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The 51-year-old is notorious for trashing expensive cars on The Grand Tour and Top Gear rather than bringing them back to their original splendour.
He almost killed himself when he crashed a rocket-powered car, suffering serious brain injuries, and more recently he escaped with minor injuries when his electric car burst into flames on a hill climb.
For his new show Richard Hammond’s Workshop, on Discovery+, his battle is with accountants, customers and his family as he sets up a new business with car restorers Neil and Anthony Greenhouse.
And he admits he has already spent thousands of pounds from his retirement fund.
“It was a bumpy ride,” he said. “The show became more about setting up the workshop rather than doing the restorations.
“It turns out to be a hell of a journey from starting in Neil’s little workshop to moving into a beautiful new big one.”
But he says he is “still working” on convincing his wife Mindy it’s a worthwhile project.
“One of the themes of the show is coming home,” he continued.
“I’ve lived out of my suitcase for 25 years. I’d walk across a landing with my washbag under my arm. There was no point in unpacking it as I’d be leaving in a few days.”
Hammond, nicknamed The Hamster, toured the world with Jeremy Clarkson and James May for 13 years for the BBC show Top Gear, and since 2016 for The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime.
He said: “It’s tough to reintegrate into the rest of the house, because when you’re travelling around the world it’s very selfish.
“Then you come home to your family and realise all these other people have wants and needs more important than mine.”
Hammond, who has two daughters, said he had “realised how much he’d missed” family life and how much Mindy, a columnist for S Magazine in the Sunday Express, had been doing in his absence.
“I did it always as a job to support my family, first and foremost, but what it meant was that I had to be away a lot,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed trying to reintegrate into that family unit. They’ve been great, they’ve accepted me back in.
“It’s not easy. I had a lot of things to learn. It’s been an intense year.”
Meanwhile, car restoration has been a “life-long passion,” said Hammond. And the project has green credentials, too, he insists.
“It’s not about harvesting a lot of new resources from somewhere else in the world.
“We’re about making do and mending something that was made 40, 50, 60 years ago, which is very much of the moment.
“I’m going to be really bold and say we’re heading for a boom time in restoration.
“People are also fascinated by these expressive, wonderful cars, in an industry currently worth £18billion a year.”
But more pressingly, he is due to meet his accountant again: “I seem to have got through an awful lot of money.
“I’m going to have another awkward conversation with Mindy, because the money I’ve been spending I had saved up for my retirement.”
But he reassured fans his new show does not spell the end of The Grand Tour: “The three of us can’t wait to get back out there.
“If I can persuade Jeremy to put his farm down for long enough, we will go and do our stuff. We’ve done it for 20 years. It’s my day job and it will remain my day job.”
Richard Hammond’s Workshop, available on Discovery+ from October 18
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