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Top Gear world

Thursday, September 23, 2010
Top Gear has had viewers glued to their televisions since 1977. It's all about motor vehicles, mainly cars, and started out as a conventional motoring magazine show. Over time, particularly since a 2002 relaunch, it has developed a quirky, humorous style.

It's estimated to have 350 million viewers worldwide and Jules Lund was very interested to take a closer look at the phenomenon.

Apart from presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, the show also features a mysterious racing driver known as the Stig. He captured the world's imagination — every boy wants to be him and every man thinks he can drive like him. The BBC fought tooth and nail to keep his identity hidden, but recent news headlines have outed him.

The mystery does continue with a new Stig and Jules found him doing laps around town and went along for the ride. Stig is a man of few words and lets his driving ability speak for him. He did say, though, that to discover something about the success of the program was to travel two hours south-east of London to the prestigious National Motor Museum.

The museum has around 250 of the most historically important motor vehicles ever produced. It is the small village of Beaulieu on the edge of the New Forest National Park in Hampshire. It has remained unspoilt by progress and is a favourite tourist stop, particularly birdwatchers.

The World of Top Gear Exhibit is the museum's latest exhibition. It displays actual cars created by the presenters for some of their most ambitious challenges. You will see the world's smallest car which somehow Jeremy Clarkson managed to squeeze into.

Museum supervisor and car buff John Richardson has been lovingly caring for some of the finest cars ever crafted for 15 years. There are about 250 of the most historically important motor vehicles produced since the late 19th century in his care. They include four world land speed record holders.

John isn't particularly fond of some of the Top Gear vehicles. He calls them "Top Rust". Visitors, though, enjoy the rare look at some of Top Gear's funniest inventions.

Additional attractions include a James Bond experience and bird's-eye view of the grounds from a high-level monorail passing through the roof of the museum. A replica 1912 open-topped London bus is a fun way to tour around the grounds. There's a rally car simulator ride, go-karting rink, playground, restaurant and remote-controlled cars.

The museum is also home to one of the finest collections of motoring books, journals, photographs, films, and automobilia in the world and is affiliated to the British Motorcycle Charitable Trust.

Related video: Take a Ferrari day tour in Oz



Location

Beaulieu in the English county of Hampshire.

Cost

National Motor Museum entry is around $29 for adults, $17 for youths and $15 for children. It is open between 10am and 5pm from September 28 to May 28 and 10am and 6pm from May 29 to September 29.

Emirates has flights to London.

Fares from:

  • Perth $2162
  • Melbourne and Adelaide $2364
  • Sydney $2384
  • Brisbane $2386

These fares are available online to the first 100 people to book. Sales and validity and conditions apply.

Prices correct at September 23, 2010.

For further information

Emirates
Ph: 1300 303 777
www.emirates.com/getaway

National Motor Museum
Beaulieu SO42 7ZN
United Kingdom
Ph: +44 1590 612345
Fax: +44 1590 612624
www.beaulieu.co.uk
info@beaulieu.co.uk

Visas: Visas are not required for Australians entering the UK for tourism for stays of less than six months. If you wish to work, you must obtain the appropriate two-year visa in advance.

Electricity: 220V with a three-point plug.

Time: GMT.

Currency: The British pound sterling.

International dialling code: +44.

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