GRAND Tour presenter Richard Hammond has stunned fans by getting back behind the wheel of the car that nearly killed him 15 years ago.
A team of ’petrol heads’ from Herefordshire within a short drive of the star’s Weston-under-Penyard home have restored the record-breaking 300mph Vampire Dragster.
And he visited ’the Syndicate’ behind the car’s restoration to film a a promotional video for what to expect on the Drivetribe YouTube channel - owned by himself, James May and Jeremy Clarkson.
Even though he slipped into a coma, suffered serious head injuries and was in hospital for five weeks after crashing the jet powered car at 288mph in 2006, he got behind the wheel again.
And he told the camera: "I’m doing what I promised myself I would never do, and get back into the Vampire dragster that so very, very nearly killed me.
"I will be doing what I swore - oh, do you know what, I’m just going to do it now.
"What’s odd is, I remember the last time I got in this thing, but I don’t remember getting out, so technically I’m still in it."
Hammond, who lives with his family at Bollitree Castle, suffered ’depression’ after the accident when the jet-powered dragster’s front-right tyre burst causing it to spin out of control during a stunt at Elvington airfield near York.
The Bromyard-based ’Syndicate’ bought the car in 2019 and have now restored it to its former glory.
The Vampire is a British motor car legend and still holds the national land speed record status at 300.3mph.
’Syndicate’ spokesman Phil Davies said: "I’ve always been aware of the Vampire, since it was a record-breaking race car in the 1980s.
"It’s a car that’s had a lot of provenance and had to be saved and shown and that’s what we’ve done.
"We hold Bromyard’s annual speed festival every May and we thought the Vampire would be a great halo car.
"It had a lot of restoration work to do and we had a lot of help from local volunteers, local businesses and contractors, all the people who are petrol heads like us, and Andrew Hurdle and Kieran Westman, who originally developed and raced the car.
"After its restoration, it’s a vehicle of great heritage for static displays."
Phil added that Hammond, who films his new classic car repair series The Smallest Cog in Rotherwas "came and visited us a couple of weeks ago to see it.
"It was a wonderful to see him and for him to be reunited with the car."
The Bromyard Speed Festival is on May 29 where the theme will be motoring through the seven decades of the Queen’s reign.