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14 of history's greatest polar explorers

By: Laura Moss on Dec. 27, 2018, 12:16 p.m.
Top Gear's Toyota Hilux

Photo: Podknox/flickr

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'Top Gear' team

In 2006, the hosts of BBC’s "Top Gear" — Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May — attempted to be the first to drive a motor vehicle to the Magnetic North Pole, but the show’s Polar Special was more than just an attempt to set a record. Clarkson and May’s vehicle would also race Hammond and a dogsled team to the pole. More than 240 hours of labor were spent modifying a Toyota Hilux and a Toyota Land Cruiser for the journey, and the hosts were braced for the dangers of polar expeditions when Sir Ranulph Fiennes showed them the remains of his frostbitten hand.

Despite the scare tactic, the group set off from Resolute Nunavut in Canada on April 25, 2007. The voyage had its scary moments — such as when Clarkson and May’s Hilux became trapped when it fell partly through the ice — and its humorous ones, particularly when Clarkson mixed himself a gin and tonic while driving through an ice field and claimed he wasn’t drinking and driving because he was technically sailing. On May 2, Clarkson and May’s GPS system confirmed they’d reached the 1996 location of the Magnetic North Pole, and Hammond and his dogsled team admitted defeat.