Each presenter has one or two according to the opening title montage:
From Series 11 to Series 18, Hammond had the Bugatti Veyron/Eurofighter Typhoon race and his attempt at driving a Formula One car; May had the Reliant Robin shuttle launch; and Clarkson had the Peel P50, his "giant Panda" limo conversion, and the race across London during morning rush hour.
As of Series 19, they've changed: Hammond has the Porche 911 vs. Dropped VW Beetle Race and the Marauder road test; James has the epic jump from his stunt drive with Ken Block; and Clarkson has the Royal Marine beach landing with the Ford Fiesta, and the Reliant Robin "test drive."
Cheap Car Challenges
The trio driving a 1,000-mile trek across Botswana, Africa in cars bought for £1,500, said feat including the first crossing of the Makgadikgadi Pan by car.
Within this Crowning Episode of Awesome, this trope crosses with its heartwarming twin on a number of occasions, but most especially when Hammond arrives after a hard night's work trying to save Oliver, his Opel Kadett...having succeeded.
Clarkson: Is that technically possible?
Hammond: Probably not.
No less notable was during the final stretch, when Hammond and May were waiting to see if Jeremy would be forced to take the Beetle at the last minute.
The trek across South America. The fact that they made it with two out of the three cars still in one piece (and the third only due to a freak accident) speaks volumes.
What's even more amazing is that they made it at all after almost dying of hypoxia at the high altitudes.
The first USA special, both when all three presenters had to drive through Alabama with variously offensive slogans painted on their cars (and all three avoided getting shot by a truck full of rednecks) and when Clarkson set off looking for roadkill for dinner and returned with a full cow strapped to the roof of his car.
And in a meta-example, having reached the challenge destination of New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina they scrubbed the "resell your cars and get points for any profit or at least minimal loss" portion and donated the vehicles.
In the police car challenge, Clarkson dueling the Stig in a Fiat Coupe with added wheel spikes.
In the second Africa cheap car challenge, Hammond once again manages to makeshift repair his car over night.
Also building a raft and getting their cars safely across a river.
Finally any of the three cars actually making the trip, despite all the damage and age.
Clarkson taking the Nissan GT-R to race the bullet train across Japan.
What sealed the deal was Jeremy's genuine disbelief that he did it:
Clarkson: *catching his breath* ...car just beat the bullet train...
The car vs. boat vs. bike vs. train across rush-hour London.
More: the finale of the race being set to Globus's ''Preliator''.
Jeremy Clarkson's lap of the Nürburgring in the Jaguar S-Type Diesel. The challenge was to run the lap from bridge to gantry in under 10 minutes. As the second day of his trial was closing, as he finally began to learn the track, he managed to crack it ... with literallyone second to spare!
(This being Top Gear, of course, Clarkson soon got his comeuppance: Sabine Schmitz, who had been instructing him, told him, "I do that time in a van". And her first lap in the Jag? Nine minutes, twelve seconds.)
Oh, and Top Gear didn't forget her retort, either. 10:08.49 in a Ford Transit van — all of ten seconds shy of Clarkson's time. Even with her not quite making good on the boast, Clarkson couldn't mock that.
Top Gear's entry to the Britcar 24 Hour Endurance Race — for all three Presenters, the Stig, and particularly for Steve, director of the "Top Gear Technology Centre". When the engine blew out during May's nighttime practice laps, Steve led his team in a complete engine rebuild in twelve hours to get the car out of the garage just in time to stay in the race. And the team didn't let Steve down, either: despite being the only car in the field with a "Novice" sticker, having built their car on a low budget, and using biodiesel to power it, they took third in their class of five. Also counts as a very heartwarming moment, especially Jeremy's celebrations inside the vehicle after the race.
The Race to the North — in which the train Clarkson helped stoke actually set records for preserved steam locomotive operation in Britain.
