Top Gear’s Top 9: weird places to store your spare wheel
1. On the tailgate
Yep, the classic, the OG, the standard way for Jeeps, Land Cruisers and Discoverys the world over to lug a spare tyre around. Just bolt it straight to the tailgate.
Extra points for making sure said spare wheel is encased in a novelty spare wheel jacket, or, in the case of this G-Wagen, shrouded in a cocoon apparently modelled on a designer wristwatch.
2. On the damn bonnet
Only really works on flat-bonnet’d old Landies, this. It wouldn’t suit a BMW X6. By topping the bonnet with a spare tyre, an old Land Rover keeps space free on the rear for, well, another spare wheel. If it's good enough for James 'the name's Bond' Bond...
3. On the side running boards
Back in the pre-war days when cars had curvaceous running boards cascading down from the front wheels like a crested wave, designers often used the space ahead of the door to let the spare wheel hitch a ride. Naturally, anyone wealthy enough to afford such an automobile would’ve employed an obedient valet to do about the beastly process of swapping the wheel in an emergency.
4. On the flipping roof
Whatever the car, whatever the brief, Top Gear will find a way to bolt a roof rack onto it for carrying apocalypse-proof accessories. This Polestar 2, from our star-gazing adventure, is a prime example. Obviously it’s terrible for aero, centre of gravity, and actually lugging the damn things on and off the roof. Looks cool though.
5. Sort of in the middle somewhere
This is the Prodrive BRX Hunter. A desert-ready racecar developed to romp to victory in the gruelling Dakar rally. Despite housing a 400bhp twin-turbo Ford V6 amidships, 280mm of suspension travel and four-wheel drive gubbins, Prodrive still managed to squeeze in a couple of spare wheels – by simply wedging them into gaps in the Hunter’s Ian Callum-designed bodywork.
6. Oh! Under the bonnet
Just another extremely clever piece of thinking among many on the iconic Citroen DS. By shoving the engine well back under the long bonnet, there was enough space for Citroen to strap the spare wheel in the front, so the posh saloon’s boot space wasn’t compromised.
And yet, even with a bulky tyre in the nose, it still managed to be one of the most elegant, beautiful cars ever made. What’s French for ‘bravo’?
7. Bursting out of the boot
Back in the days when cars were expected to feature a spare wheel but ‘space-saver’ tyres were as futuristic as an electric toothbrush, car companies had to create inventive ways of carrying a fifth wheel somewhere in or on a car.
Many settled on the brainwave of making a feature out of the spare, as per this gorgeous 1956 Ford Thunderbird, with its encased wheel mounted in a holster on the polished bumper. Maybe it doubled as some extra crash crumple zone too. But, mainly, style.
8. Where the back seats used to be
Racecar priorities here. Bowler’s go-faster Defender has the rear chairs stripped out and the resulting space filled with roll cage, fresh air, and a spare wheel wearing its own safety harness. Unlucky, kids.
9. Surprise! In the mid-engine bay
Mid-engined cars tend to be impractical. Stuffing the motor behind the cockpit is ideal for weight distribution, but usually means a small boot, and very little space to stow a spare. Maserati’s pragmatic solution in the 1970s Merak 2+2 coupe was to wang the wheel in the engine bay along with the 3.0-litre V6.
Not the prettiest engine bay in the world, but who cares when you cruise past the stranded Ferrari or Lambo driver rolling on your spare?