(first posted 1/18/2014) Ok, that headline is not what one would usually expect to see associated with a sixties Malibu. But Malibus of that vintage have been stereotyped to death: coupes with big V8s, and typically resto-modded to Frankensteinish degrees. Nothing wrong with that, except that we try to avoid redoing the obvious here. So let’s take as different a tack with this Malibu sedan as possible; a more global perspective. If that’s a bit too foreign for you Malibu lovers, worry not; we’ll add in a dash of American apple pie too.
(Kapitän picture flipped for comparison)
We all know that the first Chevelle appeared in 1964. That just happens to coincide with the appearance of the new Opel “Big Three”, the Kapitän, Admiral and Diplomat (“KAD”). These were big cars indeed for Europe at the time, and expensive ones too. I don’t have prices at my fingertips, but let’s just say that these were not the equivalent of a Chevelle in terms of what it took to buy one. The big Opels competed against the big Mercedes sedans, and by that I mean even the new W108 S class that appeared in 1966.
At least it tried to. Obviously, Opel sedans were not quite up to the technological levels of Mercedes. In size, they did pretty well; the new KAD Opels rode on a 112″ wheelbase, longer than the 108″ standard wheelbase W108, and equal to the 112″ SEL models. The Opels were a bit cheaper than the Benzes, but not quite the stuff of ordinary folks; not in 1964, anyway. Within a few more years, somewhat more so. It’s hard to equate the three with comparable American trim/prestige levels. In one sense, they might be compared to the Chevy Biscayne, Bel Air and Impala. But in terms of cost and prestige value, they were much higher, more like an Olds, Buick, and even
the top of the line Diplomat (above), comparable to a Cadillac. The Diplomat came standard with a Chevy 283 (4.7 L) four-barrel V8 in 1964, and beginning in 1966, with a 327 (5.4 L) V8. That put the Diplomat in a class all by itself, considering that the biggest engine then available in any Mercedes (other than the Grosse 600) was a three liter six. Unparalleled V8 power and refinement in a European sedan at the time. Bread and butter stuff over here.
The Diplomat even came in a handsome coupe (by Karmann). Looks a lot like a Malibu coupe (and of course, like Pininfarina’s Flaminia coupe), eh? With a 327 and Powerglide, it ran like one too. The price? Quite a different ballgame indeed. This coupe was priced at 25,000 DM, which at the old exchange rate that was very favorable to the dollar, still came out to $6250. That’s exactly what a 1967 Eldorado coupe cost that year. A ’67 V8 Malibu coupe listed for $2540. So why the hell didn’t they just import Chevelles?
And doesn’t this Diplomat coupe interior look mighty familiar too? Yes this was the last hurrah for American style still being considered en vogue, at least to some extent, in Europe. Mercedes, BMW and other European cars quickly showed the world how to do it better, and everyone ended up copying them.
Now this CC is not about big Opels, although I’d love to find one on my next trip to the home country. It’s about how the Chevelle–and other American intermediate cars–were actually perfectly sized for European large-car consumption, and just how they were regarded as such. And of course, the obvious similarities of the Chevelle to the KAD Opels.
What led me to all of this are two things: the obvious similarities in size and styling of the Chevelle and big Opels, and a European review of a 1967 Mercury Comet Caliente in the 1967 Auto-Universum that a CC reader just sent to me. As a reader of auto, motor und sport from the late sixties until a few years ago, it’s always been fascinating to see how Europeans see and review American cars.
This particular review was of course not about a Chevelle, but I doubt it would have been much different. The Comet had the 289 V8 and automatic, as well as a suspension firmed up for European consumption, which almost all American exports to Europe had. It also represented the tail end of the period when American cars were still popular imports there, and by this time, it was mainly Switzerland, Sweden and Holland that still had a moderate appetite for them.
European cars were getting bigger and more powerful, and American cars were mostly too big, and increasingly judged unfavorably in influential countries like Germany, for chauvinistic as well as legitimate complaints about handling, brakes, fuel consumption, etc., as well as their bloated size.
