Coventry University students design world's smallest car for Top Gear

By Steve Carpenter Monday 28 January 2013 Updated: 29/01 15:17

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Buy photos » Automotive and Transport Design undergraduates Thomas Lumley (left) and Mike Antoniazzi (right) with course tutor Brian Clough. (s)

TALENTED students on Coventry University’s globally-renowned automotive and transport design course worked with the BBC’s Top Gear show to design the smallest car in the world.

Thirteen undergraduates from the School of Art and Design’s famed car styling course were commissioned by Jeremy Clarkson and co to produce a range of detailed design concepts to meet Top Gear’s vision for a realistic, road legal microcar that suited the show’s entertaining, tongue-in-cheek tone.

The car – named the ‘P45’ – was driven by Clarkson in the first episode of the new Top Gear series on Sunday evening.

It featured in the show alongside the new Pagani Huayra supercar and an appearance in the ‘Reasonably-Priced Car’ by Golden Globe award-winning actor Damian Lewis.

"It was incredibly exciting and a real privilege to work on a project for the Top Gear team," said Thomas Lumley, who grew up in Coventry and attended Finham Park School in Cheylesmore.

"To be involved with this kind of opportunity has been an ambition of mine ever since I attended an open day at the School of Art and Design when I was thirteen years old."

The budding designers had just a week to produce the material and present it to the Top Gear team.

After a number of design stages, the concept drawings were whittled down to two on which the vehicle would be based.

The chosen designs – which were produced by students Thomas (21) and Mike Antoniazzi (21), from Cardiff – were then used to build a lightweight vehicle which can be driven on the road under current quadricycle rules.

Thomas added: "To say this project was a challenge would be an understatement, as we had a very tight timescale to work to and had to complete it alongside University coursework.

"It was a great chance to show off what we could do, and it’s a real honour that they chose one of my designs to work with."

In the opening episode of the series, Clarkson pilots the P45 around the streets of central London – including excursions through the Dominion Theatre and the British Library – in a bid to go one better than his feature from series ten of the show in which he drove a Peel P50 around the BBC’s headquarters.

All of the students involved with the P45’s design were invited to the Top Gear test track and studios in Surrey last Wednesday to watch the show being filmed live and see the vehicle in the flesh for the first time.

Brian Clough, senior lecturer in automotive and industrial design at Coventry University, said he was “immensely impressed” with how his students rose to the challenge.

He said: "It wasn’t an easy brief as they had to strike the right balance with a design that was both authentic and humorous.

"Although Thomas’s and Mike’s design were ultimately chosen, this was a great team effort by all those involved, and an unforgettable experience."

Last night’s Top Gear episode can be watched on BBC iPlayer until the end of March:

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Buy photos» The team of Coventry University automotive design students see their handiwork in the flesh at the Top Gear studios last week. (s)

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