Top Gear – 1911 Ben Nevis style


AMAZING footage of intrepid motorists taking a Model T Ford to the summit of Ben Nevis has been released.


Still from Motoring over Ben Nevis (1911), from Britain on Film, on BFI Player.



The 1911 movie shows the hardy team driving across some of the most rugged terrain in the UK as they scale the 4,409ft peak.

The crew even show early Jeremy Clarkson tendencies by blowing up a patch of peatland that is blocking their progress.

The startling black-and-white footage shows Edinburgh motorist Henry Alexander Jr. and his team during the week-long expedition in May.

The mission was part of a publicity stunt for Ford, who wanted to prove how rugged and durable the 20bhp vehicle was.

The five-minute video is being hosted on the British Film Institute’s website, and shows Mr Alexander, the son of Scotland’s first Ford dealer, driving the Model T through snow and rivers, cheered on by a gang of men in tweeds.


Still from Motoring over Ben Nevis (1911), from Britain on Film, on BFI Player.


The vehicle frequently got stuck in boggy ground and had to be pulled out using horses. Before the trip even got under way, workers spent six weeks laying a timber path.

Most remarkable of all is the Top Gear moment when men are seen poking dynamite into a peat bank using a walking stick, before blowing it to smithereens.

The film finishes with Mr Alexander triumphantly waving his cap to crowds as he enjoys a hero’s welcome.


Still from Motoring over Ben Nevis (1911), from Britain on Film, on BFI Player.


A spokesman for the BFI said: “As publicity stunts go, this takes some beating.

“The idea was to show that this affordable assembly-line car could more than match the hand-crafted British models.”

“It’s a very dramatic film and it just shows the lengths people would go to in those days for product placement.

“Even 104 years later, it’s still a very impressive feat. It would have been shown widely in cinemas as part of a wider programme.”

The film, called Motoring Over Ben Nevis, can be viewed online on the BFI player at:

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