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50 best Top Gear episodes

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Wayne Coetzee/Gallo Images // Getty Images

50 best Top Gear episodes

The popular and long-running show “Top Gear” has a simple premise: test how car manufacturers’ claims stack up against reality. The way the show accomplishes this is as simple as it is varied—send its hosts to different parts of the world with specific types of cars, ranging from rare and high-end vintage editions to contemporary mass-market cars (or “Reasonably Priced Cars,” as the show calls them), to find out just what kind of extremes the cars can handle.

The range of vehicles the show has covered since launching in 2002 is breathtaking. The hosts (James May, Richard Hammond, and Jeremy Clarkson, until the latter was dismissed in 2015) have traveled everywhere from Vietnam to Palm Springs to Myanmar—a country that was largely off-limits to Westerners until several years before that episode was filmed. By providing varied backdrops for vehicle testing, the show gives audiences breathtaking footage of countrysides and cities all over the world that they might not otherwise have the chance to see.

The “Top Gear” hosts (colloquially known as “the boys”) don’t just limit themselves to cars in their wanderings. Episodes of the show have featured everything from motorbikes to ambulances to tertiary adventuring gear such as emergency watches for those whose travels might find them stranded in remote locations. The resultant episodes bring together an astonishing array of gear and scenery in combination.

For a show with such breadth, it’s no surprise there are many fan-favorite episodes to choose from. To narrow down the absolute top of the top for those looking to dip into the show for the first time, or for enthusiasts hoping to go back and relive the show’s best moments, Stacker compiled IMDb data on all “Top Gear” episodes and ranked them according to IMDb user rating as of March 16, 2020, with user votes being used as the tiebreaker.

Strap in, start your engine, and prepare for the ride of your life. These are the 50 best episodes of “Top Gear.”

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#50. Season 14, Episode 2

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 211
- Air date: March 22, 2010

Going green is the theme of this episode, in which Jeremy, Richard, and James all attempt to build an electric car and put it through the stringent safety testing process such cars must go through before being sold to the public. Elsewhere, it’s a battle of continents, as an American Corvette takes on a European Audi on the race track. Film star Michael Sheen (“Frost/Nixon”) makes a guest appearance.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#49. Season 15, Episode 6

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 219
- Air date: Nov. 1, 2010

Vintage car enthusiasts will love this episode, in which old British roadsters are taken for a spin through the English countryside, with the lads stopping to visit what remains of Britain’s car manufacturing industry along the way. The episode offers a fascinating glimpse into an old TVR factory in Blackpool—and a cameo from everybody’s favorite eccentric movie star Jeff Goldblum.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#48. Season 17, Episode 2

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 232
- Air date: Aug. 29, 2011

In a quest to determine the world’s best hatchback car, the boys take a road trip through Northern Italy with a car enthusiast’s destination in mind: the Monaco Grand Prix. A significant dispute erupts over which hatch might lay claim to the title, as Jeremy, Richard, and James race around the Riviera in their research.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#47. Season 19, Episode 5

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 252
- Air date: March 4, 2013

Anyone who has ever felt confused by the rapidly evolving technology in modern cars will want to check out this episode. Jeremy and Richard take a look at this technology through the lens of an aging population, specifically setting out to design a car for the elderly. Meanwhile, James heads to Nevada to explore the other end of the spectrum by testing out an autonomous military vehicle.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#46. Season 22, Episode 7

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 332
- Air date: March 9, 2015

Those with a need for speed will want to tune in to this episode, in which James straps into a hatchback to compete at a World Rallycross race, complete with a pit crew composed of Jeremy and Richard. Actor and bonafide X-man Nicholas Hoult takes a spin in a so-called “Reasonably Priced Car,” and Richard heads to Spain to test a brand new version of the classic Mazda MX-5.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#45. Season 22, Episode 4

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 344
- Air date: Feb. 16, 2015

Film enthusiasts will spot Hollywood megastars Will Smith and Margot Robbie in this episode, making it a must-watch for anyone who loves movies as much as they do cars. BMW fans will also delight in Jeremy’s test of two of the manufacturer’s cars, including a hybrid. Finally, Richard tests the 4-wheel drive prowess of a Land Rover, driving it up a near-vertical slope of a dam.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#44. Season 21, Episode 2

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 354
- Air date: Feb. 17, 2014

This episode is like something out of a James Bond film. It features everything from an Alfa Romeo test-drive around Lake Como to the gang practicing military maneuvers in cars. It also includes a cameo from actor Tom Hiddleston, whom some suspect might play James Bond in future films.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#43. Season 10, Episode 3

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 181
- Air date: Oct. 28, 2007

The boys finally settle the age-old question: Who would win in a fight between a typhoon jet fighter and a Bugatti Veyron driven by Richard? Meanwhile, Jeremy takes the miniature Peel P50 to work for a test run and discovers that the car is so small that he can actually drive it around inside the office.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#42. Season 10, Episode 7

