Clarkson on: statistics
Several statistics can make you raise an eyebrow. When Krakatoa exploded, for instance, they heard it 13,000 miles away in the Falkland Islands. To move its own length, a modern Royal Navy destroyer uses a ton of fuel. And then there's the most startling of them all. In 100 years, cars have killed more people than every single battle that's ever been waged.
Cars are irresponsible, environmentally unsuitable, noisy and dangerous. Cars are as daft as unprotected sex but who really wants to wear a condom? And that's why upwards of six million people regularly watch Top Gear on BBC2 - and why you're reading this, the first ever Top Gear magazine. That's also why there are 130 different publications about cars and none at all about washing machines.
In this country the driving licence is treated as a right rather than a privilege and then, when we have our pink slip, it is another right to have a car. That's why there are 22 million of them roaming the roads, killing trees, people and anything else they happen to drive past or over.
Now, with the exception of all those people on the A1 last night and anyone with an old Nissan Micra, everyone who uses a car has to have some sort of interest in it. Not necessarily in what makes it go, but in things like how much it costs to run, how fast it will go, where the nearest dealer is, how they can stop people stealing it, how to find cheap insurance and, most important, whether they can pull birds in it.
"Each month this column is going to talk very little about cars and quite a lot about the evils of socialism, smoking and why it's good for you"
What we want to do in Top Gear magazine is cater for all those interests (though we can't do much if you're a pimply 17-yearold and want to pull Sharon Stone).
We want to talk to the guy in the anorak and the grey shoes who's a little worried about the price of an overrider on his Maxi and we shall be addressing the old boy with the medals and the handlebar moustache who has owned an Alvis from new. People in overalls who can recite chassis numbers like I can old Monty Python sketches won't be left out either. We'll have something for the racegoer, the spotty youth who salivates over photographs of Lamborghinis, the worried father who wants to buy his 18-year-old daughter a used Metro and the spoiled little rich kid who can't decide whether his next car should be an Integrale or a Cosworth. It should be a Cosworth, actually.
We're going to try and be funny, which will be difficult for Quentin, and we're going to try and be serious, which is downright impossible for me.
Which is why each month this column is going to talk very little about cars and quite a lot about the evils of socialism, smoking and why it's good for you, and cricket and why it's boring. You thought I was opinionated on TV. You ain't seen nothing yet.
Occasionally, of course, there will be references to the machines you have seen me hurl all over your living room but these will be short, to the point and free from techno-speak, for two reasons: first, I don't really know anything about engines and, second, you don't either.
You want a taster? This morning I took a 330bhp Citroen ZX Rallye Raid car round a special off-road track. It was like driving a bucking bronco through a tumble drier and the five-point seat belt hurt my testicles. After two miles I wondered about the people who drive such a car flat out across the Sahara.
And I reckoned they were probably the only people in the world who are silly enough to read this column.
As for the rest of you, I should read Quentin's. He's much better looking and he uses words like vituperative and emetic, which means he's cleverer too.