I don't think I'm alone in saying that old Top Gear challenges were instrumental in my appreciation for cars. As a teenager, seeing Clarkson, Hammond, and May buy three (usually) junk cars for cheap and put them through hell was one of the things that made me truly love cars. So when Richard Hammond picks his favorite Top Gear car of all time in this new video, it hit me like a wave of nostalgia.
Of the cars selected to compete in the Hammond bracket, all were from the cheap car challenges. None of them were from expensive, exotic car challengers, of which there were many. However, I always loved the cheap car challenges more anyway, as they were so much more interesting than watching perfectly new, six-figure supercars do typical TV fast car stuff. The cheap cars were unknown and unpredictable, with their own unique characters and shortcomings.
Seeing the cars in this video brings back so many happy memories. The old FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser from the Bolovia special was both one of my favorites and most hated. I'm a sucker for a good FJ40 and watching Hammond drive an absolutely crap example through the Bolivian jungle was hilarious. However, the spider that got inside really didn't help my arachnophobia.
The Dodge Ram in their American road trip episode was also particularly funny. Hammond admits that writing what they did on the sides of each others' cars probably wasn't the best of ideas, as some folks in Alabama were … let's say a bit less progressive than the trio would have liked. So Hammond was in real danger for a bit.
Then there's Oliver, Hammond's Opel Kadett from the Botswana challenge. Hammond wasn't shy about loving Oliver back when they made the film and he hasn't been shy about loving it since. He actually bought the little Opel after filming the special and still has it (he also still has a MGB GT and used to own the Ferrari 308 GT4 from previous challenges). Hammond went through a lot with Oliver and it bonded him to the car, so it's tough for him to not choose it as he goes through the bracket.
And the winner is … Oliver. As predictable as it is to see Hammond choose is his famously beloved Opel over everything is, it still somehow put a smile on my face, as I remember watching that special when it was new. Now I'm off to go rewatch Top Gear challenges. Cheers.
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