Remembering when Jeremy Clarkson’s DIY Top Gear motorhome went over the cliffs Leave a comment


Snug wetsuits, gatecrashing sheep and a motorhome launching off the cliffs. Those were the scenes of the memorable episode of Top Gear once filmed in Cornwall.

With the current Top Gear crew having filmed in Cornwall recently, plenty will remember the various difficulties Jeremy Clarkson-and-co found themselves in over the course of the original and long-running series.

And there’ll be many who still enjoy the antics of the petrolheads to this day.

READ MORE: Cornwall beach named as one of the best in the world

One of those is a particularly unforgettable Top Gear moment for Cornwall as the threesome drove themselves silly ten years ago, embarking on a cursed camping trip to the north coast.

Here they tried to put on wet-suits, attempted to ‘go to the bog’ and dared to try and cook a meal – all inside the tiny abodes.

Clarkson’s abnormally-tall converted motorhome was seen shaking side to side above the Camel Estuary in Wadebridge as it fought with the winds, Hammond’s set on fire and it all came to a sorry end when one vehicle went over the cliffs as Clarkson indulged in an ice-cream.

The trip was such a disaster that it was one of few episode’s where the challenge saw no winner crowned, with Clarkson calling it “a wretched failure”.

Here’s how the episode, first aired on July 10, 2010, went down as recalled on TopGearWiki.



Jeremy picked the sturdy Citroen as the foundation to his holiday home, whilst Richard chose the trusted Land Rover and finally James, an old Lotus with a roof box.

Jeremy’s ‘do it yourself’ motorhome, or ‘The Leaning Tower of Citroen’ as he aptly later named it, was a three-story motorhome constructed and invented by Clarkson himself.

It was built for the challenge that was featured in the fifteenth season of Top Gear in which the presenters were instructed to configure motorhomes of their own and then drive themselves to Cornwall for a camping holiday.

Clarkson’s motorhome was primarily constructed from a Citroen CX Break. James May and Richard Hammond joined him with an old Lotus, accompanied with a roof box, and a Land Rover respectively.

On the journey Jeremy however discovered a flaw in his tall structural design.

The entire Citroen swayed from side to side in the wind and the weight of the multiple storeys.

A hilarious clip of him bracing the winds on the A39 bridge atop the Camel Estuary showed the full-force of the struggles.

Due to this fatal flaw Jeremy rebranded his motorhome ‘The Leaning Tower of Citroen’ and the presenters had to pull over while Clarkson removed windows from his structure so that the air would be able to flow through.



The three travelling along the A39

But it didn’t help.

Later, they pulled into a petrol station to refuel their cars and Jeremy nearly clipped the top of his car onto the canopy over the fuel pumps, although he used the situation as an opportunity to demonstrate the motorhome’s hydraulic system to help it fit under the canopy.

Eventually Jeremy reached the campsite, although he got a warning light on the dashboard and was forced to stop.

That night Jeremy fell out of his hammock whilst trying to get to sleep and things got increasingly worse as come morning, the Citroen had been blown over by the wind forcing Jeremy to hire a crane to turn it the right way up.

Their next challenge was to drive to a beach and get changed into a wetsuit inside their motorhomes. Jeremy appeared to win the challenge although it was never officially announced.

After their surfing lessons were interrupted, and Jeremy’s car got stuck in the sand, they were instructed to cook a meal in their motorhomes using nothing but what they could buy from a service station.



The remains of what Jeremy Clarkson built for the Top Gear Motorhome Challenge. Part of the World of Top Gear exhibition. Taken at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, Hampshire, England.

Spam – ham out of a tin – was involved.

Jeremy decided to make the main course but was stopped before he could finish when Richard’s motorhome then caught on fire. The next morning his motorhome was ambushed by sheep.

Among the many other disasters Clarkson joked he had “prunes most of Cornwall” as his vehicle battled with the foliage on Cornwall’s roads.

As the threesome appeared to have had enough with their Cornish adventure, the next day the presenters drove themselves to a picturesque beauty spot atop a cliffside in North Devon.

Clarkson said: “As we drove along we began to realise that our motorhoming holiday hadn’t been a great success”.

For the grand finalé, as the original Top Gear trio parked to admire the beauty of Cornwall, Richard and James hatched a plan to sabotage Clarkson – who went off for an ice-cream.

They planned to park his vehicle right on the edge so that it would be impossible for him to drive it out of the tricky spot. However, their plan failed when the car took off on them and the two were unable to engage its handbrake in time.

Jeremy’s motorhome fell off the cliff, breaking into pieces on the way down, in full view behind Clarkson who was relaxing on the beach below.

Later, while back in the studio, all three presenters came to the conclusion that although James had the fewest problems with his campervan all of their designs were rubbish meaning nobody won the challenge.

But James May declared the road-trip was the “biggest entertainment” he had on a road journey throughout his “whole life”.

He said: “It’s absolutely hilarious”.

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