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Tag: 1959

1959 Opel Olympia Caravan

Emerging as if from some Philip K. Dick dystopian version of the future where the Germans ruled America, Opel’s lineup in the 1950s broadly mirrored that of its American counterparts – only, in 7/8ths scale or less. The Rekord was Opel’s higher-end family car, and it’s styling was in large part based upon that of the mid-50s Chevrolet lineup, only trailing behind by a few years. The Rekord went on to mimic a few other GM products in later versions, and the 1959 model year was the last of this body style.

It was available in two or four-door variants, and marketed in the US as the ‘Olympia Rekord’. But there was also a wagon version of the Rekord, and that was called the Caravan. There are several different naming conventions on these and technically they’re all Rekords, but this one was either called the Olympia Caravan or simply Opel Caravan. Regardless, under the hood was not a thumping V8 but a thrifty four cylinder, and these were sold through Buick dealerships in the US for a while. Today, a relatively top-spec Caravan has popped up for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1959 Opel Olympia Caravan on eBay

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1959 BMW Isetta 300 Cabriolet

Following up on the hugely popular Fuldamobile, it seems appropriate to talk about the more successful and instantly recognizable Isetta. Like the Fuldamobile, BMW’s quirky bubble car was a licensed production. The original design was the Iso Autoveicoli company’s property in Italy, and its owner – Renzo Rivolta, who would go on to support the production of some beautiful Italian-American V8 GT cars – started production in 1954 after showing the car at the ’53 Turin Automobile Show. Rivolta was happy to license production and did so with VELAM in France, De Carlo in Argentina, and Romi in Brazil. But, of course, the most famous and numerous version was the BMW variant.

Produced first as a 250, then upgraded to 300 (and finally 600, where the stretched chassis would go on to foster BMW’s 700 model), some 160,000-odd Isettas were produced by BMW in their cash-strapped post-War years. But among the most rare variations of production was the Cabriolet model:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1959 BMW Isetta 300 Cabriolet on eBay

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1959 Porsche 356A 1600 Reutter Coupe

I want to turn back the clock from yesterday’s very pretty Aetna Blue over Bordeaux Carrera 4S to see a somewhat similar early example of that color combination. Admittedly, the comparison here isn’t exact since the colors are not precisely the same, but I think we still get a sense of the way these colors work on a vintage Porsche and a sense of the inspiration for that modern example. Here we have a Meissen Blue 1959 Porsche 356A 1600 Reutter Coupe, located in Houston, with a Red leatherette interior. On this 356 the shade of blue is a little lighter and the shade of red is a little brighter. Nonetheless, we end up with an equally pretty Porsche and one that surely would be a prized part of any collection.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1959 Porsche 356A 1600 Reutter Coupe on Classic Driver

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1959 Goggomobil TS400

The Goggomobil TS400 isn’t the kind of car you see every day. In fact, it’s not the kind of car that pretty much anyone ever sees. It’s the kind of car you might expect to see Jerry Seinfeld show up with if he invited you out for coffee, or perhaps the camera might pan by one in Jay Leno’s garage. They’re obscure, but they’re also odd – so you probably won’t see Wayne Carini seeking one out. Yet the model played a very important part in the development of German car manufacturers pertinent to our interests.

That’s because of where they were produced. Goggomobiles were bubble cars produced by Hans Glas GmbH in Dingolfing, Germany – in the heart of Bavaria. Yes, that’s the same Glas that built the beautiful 3000 V8 Grand Tourer and lovely 1700GT. The Goggomobil was far less glamorous, but no less important in the survival of the Dingolfing plant – in total, over a quarter million sedans and coupes were produced, and a few were even brought stateside. Like many bubble cars, the technology was 2-stroke motorcycle-based, which kept production costs very low and the car affordable to the masses. Goggomobiles even outlasted Glas itself, as BMW swallowed up its competitor in 1966 and used the Dingolfing plant for some of its newer models.

Goggomogiles are quite rare to find today, despite their relatively prodigious production (consider, for a moment, that there were only about 8,500 DeLorean DMC12s produced – and that this car ended production only 12 years before the gullwing time traveler emerged on the market!) so it’s neat to remember their quirkiness:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1959 Goggomobil TS400 on eBay

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