If you like his irreverent-yet-informative magazine columns and enjoyed his successful television years on Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson is a witty and amusing reviewer of motor vehicles (from bikes to tractors), giving good evaluations with a healthy dose of cynicism. Really? is a collection of 130 columns and the range of vehicles are all there: Ferraris, Porsches, Bentleys, Audis, Mercs and a McLaren, as well as more everyday conveyancers – Suzuki Swifts, Honda Civics and Ford Fiestas.
Clarkson can be honest and scathing. Sometimes the best thing about a certain car is its colour. The rest? Well, the less said the better, but it was a nice shade. Range Rovers and BMWs – particularly the former – are good, but when you take the wheel of a Lamborghini Aventador or a Bentley, there is a real difference. Often the price tag goes far beyond the value of the aluminium, leather and rubber; cars typically go beyond an enthusiast’s sense of value for money.
One column narrowly missed the book’s deadline: the smart marketing idea at Aston Martin. Rather than create a new model; rebuild and release a small collection of the James Bond DB5’s version with interchangeable number plates, bullet proof rear screen, (inoperative) ejector passenger seat and front-mounted replica machine guns. Only 25 built at $6 million apiece with one proviso: the car can’t be driven on a road.
The great thing about Really? is that you can dip in and out. Read a few columns, put it aside knowing you can always come back to be entertained, amused, and you might even learn something. You don’t have to be a motor head to enjoy this book. Clarkson’s style, the illusions he creates with words, and his real love for his subject comes through all this collection. This book is a perfect Christmas gift to be enjoyed long beyond the festive season.