He is our favourite Top Gear presenter with his dry sense of humour having blessing our households for many years and although seen as a laughing stock by his fellow colleagues James May knows his stuff when it comes to great cars.

In an attempt to have the last say on what cars are the best in he has whittled his choices down to 13, which he will showcase at this year’s Classic Motor Show at London ExCel.

He has divided the thirteen vehicles into two groups, ‘The Halls of Obviousness’ and ‘The Chambers of Bloody-Mindedness’, adding a touch of his personality to the presentation of vehicles.

“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.”

Below you will find his decisions, accompanied by some ingenious comments from the TV personality.

The Halls of Obviousness



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.”

The Chambers of Bloody-Mindedness


1901 Waverley Electric – “At the beginning of the 20th century, electric car 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.”

James May has kept us guessing the final car to make his significant group, encouraging car lovers to make their way to the ExCel show and find out for themselves.


In your opinion what car deserves to make this category? Leave your comments below.