But the intermediates that arrived in the early-mid sixties were suddenly right-sized again, like the new Opels. And their dynamic qualities were quite similar too. The Comet was praised for its superb performance, roomy interior, decent build and material quality, and even appropriate fuel economy (15 to 19 L/100 km). The only negatives were the fade-prone drum brakes and some rear axle hop over rough surfaces.
I apologize: I’ve already written almost 800 words, and nary a one about the Chevelle. But I have other Chevelles that will be 100% all-American beefsteak Curbside Classics. Let’s take at least a brief look at this German luxury/performance Mercedes fighter.
Strictly speaking, there were both substantial similarities and major differences between the two. The sizes do line up remarkably well, though. The Chevelle wheelbase is a bit longer, at 115″. That explains why it doesn’t need those little fixed windows at the rear of the rear doors. Its back wheel wells don’t intrude into the rear doors as much as the Opel, and the rear window has room for the whole pane to roll down into the door. Aren’t little details like that fascinating?
Otherwise, their exterior dimensions are almost identical: length: 195″ (Opel), 197″ (Chevelle). Same 75″ width. And weight varied with engines and options, but both ran about 3300 lbs, give or take a hundred or two. Of course, the two lesser Opels used their own six cylinder engines, 2.6 and 2.8 liter units; both the old OHV and the later cam-in-head versions. The 283 Chevy V8 was optional for them.
The variations in dimensions are minor, compared to the differences in their basic construction. GM made an interesting choice to build their A-Bodies on a separate frame (BOF), despite their experience with the unibody Y-Bodies (Corvair and 1961-1963 Tempest/F-88 and Special) and the unibody Chevy II. Presumably, it was to give them a quieter ride, which was particularly important for the Olds and Buick versions.
These Opels, like all Opels since way back, were unibodies. It would be interesting to compare them side-by-side. Well, that’s an understatement, and the whole premise and question of this article: just how would a set of 327/Powerglide powered Chevelle and Diplomat fare in a head-to-head test? I have no memory of auto, motor und sport conducting such a comparison. But then it might have been embarrassing, and that would never do.
Yes, the Opel had better brakes. But by 1967, disc brakes were finally optional on Chevelles too. Anyway, it makes for something to speculate on. One thing is clear: the Chevelle and its ilk were back to the size that the illustrious ’55-’57 Chevys and all big American cars of that era were, before they exploded and bloated, starting with the ’57 Chrysler products.
That makes them right sized. And that’s not just because they’re Opel sized. Some things just want to be a certain size, and any substantial deviation creates an inevitable imbalance that nature abhors. Today’s Camcordia class has almost the exact dimensions of the Chevelle and KAD Opels, about 190″ in length, and 110″ in wheelbase. The global sedan; it just took a while to figure that out, hereabouts, anyway.
The Diplomat 5,4 did nearly come here — it was for a time in serious consideration as the basis for the Cadillac Seville. According to Bob Templin, they found that translating its tolerances to something Fisher could build would have involved such a substantial redesign that it didn’t make financial sense, but it was strongly considered.
And what does that say about Cadillac?
Exactly. The reason Chevelle’s or whatever were not exported to Germany is because the Germans would have laughed at what we called quality back then. A Chevelle was built for a blue collar worker and built accordingly. The Opel was built for someone who was a lot wealthier, and also built accordingly. The realization that the Diplomat couldn’t be used for the Seville should have sent alarm bells ringing all over GM corporate headquarters.
Well, the american cars of this era has way better quality than the European had at the same time. I have ridden i both american and European cars from the 60s and 70s. The american cars are way better in terms of comfort and silence, and they last longer. The European cars are mostly bad built (compared), noisy and uncomfortable, but you’ll find some luxury cars that maybe will match a Cadillac og a Lincoln.
Well, from Templin’s account, the objections came from Fisher Body rather than Cadillac, but nevertheless…
The Diplomat did have REAL wood on the dash as did the Vauxhall Viscount. And in 1966, the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham had about the most amount of genuine wood trim inside of all the postwar Cadillacs. Ironically, not one stick of wood was on the dashboard!!!
1966 Fleetwood interior.
This *finally* solves the mistaken notion that I always thought these were just German A-body midsizers. I think I said in another blog somewhere that the Diplomat Coupe would have made an Excellent LaSalle replacement after The Riviera went to Buick. Then again looking at the exchange rates, remembering the thinking of Cadillac of the Time, and other factors make that seem like an alternate universe thing.
