Easter eggs - no, not the chocolate-y kind, the kind video game designers first started hiding back in the 1980s; hidden in-jokes that only very few people would ever find. Well now they are a thing in the cars we buy.
That’s right, the car you are driving right now may well have a hidden sly wink from a designer secreted away somewhere.
For this Thursday Five we bring you five of the best automotive Easter Eggs. From secret James Bond modes through to tiny Sasquatchs, they’re all here.
Like pretty much every other car, the dashboard of the brilliantly quirky Fiat Panda is of the textured plastic variety.
Unlike pretty much any other car, however, that texture is made up of tiny letters - look very closely at the dash and you will see thousands of tiny Ps, As, Ns and Ds never quite spelling out “PANDA” but being close enough to it that your brain will insist they are.
At a casual glance it just appears to be a an ordinary texture and a continuation of the square theme that the Panda has going on inside it, but one day your eyes focus on a letter and you realise the Panda is blatantly spelling at you.
Jeep has long been a fan of the hidden secret - the Wrangler is drenched in sly winks to its heritage - but they have taken it to new levels with the Renegade.
From the copious “X” motifs that recall the Jerry can on the back of the original Willys Jeep through to the various topographical maps embossed on the rubber mats in various trays and receptacles, the Renegade is a tiny rolling tribute to everything Jeep.
But our personal favourite (along with the tiny Jeep grille/headlight logo hidden in the headlights) is the little Sasquatch striding over the hump that houses the rear wiper motor in the rear hatch!
Tesla Model S
As well as hiding subtle nods to classic comedy movies in various modes and menus - dials that go up to 11 (This Is Spinal Tap) and Ludicrous Mode (Space Balls) to mention just two - the Tesla Model S also has one of the best automotive Easter Eggs of all time - a hidden mode that changes the image of the car on the settings screen to one of the submersible Lotus Esprit from the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me!
Tesla founder Elon Musk is a huge Bond fan and actually purchased the submersible Lotus for close to US$1 million a while back. Fitting that it make it into his very own high-tech spy car then...
The new XC90 from Volvo packs one of the best interiors in the business, including cars several times its price.
But it is not just gorgeous design, high quality materials and remarkable luxury that fill the big SUVs cabin - there is also a friendly spider hiding in there too.
The story goes that Dennis Nobelius - the bloke in charge of large cars at Volvo - didn’t like the design his team had come up with for the underside of the lid for a storage bin in the third row, but didn’t have time to get it redesigned - so he just had them add a happy little spider to the web-like pattern, thereby both saving time and delighting children (who are most likely to populate the third row anyway!)
Although GM tells a more corporate version, the rumour persist that back in 2006 Opel designers had a bet to see who could get a shark hidden inside the then-new Corsa model. And one of them did it.
The shark was hidden inside the glove box on the outside of the hinge and quickly became the stuff of legend among Opel/Vauxhall Corsa fans.
But it didn’t stop there, because Opel has embraced the shark theme and now the Insignia, Zafira Tourer, Corsa and Adam all boast numerous hidden sharks!