Down the road from me is a gentleman who daily drives a Porsche 914. Now, I’ve never been a big fan of the boxy flying pancake. In the right configuration they look pretty cool, but my eyes always gravitate towards the more classic grand touring look of the replacement 924. However, I certainly can understand the appeal of a cheap and simple classic Porsche. For some time about a decade and a half ago I had this dream that some day when I was a little better off I’d pick up an early 911 – because, of course, a decade and a half ago no one wanted them and they were still relatively cheap. Since having a classic car is by no means a necessity, for us with less well-endowed bank accounts and no trust funds, ownership of such cars remains a dream. In that light, the 914 makes more sense since compared to the rear-engine counterparts it’s still relatively cheap – though find a good one and it’ll be a pretty penny.
But dipping in to the classic car market doesn’t have to break the bank, and there are still a few neat older German cars that would be great weekend warriors. Certainly, one of the most unsung heroes and yet one of the more visually captivating is the Opel GT. The slinky 2-door had the looks of its parent company sibling Corvette, but motivation by the normal Opel inline-4 drivetrain meant it was much more affordable. These days they’re rarely seen but always a treat:
I know what you’re saying. “Carter, that Opel from last week was boring”. Okay, how about two Opel Rekord C models in a week, then? That’s got to be worth something? As with the last example, this blandish late 1960s-early 1970s GM/Opel coupe has been presented in all the brown color spectrum – but in this case, it’s an all-gold affair, as the matching tan cloth interior provides continuity to the gold exterior. But with some shiny details and ridiculously low mileage, isn’t it worth a look?
At least in the U.S., Opel is one of those names that never quite caught on. Perhaps that had something to do with the odd marketing and strange cross-branding GM has always undertaken. Opels have on again/off again been available as their own brand, then later as Saturn models and most recently Buicks. But let’s not forget that it’s Opel underpinnings that are at the heart of some SAAB models after their takeover by the General, too. Of course, the larger problem in the success of Opels – and indeed, many GM models – has been internal competition. At the same time that the Opel 1900 was launched, for example, GM also concurrently launched the similar but completely different Chevrolet Vega. And outside of the Cosworth model that upped the fun quotient of the Vega substantially, the model was pretty much completely crap. It was too small, unreliable and well, unsafe to really be a market hit. Which is why it’s particularly vexing that GM spent so much time trying to sell them when they had a perfectly good small car in the Opel Ascona. It was marketed here as both the 1900 sedan and the slinkier Manta coupe, and was also available as a 2-door wagon. Was it class leading? No. But it was a reasonable option that pretty well proven and if properly supported from GM probably wouldn’t have been so rare to see today:
As with every automotive enthusiasts, I’d like to believe, I have some amnesia about some periods of automobile history. Show me a 1985 and 1986 Audi 4000 side by side, and I can rattle off the subtle changes between model years; but show me some 1950s American iron and outside of the real standouts, they’re all a bit vanilla to me. I can’t tell you the difference between, for example, a 1955 Pontiac and a 1955 Mercury – I guess, if I go and look at pictures, the Mercury had slightly pointier headlight surrounds, but generally the way that I tell the difference between those cars is to walk up to them and say “Oh, this is the one that says ‘Mercury’ on it”. I’m sure it’s one of my many shortcomings as a person, though just as I can identify that NASCAR and NHRA racing takes a fair amount of talent, it’s not the talent I’d prefer to explore. People who can identify those cars and all of the specific model year changes are, to me, semi-Rainman-esque in their ability to memorize and quickly recount every single 1950s cars. Of course, to them I bet every single car from the 1980s looks exactly the same. Line up a Fiat Dino, an Audi 100 Coupe S and an Opel Manta (along with a handful of other cars that share the same basic silhouette) and I bet they’d be doing the same thing as me – walking up to this “blue one” and proclaiming “Oh, this is the one that says ‘Opel’ on it”:
Do you ever see a car and think “Boy, there must be some interesting stories behind those miles”? I do, be they poorly modded 1980s Mercedes-Benz models, tired old Porsche race cars, rusty BMWs posing with canoes on the roof (yes, there’s one on eBay right now) or pretty much any Audi ever. But today, I stumbled across something that you just don’t see often. I’d say ever, but of course that would preclude today, and I try not to be overly prone to hyperbole – so let’s just say that were you to buy and drive this Opel Kadett L Wagon, you would be extremely unlikely to ever stumble across another in your commute. And it certainly must have some stories; the dent on the hood, the woodgrain paneling (that was factory, believe it or else!), the minilites, the….DVD player?
Looking for a different, yet practical, daily driver? One that will get you a few looks at the local weekend car show, but also return respectable MPG? One that you can register as a classic car, but still take down to the home improvement store for a load of supplies? Top it all off with extremely low mileage. This may be your car.
This well looked after Opel station wagon has covered a mere 34,000 miles. It has hardly been broken in. The seller states that the car was put into storage after the first owner died. Once it was resurrected the next owner kept a notebook detailing every time the car was driven.
The car is all original with only minor wear. Opel kept things pretty standard for all their cars so Asconas came fitted with the popular 1.9 liter inline 4, which sends 90 horsepower through the optional automatic transmission. That may not seem like much, but the car doesn’t weigh much over 2000lbs. You sometimes see these called the Opel 1900.
This quite a great, clean, example and there is something cool about two door wagons. The pie plate hub caps, roof rack and chrome back fog lights add to the charm. The long time GM-Opel partnership showed it was a great way to get these smaller cars into the U.S. compared to the giant yachts that were being built here. It is up to the new owner to decide which bumper sticker to remove first, the Mcain-Palin one or the St. Louis Cardinals one.
This could be a much easier purchase to justify than say a far less practical two seat sports car. Buy-it-Now is $8750.