The Opel Olympia Caravan from 1956 has been a curious eye-catcher in Berlin-Kreuzberg for decades. Mosses and lichens grow on its body. And sometimes mice hide in the car. The car belongs to Hanns-Lüdecke Rodewald. The retired professor and vehicle safety expert claims that he hasn’t washed the car since 1977 and that he turned it into a long-term experiment. “I want to research what happens when you leave a car for decades and do very little,” says Rodewald.

The car has long been a thorn in the side of law enforcement and authorities. “The police forcibly decommissioned it in 1995, but lost, had to register it again and pay me compensation,” remembers Rodewald. “The public order office viewed the car as ‘waste’ and accused me of violating the waste disposal law three times, but always without success.”

Even if the Opel looks crappy: it is registered, has its MOT and is ready to drive. Because it is rarely moved, it needs a little help when starting: Rodewald pours some gasoline into the carburettor and the engine purrs like an old sewing machine.

However, the TÜV is always a challenge: “The car isn’t visually very attractive and also always has minor technical defects where you have to exercise discretion,” says Rodewald. “It doesn’t have belt systems, airbags, reversing lights or fog lights. But today’s test engineers often look for them and are surprised that the car doesn’t need them.”