Also the Diplomat Coupe, at least, had a special over-engineered version of The Corvette Racing 327, not just your run of the mill 327. They apparently burnt up all of the non racing grade 327s in autobahn testing, and found the racing one barely up to snuff. Then again how many miles did they think they’d get out of a 327 hollering at 100+mph attached to (I assume) a 2 Speed Powerglide?
I blasted across the Nevada desert in an ordinary 327/PG ’65 Impala at 100mph and didnt burn the thing up. In ’65 even the lowest tune 327 was available in the Corvette and had enough compression to require 100+ octane gasoline. I had to feed it Richfield Boron or Chevron Custom Supreme. Maybe the export 327 was a low compression version that strained and overheated to do the same job.
The 327 was available in Aussie Holdens for a couple of models before being replaced by a locally built V8 they were raced with success.
I get the feeling they might have been talking about over 100mph – Bob Lutz has talked about this issue and I got the impression they were dealing with near-wide open throttle running. It is not just compression ratio, internal clearances suited for the temperatures experienced are the key.
To be fair, any Chevrolet smallblock was better than every Opel engine at the time. The Opels would start to burn oil around 60.000 miles with a straight four, some later with the straight sixes. The straight four opelengines often had some bad oil pressure when they got old.
I think the problems they got with the 327 at autobahn,where high oil temperature.And they fixed it by either modify the 327 oil pan to hold more oil,or making a complete new one.I had a Iso Rivolta oil pan some years ago,and it was made in italy in aluminium with baffles and cooling fins and more oil volume..guess around 7-9 litres total.
Opel started building good cars in the mid-sixties, sharp styling and sharp chassis design, and it lasted through to the mid-eighties. By the mid-nineties they were best avoided. ( the steel bodyshells used to crack in unexpected places )
Really?!? Where did you hear that? I’ve never seen or heard of cracking bodyshells being an issue with mid-90s Opel/Vauxhalls.
I’ve always viewed mid-90s Opel/Vauxhalls as among GM’s better European products, before the late 90s/early-00s slump into frumpiness and also-ran-dom.
Cars like the Corsa-B, Astra-F and Vectra-B were uniformly popular, solid products. Relatively sharply styled for the time too – the Vectra-B and Corsa-B especially I remember being strikingly modern and forward looking cars at their launches. They’ve stuck around on the roads here too, so they can’t be that fragile.
The Opels rusted very fast. The rust proofing was not good, even in the 90s.
Certainly then-new 70s and early 80s Vauxhalls had a very bad rep for rust when I was growing up in Yorkshire, but I don’t recall it being such a problem on 90s models. If anything my impression was that they improved it drastically because it had been such an issue in the past.
Either way I’ve never heard of the issue Uncle Mellow mentioned with 90s bodyshells cracking.
Here in Scotland (admittedly renowned for our arid climate and sunny skies) there are a good number of unrusted 90s Vauxhalls still on the road, (and by the 90s Opel and Vauxhall were after all selling the same cars, often built in the same factories).
Didn’t the so called “Lopez-effect” started to kick in by the late eighties ?
Cost savings upon cost savings and squeezing your suppliers like oranges.
When I was growing up in the seventies and early eighties Opel stood for good quality at a fair price. They didn’t exactly win design- or handling awards, but their cars were very well-built and durable. No-nonsense technology and, for that era, an excellent rust proofing. What could possibly go wrong when you bought a new Opel Ascona B ?
A friend of mine had one in the mid-eighties, 4 door sedan with a 2.0 liter gasoline engine, running on LPG. He drove it like he stole it. Day in day out, year in year out. But his good old Opel was built like a rock and never gave up. Opel was popular back then among young guys, certainly the sporty models with the 2.0 liter engines.
All of this time I thought that the Opel Diplomat was a badge-engineered Chevelle. Of course, I based that theory on close examination of Matchbox’s 1:72 scale Opel Diplomat in gold metallic (with opening hood!).
Me too! That’s so funny — one of my brothers’ friends had that Matchbox Opel Diplomat many years ago, and I remember thinking, “that looks just like a Chevelle with different trim”. I asked my dad, and he said “Yes, probably — GM owns Opel”.
