MOTORING: James May baker’s dozen might start a few arguments in the pub

Top Gear presenter James May. Photo: Mark  Yeoman
Top Gear presenter James May. Photo: Mark Yeoman
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Top Gear star James May has gathered together the 13 ‘most significant’ cars of all time as part of January’s London Classic Car Show this weekend.

Bound to cause arguments in pubs everywhere, the baker’s dozen is split into ‘The Halls of Obviousness’ and ‘The Chambers of Bloody-Mindedness’, with the standalone 13th car as-yet unrevealed.

“You could probably guess the identity of the six in the Hall of Obviousness without reading another word,” said May, “but the other six are less well known.

“I believe they are just as significant historically but they’ve simply been forgotten or misunderstood.

“But the 13th is certainly the car that looms largest in my motoring life – the biggest inspiration.”

And May will open the exhibit personally as well as attempting to get #the13thcar trending on Twitter.

The six ‘obvious’ cars (plus James’ comments) are:

1886 Benz Motorwagen. “People will argue about this, but the Benz Motorwagen was the first true car as we would understand it.”

1908 Ford Model T. “The brilliance of the Model T is the way that it was made, rather than the car itself.”

1938 Volkswagen Beetle. “It became the world’s best selling single-platform car, even though the early models were pretty horrendous to drive.”

1959 Austin Mini. “An original Mini is incredibly uncomfortable and a bit hairy if you crash it, but also fantastic to drive.”

1964 Ford Mustang. “In the first six months of its life it was the fastest selling car in history. It’s the car that democratised style and performance.”

1997 Toyota Prius. “It was the first mainstream car of my lifetime that caused people to rethink the basics of how a car should work.”

And the six ‘Bloody-Minded’ choices are:

1901 Waverley Electric. “At the beginning of the 20th century, electric cars outsold petrol-powered cars in parts of America. They were clean, quiet and didn’t make ladies’ skirts grubby.”

1906 Cadillac Model K. “The real hero of the mass-produced car story isn’t Ford’s Model T but the Cadillac Model K.”

1933 Standard Superior. “It is widely accepted that Josef Ganz, a respected Jewish engineer, came up with the basic layout and philosophy of the Beetle.”

1972 Honda Civic. “The original Civic was a compact, lively and fuel efficient car that was well made and almost faultlessly reliable.”

1980 Lada Riva. “The Russian-built, Fiat 124-derived, Riva did more than any other to put communism on wheels.”

2009 Bruno ExoMars Rover. “Autonomous, self-sustaining and suitable for use on other planets, it is surely the world’s most advanced all-terrain vehicle.”

And the 13th? “I’m not going to give that away,” said May. “You simply have to visit the show and indulge me through my halls and chambers to get to it.”

The show takes place at the London ExCeL until January 11.