Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: Opel Rekord (P2) Coupe – The German Buick Invicta

xiao car has posted shots of a car we have never properly appreciated here before, and it’s not going to be hard to feel some love for it, as it’s a sweet little coupe. The Opel Rekord P2 arrived in the summer of 1960, just shortly before we left Austria, so I remember that it was a pretty big deal. The Rekord consistently was the number two selling car in Germany, behind the Volkswagen Beetle, but it did not compete with it, as it was a good class or two above it. If the Beetle was Germany’s Chevy, then the Opel was their Buick, and the Mercedes was their Cadillac.

The really sweet part is that the P2 now offered a coupe, and not just a glorified two-door sedan. Germans took their coupes seriously, and they were invariably genuine, with a shorter and lower roof, and typically a sloping rear roof line. The one on this Rekord rather nails it; all the right ingredients with which to tell the world that you could afford to pay significantly more for this coupe and that you either didn’t have kids or weren’t going to care how cramped they were in the back seat.

The significantly shorter roof resulted in a quite long rear end, not unlike the 1960.5 Corvair coupe that arrived just a few months earlier. There were more similarities, inasmuch as these two were about the same size, with the Opel 178″ long and the Corvair 180″ long. But other than that, they were obviously very different, as the Opel was highly conventional and was really just a new body on its predcessor’s platform. A rather elderly pushrod OHV four that dated back to 1937, with either 1.5 (50 hp) or 1.7 liters (55 hp), three speed manual on the column, with an optional four speed, also column-shifted. It was Germany’s version of the venerable Buick straight eight.

The fins are age-appropriate, and looked more at home on the Opel than the ones on the similarly-new Mercedes “fintail”.

Yes, there was a lot of US styling influence everywhere; that steering wheel looks very much like it would be at home on a Buick too. Of course the dash and the rest of the interior were a lot more basic (spartan) than a Buick or even a Chevy, but then that reflected the reality of the market in Germany at the time.

The Rekord’s front end design is an interesting thing, as it’s not really American-influenced, at least not directly.

It’s a pretty blatant crib of Pininfarina’s 1957 Alfa Romeo 2000 Coupe “Sestriere”. Admittedly, the Alfa coupe’s front end was conidered to be “American influenced” and that’s undoubtedly true, as there none of the usual Alfa styling cues to be seen there, and the wide, low grille was one that had popped out on several 1957 American cars.

The one that was the most obvious influence was the ’57 Ford. Since the new ’57 American cars came out in the fall of 1956, there would have been plenty of time for Pininfarina to “be inspired” and make it his own on a coach-built car like the Alfa coupe. So in a curious twist, the Rekord P2 is paying a bit of homage to the ’57 Ford.

And with that long tail, it could have been a retractable roof like the Skyliner. Never mind…

I did like Opel’s wheel covers back then: simple and with that little gold bullet in the center.

PS: The previous generation Rekord (P1) was imported to the US and in pretty decent numbers, but the P2 generation was not, as the Corvair was arriving at the same time. Buick dealers that had sold Opels had nothing to sell until 1964, when the smaller Kadett arrived.