Joylong Wagg’s Vagabond Car Club must have been a rather popular destination for automobile enthusiasts. He was able to assemble a decently large group of drivers on the lawns of Marlinspike Hall for the rally organised by him in “The Red Sea Sharks”. The grouping was full of the most popular cars of the era, right from the space ship and rocket inspired behemoths from a World War II enriched America to the tiny people movers of the same World War impoverished Europe. Car number 10, a blue car with a white roof is parked next to the Citroen DS. This is the Opel Rekord P1. We had talked about its predecessor, the Opel Olympia Rekord in an earlier post.
The Opel Rekord P1 was manufactured by General Motors at Russelsheim in Germany from 1957 to 1960. It was introduced as an executive car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Aug 1957. It was a popular car which was second on the sales charts through out, following the Volkswagen Beetle. This car was offered in a number of body styles which included: –
- 2-door saloon
- 4-door saloon
- 3-door station wagon
- 3-door panel van
The Opel Rekord followed the American design theme with wrap around front and rear wind screens. These windscreens were responsible for the P in the name which meant Panorama, referring to the Panoramic view they provided around the car. The Rekord aimed at the family market in Germany whose economy was growing fast in the post war era. The car was soon dubbed as the Peasant’s Buick because of the American affinity of its design. It was offered in two tone colour schemes both inside and out. The panel van had the same body style as the station wagon but had the windows replaced with metal blanks. The car was branded a the “CarAVan”, as the marketing guys pushed it as a car and van. The name stuck with Opel panel vans, which were branded as “Caravan” for some time thereafter.
The car shown in the parking lot of Marlinspike was in all probability assembled at Biel in Switzerland. General motors had set up a small assembly operation behind the train station at Biel where they assembled Rekords. These cars were differentiated from other Rekords in that they came with more chrome and with a dual paint scheme with the roof always being white.
The Rekord P1 evolved over its production period and a total of two engine sizes were offered. Initially the car was offered with a 1,488 cc (90.83cu-inch) inline naturally aspirated four cylinder petrol engine. This engine initially produced 45 BHP of power at 3,900 rpm and 98 N-m (72 ft-lb) of torque at 2,300 rpm. A later version of the engine produced 49 BHP at 4,000 rpm and 106 N-m (78 ft-lb) at 2,100 rpm improving the drivability of the car. Both these engines breathed through two OHV per cylinder. The power and torque was transferred from the engine to the rear wheels through a three speed gear box. This engine could push the 4,433mm (175.5″) long, 1,616 mm (63.6″) wide and 1,490 mm (58.7″) tall car weighing 1,250 kg (2,756 lb) to a top speed of 121 km/h (75 mph). It achieved 0 to 100 km/h in 25.7 seconds while 0-60 mph was achieved in 23.4 seconds. The quarter mile was disposed off by the Rekord in 22.5 seconds, reaching a speed of 95 km/h (59 mph) at the finish line. In 1959 Opel introduced the 1,680 cc (102.52 Cu-inch) engine that produced 54 BHP at 4,000 rpm and 120 N-m (89 ft-lb) of torque at 2,100 rpm. This engine could push the Rekord to a top speed of 132 km/h (82 mph).
The Opel Rekord incorporated an independent suspension in the front comprising double wishbone with coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers. The rear beam axle was supported by leaf springs and hydraulic shock absorbers.