As if the G Whiz wasn't enough of a Butt Monkey on the show, on one episode Hammond and the Stig race to see what's faster. The G Whiz...or a remote-controlled RC car. With both driving their cars with remote controls, the Stig at first plays dirty by running over Hammond's car. Hammond, in response, gets out another car, has it catch up to the G Whiz and drive under the car...then detonate the explosives he had strapped to the RC car.
Series 16, Episode 6: The sunset to sunrise race. In Jeremy's own words, "A big Jag vs. God". And the Jag wins.
Series 20, Episode 2: A pair of free runners vs. a trials bike in a race through the BBC television studios. With plenty of gratuitous slow motion.
James and Richard finally winning a race against Jeremy after losing every other time in the race to Milan.
Clarkson and May being the first humans in history to travel to the North Pole by car. Particularly May, due to being;
Clarkson: The first person to go to the North Pole, who didn't want to be there!
In the British Leyland challenge, each presenter got 1200 quid, OF THEIR OWN MONEY, they'll remind you, to buy examples of what they think are good Leyland products, and they could "win" money back by accomplishing various challenges.
Crossing the English Channel in a Toyboata Nissank; especially as things had gone so badly beforehand, and they almost rolled it getting ashore.
Successfully turning a car into A SPACE SHUTTLE. (Okay, yes, it crashed, but consider what it took to even get it to the point it took off in the first place.)
When the boys were invited to face off against German motoring show D Motor, they arrived in Spitfires. Also very much a Crowning Moment of Funny. Things just got progressively more awesome and ridiculous from there on in.
Clarkson and May reaching the North Pole in a Toyota pick-up, and drinking gin and tonic while doing it.
And during the Polar Special, after he and Clarkson have been scared all day that they would fall through the ice, Clarkson is quietly agonizing over their possible routes to the pole (one just as bad as the one they'd covered; the other possibly worse). May calmly produces one gourmet food item after another (quail eggs, foie gras, aged cheese, salmon eggs, and ultimately a bottle of Chablis), until he finally breaks Clarkson's cycle of panic. Much like the man himself, it was pure understated awesome.
The sequel, where James May gets to test out the Bugatti Veyron Super-Sport, and managed to push it past the Bugatti engineers' theorised top speed of 258mph, hitting an average top speed of 261mph, though, his glory was short-lived, as Bugatti's test driver took it for another run afterwards and set an average top speed of 267mph. To crown it all off, the Super-Sport then set a new Power Lap record in the Stig's hands of 1:16.8.
Like Cameron Diaz's new record in the Reasonably Priced Car being immediately beaten by Tom Cruise's time.
James May, trained pianist, recreates the Top Gear Theme Song with engine noises.
Turning a farm combine into a snowplough, and ploughing out 5 kilometers of road too insane for the Norwegians to do it themselves.
Well the Norwegians have always viewed the English as especially mad Norwegians.
Spontaneously combusting a man.
Jeremy Clarkson sets out to perform a proper, serious road test of a car, like Top Gear used to do in the old days. This test concludes with Clarkson participating in a mock beach assault with the Royal Marines. In a Ford Fiesta.
The next year, Clarkson heads off to another such road test, this time of a Renault Twingo 133 - with which he does a barrel roll in a Belfast sewer. Successfully.
To put this in perspective: four championsnote Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Lewis Hamilton, and Jenson Button, twiceand Mark Webber all failed to beat the Stig, yet the Long Runner who's never won a championship did it.
Mind you, Hamilton set his time on a wet track, didn't take the thing seriously at all (he starts singing at one point!) and was still only a few tenths slower than the Stig. That in itself is pretty awesome, but then he came back a few years later and beat the Stig's time by 1.5 seconds.
In the next episode, the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment saw a new record when Cameron Diaz ran a 1:45.2 in the Kia Cee'd ... only for Tom Cruise to beat her a minute later with a time of 1:44.2 seconds! And on two wheels too!
Billy Baxter, who is 100% blind, makes a power lap in the Liana — and beats the times of two of the previous guest stars.