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 185
- Air date: Nov. 25, 2007

It’s the 40th anniversary of British Leyland, the notorious British automotive conglomerate. In this episode, the boys hone in on the extremely affordable (some would say cheap) manufacturer, with each purchasing a British Leyland vehicle to put through a series of tests. After some time with the Leylands, Jeremy takes a spin in a new Ashton Martin as a palate cleanser.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#41. Season 13, Episode 5

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 188
- Air date: Feb. 22, 2010

Extreme sporting enthusiasts will find much to love in this episode. The boys unwittingly find themselves competing in a French ice race, while Richard tries to invent a new sport—airport vehicle racing—that will delight anyone who has ever been frustrated by the glacial pace of an airport.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#40. Season 13, Episode 7

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 189
- Air date: March 8, 2010

As many car enthusiasts and comedy nerds know, Jay Leno is a big car collector. Leno finally makes an appearance on Top Gear in this episode, albeit to try out a Reasonably Priced Car. Meanwhile, Jeremy and James try their hands at advertising, working with Volkswagon to create an ad with hilarious results.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#39. Season 13, Episode 6

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 191
- Air date: March 1, 2010

Classic car fans will find much to love in this episode, in which the question of whether classic or modern cars are better is brought to the fore. The boys each have £3000 to buy a vintage car made before 1982. Their search takes them to Mallorca, where they participate in a classic car rally.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#38. Season 15, Episode 9

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 200
- Air date: Feb. 7, 2011

In one of the most ambitious episodes in the history of the series, the boys embark on a road trip across the Middle East. Beginning in Iraq, they attempt to drive to Bethlehem, retracing the steps of the Three Wise Men.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#37. Season 11, Episode 4

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 204
- Air date: July 13, 2008

Car vs. train is the primary focus of this episode, and it’s a race the boys tackle with their usual competitive flare. Jeremy takes the wheel of the Nissan GT-R and tries to drive it across Japan faster than Richard and James can make it across the country using public transportation. The twist? Jeremy, Richard, and James are racing against a third entity—Japan’s famous Bullet Train. With stunning views of the Japanese countryside, this is a must-see for anyone interested in the culture of Japan.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#36. Season 18, Episode 7

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 240
- Air date: June 4, 2012

This episode is one of extremes. The boys set out to see if they can go Rallycross motor racing for less than it costs to play golf. Two celebrities test out Reasonably Priced Cars. Rock legend Slash makes a cameo alongside F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen. Meanwhile, James is given the chance to drive a £5.6 million Ferrari 250 GT California owned by radio DJ Chris Evans.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#35. Season 15, Episode 1

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 245
- Air date: Sept. 27, 2010

Pushing beyond the impossible is the theme of this episode. Jeremy wants to know why there aren’t more three-wheeled vehicles in the world, while James tries to drive a Toyota Hilux up an active volcano in Iceland, making this episode excellent for anyone dreaming of ways to push the limits.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#34. Season 14, Episode 1

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 252
- Air date: March 15, 2010

Can one country truly lay claim to having the greatest driving roads in the world? The boys set out to test exactly that theory, bringing a Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Aston Martin to a road in Romania that is rumored to be the best on the planet.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#33. Season 7, Episode 7 - Winter Olympics

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 290
- Air date: Feb. 12, 2006

The Winter Olympics are the focus of this episode, but with a vehicular twist. Jeremy and James take on a “Biathlon,” with Jeremy in a Volvo XC90 competing against May in an Audi Q7. Elsewhere, Jeremy tries to see if he can beat a human skater in the "Speed Skating" event, in a Jaguar XK.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#32. Season 21, Episode 5

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 310
- Air date: March 10, 2014

Safety is the name of the game in this episode, which looks at everything from biker safety to environmental safety. Richard goes to Abu Dhabi to test out the new Porsche hybrid car, while Jeremy and James are given the opportunity to create a public awareness campaign for safer biking.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#31. Season 19, Episode 1

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 318
- Air date: Feb. 4, 2013

Jeremy’s experience with the Peel P50 has him so entranced by the idea of small cars that he spends this episode trying to create one that is smaller than the P50. He ultimately takes it out on the streets of London and then to the “Dragons Den” for its ultimate test.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#30. Season 22, Episode 5

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 364
- Air date: Feb. 23, 2015

Fans of the French automotive company Peugeot will want to take a look at this episode, which focuses on the history of the company. Their deep dive gives them a close look at artillery shells, corsets, and hot hatchbacks, making for a truly varied episode. Meanwhile, Richard compares the Porsche Cayman GTS with the latest Chevrolet Corvette.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#29. Season 12, Episode 4

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 191
- Air date: Nov. 23, 2008

