Richard Hammond has revealed that his trusty Opel Kadett, which he bought from Top Gear after the Botswana Special, has now been restored. His own restoration shop, The Smallest Cog, was able to spearhead this endeavor, and while they’re not finished with the restoration, they’re looking to finish the car with some upgrades.
DriveTribe’s presenter Mike Fernie drove it to Hammond’s shop and was able to reflect on what it felt like to drive:
“A good thing is it has really soft suspension. It’s really comfortable cruising around, and I imagine that made it so good in Botswana.
“A bad thing is the suspension is really, really soft, which means in the corners it feels like you’re about to roll over at 20 miles an hour.
“Although you’re not going much faster than that because it seemingly only has about 40 horsepower.”
He continued, this time focussing on the stopping power of the little Opel:
“Another good thing: it physically has brakes – drums on all four corners. A bad thing… they do not seem to work especially well downhill.
“I genuinely think the weight of the vehicle almost overcomes the amount of braking force you can create.
“It doesn’t feel the safest, but let’s face it, who gives a crap?”
Oliver, the Opel Kadett, is a fan favourite after it battled its way through Africa in the iconic Top Gear: Botswana Special. Hammond later took it home where it was given a quick restoration by a classic car magazine, but since then we’ve heard very little of it.
At one point, The Grand Tour presenter hinted at modifying it to become a drag racer with a large V8 powering its tiny body. But Fernie and The Smallest Cog’s Neil feel like it should be modified tastefully. That rules out an LS swap.
For now, it’s been painted the right colour, the original wheels have been fitted, and it’s undergone a bit of TLC. But it sounds like new suspension and brakes are the next order of business. Fernie even teased a possible Mazda MX5 swap which could bump the car’s power up to around 100-150 horsepower depending on which engine they choose.
This could be a very adequate way of keeping it close to its original form while adding reliability and a bit more power, but fans in the comments on DriveTribe’s latest video aren’t sure.
“Oliver should be the pristine unmodded car that everyone can recall. Please keep it original. Oliver is an icon as famous as the trio,” one viewer said.
Another added: “If it was mine, I would not do anything to it rather than work on it to keep its original heritage. It’s Richard’s car, so I will look forward to what his plans are on it, in the end Oliver will always be who he was when I first saw him in that program.” [sic]
What do you think? Let us know in the comments what you’d change about Oliver, if anything.