As the legendary host of Top Gear, once one of the most popular TV shows in the world, the British gearhead, for decades, drove some of the planet’s wildest cars in the most exotic places. Last year Clarkson and crew took their humor and high production values to Amazon for The Grand Tour, rumored to cost $5 million per episode. A new season streams starting Dec. 8. We caught up with the king of car culture on the cusp of Season 2.
What do you love the most about being behind a wheel?
It’s hard to put into words. When you’re in a really good car, you sense its goodness in the way it’s behaving—there’s just something very satisfying about that. You’ve been all over the globe for Top Gear and now The Grand Tour. What’s the best country for traveling? Botswana gave me a profound love of southern Africa. I feel very happy when I’m in Namibia or Mozambique or any of those countries. It’s extremely, extremely lovely down there. You feel a stillness that’s hard to describe.
Your TV show is one of the most expensive, most watched programs ever. You don’t need to write for money anymore. Why do it?
I love it. I love to write. My main job is writing, whether it’s for the show or for newspapers. Some people go off and play golf on the weekend, or do burglary, or whatever it is they do. I like to write. I can sit down for several hours on the weekend, writing, and be very happy.
When you’re joyriding, do you like driving down the slower back roads more?
I would never do that. The reason I like fast cars is that you get the journey over with as fast as possible. You spend more time seeing stuff, doing stuff, and learning things. Anyone with a fast car is more intelligent than anyone with a slow car. That’s the way I look at it.
What’s your take on autonomous cars?
Well, for one, so far, talking to a car just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work—three stand-alone words. Never has. And when cars eventually drive themselves for you, I don’t think anybody is going to force you to have one, so I’ll probably get something deeply, deeply antisocial, like a Shelby Mustang.
You have one last drive, on one last road. What would you drive and where?
I’d take the Lexus LFA on the Transfagarasan highway, in Romania. It was built by a dictator who decided to build a road into the mountains for reasons known only to himself. Hundreds of people were killed in the process of making it. But my God, it’s got so many unnecessary corners. It’s just a fabulous stretch of road.
You got fired from the BBC. What’s the best thing for a man to do after he gets canned?
Work for Amazon.