James May interview

James May supplies the affable irony on Top Gear, which he does in his own crumpled, self-mocking way. We caught up with the shaggy-haired hero of the highways.

James May

Do you get bored with geeks who want to talk about cars all the time?

If there's a tip for anybody who wants to come and talk about cars - and I don't want to sound pompous about this - but use a bit of imagination. The ones I always get are when I'm in the pub. I'll think to myself, I'll have half an hour on my own with a paper and you turn around and there's a man with a Subaru t-shirt who says: "What's the best car you've ever driven?"

So what's the best car you've ever driven?

I always say the Fiat Panda. All things considered, I found the Fiat Panda had very, very good balance.

Does working on a show like Top Gear mean you get cars at knock-down prices?

We're not allowed to. We even go out of our way not to be friends with PR people - we throw them out of the studio! People keep saying to me, if I want to buy a new car, have you rung up any PR companies? The honest truth is I go to my local dealer and buy them like a normal person.

Be honest. How many cars does Richard Hammond really have? We've heard it's a lot.

He's got millions, but they're all rubbish. Mine are old but my selection of cars is a museum compared to his pile of old scrap.

Tell us about your little stash of motors - do you have different cars for different occasions?

Yeah, but I like them all. I've got an old Land Rover that goes off-road and an old Range... well, you don't really want to know. They're boring, but they're fun.

Being such a respected car expert and auto aficionado, presumably you must have passed your driving test first time?

Second time, but then all the best people did. The first time I got the bloke who everybody said: "You'll be fine with Mr What's-His-Name - everybody passes with him." Well, everyone except me.

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