Spy Car

The Up 'n' Atoms (Ali, Dave, Jimmy) won through the bowling challenge; the Bakewell Puddings (Nick, Charlie, Smell) had the off-road recovery challenge.

This week's challenge is to build a stealthy spy car. It needs to be less than 60cm (2 feet) tall, but needs to carry all four characters, go in reverse, and climb over ramps as tall as it is.

The Atoms are joined by Jim Chalmers, who has built the smallest hovercraft ever. His idea is to build a snake-like vehicle, lots of little things linked together. That's not so good in reverse. Captain Ali prefers a bed with one driver, and he's the one who wears the trousers here.

The Puddings are joined by John Ricketts, a drag racer. There are fewer disputes here - the front ends of two cars will be joined together, and articulated by a compressed air hinge. They're the first to draw blood - or a working convertable car.

Atoms captain Ali has nothing better to do than perfect their Bond impressions. While Dave and Jim are looking for inspiration, the Puddings find their second motor, and the producers send in Agent Llewellyn to slow them down by talking to them. They're meant to take ten hours, not two!

The Atoms finally find something useful, a low-lying large lawnmower, which is at least very heavy. They think it's useful until Ali comes out and has a look - he says it's no good, and back to the old scrap it is.

The Puddings are chopping up their cars, taking out the rear engine from one car and putting it at the front of the other car, so that they have a working engine and their two half-cars. That's the plan, but the engine seems to be  secured more securely than something very secure indeed.

The Atoms have a few castor wheels and nothing more. Ali eventually gets cabin fever, and recovers a large generator. It'll do as an anchor, reckons expert Jim. Eventually, a deus ex machina delivers the bits they need for the car, but not the motor. Finally, they get a working sit-on lawnmower, which is not only smaller than the one they found hours ago, but also works! Their plan is to have the lawnmower pulling one trailer, with a reclining seat for the driver just about 60cm high. They'll be joined by a standard caravan-like trailer towing hook, which is perfectly secure going forward, but not going backwards.

Out on the heap, the Puddings are looking for their air bag. It helps if their scavenger knows what he's looking for... Eventually, Smell finds the right item, takes it back to the team - who promptly pull out the bag so far that it breaks.

We note that there's a slight power imbalance here - the Puddings have a small car engine, the Atoms the engine of a lawnmower. That presumes the Puddings can actually get their engine in, which they do by their usual technique - hammer things into place until they fit. A similar technique gets the air bag back into working order. The Atoms are able to have a test-drive of the mower, and manage to short-circuit the motor's governor - which allows them to turbo-
charge the engine, but with the risk of it going pop at an unfortunate moment.

The Puddings have the usual race against time, their design is perhaps more complex than we thought. The Atoms, though, are able to spend their last hour making sure they can lie in reasonable comfort on the bed trailer.

Disaster strikes the Puddings - in final testing, the hinge breaks, and they have to re-weld the joint.

The test is an obstacle course, involving limboing under obstacles, ramping over them, going round a slalom section, and some reversing. The Atoms go first, making through the slalom, but breaking a 60cm laser beam. They get the case, but then need to go backwards. That's easy, but the team come to a grinding halt on the ramp, the tractor climbs, but the trailer doesn't. One of the members spends most of the race holding the trailer to the tractor by nothing more than brute force. With a number of penalties, they've completed the course in 11 minutes 40.

The Puddings have no trouble getting into the building, get the case, do wonderfully in reverse, but don't have the power to get up the ramp. It turns out that something in the engine has gone pop, and they're going to go no further.