What you know of the former life of your used car is usually pretty murky, at best, especially if you’re buying it through a third party. But you do have clues – once, I found a conductor’s baton in a car I bought, and I’m pretty sure that bone in another isn’t a human femur. A man from Kent bought a BMW M3, and later discovered that Clarkson hooned the crap out of it on Top Gear.

Rob Willis dropped £50,000 on a current-gen BMW M3, in a lovely bright blue. He should have been delighted, but found that the car had some issues, which didn’t seem to make sense, considering what he was told of the car’s history. As he told The Sun:

“When I bought it, I was told it was an ex-demo which one of the managers had been driving. The brakes were constantly squeaking and the steering wheel made a clunking noise every time I came off the motorway.”

It didn’t quite make sense why a relatively new car like his M3 should be having these sorts of issues, even if it was an ex-demonstrator. It wasn’t until about a month later, when Willis was watching an old episode of Top Gear, that things started to make sense:

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“But we were watching Top Gear about four weeks later and my fiancée noticed that the M3 Jeremy Clarkson was driving had the same number plate as my car.

“You could see smoke coming out from the wheels, he was taking the curves that fast.”

See, in the UK, unlike the US, a car’s number plate stays with it for the life of the car. Which means, of course, the car that Clarkson was spanking around that track, billowing smoke, tires shrieking, everything at the limit, was his car.

While many of us would think “hey, cool!” and immediately start taking screenshots and Twitterizing and Facebookitating like a tween girl, Willis, more sensibly, realized that he deserved a car that hadn’t had the shit kicked out of it by a hungry face-puncher.

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Willis was given a BMW 330d as a replacement, and a bunch of other dealership swag (I guess to make up for the much slower car?), and he’s satisfied with the result. The dealership agreed the car was unfit for general road use and should not have been sold.

Though, if they’re smart, they’ll advertise it now as a Clarkson-hooned M3 and jack the price up a thousand quid or so. I’m sure somebody would love an ex-Top Gear car.


Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.