Top Gear before there was telly: Incredible 104-year-old footage shows intrepid motorists taking a Model T Ford to the top of Ben Nevis – and just like Jeremy Clarkson, they weren’t afraid to mangle a bit of precious peat-land!
- 104-year-old footage showing intrepid motorists scaling Ben Nevis in a Ford Model T
- The 1911 movie shows team driving across some of the most rugged terrain in the UK to the top of the 4,409ft peak
- It even draws parallels to Top Gear-like antics, as men blow up a patch of precious peatland blocking their progress
- In 2004, former host Jeremy Clarkson was criticised for churning up fragile peat bogs while scaling Ben Tongue
As publicity stunts go, this 1911 ascent up all 1,344 meters of Britain’s highest peak in a Ford Model T takes some beating – fancy taking a Prius for a spin on the moon? The idea was to show that this ‘affordable’ assembly line American car could more than match the hand-crafted British models (note the American flag at the end of the film). Interestingly, the film starts at the snowy summit and seems to capture the tricky descent rather than the climb. A peat bank is shown in the film being dynamited to make the journey a bit smoother for the Model T.
Behind the wheel was Henry Alexander Jr, the son of Scotland’s first Ford dealer, and between the 9th and the 13th of May, with much planning, the steady ascent was made. Looking at the churning tyres and the odd spot of dynamite along the way the prevailing thought is perhaps “You did it!… But please don’t do it again.”