Furthermore, the front end was completely stripped of any superfluous sheet metal, and was clad in a composite one-piece clamshell to reduce weight and increase rigidity. The changes were complemented by lighter multi-spoke BBS wheels, and an evolved aerodynamics package, which further distanced the car from the production model. Meanwhile, Cosworth managed to extract some more revs (up to 12,800) to fire 457 horsepower at all four wheels.
From 1986 to 2003, Opel models were produced by Delta Motor Corporation, a company created through a management buyout following of GM's divestment from apartheid South Africa. Delta assembled the Opel Kadett, with the sedan version called the Opel Monza. This was replaced by the Opel Astra, although the Kadett name was retained for the hatchback and considered a separate model. A version of the Rekord Series E remained in production after the model had been replaced by the Omega in Europe, as was a Commodore model unique to South Africa, combining the bodyshell of the Rekord with the front end of the revised Senator. The Opel Corsa was introduced in 1996, with kits of the Brazilian-designed sedan and pick-up (known in South African English as a bakkie) being locally assembled.
I bought a used Opel Wagon in 1971. It came to the US from Brazil where my college roommate’s father worked for an American firm. It was a 1968 model, had impressive handling and was fun to drive. While the car was excellent in all respects, and I owned it from ’71 through ’74, I took a lot of grief about it. Gas station people made comments like “Is this your car? It’s not paying your taxes.” and “Does this thing come with a motor?” and “This thing is made for insects.” But, worse, were the insults from the Queens County (NYC) Buick dealer parts department who consistently said really nasty things to folks buying replacement parts: “Ya look like the kinda’ guy who’d buy this ting”. After completing my Industrial Design degree, and I went on to design vehicles here and abroad, I never bought a GM car.
The incarnation of classic car enthusiasm is spelled DeBattista. Joe and his dad Joseph are not just passionate collectors of classic cars but also gifted mechanics who built and restored cars to Concours perfection. Like my 65 Jensen CV-8, which had been painstakingly ground up restored by them in record breaking time. Joe and his dad personally delivered the car from San Francisco to LA a couple of hours before the car entered the Greystone Concours de Elegance in 2014… and won the ‘Best Restoration’ award. Unforgettable moments with Joe and Joseph DeBattista.
In the early 1920s, Opel became the first German car manufacturer to incorporate a mass-production assembly line in the building of their automobiles. In 1924, they used their assembly line to produce a new open two-seater called the Laubfrosch (Tree frog). The Laubfrosch was finished exclusively in green lacquer. The car sold for an expensive 3,900 marks (expensive considering the less expensive manufacturing process), but by the 1930s, this type of vehicle would cost a mere 1,930 marks – due in part to the assembly line, but also due to the skyrocketing demand for cars. Adam Opel led the way for motorised transportation to become not just a means for the rich, but also a reliable way for people of all classes to travel.
Overcoming these and other obstacles, Opel finally celebrated the completion of the first postwar Opel Blitz truck on 15 July 1946 in the presence of United States Army General Geoffrey Keyes and other local leaders and press reporters. Priced at 6600RM, the truck was designed to run either on gasoline or on wood gas, for which a gas generator could be supplied. With a ceremonial bouquet of flowers flying from its rear-view mirror, this historic Opel Blitz left the factory gate bound for a buyer in Wiesbaden on 26 July. Further production followed at a rate of 150 a month, and by the end of 1946, the production total was 839. Frigidaire refrigerators were also being made at Rüsselsheim, as were Olympia engines for the NSU Kettenkrad.
It had some crazy mechanical issues. At one point it stumbled and stalled because the carburetor had come loose from the intake manifold and I had to tighten it back down! Another time, my brother was driving it and the brakes failed. Somehow the end of the brake shoe that meets the brake cylinder piston had become worn on one side, causing the piston to slip off the end of the shoe when the brakes were applied, losing braking and squirting fluid all over.