Aaron Widmar
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Meet Bessie, Doctor Who’s Hi-Tech, Yellow Edwardian Roadster

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It's a car fit for a Time Lord!

Doctor Who Bessie Car

The Third Doctor at the helm of the canary-yellow Bessie roadster
Photo: BBC

Everyone knows that the choice mode of transportation in Doctor Who is the time-travelling police box TARDIS. But did you know that in some situations, the Doctor prefers transportation that’s a little more…traditional?

Recently-converted Whovians have no doubt seen the Doctor ride around on a moped or anti-gravity motorbike (both “hip” and “trendy” choices to appeal to newer depictions of the Doctor), but in years past, the character was much more old-fashioned. Before the franchise saw new fame with the introduction of the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), earlier iterations of the Time Lord had him driving a car.

Not just any old car was special enough for the Doctor, of course. Introduced during the Third Doctor’s exile on Earth, Bessie was a canary-yellow Edwardian roadster he used as a primary mode of transportation.

Doctor Who and the Wacky Yellow Roadster

Bessie was introduced in the seventh-season serial story Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970). It was acquired by the Brigadier as part of the Doctor’s (Jon Pertwee) agreement to stay on Earth and protect it by assisting UNIT. The Time Lord specially requested the classic roadster after becoming fond of one he briefly commandeered after his exile began. It was a quirky, old-fashioned vehicle beloved by the Doctor but mocked by his peers—but it never failed to surprise even in the direst circumstances.

Bessie received a number of hi-tech modifications to be fit for Time Lord transportation, including an anti-theft force field, remote control operations, gravity stabilizer, and a minimum inertia hyperdrive. The car was quickly given up by the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) but has occasionally appeared in subsequent comics and televised specials.

In real life, the motorcar was a limited edition Edwardian kit car from Siva And Neville Trickett Ltd of Dorset that was imposed on a E93A Ford chassis. The fiberglass body kit, which also included seats and trims, was given plenty of add-ons to full deck it out. Later, the car was overhauled from the ground up during the tenth season to fix its operation problems on the road.

The car was indeed registered for legal travel with the license plate “MTR 5,” although the license plate seen in the TV show was—unsurprisingly—“WHO 1.” It’s theorized that Bessie received its name from William Hartnell’s (the first Doctor) Aunt Bessie who passed away during filming earlier.

The amount of trivia on Bessie is staggering, so if you want to learn all of its fascinating specifics and history, check out The Bessie Homepage or Bessie’s Wikia page.

Sources: The Bessie Homepage, Tardis Wikia page “Bessie”

Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.