Top Gear is an incredible show. It somehow manages to combine motoring journalism par excellence with a sense of humor and production values that blow its competition out of the water. The challenges, conducted on almost every episodes, are the epitome of its humor. No sooner do you tune in than you're shown Clarkson, Hammond, and May attempting to fulfill some arbitrary criteria that always leads to laughs.
That being said, some are a lot better than others. In this list, we've pulled together five amazing challenges, as well as five that are just... not quite as good as the others, though they were certainly still memorable.
10 Incredible: DIY Stretch Limos
Is there anything that quite fulfills the Top Gear parameters like the stretch limo challenge? Tasked with transporting Chris Moyles, Jamelia, and Lemar to the BRIT awards, it certainly showed that the celebrities have a sense of humor. The three presenters made a trio of Stretch Limos from a Fiat Panda, the MGF, and a hybrid of the Alfa 164 and Saab 9000. The very peak of the episode was when Clarkson's Fiat limo split in half, leaving both him and Moyles dragging themselves to the ceremony in half a car.
9 Made No Sense: Growing Their Own Gasoline
Around the time that biofuel was becoming popular, particularly in Europe, the team took on the task of growing their own fuel. Using tractors that they had to research and buy, they grew canola. However, this episode was so disjointed, with the actual challenge ending up being a series of races at the test track. Then it turned out that they had ordered the wrong sort of seed, so ended up with useless biodiesel.
8 Incredible: Botswana Special
It may have been surpassed in scope since, but the Botswana special came at Top Gear's very peak. The car was simple; to prove a point to suburban families who buy 4x4s when they don't need it, they had to buy 2-wheel-drive cars and get across Botswana with them. Hammond chose Oliver, an Opel Kadet, May chose a Mercedes-Benz 230E, and Clarkson, being Clarkson, a Lancia Beta Coupe, infamous for its rust problems.
The tasks were hugely varied and involved crossing rivers, a salt pan, and more. If you want to introduce someone to Top Gear, this is the episode to do it with.
7 Made No Sense: The Man With A Van Challenge
This was just a bit of a weird one, to be honest. The team were given £1000 each and asked to buy a van, which they would then use to carry out a series of challenges. All this led to was something of an ugly series of challenges. The crew had to complete a drag race, and then tailgate a car, which is just silly. But it was the fact that when they had to carry various items, each one of them was given an "illegal immigrant," which ended up tainting the whole challenge with a racist and ugly feeling.
6 Incredible: Reliant Robin Space Shuttle
This challenge was off the chain. Get a Reliant Robin, that ridiculous, terrible, three-wheeler, into space. In just 12 days, and with the help of the British Rocketry Association, they had to turn the car into a space shuttle. The most incredible part is that it sort of did work. The car got off the ground, but a bolt that was meant to blow the fuel tank away from the car failed, ending in the car spiraling into the ground, and exploding.
5 Made No Sense: Present A Drive Time Radio Show
If you don't remember this one, don't worry. The team had to host a drive time radio show on BBC Southern Counties, a local radio station. As you'd expect, it all went awry, with Clarkson taking the opportunity to harangue dawdling motorists he could see on the CCTV. Just a bit boring and unmemorable, really.
4 Incredible: Amphibious Cars Redux
The original Amphibious Car Challenge that featured the team having to use their amphicars on a lake in the English countryside was great, but this one upped the ante. Now, they had to get across the English Channel. May had a 1962 Triumph Herald converted into a yacht, Hammond a 1981 Volkswagen Transporter, and Clarkson a Nissan pickup. May ended up sinking twice in Dover's harbor, Hammond managed to get out of the harbor before sinking in the open sea, but incredibly, Clarkson was able to ferry the trio across. They didn't make it to Calais, but did get to nearby Sangatte.
3 Made No Sense: Convertible People Carrier
What do you do when you have to make a convertible MPV? Well, you take a Renault Espace and cut its roof off, of course! The challenges didn't honestly make much sense, sadly. They had to drive it at 100 mph and check that the roof stayed on, drive it through a safari park and have it survive intact, then take it through the car wash. However, when they drove it through a car wash, the whole thing caught fire in what was an obviously scripted finale.
2 Incredible: The Britcar 24-Hour Endurance Race
Remember when they grew the wrong kind of fuel? It may not have been a great challenge, but it did lead on to this one. The team took part in the titular race at Silverstone, in a modified BMW 330d. However, when faced with professional racers, the trio soon found themselves overwhelmed and struggling against their more powerful competition. However, they had one thing up their sleeves: The Stig. When the man in white got behind the wheel, they were able to get up to 3rd in their class.
1 Made No Sense: The Caravan Holiday
This one just felt a bit cliched, something that Top Gear at its best never is. The trio had to go on a caravan holiday to the south of England, and, as you can imagine, it all went wrong. May crashed the caravan into a bollard, they lost Top Gear Dog, and Clarkson set the caravan on fire while trying to cook chips. All kinda funny, but nothing we've not really seen before.