswana Special is amazing. It combines that 'cheap car challenge' trope that makes other top Top Gear episodes great with some stunning scenery that not many people around the world have seen before. This is an episode filled with cameraderie rather than the usual adversarial attitude, too, so it's actually really relaxing to watch. Plus, it introduced us to Oliver, the un-killable 1963 Opel Kadett.
The boys find out if a £1500 banger will cross Botswana, and if it's possible to do so without being eaten or turning into a pile of bones.
This is actually one of the episodes of Top Gear that I best remember, because it is just the absolute epitome of a Top Gear challenge — slightly ridiculous premise, some amazing pieces of motoring history, and a series of over-the-top tests and a whole bunch of light-hearted fun in the middle. Plus the combo of cars is just about as varied as you can get — a Mitsubishi Starion, a Jaguar XJS, a BMW 635CSi — and makes for some great banter.
The challenge is on for the boys to find a good coupe for £1,500. Jeremy buys a Mitsubishi Starion, James a Jaguar XJS and Richard a BMW 635. And then the trouble starts.
And, without further ado, the best episode of Top Gear ever...
This is, without a doubt, one of the best episodes of Top Gear ever made. It's fun, light-hearted, is a genuine challenge of an interesting and unique vehicle, and has some stunning cinematography. There's tension, comedy, physical achievement, and is one of the best examples of what Top Gear does best — celebrating the car, and putting one in a place that it just should not be.
In one of their most ambitious challenges, Jeremy, James and Richard attempt to race from Northern Canada to the North Pole, a 450-mile journey. The terrain inbetween is some of the toughest on earth, composed of mountains and jagged sea ice. While Jeremy and James drive in the comfort of a specially adapted pick up truck, Richard travels on a sled pulled by a team of ten huskies.