Thursday, August 21, 2014

1959 Opel Olympia Rekord CarAVan

"Some compacts give you economy, some give you quality. Opel gives you both! Opel's careful  workmanship stems from a policy of selling as many cars as it can build with precision — not building as many cars as it can sell. You'll notice the difference right away in the fit of the doors and richness of the upholstery."

Judging by the amount of examples still on the road today, the compact Opel Olympia Rekord sold pretty well in Cuba. Much less common is its utilitarian sibling, pictured here. One year after introducing the all-new Olympia Rekord P, Opel expanded its lineup in 1958. Joining the party was not just a new four-door sedan, but also the CarAVan, the name, in Opel's view, nicely combining Car A(nd) Van. This station wagon became simultaneously available as a downmarket version, christened solely Opel Olympia. Our pictured CarAVan from 1959, however ain't this frugal version. Authentic brightwork and original roof-rack distinguish the well-equipped export version. Incidentally, all Opel Olympia Rekord sedans sold in the U.S. had "Rekord" written on their front fenders, while the station wagons showed "Olympia" badges.

As Opel was a part of the GM organization, the styling was closely coordinated with Detroit and thus looked very american. Two doors, panoramic windshield and rearward slanted B-pillars mimic the iconic elegance of a Chevy Nomad, albeit proportionally, the Olympia clearly can't keep up with its fullsize inspiration. Anyway, in postwar Europe, Opel's "American Way of Drive" went down very well with the customers, making the Olympia Record a best seller for years. 

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