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Super Green – 1978 Opel Rekord E1 Berlina

Once upon a time, Opels were considered solid and dependable cars. With straightforward, classical design and relatively uncomplicated RWD drivetrain, they were good bread-and-butter cars that were less finicky than, say, Audi for example. But time went on, the ’80s and ’90s came and went and interesting cost-cutting / premature rust / automotive bottom bin scraping gradually replaced the fuddy-duddy-but-reliable-buddy reputation. My dad considers the ’82 Ascona the worst car he’s ever owned, but he did miss out on the ’90s Astras and Vectras that made the Ascona look Japanese in execution. Only in later years has Opel pulled itself further back from the brink, and the Regal-backing Insignia and the latest Astra can rightly be considered properly worthy cars again. Or that’s what I’ve let myself be told.

But instead of dwelling on Opel’s darker days, let’s focus on this classic rear-drive saloon that is the 1978 Opel Rekord Berlina. Finished in striking, period-correct green, it’s a well-preserved rarity that really stands out on a slushy parking lot. Fuzzy dice and all.

The Rekord isn’t perfect, far from it. The panels have shade differences, there are some patchy rust repairs that stand out and I’m thinking the suspension is either modified or sagging. But its sole existence and year-round use mean that it’s got to be solid otherwise, soldiering on with enthusiast maintenance. Opels have a solid fan base here, and the fact the old ones are RWD helps here.

Of course, for every Opel guy there’s at least a dozen who can’t stand the sight of them – but honestly, there are worse things on which to spend your free time than welding together a classic Opel saloon.

This green mean machine is propelled by the two-litre CIH four, 1970cc providing it with a modest 100 horses. At the time, it wasn’t as bad as you could do, as the naturally aspirated diesel engine some Rekords were saddled with made do with 58 horses. That must make for glacial progress.

The best you could do with a Rekord was a 2.2-litre engine and 115hp; if you desired for more grunt you had to upgrade to a more prestigious Commodore with a 2.5-litre six, or the similarly high-rank Senator.

“Opel is Pop”

For all you tow bar people out there.

The Rekord also has a hint of down under about it. I’m sure half of the cars built in Australia after 1975 are somehow related to it.

But as this Opel is no Holden and thus is closer to Tatort than Hobart, is it close enough to your heart?


Images: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen

  • I love that color – I've been thinking about painting the Apache trailer a green similar to this – assuming this is a factory color on the Rekord, it would be period-correct for the 1975 trailer too.

    Interestingly, for some reason, I always thought it was "Rekford" – somehow sounds more like a car name in my mind.

  • humblejanitor

    Very nice, very sharp looking car for a 1978!

    I'm still dumbfounded as to why the U.S waited so long to adopt futuristic headlights like the ones on this.

    • As someone who has spent the last couple of years looking for a set of left-hand-drive headlights for a 1982 MG Metro 1300, I will point out there's something to be said in favor of the one-size-fits-all* approach of US-spec standardized sealed beam units. Broken or otherwise dead headlight? Replace it quickly and cheaply anywhere.

      *Yeah, fine, two sizes, including quad headlights. Then there's 6v vs. 12v for the dual units. But still….

  • Bryce

    Holden Commodores had those lights they are rubbish

  • randomusername

    Supergreen! Judging by the amount of low, it's probably driven around sideways most of the time.
    [youtube rKHh3EIFcZw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKHh3EIFcZw youtube]

  • Lebowski

    This would appear to have strong familial links with the Holden Camira, which began life in Aus in 1982. It was also quickly recognised as perhaps the worst car ever produced in Australia (Bolwell Nagaris notwithstanding). A mechanic friend of mine related a story to me of how the engine blocks were so unreliable they earned the nickname "swiss cheese".

    • tonyola

      The Camira was based on the GM J-car platform, which was a size smaller than the Rekord – it was a followup to the Opel Ascona.

    • Muiduck

      Actually it formed the basis for the first Holden Commodore, the VB in 1978.

      • julkinen

        "Holden looked towards Opel for providing the foundations of the VB, basing it loosely on the four-cylinder Rekord E bodyshell with the front grafted on from the Opel Senator A. This change was necessitated to accommodate the larger Holden six- and eight-cylinder engines.
        During the VB's development, Holden realised that when driven at speed over harsh Australian roads, the Rekord would effectively break in half at the firewall. This forced Holden to rework the entire car for local conditions, resulting in only 35 percent commonality with the Opel."

        Nice work!

  • lilpoindexter

    I love it…the color is perfect, the steelies look great, it's lowered nicely…The shape still looks good today.

    The store in the background: http://www.abcasemat.fi/

    • julkinen

      Yeah, the Finnish countryside highways are littered with yellow ABC signs these days.

      • TurboBrick

        Unfortunately. I could go on a whole "Why Sokos is the WalMart of Finland" tirade, but I'll just say that as far as rest stops go, Esso Hirvaskangas 4ever, RIP!

  • FuzzyPlushroom

    Something about it really appeals to me – maybe it's that square European vibe, just enough style and funkiness without being too overboard.

  • Van_Sarockin

    Tidy little midmarket package. I can only hope that it was bolted together better than the Kadetts I had to keep wheezing along.


    Seeing the ABC sign makes me crave some salmiakki and a Fazer chocolate bar!!!!!

  • FЯeeMan

    It seems to have a very-advanced-for-its-'78-issue-date 80s square vibe to it. That, plus the fact that I kept reading Rekord as Rockford and had visions of James Garner throwing sand against a mobile home somehow leads me to like this little green machine.

    • julkinen

      Just substitute sand with slush.

  • suju89
  • Tuomas

    Nice pics from my use car… 😀