This car is much like a neighbor had when I was growing up. Same color. I always found the ignition switch way up high on the dash kind of odd.
Funny, when looking at this car today, I don’t think that it is attractive as I used to think. Maybe it is just the 4 door sedan, but something seems a bit off in the proportions. I find the Opel more attractive.
As for high performance problems with the 327/Powerglide, well isn’t this why they made Plymouth Satellites? I imagine a big block and Torqueflite would have done just fine on the autobahn.
I just think it’s ridiculous and yet amazing all at once to think how long General Motors produced 2 speed Automatics as the only viable option in fields where 3 speed Automatics were normal (In intermediates and cheaper full sized cars). If I’m not mistaken, The Turbo Hyrdra Matic wasn’t really common in the Mid Size A bodies until 1968, weird considering (I think) even most V-8 Falcons came with 3 speed Cruise-O-Matics by 1965, and Chrysler had all but banished the Powerflite by 1961.
Also extra weird was the decision to offer the small V-8/2speed A-body engines in Buick and Olds B-bodies, while the Catalina while that happened always had a larger V8 (the 389) and some sort of 3spd Hydra-Matic (the Roto or the Turbo).
1960s General Motors, even more so when you think internationally, is so intriguing
My first car was my sister’s hand-me-down ’66 Impala with 283 and Powerglide (at least it was a convertible!), and the transmission was the most frustrating thing about the car. At highway speeds you had two choices for acceleration: press the pedal slightly to keep the transmission in high gear, which resulted in acceleration more theoretical than real, or press the pedal a little more, have the kickdown do its thing, and have the engine screaming at a rate that would convince you that you were about to leave bits of valves and pistons and an oil slick trailing behind you.
It’s truly amazing that in ’66 you had to order a 396 or 427 to be able to get THM on the full-size Chevy, and the basic 325 hp 396 allowed ordering the Pglide.
One of the reasons for that was that the TH400 was really too bulky for the smaller engines; it was more flexible, but it also consumed more power than Powerglide. Buick and Chevy finally collaborated on the scaled-down TH350 (and then later the various smaller versions), but I don’t think it was ready until MY1969. I know some drag racers will use a beefed-up PG with big engines, because if you don’t need the flexibility of the extra ratio, it doesn’t consume much horsepower.
It’s good to see a techy explanation, but then it leads to the next question: why on earth did it take GM so long to come up with a 3-speed that was compatible with the small block? I got so tired of having no choice between sluggish and “that poor little engine’s screaming for mercy”.
Probably because GM figured that the average owner of a full sized Impala with Powerglide wasn’t all that interested in passing anybody. With two smaller sized bodies for the performance crowd, the full sizers were already starting to become the realm of the left-turn-signal-on-all-the-time crowd.
Syke, The appropriate term for this phenomenon is the “eventual left turn” signal.
And the Powerflite had a four element torque converter so it was more like a 2.5 speed.
I think the coupe for this year looks much better than the sedan. The nose and tail treatments integrate much better with the coupe’s midships section than with the sedan’s.
I miss those vinyl-and-“wood” dashboards. So simple and attractive. Now, it’s plastic and more plastic.
Everything started to go downhill when they replaced plastic with plastic.
Worse still when they replaced plastic with imitation plastic.
Isn’t that called leather?
Very good Paul This could be the Australian Holden range in the 60s as all their cars were based on Opel and finally got a 327 in 68 then their own V8s but had to wait till 71 to get a 3 speed auto Trimatic it tended to be called traumatic when behind V8 motors. Windows did not wind all the way down on Holdens either so short rear doors from Opel must have been carried over.
The Holdens were styled in detroit.
The HD-HR were copies of the Opel shown . HK-T-G who knows?
HQ a scaled down Pontiac LeMans.
The Holden door doesn’t have a quarter pane though, I think they were another parallel car with some basic principles shared.
The Holdens have a 111″ wheelbase, 185″ overall length and 71.5″ width. The Brougham introduced to combat the lwb Fairlane only had an extended trunk – 7″ longer.
