The Dunsfold Battle Of Britain was an unconventional twin-car test in Series 18 of Top Gear. Unlike other tests, this one featured two recently-built aircraft-engined vehicles.

The TestEdit

Jeremy Clarkson began this test by reminiscing about the Top Gear test track's past as a fighter-plane base during World War II. He finished this part on the sounds of the pilots' mighty engines; this directly led onto the first vehicle.

Clarkson introduced Brutus - a monstrous car based on the chain-driven chassis of a 1908 New York fire engine, powered by a colossal, 46-litre, 12 cylinder BMW aircraft engine, that was built recently in the workshops of the Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum in Germany. When Clarkson took the Brutus for a drive, he struggled with pedals that were in the wrong order, and hot oil and exhaust flames being blown into his face. Another issue he found was the sheer amount of torque spinning the very thin rear wheels through the corners.

The Peterson Engineering Meteor Bentley was then introduced. It is visually similar to a 1920s Bentley, but instead of a supercharged 4.5-litre engine, the Meteor Bentley is powered by a 27-litre unit derived from a Spitfire fighter plane. Clarkson immediately prefered the Bentley, as it is, as he put it, "a car", whereas the Brutus is a "fairground attraction". Racing (or, in this case, 'dogfighting') around the track, it became obvious that the Bentley was much better performance-wise, and was a lot better in the corners. Even though the Bentley was heavier (3 tonnes against 2.5 tonnes) and down on power compared to Brutus (650 against 750bhp), it still beat the German car in a drag race. Clarkson thoroughly fell in love with it, and at that point he revealed the price: an eye-watering half-a-million pounds.

Overall, Clarkson described Brutus as the Germans "displaying their usual sense of humour", while the Bentley is "typically British", "much more serious", and "exquisitely finished". Back in the studio, Clarkson compared the Bentley to the Eagle Speedster (which appeared in series 17), another £500,000 one-off. In the end, though, he declared that he would rather have the Eagle.

Lap timesEdit

Both the Bentley and the Brutus were driven around the test track by the Stig.

Bentley: 1 min, 50.3 secs

Brutus: 2 mins, 2.5 secs (2nd slowest lap ever)


  • Although Clarkson frequently described the engine powering the Bentley as a Merlin Spitfire engine, it is in fact the unsupercharged Meteor version, which was not used in the plane.


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