Many of us petrolheads will have seen every episode of Top Gear at least once over. The famed motoring show has made a habit of pushing the automobile to its absolute limits, but no challenge has been quite as rigorous as the Botswana special where the trio was tasked with crossing the Makgadikgadi salt flats in cars.
Those of you that have seen the episode will know of Richard Hammond and the emotional bond that he formed with his Opel Kadett named Oliver.
To the uninitiated, the Makgadikgadi is billed as one the largest salt flats in the world. We’ll spare you the geology lesson, but the collection of salt pans is one of the largest, hottest, most inhospitable places on earth.
Right from the moment the going got tough, it was clear that the Hamster had made the right choice in bringing Oliver the Opel. While the light Kadett could skip along the surface, Jeremy Clarkson and James May had to get radical with shaving weight from their respective Lancia Beta Coupé and Mercedes-Benz 230E vehicles – which ended in breaking windows and sawing off doors.
The episode was released many moons ago in 2007, but Hammond has recently been reunited with Oliver. The car does need minor restoration, which has left the TV presenter scratching his head. He can’t seem to decide whether to faithfully restore the Kadett to how it would have rolled off the showroom floor, or if he should go completely off the rails and build a whole different beast.
Our inner purist wants the vehicle to stay as it is, but we can’t seem to make up our mind.