In the 'Ashes' challenge against the Top Gear Australia team, Hammond is given a Transit van which proves to easily win the race against the Aussies' V8 UTE...thanks to the Jaguar XJ 220 engine in the back. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny thanks to Clarkson's Refuge in Audacity when the Australians open the back of the van:
Clarkson: You see? It beat you even though it was carrying this very heavy engine!
In episode 18x07, where the Star In A Reasonably-Priced Car is Slash from Guns & Roses, the theme tune for the closing credits is played by Slash himself. While standing atop the indestructible Toyota Hilux. With lots of dry ice.
Mark Webber coming within 0.2 seconds of a tie with Lewis Hamilton for the fastest lap on the F1 board...despite spending most of the lap screwing around, looking at the scenery, and taking his hands off the wheel.
The Top Gear crew ask: "Is a Toyota Hiluxnote Tacoma in the U.S. really indestructible?" in three separate segments over two episodes. The answer? Yes. Yes, it is.
The fact that Top Gear footage was later used in one of the official commercials.
The first Motorhome Grand Prix.
James May showed up on Gordon Ramsay's F-Word program and Ramsay put him through a "manliness test," involving: drinking snake whiskey, eating a bull's testicles, and eating rotten shark. May made it through the test without so much as a twitch, while Ramsay had to snatch a bucket away from him and puke into it in the end, prompting May to grin and say: "You disappoint me, Ramsay!" He also defeated Ramsay in the recipe challenge segment, after Ramsay had made fun of May's fish pie and joked that it would never win, ever, and he'd give up cooking if James won. JB comes back with the results and James won, which utterly stunned Chef Ramsay.
James May coming to America to take a drive with Rally Car Legend and co-founder of DC shoes, Ken Block in his tricked out Subaru. Then Ricky Carmichael shows up and races them on his dirtbike.
"He once fought a shark. He lost, but anyway..."
Up until the crash, Richard Hammond's jet-powered dragster piece. Hammond's reaction of "I feel so alive" is a "Funny Aneurysm" Momentaverted due to sheer awesomeness.
Even the crash counts as a CMOA for Hammond, as he managed to come back from a horrific accident and brain damage to continue filming Top Gear like nothing had happened. Because it happened in between series, he didn't miss a single episode.
Anything the Stig does. Ever.
Clarkson's absurdly over-the-top 50th birthday party for the E-Type Jaguar, which involved spelling out the letter E in cars atop the White Cliffs of Dover, a flypast by Spitfires, skydivers carrying huge Union Jacks, a military band and a pair of Royal Marines abseiling down the cliff to plant another flag.
The start of series 16; Clarkson first announces they have decided not to take part in the global economic crisis and then they show a preview of the series. The preview starts with the sound of helicopter blades...and then the opening chords to AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill" plays. Awesomeness ensues.
Doubling as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: in series 17, Hammond did a segment about a rally car team made up of war amputees who were attempting to qualify for the Dakar Rally, one of the most difficult rally races in the world. Come the first episode of series 19, not only do we find that the team qualified for the Rally, but they finished it as well, a feat that not even some of the able-bodied teams in the Rally were able to accomplish.
The finale to series 20: a celebration of all of the vehicles Britain has made, done through collecting them on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. What appears is a menagerie of what looks like hundreds of vehicles of every shape, from ice cream vans, lawnmowers, backhoes, and cargo trucks to classic Morgans, record-breaking dragsters, Mc Larens, and Aston-Martins. There's at least one military vehicle, both Ariel Atoms, and the New Bus For London. It's capped off by the presenters in Union Jack-bearing Jaguars driving down the line to end the episode.
Made even better by scenes of the British-based F1 teams sending their cars literally screaming down civilian roads and weaving through traffic on the way.
There's also a blink-and-you'll-miss-it glimpse of the prototype Bloodhound SSC parked in the lineup.