In brief: Not the story of the end of Top Gear as the name suggests, but a collection of articles on cars from 2011 to 2013.
The good: The random things you learn are almost better than the car bits.
The not-so-good: Car purists will hate the space devoted to the actual review, Top Gear fans will love whatever Jeremy writes.
Why I chose it: I like cars. I like Clarkson, Hammond & May.
Publisher: Michael Joseph (Penguin Australia)
Setting: The World (you just read that in Clarkson’s voice, right?)
My rating: 9 out of 10
The title of Jeremy Clarkson’s latest collection of newspaper columns seems a little clairvoyant now looking back at how 2015 has unfolded for him. Initially, nothing could possibly go wrong, then everything did and now everything is (almost) good again. (I say almost because as a devotee of Clarkson/Hammond/May and their time on Top Gear, I need a new series on the TV). This book came into my life not long after I saw the trio do their fantastic live show (it’s better than Robbie Williams, I’m calling it) when I was laid up on the couch. I’ve been reading it on and off ever since. It’s a great book to read in short bursts given that each ‘chapter’ is a column. You can also read it in big chunks (although if you’re like me, you read it to yourself in Clarkson’s voice which takes a while).
Despite the title, this collection is actually about cars. Well, sort of. It’s not the world according to Clarkson columns, but the ones in the motoring section. So there is at least a mention of a car, but you’ll also get Jeremy’s thoughts on a range of topics (think comparison of large tomatoes to Hammond’s head, the lack of a right click on Macs and plastic packaging). If you’re a car purist and you love shows like Fifth Gear and think that Top Gear is silly, you will hate this book. If you only watch Top Gear to see things explode and couldn’t care less about the cars, you will attempt to detonate this book. If you like your car knowledge humorous with a side serving of random thoughts, you will laugh yourself silly at this book. It’s hilarious.
I also liked that Clarkson and I appeared to share the same opinions on things for a paragraph or two (example: why manual transmissions are way better than automatics). Then he blew the whole thing out of the water and the section I was going to highlight and bookmark as evidence that Jeremy Clarkson thinks I AM CORRECT turned out to be completely wrong as he explained why in fact automatic transmission is better. (I still say that the tenth of a second delay does not make any difference to that Hyundai Excel you need to get in front of before you implode).
Clarkson also doesn’t just review the Audis, Mercedes, Aston Martins and Lamborghinis. There’s a nice mix of cars the everyday person could afford (but may not want to, hello to the Nissan Juke). If you’re a VW Golf fan, there’s also plenty of love. If you’re a Japanese car fan, there’s a little less to tempt you, but I think the Nissan GT-R review will put a smile on your face. As an Aussie, we tend to have a lot more Toyotas and Nissans (in addition to Fords and Holdens – remember it’s Batttthurst, NOT Barrrrrrthurst) than Citroens and Peugeots. I would have liked a few more reviews of Japanese cars (and Jeremy, my Toyota Corolla was the best car I’ve ever had. It’s still kicking at 15 years old and can drag anything off – now that’s a hot hatch and built in Australia), but hey, I don’t think I’m the intended audience. This is a great book for dads, sons and grandads to analyse reviews and compare performances, all while getting a good laugh.