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A ride around the 'Top Gear' set (photos)

CNET visits the huge Orange County, Calif., set of "Top Gear" on its final day of shooting for season two.

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headshots_John_Scott_Lewinski_140x100.jpg

John Lewinski

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1 of 17 John Scott Lewinski/CNET

'Top Gear' crew, cast, audience

IRVINE, Calif.-- On a sweltering summer day earlier this week, the U.S. edition of BBC Worldwide Productions' "Top Gear" wrapped up production for a second season on the show's huge Orange County set. CNET was there to serve up images from the world-famous gearhead franchise.

The History Channel show shoots in a large hangar on a former Marine base. Outside the hangar, an extensive test track for power laps spreads out across the base's abandoned runways.

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Show's main hangar

The U.S. set of "Top Gear" includes a research and design center, wrecked cars from former "Top Gear" experiments gone awry, and supercars that flourished on the show's test track. The show returns July 24.
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Wrecked pick-up truck

"Top Gear" often pushes vehicles to the limits of design and engineering. This pick-up truck from the show's set didn't make it out of the show's first season alive.
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Porsche GT3RS

The Porsche GT3RS holds a place of honor on the set of the U.S. "Top Gear" with its 500-horsepower engine and zero-to-60 time of 3.8 seconds.
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Moving day

As technicians prepare to pack up on the final day of shooting, a 638-horsepower 2011 Corvette ZR1 heads away from a 560-horsepower 2011 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder.
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Line of cars on set

Outside the main hangar studio of the U.S. version of "Top Gear," the show's producers park an endless line of new, custom, and wrecked cars in the Southern California desert.
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Adapted Mazda Miata

"Top Gear" hosts Adam Ferrera, Rutledge Wood, and Tanner Foust are often met with challenges to re-engineer cheap vehicles for alternative uses. This Mazda Miata was transformed into an off-roader with beefed-up suspension and secondary exhaust.
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2012 Ford Raptor truck

The massive, 411-horsepower Ford Raptor truck is one of the few pick-ups the U.S. "Top Gear" allowed out on its test track for a power lap.
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Icon FJ44 SUV

The rare, custom-made Icon FJ44 SUV packs a fuel-injected General Motors LS 5.3-liter V-8 and goes for about $140,000.
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10 of 17 John Scott Lewinski/CNET

2012 Roush Performance Mustang

The custom-built Roush Mustang is a competitor to the specially built pony cars produced by Saleen and Shelby. Its lap time remains top secret until the second season of "Top Gear" rolls.
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2012 Mustang Boss 302

The 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 takes a standard 2011 Ford Mustang GT's 5.0-liter V8 and ups its horsepower to 444.
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2011 Cadillac CTS-V

The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V is a favorite of the hosts of the U.S. "Top Gear." The deceptively fast luxury car packs a 556-horsepower V8.
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From beat-up lemon to pick-up truck

For the new season of the U.S. "Top Gear," the hosts had to find a replacement for pick-up trucks by transforming beat-up old vehicles like this aging BMW into 4x4s.
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1994 Trans Am remade into KITT

To re-create a showbiz car on a budget, the U.S. "Top Gear" transformed this 1994 Trans Am into KITT from "Knight Rider," complete with a novelty scrolling sign on its hood to simulate the robot car's "eye."
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Faked dashboard of remade KITT

The U.S. "Top Gear" hosts re-created their favorite showbiz cars on a budget. This mash-up dashboard had to suffice to approximate the instrument panel of KITT from the '80s-era TV show "Knight Rider."
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1984 Nissan 200SX transformed

Hoping to re-create the time-traveling Delorean from "Back to the Future" on the cheap, the U.S. "Top Gear" hosts transformed this 1984 Nissan 200SX into the next best thing.
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Plymouth Duster remade

The original General Lee from "The Dukes of Hazzard" was a Dodge Charger, and you can't get one of those on a budget. So, the U.S. "Top Gear" hosts made their Duke Boys mobile out of this Plymouth Duster.

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