5 things you didn't know about Richard Hammond's Oliver
And why modern-day Opels aren't so dissimilar
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Few vehicles from Top Gear and The Grand Tour have captured the public imagination quite as vividly as Oliver – the Opel Kadett Richard Hammond drove through Botswana all the way back in 2007. Since its restoration and return to the UK, Oliver's had quite a few adventures, and his fame has seemingly skyrocketed. But here are five things you probably didn't know about Oliver. First up, check out the video below to see Hammond and Oliver in action.
Oliver has something in common with more luxurious cars
A certain British luxury car brand charges buyers lots of money to have illuminated 'stars' built in to the headlining of their cars – but Opel was way ahead of the curve when it came to adding a nebulous touch to interiors.
Look! We always knew Oliver had star quality. Ahem.
Jump in the driver's seat of Oliver, look up and what do you see? A whole galaxy of stars. Beautiful. It's worth noting that the latest Opel – the all-new Mokka – doesn't have stars in its ceiling, but it does have a giant digital dashboard. Fair enough.
Oliver's been used by learner drivers
Back in 2016 Hammond reached that time of life that brings a weird mix of excitement and dread – teaching your kids to drive. His eldest, Izzy, got behind the wheel of Oliver to learn how to drive with a clutch and a manual gear shift. We can't imagine that Oliver's as easy to drive as a modern manual, but this is one of those events that cements a car as part of the family, isn't it?
Oliver's had an infotainment upgrade
It's fair to say that the Opel Kadett A wasn't exactly loaded with infotainment tech when it was produced between 1962 and '65. You couldn't get Apple CarPlay. Sheesh. Hammond's since added a not-exactly-period-correct Pioneer head unit to give him half a chance of picking up a radio signal in the wilds of Herefordshire.
Oliver's basically a modern car now
Whilst it undoubtedly serves a purpose, Hammond's new stereo isn't exactly what you'd call seamlessly integrated. Look forward 59 years to Opel's new Mokka and, erm, yeah.
Oh wait. The new Mokka shows things have moved on a bit
The new small SUV has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can use your phone as the infotainment's heart, and you can also wirelessly charge your phone. Let's see you add that lot to Oliver, Mr Hammond.
It went across *that* river twice
When Hammond drove Oliver across the river in Botswana and it flooded, what you saw in the final edit of Top Gear wasn't exactly the genuine first reaction – simply because the cameras weren't rolling when it first entered the water.
So once it was in the water, the crew dragged Oliver back out, and then it went back in again. This means that for the onboard shots you see in the final show, Oliver's actually being towed into the water. Hollywood magic, eh?
Oliver was pretty advanced for his time
Despite being made in 1963, Oliver was quite a progressive little car. At the time, small family cars tended to still be either air cooled or run unreliable two-stroke engines – the Kadett A, meanwhile, used a liquid-cooled four-cylinder engine with a four-speed gearbox designed to reduce noise at cruising speeds.
The Kadett A had a bold design for an affordable car as well, with its bluff chrome grille. You can sort of see this coming back with the new Mokka – again, it's an affordable car but with a strong look thanks to its 'vizor' grille. Check it out on Instagram using Opel's new Mokka AR filter – you can see how the car would look in your lounge.
The new Mokka takes design cues from Opel’s iconic classics from the past and demonstrates in an exciting way what Opel stands for today and in the future. Perhaps we should give Hammond a Mokka and send him back to Africa for some adventures. You can check out the new Mokka on your driveway (virtually, at least) with Opel's new Mokka AR filter for Instagram.