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Clarkson in 2008: “ ‘I’ve tried my hand at all sorts of hobbies. I collected stamps as a boy. I had a train set. I’ve attempted gardening, reading, chess, jigsaws, golf, tennis, painting, bird spotting, and looking at pornography on the internet. And I’ve been extremely bad at all of them.”

TopGear Car of The Year: Volkswagen Scirocco

“The truth is that, amongst the mega-machinery that makes up a lot of the TG Awards, we’re celebrating something truly unique in the Scirocco: a common man’s exotic. This is a car that we can understand, we can appreciate, we can afford.” TF

Three cars from 2008

Ferrari F430 Scuderia

“I loved it. I loved it because here was a Ferrari that drove like a Ferrari and had the passion of a Ferrari as well. It felt raw, and crude and dirty. It felt like its favourite item of clothing would be a mac, and that if you parked it up in suburbia, it would steal women’s underwear from their washing lines and peep at all the housewives while they were showering. As a driving machine, I know of nothing to match this. With a radio, a better looking body and proper seatbelts, it would be just about perfect.” January 2008

Nissan GT-R

“For all-round ability, I have no doubt the Nissan is the best car I’ve ever driven. It’s almost as fast as a 911 Turbo - which means it’s almost as fast as any car on earth - and inspires more confidence through the corners, yet it’s also more roomy and practical and has a proper modern gearbox. It’s a big, solid car you can rely on when the going gets tricky, that you can thrash around a track, then set the suspension to soft, the transmission to auto, the Bose audio to full bass and potter into town without a trace of angst.” January 2008

Mercedes-Benz CLK AMG Black

“I loved this car. Adored it. I loved the noise it made when it started, a huge bellowing ‘hello’. I loved the speed. I loved the way it looked. And I loved the way that when I took it to a Welsh mountain, it gripped and handled with a panache that would have had Ferrari test drivers nodding sagely. You really can talk about this thing in the same breath as a 430. But here’s the kicker. It’s not a Ferrari. It’s a Mercedes CLK. And yes, while some of the normal stuff has been binned, it still has an auto gearbox, plumbing for a phone, cruise, and that Germanic integrity on a motorway. God, I want one.” May 2008

The best-selling car of 2008: Ford Focus

The best-selling song of 2008: Hallelujah - Alexandra Burke

And elsewhere in the world in 2008: Stock markets plunge amid fears of a global recession, and investment bank Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy - the largest bankruptcy in US history; Barack Obama wins the 2008 Presidential Election; and a group of terrorists lay siege to a hotel in the Indian city of Mumbai over three days, killing 166 and injuring hundreds more.


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