Most cars had the 161 or 186ci 6-cyl, but there were also 307/327/350 V8s before they were replaced by the local 253/308 V8.
You don’t ever have to apologize about writing too many words, Paul. Learning things is fun! A friend of mine has this same vintage of Malibu sitting in a garage sadly being used as a pedestal for boxes. We do intend to get to it someday…what a decent road trip cruiser it could become.
What’s the significance of the “Malibu” name, if anything? Is it a styling opition or level of luxury? A model type? I’ve seen huge BOF Chevy Malibu wagons and now this mid-sized sedan. I’m confused…..
The Malibu was the top trim level of the Chevelle, comparable to the Impala for the standard Chevrolets. What happened is that the Chevelle name eventually got dropped, and they became Malibus. Acutally, that happened in 1978, with the new downsized A-Bodies. But during the giant Colonnade era (’73-’77), almost all Chevelles were Malibus, and the higher trim levels were Classics, or something else… The typical name debasement was at play here. but those big Malibus were still “intermediates”, in the Chevelle family, at least technically.
The same thing happened to the Chevy II: the Nova started out as the top trim level, and eventually, the chevy II name was just dropped.
For the record, my first car was a ’74 Chevelle.
Officially, the name of the car was “1974 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Classic Collonade Landau Coupe”.
that is quite likely the longest car name ever.
Malibu was the top trim level of Chevelle from 64-72. Chevy also marketed a Chevelle 300 and 300 Deluxe, but the vast majority of cars were “Chevelle Malibus.” For ’73, the Chevelle Laguna briefly became the top series, and for ’74, the Laguna and 300 were dropped – all Chevelles were Malibus or Malibu Classics. The “Chevelle” prefix was dropped altogether for ’78.
This sort of naming strategy was typical for GM in the ’60s. Many popular small and intermediate GMs started as a top-of-the-line subseries, such as the “Tempest LeMans” and “Chevy II Nova.”
EDIT: Crap, you beat me Paul.
It’s raining out, so I snuck inside to catch up on things. I should have known someone else would be right on it.
There was the 1974-76 Laguna S-3 coupe, but I think was for NASCAR ‘homologation’.
The Laguna S3 was part of the “sport/euro/international style” Colonnades, along with the Grand Am and Cutlass Salon.
I always liked the ’64-’67 A-body sedans. Sure, they aren’t as attractive or well-proportioned as the hardtops, but they look great compared to modern family cars – maybe new cars have lowered my standards. Moreover, thanks to idiot car “enthusiasts” the value of of the most pedestrian A-body hardtops has skyrocketed…the sedans, pillared coupes and wagons are the only affordable way to get into these cars.
The ’67 Chevelle was a nice, clean design, but my money would be on a Cutlass Supreme Holiday hardtop sedan.
that Opel Diplomat is the spitting image of the Caprice or are my eyes decieving me?
Vauxhall built its own large car the Cresta they ran a 3.3litre 6 and went well easy 100mph cars they also put the engine in the smaller Victor which flew in standard production racing.
“So why the hell didn’t they just import Chevelles?”
They did, but the price difference became far narrower in Europe. According to Roger Gloor’s Personenwagen der 60er Jahre, a base Chevelle Malibu Sedan costed 18.600 CHF in 1966, but the Kapitän Six only 14.950!
On the other end, a Malibu SS Coupe’s price was 22.200 CHF, compared to Diplomat Coupe’s 31.600 CHF.
Mercedes-Benz 250SE Coupe: 35.800 CHF. Cars from Stuttgart has always been the most expensive.
A friend’s father bought a new car in 1966 – a Buick Special 4 door sedan – a direct copy of the Chevelle 300 sedan – and probably just as stripped. It was brown with black interior, PS, PN, auto, A/C and AM radio.
Overall, it was a nice car, but as my buddy’s dad made a pretty decent living, I don’t know why he didn’t buy something more deluxe.
I do remember the “one finger” turns though – that’s how easy and effortless the power steering was!
Sorry if I never quite comment directly on the exact subject matter, but that’s the closest experience I have!
