A SCENIC Highland tourist route has been given a major publicity boost as it is set to feature in an episode of the word’s biggest motoring TV show.
Top Gear’s new presenter Rory Reid has spent the last week driving the North Coast 500 for the next series, which starts in May.
Three brightly-coloured Ford Mustangs have been tearing around the route, which starts and ends in Inverness, taking in Ross-shire, Sutherland and Caithness.
Since North Coast 500, dubbed Scotland’s answer to Route 66, was launched by the North Highland Initiative, it has proved popular with motorists, cyclists and walkers.
But the producer’s plan to pit a 1967 Mustang – made famous by Steve McQueen’s film Bullitt – against two modern versions ran into trouble when it broke down near the remote fishing village of Kylesku on Saturday afternoon.
It was Inverness mechanics Angus Mackillop and David Ross, who run Horsepower Cars, who came to the rescue. After producers sent the Mustang on a trailer to their garage in Carsegate Road, they worked through the night to repair the engine and even sent couriers to Aberdeen to collect parts.
Mr Mackillop said: "We got a phone call from the crew saying they were in a bit of a stoosh but they had helicopters and all different things waiting to film so they really didn’t want to cancel filming. We were happy to help, we’re both big fans of Top Gear but we were very surprised.
"It arrived at about 7pm and we got wired in but we needed parts and with it being a Mustang, they aren’t easy to come by.
"We ended up sending a courier to a specialist place in Aberdeen and my partner Dave worked all through the night and into Sunday to get it going."
Mr Ross said it was a pleasure to carry out the repair work, adding: "I was working from seven at night until midday but it was worth it.
"We’re all car enthusiasts here and it’s not every day you’re working on a car for Top Gear."