Being a motoring reporter means that one must be able to or have an interest in cars that goes beyond expected conventions. I’m talking about stories, the legends, the facts that grab the attention of your drinking buddies at the pub. In order to gain that knowledge, certain people, publications, and even cars must be given attention and the recognition they deserve for their contributions to the subject. Hence, I have put together a reading list that covers various approaches to the motoring world.
The world according to Clarkson by Jeremy Clarkson. Penguin Books, UK, 2005.
One could only expect this man to be found at the start of any car enthusiasts reading list. Jeremy Clarkson has practically become a staple of the motoring digest, delivering the usual dose of automobile mania, come success or controversy. What makes this particular one noteworthy is that, despite his well known, it almost never mentions anything about cars. A compilation of his best weekly Sunday Times articles, Clarkson demonstrates a humanity behind the petrol head, an aspect that is often overlooked and is essentially vital to readers. You would not trust a machine to tell you whether another machine is good or not, right?
The most famous car in the world: Complete history of the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 by Dave Worrall. Solo Publishing, Dubley, 1992.
Some of my colleagues would disagree with me over the assertion that the title of this book makes. But even if you are part of the commuting proletariat that could not care less about the car, you cannot deny the phenomenon surrounding this car. Not only has Sean Connery’s DB5 become synonymous with its franchise and the face of cinematic automobiles, but is also a testament to the power the car can possess in popular and contemporary culture, transcending the utilitarian purpose we assign it in everyday life. The writing is good and proper, and the history and stories behind this vehicle simply beggars belief.
CAR Magazine. Ramsay Media, Cape Town.
With the recent closure of TopCar and Top Gear Magazine South Africa, CAR Magazine remains one of the last major motoring publications in the country. However, its survival is guaranteed by its ability to provide comprehensive information on cars on the local level. This is vitally important as while the aesthetics of the car may not undergo major changes when we’re introduced to it, but the specifics, such as power source and trim levels, are.
Clarkson on cars by Jeremy Clarkson. Penguin Books, UK, 2004.
The givings of an experienced motoring journalist when he actually puts his mind to it. One of his earlier article compilations, Clarkson demonstrates the ability of engaging with the car on a day-to-day context, giving an insightful review to every automobile he finds himself behind the wheel of. Readers may find that his writing is a bit of detour from his playful characteristics such as on Top Gear, but that doesn’t stop it from ultimately being very entertaining.
Crap cars by Richard Porter. Bloomsbury, USA, 2005.
What am I doing by highlighting a book that celebrates the bombs of the motoring world? Because I can, and because it is important to acknowledge one’s past mistakes, and to wholly fall over laughing at them. Being the scriptwriter for Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear, Richard Porter does a very good job of turning what could be seen as very tragic subtopic, into stories that would even make John DeLorean laugh (inside joke for my fellow petrolheads).
Compiled by Sam Spiller