Oh! I just recalled – another acquaintance bought used in 1969 a drop-dead gorgeous yellow w/black vinyl top 1967 Chevelle Malibut SS 396! Now THAT was a pretty set of wheels. Too bad he was terrified of driving on the highway, and that car never was driven faster than 40 mph – believe-it-or-not! Always the standing joke among us! FWIW, I could’ve killed him for that car, I wanted it so badly!
i got this 1967 chevelle malibu for my 16th birthday
that looks awesome. nice 16th present!
Once in a while, I will see a car message board post from a kid who is ‘shocked’ to see there were Chevelle 4 doors and wagons! “But I thought they were all muscle cars like the GTO?”
That usually comes from going to too many antique car shows.
Chevelles were sold and built in Europe as CKD in all models
To be exact: Biel Suisse
Somewhere in Scandinavia
General Motors Continental Antwerp, Belgium *till 1968
Little known fact,is that Buick Skylarks where fabricated in Denmark from 64 to 67.Available as 4 door sedan and Hardtop,and 2 door hardtop.
Slug bug no slap backs!
I can also see the Vauxhall Cresta PC DNA in there.Vey attractive cars I would love to have either one.
GM probably could have put together something that Europeans would have accepted just using off the shelf parts if they had wanted to. These cars can be made to stop and handle surprisingly well if you don’t mind sacrificing some ride quality.
Back in the ’80s I had a buddy who used a 4 door ’66 to build a road car instead of a quarter miler by using various bits scavenged from wrecking yards. Sway bars from a 4-4-2, disc brakes from a Monte Carlo, quick ratio power steering box from something or other and so on. The car had originally been a 230 6 cylinder/3 speed, a very common combo here, and he eventually installed a 283/4speed. It was a very pleasant car to drive. The guy had been born and raised in Austria and moved to Canada as a young teen, and now I realize what he was trying to do. He was trying to build an Opel!
A shame they didn’t but that would have had the Chevelle,Diplomat & Cresta fighting each other for sales.
Thats why GMH stopped building Vauxhalls and never imported Opels or Chevelles too much in house competition for their lesser offering. But GMNZ built the ever popular Crestas and Victors.
The guy had been born and raised in Austria and moved to Canada as a young teen, and now I realize what he was trying to do. He was trying to build an Opel!
I can totally relate. I did the same thing mentally quite a few times. The parts were all readily available.
Great comparisons between the Chevelle and big Opel’s. The comparison is not by pure luck, but by several American’s, sent over to Opel to revive the brand. Clare MacKichan, who had a big hand under Harley Earl in designing the first Corvette and the Tri-Five Chevy’s came to Opel and immediately brought the Opel styling department up to speed. His support of Erhard Schnell, a very young Opel designer, saw the creation of the ’65 Opel Experimental GT, which became the Opel GT. Had Schnell and MacKichan had their way, the Opel Aero GT, with it’s Targa Top, would have been the regular production GT, but the higher ups from GM in Detroit thought otherwise, what with their 68 Mako Shark T-topped Corvette ready for production.
Bob Lutz was brought onboard in the early 60’s Opel Marketing market, and with it, brought the American ideal of automobiles.
Chuck Jordan took over from MacKichan and saw the GT readied for production. His chief claim to fame has been the beautiful Manta A design.
How interesting those conversations must have been between MacKichan, Schnell and Lutz on drawing up the GT, the Rekord, the Kapitan, Admiral and Diplomat. The design influences were clearly influenced by the Americans sent to Opel and dictated across the Atlantic by Boss Mitchell and the Board in Detroit. Great read and write up!
Michael raised an interesting point – there were always exchanges of Opel and GM USA designers – they would be sent abroad for a year or two to experience the other side of the pond. I was sent to Detroit for 1991 – 92 and enjoyed working in the Tech Center under Tom Peters who reported to Jerry Palmer, with Chuck Jordan as our
VP. My US colleague got to work for Wayne Cherry, who eventually succeeded Chuck as GM Design VP……
An interesting Chevelle. At first glance it was originally a reasonably well equipped car for it’s time and market position. Malibu trim, V8, powerglide, clock, but…. no radio. The trim plate that replaces the radio fits in so well that it is hard to notice. And kudos to the owner for tastefully adding a stereo without butchering the dash.
A nice, simple, medium sized, middle class American car. A square, three box design with no need for a backing camera or lane change sensors. I like it.
