Opel Rekord C Caravan: Driving report

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Opel Rekord C Caravan
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D he lettering' Opel Schnelldienst 'on the granite gray The record C Caravan gives Jockel Winkelhock hope for a moment. But the answer to his question about the engine performance of the car from the Opel Classic collection causes disillusionment shortly afterwards: “Only 66 hp?” Asks the former racing driver, who won Le Mans and numerous touring car championships, in disbelief. Apparently not good conditions for three days of rally fun. But editor Dirk Johae as co-driver is lucky: During the Silvretta Classic, the mood in the three-door caravan from 1970 is brightened up again.

The Flüelapass in Switzerland, which leads to an altitude of 2383 meters, will be the toughest Test for the Opel four-cylinder on the three days of the rally. The third gear is too long, so the machine groans in second gear up the hill. She almost seems to be panting like one of the cyclists struggling up the Flüela ascent with the last of his strength in the blazing heat.

Not a racing car, but a carpenter's express

Our caravan is just not a “black widow”, as the racing version of the Rekord with up to 200 hp is called, but a good, reliable station wagon with great utility for craftsmen or shopkeepers to transport goods and tools. Even the trailer hitch peeps out from under the rear apron: our caravan, for example, belonged to a master carpenter from Hofheim /Taunus until the end of the 1990s.

The pass has been reached and the engine can recover. Downhill, the record picks up speed, and the gear lever on the steering wheel engages the higher gears. In order to protect the brakes, it is advisable to downshift before cornering. However, every now and then the second gear gets stuck. The effect of the braking system with disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear corresponds to the use in city traffic and on country roads that was preferred at the time. The mixed dual-circuit braking system can reach its limits on long descents.

Improved chassis in the Opel Rekord C

For the C-Rekord, the Opel engineers improved the chassis: instead of the conventional leaf springs they coil springs of the rear axle. For this purpose, the rigid axle is guided on two trailing arms on each side and a Panhard rod. As with the predecessor, the front wheels are individually suspended from two double wishbones.

The chassis of the Rekord is comfortablecoordinated, looks quite spongy on the winding alpine roads. This driving experience is enhanced by the bulging tires on 13-inch rims. “In addition, the large steering wheel doesn’t give you a feeling for the steering,” adds Chauffeur Winkelhock.

The chairs for the driver and front passenger correspond to the taste of the 60s and 70s in the middle class: They are really cozy , but save yourself any lateral support in curves. But that's how it was almost 40 years ago: Incidentally, for sporty, ambitious Opel drivers, there was the record sprint with the 1.9-liter engine, which thanks to two Weber twin carburettors produces 106 hp Performance and luxury in the Commodore

A performance-conscious Opel friend could also dig deeper into their pockets to buy a Commodore A. The cheapest variant with a 2.5-liter six-cylinder was around 2500 marks more expensive than our caravan in December 1970. However, it did not cost much more than the most powerful record in the Sprint version.

But the behavior of the customers was clear: The record with the 1.7-liter engine was the most popular variant - for Caravan as well as the entire series. About half of all Opel models in the series rolled off the production line in Rüsselsheim with this engine, which was essentially derived from the predecessor. In total, Opel sold over 1.2 million copies of the Rekord C within six years: a true record mark for the Hessian automaker.

A rarity like expensive collector's items

As a caravan, however Today it is as rare as a BMW 507: good specimens are almost impossible to find. The Rekord station wagon probably never got into the protective atmosphere of a collector's item in its first life, but remained a brave commercial vehicle that did its job until it stopped working properly. The record-breaking station wagon from Opel Classic, however, remained in an unrestored condition, except for the outer skin. It had to be repainted.

The experts from Classic-Analytics quote a price of 6,000 euros for a caravan in good condition. Restoring a record that is not well preserved is therefore only worthwhile if you can do most of the work yourself.

Time travel through the Alps

But a well-prepared car like the Opel Classic car charges on a journey back in time to the early 1970s, when an engine output between 60 and 70 hp was quite common and journeys over Alpine passes were a test of patience. When accelerating from standstill to 100 km /h one was content with a time of 20 seconds and accepted a top speed of 138 km /h. We are also often overtaken.

The leisurely pace allows a view of the many slopes to the left and right of the route, whose snow cannons look a lot out of place in the summer heat - more than the feeble 4-cylinder in our caravan, the theMaster carpenter bought a new car 50 years ago. The Rekord C as a typical citizen car from the time of the student revolt is very much in vogue today as a station wagon classic.

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