Top Gear and Grand Tour presenter James May looks back at his first ever car

Top Gear star James May was a Rotherham teenager when he got his first car, a Vauxhall Cavalier.

He was 19 and his father – a keen reader of The Yorkshire Post – sourced it for him.

“It was quite a new year, about two years old, I think,” said May. “But it had been a rep’s car and it had 100,000 miles on the clock. It was yellow, which I didn’t mind, but the interior was awful. It didn’t have a clock, which really annoyed me because it was an L spec and it was pretty clapped out.

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“We lived in Rotherham then and I used the car to go to university in Lancaster. I remember I used to put £1 of petrol in it at a time because I was so hard up.”

Vauxhall CavalierVauxhall Cavalier
Vauxhall Cavalier

He has been asked a million times what the best car is he has ever driven and said a couple spring to mind. “I have a Ferrari 458 Speciale, which is right up there,” May added. “But I think the most exciting car I drove was oddly enough a Mini Clubman.

“I had a Triumph Vitesse, which was wonderful if a little tatty. It was bent and battered but I loved it.”

May, 60, now presents The Grand Tour and has been involved with a host of other programmes.

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He has presented a number of science-based programmes such as James May’s Man Lab, James May on the Moon and James May at Edge of Space, which involved flying at the edge of the stratosphere at 70,000ft in an American jet. He also fronted Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure. May lives in London now so he doesn’t drive every day.

“I try to treat driving as a hobby, so yes I do enjoy driving still. I drive a Tesla but not every day. And I do take the Ferrari out occasionally.

“My father was a big fan of The Yorkshire Post so he would be very pleased that I’m talking to you. He thought that it was a great newspaper.”

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