+1 on that. On the 1972 Cutlass that we have, the previous owner cut into the dash to make a CD player fit (which made me mad enough looking at it to source out a replacement panel and switch it the cut up one out)
On my brother’s 1966 Mustang, he wisely left the factory radio in and put the iPod/USB compatible radio in the glove box so it is hidden
What is funny in that picture, is that even know the owner kept the car original by not cutting up the dash, he/she did go out of the way to add a digital LED clock to the car(Probably a old Micronta(Radioshack brand) mini car clock from the 1980’s) to the dash to ether bring the car into the 1980’s or because the dash clock died
I, too, wish that more old vehicle owners would use something like this (http://tinyurl.com/mk7a926) and not hack things up.
It’s their vehicle, to screw up as they damn well please, but to me it’s worth another $20 to not ruin a vintage dashboard AND probably make the installation easier, not to mention cleaner looking.
In those years Opel was on par with Peugeot – very solid, well designed and built, quiet, comfy, plush. A true alternative to Mercedes at a (not so much) lower price. Paul written very well in his post about Peugeot 404 – it could easily be a pre-80’s Mercedes 190 prototype. So close they were…
In the 70’s and 80’s those brands were repositioned by their managers, that decided not to compete with Mercedes any longer and live an easy life in the middle of the market, focusing on conservative private buyers, government agencies and fleets.
What happened in the meantime?
Audi, BMW and Japanese brands showed the world that there is a way to compete against the status quo among the luxury brands and those two great european names are now just a shadow of what they represented 40 years ago.
Opel Insignia is treated in Europe as a cheaper alternative to… VW Passat – not to C-Class Merc. Peugeot’s 508 isn’t popular anywhere outside of France, where it’s kept alive by local companies and authorities. Private buyers avoid it as it has no image…
Same with Chevy in the US.
What was once a best name in the american middle class is now just a fading memory…
Now both brands – Opel and Chevy – are selling Korea-based small cars and small SUV’s, rebranded Opel Astra as a Buick Verano, rebadged and pimped Opel Insignia as a Buick Regal and they do it with full appreciation of customers and journalists in the USA.
Are those poor/average european products really on a Buick level?
Were the Buick’s of the 90’s truly as bad?
Good to see a Chevelle sedan get featured, and not yet another 1970 SS coupe. Some kids think all Chevelles were ‘muscle cars’.
At least the Opel had a better looking grille than the 67 Chevelle.
One detail I’ve never noticed before that both of these cars share: The top corners of the windshield are right angles, while the bottom corners are radiused.
This generation of A-bodies is my favorite, especially the sedans. I actually prefer them to the hip-pier B-bodies. They really are what the largest family cars should have been back then.
Thank you for re-running that article. I never did understand the relationship of the ‘American’ Opels to the product of GM in America.
My later father in law was an Opel man with 3 Mantas on the trot. Mannheim Rotboxes he called them – but it didn’t stop him repeat buying. One of his friends had a Commodore then a Senator. They were impressive cars at the time. The KAD models before them must have been very special.
Both the big Opel’s and the 64-67 A bodies had their beginnings in an idea or theme car called the Solaris. It also influenced Holden as well. Here’s a link to a great article that tells the story as well as showing lots of prototype Photos: https://www.shannons.com.au/library/news/Y93B4T85B3G419DM/index.html?page=24
My best friend’s mother drove one of these when I was in Jr. High School. Funny what you remember, but for me it was that the ignition switch was in the row on top of the dash, so the keychain kind of hung down over the instrument panel…this before the ignition interlock on the steering column.
Funny thing about this family is that many years later I joined the same company that my friend’s Father worked for….I had been of course used to calling him “Mr. xxx” as he was my friend’s parent, but he eventually moved to the same city where I was working, and (though a higher level) was now supposedly a peer…..I had the hardest time not calling him “Mr. xxxx” instead of his first name. Eventually he retired, moved away, and so did my hangup over what to call him. My Grandmother was on the other hand very formal even with neighbors, she would call them “Mrs. xxx” and”Mr. xxx” even though they were the same age as she. But I guess that’s changed with our dropping much of the formality of our grandparents.