Fuel economy is set to be a serious challenge in this episode. Why? The boys take on a challenge to drive from the heart of Switzerland to the northwestern coast of England on just one tank of fuel. And later, James tackles his first-ever power test in a Pagani Zonda F Roadster.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#28. Season 8, Episode 3 - Amphibious Car Challenge

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 193
- Air date: May 21, 2006

The boys test the limits of psychics and engineering in this episode, which aims to determine whether it’s possible to design a car that works as well on water as it does on land. The test includes a trip across a significant body of water—none other than the English Channel. Later in the episode, Jeremy races a Lotus against a Mustang.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#27. Season 13, Episode 2

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 210
- Air date: Feb. 1, 2010

Young drivers will be particularly interested in this episode, which asks the question: What is the perfect car for a seventeen-year-old? The boys test everything from insurance deals to performance at muddy music festivals to answer the question of what a car-loving teenager should look for in a vehicle.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#26. Season 16, Episode 3

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 219
- Air date: Feb. 21, 2011

This episode is a tale of two countries, with two types of cars to match. The boys head to Albania first to test some new cars, including a few Rolls-Royces, and then head back home to try out more affordable options, like a Ford Focus.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#25. Season 20, Episode 5

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 273
- Air date: Aug. 5, 2013

Lamborghini fans, in particular, will want to check out this episode. Set partially in Italy, Richard takes two of the famed luxury carmaker’s vehicles out for a spin, including the famous Aventador Roadster.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#24. Season 20, Episode 4

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 279
- Air date: July 29, 2013

The space age meets Top Gear in this episode. The boys endeavor to build a car that can turn into a hovercraft, all for a good cause—helping the residents of a flood-hit region of the United Kingdom. After some initial roadblocks, the trio demos their creation with a trip down the River Avon.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#23. Season 19, Episode 2

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 291
- Air date: Feb. 11, 2013

The boys hit the American West Coast in this episode, driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and then to Palm Springs. They drive three front-engined cars, including a Dodge Viper, and the trip includes plenty of debate over which in particular is the best.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#22. Season 22, Episode 2

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Votes: 379
- Air date: Feb. 2, 2015

The road trip moves to Australia in this episode, specifically the Northern Territory. Three separate GTs are selected for the boys to compete against each other on their journey, which offers stunning views of the Australian countryside.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#21. Season 10, Episode 9

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 193
- Air date: Dec. 9, 2007

Anyone who has ever known the unique perils of driving in a city will identify with this episode. James takes the new Fiat 500 out for a spin on the streets of the crowded European city of Budapest, which proves to be quite a challenge.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#20. Season 10, Episode 2 - Amphibious Car Challenge II

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 225
- Air date: Oct. 14, 2007

The idea of a car that perform in the water has long perplexed automakers. The boys take up the idea in this episode, in which their quest takes them to some choppier waters, literally and metaphorically, than they expected.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#19. Season 20, Episode 3

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 302
- Air date: July 22, 2013

Beautiful Spain is the setting for this episode, which finds the lads touring the country in three budget supercars: Jeremy takes a McLaren MP4-12C, Richard a Ferrari 458 and James an Audi R8 V10. But that isn’t the only reason to tune in. One of the biggest stars in recent history, none other than Benedict Cumberbatch, makes a cameo in the episode to test the Reasonably Priced Car.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#18. Season 22, Episode 6

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 381
- Air date: March 2, 2015

Survivalists will find much to love in this episode, in which Richard drops into one of the most harrowing environments on earth to test the capacity of a certain piece of gear. In a remote and frozen area of Canada, Richard must test a watch with an emergency beacon and hope to live to tell the tale. James and Jeremy stage a rescue mission in a Ford Raptor and a Chevy Silverado 2500HD, respectively.

35/
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#17. Season 22, Episode 3

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Votes: 447
- Air date: Feb. 9, 2015

Anyone working in the medical field will have a particular interest in this episode. While the boys often focus on recreational vehicles, in this episode they turn their attention to the humble ambulance, attempting to design an improved emergency vehicle for transport to a hospital.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#16. Season 17, Episode 4

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 259
- Air date: Sept. 12, 2011

Can train travel be improved upon? Such is the question of this episode, in which the boys attempt to upend train travel by reimagining the mechanics of it. They eventually land on a design in which caravans are attached to a special car instead of conventional rail carriages.

