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How Top Gear UK’s Paddy McGuinness Weaponized Mr. Nippy

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The Thanksgiving weekend is a time for peace, happiness and food. But enter Top Gear UK, once again coming up with a solution no one asked for. Back in Series 29, Episode 5, the BBC series took an ordinary ice cream van and overhauled it into an extraordinary all-terrain vehicle — cementing Paddy McGuinness’ status as the most innovative car designer since Homer Simpson.

Yet the producers didn’t stop there. Not content with simply revamping another underappreciated vehicle, they forced McGuinness and Chris Harris to face off against an army of food trucks in an all-out war. With Freddie Flintoff behind the wheels of the food truck armada, Top Gear used these rolling lunch boxes to create chaos, competition and a bunch of really good puns.

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Top Gear’s Paddy McGuinness Transformed Mr. Nippy

Top Gear has always involved doing a certain number of bizarre things to cars. So many Top Gear road trips have involved outlandish and sometimes unnecessary modifications. During his years on the show Jeremy Clarkson was particularly known for being nonsensical, such as failing to understand why a car with a stone floor was a bad idea. It’s those moments of creativity that have set the series apart from any other automotive program. However, Paddy McGuinness has crowned himself the new king of Top Gear ingenuity and Mr. Nippy is his best work.

McGuinness took a serviceable van and turned it into a zero-emission monster truck with its own street sweeper. While the ride quality left a lot to be desired and it wasn’t quite as fast as the Batmobile, Mr. Nippy was surprisingly nimble and able to handle more than the average suburban street. It didn’t reach its full potential, however, until it was dropped into a combat situation that made Call of Duty look like child’s play.

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How Top Gear Turned Food Trucks Into Paintball Heroes


In part two of McGuinness’ ice cream exhibition, the Top Gear producers lined up several food trucks that he and Harris would have to take out video game-style. Could Mr. Nippy conquer the appropriately named Hamburger Hill, or would rivals like Fried of Britain, Organic Street Preachers and Mr. Bean steamroll the plucky competition? What ensued was more drama than fighting over the last turkey leg. Mr. Nippy scraped by on sheer gumption and its absolute last life — but not before it nearly got literally run over by an actual tank that was renamed Have Your Hake and Eat It. Flintoff turned Fried of Britain into a pile of driftwood and Harris took a paintball gun to the groin.

Yet for all its insanity, Mr. Nippy’s metamorphosis from childhood treat to adult weapon of destruction further exemplified how Top Gear has come into its own with McGuinness, Harris and Flintoff holding the reins. While the trio enjoy competing against one another, they’re also always cheering for each other and for the continued success of the car. Whether it’s on an international road trip or a combat field, the joy they share is as obvious as the happiness kids feel when the ice cream van rolls down their street. Luckily, those won’t have paintball guns and monster truck tires… yet, anyway.

Top Gear airs Thursdays at 11:00 p.m. on BBC America and streams on AMC+ and HBO Max.

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