1961 Opel Rekord Olympia Coupe
SOME KIND OF REKORD
As South Africans we are well aware of Opel’s Rekord that sold from the ‘60s through to the 1990s in various series and specifications. But how many of us know of the Olympia version of the Rekord?
This story kicked off at the 1935 Berlin Motor Show with launch of Opel’s latest compact car, the Olympia, named in anticipation of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Somewhat of a technological leader it was Germany’s first mass-produced car to feature an all-steel monocoque. Around 168 000 left the factory between 1935 and 1940 before the Second World War stopped production. Manufacturing started up again in 1947 and the Olympia soldiered on as it was until 1950 when a fresh body style was fitted.
1953 was a big year for those that would become Rekord fans with an all-new Opel hitting the streets – the Olympia Rekord. This lasted 4 years until 1957 when the ‘Olympia’ name was dumped and the car tagged simply as Rekord P1 – P in reference to the Panorama view created by the trendy wrap-around windscreen. The ultimate P1 was a coupé, but being made by an external bodybuilding specialist it cost an arm and a leg, and very few left the showroom floors.
A P2 was the next Rekord in line, hitting the streets in the summer (Northen Hemisphere) of 1960. It shared the wheelbase with its predecessor, but the longer and wider body meant more space for occupants. The wrap-around screen was out of favour but front seat view still impressed with narrow pillars. South African’s got the Rekord P2 with General Motors SA in Port Elizabeth churning out right-hand-drive vehicles – the 2-door bakkie being unique to our land.
In August 1961 Opel Germany announced that its Rüsselsheim plant would build a stylish P2 Rekord coupé variant alongside the regular saloons and wagons. In a doffing of the cap to it’s bloodline Opel added the Olympia insignia to the cubbyhole door but the name and external badging remained ‘Rekord Coupé’. By brining production in-house the pricing became more palatable than the P1 Coupé and resulted in decent sales figures. Some, like the pictured 1962 vehicle, made the way down to South Africa.
Rekord P2 power came from both 1488cc and 1680cc 4-cylinder petrol units, with the former essentially the same as that used by Opel in 1937. This older item was generally left for the base model machines while the higher-end stuff like the Coupé used the bigger lump – good for between 55 and 60 horsepower and a top speed of 140km/h.
How many Coupés were sold in South Africa is difficult to ascertain, but one thing is for certain these are very rare cars today.
As far as we know this is the only Coupe in South Africa, the car is restored, on the button and ready to go!
Thanks to Classic Car Africa for the write up! –