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