In this grand season-15 opener, the Top Gear team teed off once again on the lowly fiberglass-bodied, three-wheeled Reliant Robin—which still lays claim to the title of second-most popular fiberglass car in history, dating from the days when Reliant was the second largest UK-owned automaker. The challenge involved Jeremy driving a 1994 model Robin from Sheffield to Rotherham—a trip of just 14 miles, during which the helmeted megastar presenter managed to roll the Robin onto its right (driver) side seven times.
Most times, it just SO happens that a famous person was walking or driving by in time to offer assistance. The first is ’80s pop star Phil Oakey of the Human League. The next time British “lap-dancing-bar owner Peter Stringfellow” pulls over in his black 911 to right the Robin. Jeremy then “rolls” into a Reliant Robin fan club get-together, where the fans recommend he mount a sack of cement in the passenger seat as a counterweight.
From there he departs and rolls the car right into the background of a live feed by the BBC’s Look North program, prompting reporter Harry Gration and his cameraman to rush and lend assistance. The final roll ends the hapless and thoroughly scratched-up Robin onto a cricket pitch mid-match, earning Clarkson a stern reprimand by umpire Dickie Bird. Jeremy finally has two “training wheels” installed at the front in order to safely complete the last 6 miles, but breaks one off of them off, rolls again, and flips the miserable heap into a canal where it sinks.
Yes, the production company tampered with the car to ensure it would tip over every time Jeremy yanked the wheel left. No harm, no litigable foul—the Reliant company had gone “tango uniform,” building its last Robin on Valentine’s Day 2001. And lore has it that the three main presenters were all so smitten by this anti-supercar that each eventually bought one.