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37/
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#15. Season 22, Episode 1

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 470
- Air date: Jan. 26, 2015

Russophiles will want to tune in to this episode in particular. The boys head to St. Petersburg to take part in an unusual race through the urban landscape, which features incredible scenery from this unique and beautiful city. The trio competes to see if May, driving a Renault Twizy, can reach the finish line before Hammond can on a £9,000 bicycle, before Clarkson can on a hovercraft.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#14. Season 13, Episode 1

- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Votes: 252
- Air date: Jan. 25, 2010

The boys attempt to turn back the clock in this episode, to fascinating results. They are interested in what it would have been like to race from London to Edinburgh 60 years ago, so they attempt to recreate the conditions of that time period. They take a steam train, a motorbike, and a Jaguar to figure out which one will make it to the finish line first.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#13. Season 15, Episode 5

- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Votes: 282
- Air date: Oct. 25, 2010

Hollywood fans will have much to love in this episode, in which superstars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz test out the Reasonably Priced Car. Elsewhere in the episode, Richard goes to Sweden to race a new Volkswagon against snowmobilers.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#12. Season 9, Episode 3 - U. S. Special

- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Votes: 338
- Air date: Feb. 11, 2007

Getting a good deal is the name of the game in this episode. The boys each purchase a car for less than $1,000 and set out on a racing road trip in the three cars to see who got the most—and least—for their money.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#11. Season 15, Episode 4

- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- Votes: 291
- Air date: Oct. 18, 2010

Anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to live in a motorhome will likely be especially interested in this episode. The boys tackle the challenge of designing the perfect motorhome by modifying a Land Rover 110, a Citroën CX, and a Lotus Excel, and then take their creations out into the world to test their mettle.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#10. Season 16 - Middle East Special

- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- Votes: 546
- Air date: Feb. 14, 2011

This extended special episode is particularly poignant for its shots of pre-Civil War Syria. The boys head to the Middle East for a road trip, traveling through Turkey, Aleppo, and the Mount of Olives following the path of the Three Wise Men.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#9. Season 9, Episode 8 - Polar Special

- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- Votes: 659
- Air date: July 25, 2007

Any time around the holidays would be a good time to settle in with this episode. The boys take on the challenge of racing to the North Pole from northern Canada, a journey of some 450 miles. Jeremy and James drive a specially adapted pickup truck, while Richard travels on a sled pulled by a team of ten Canadian Inuit dogs.

44/
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#8. Season 10, Episode 4 - Botswana Special

- IMDb user rating: 9.1
- Votes: 444
- Air date: Nov. 4, 2007

The boys go off-roading in Botswana in this episode, but face a particular number of restrictions in doing so. They must buy a car for less than £1,500 after touching down in Africa, and it must not have been designed for off-roading.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#7. Season 21, Episode 6 - Burma Special: Part 1

- IMDb user rating: 9.1
- Votes: 646
- Air date: March 17, 2014

In this episode, the trio is tasked with building a bridge in Thailand. But before they do, they must first drive across Myanmar, a country that has been mainly closed to Westerners for decades. The episode features incredible scenery, which is of particular interest because so few people outside the region have seen it, compared to surrounding countries.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#6. Season 19, Episode 7 - Africa Special, Part 2

- IMDb user rating: 9.2
- Votes: 536
- Air date: March 18, 2013

This episode is the end of the boys’ multi-episode quest to reach the source of the Nile River in Africa. After surviving harrowing traffic, mudslides, and confusing maps, they eventually reach the apex of their journey.

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British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#5. Season 19, Episode 6 - Africa Special, Part 1

- IMDb user rating: 9.2
- Votes: 601
- Air date: March 11, 2013

Many explorers claim to have found the source of the Nile, but the boys just aren’t sure. They head to Africa to see if they can do better, using only three old estate cars, to boot.

48/
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#4. Season 21, Episode 7 - Burma Special: Part 2

- IMDb user rating: 9.2
- Votes: 652
- Air date: March 24, 2014

This episode is full-on Myanmar (otherwise known as Burma). On their way to Thailand to build a bridge, the boys drive across the country that Richard calls “incredible,” which might be why he has called this episode his particular favorite.

49/
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#3. Season 14, Episode 6 - Bolivia Special

- IMDb user rating: 9.4
- Votes: 576
- Air date: April 19, 2010

It turns out that the wilds of Bolivia include some of the most inhospitable terrains in the world, which the boys discover in this episode. Dropped in the middle of the Bolivian rainforest, they must use only local 4x4s to get from the rainforest to Chile, encountering everything from drug lords to bouts of altitude sickness along the way.

50/
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#2. Season 22, Episode 8

- IMDb user rating: 9.4
- Votes: 836
- Air date: July 13, 2015

Lovers of classic cars and convertibles alike will find much to love in this episode, in which the boys each buy inexpensive small convertibles to take on a track day. The series is also the last in which Jeremy co-presented, before being dismissed from the show.

51/
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

#1. Season 12, Episode 8 - Vietnam Special

- IMDb user rating: 9.5
- Votes: 661
- Air date: Dec. 28, 2008

The number one slot goes to an episode in which the boys try to traverse the length of Vietnam entirely by motorbike. The trio even goes so far as to try and build amphibious versions of their bikes to get across Halong Bay, which one of the most scenic spots in the world,

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