Saturday, December 5, 2015

1960 Opel Kapitän P2

"The lines of the KAPITÄN are lively and up-to-date, dynamic, yet simple and practical. That's why, whether you are on a business trip or holiday, on the way to the office or wherever you are, you will have the pleasant feeling of owning the 'right' car."

No other brand promoted the "American Way of Drive" better than Opel in postwar Europe. Unsurprisingly so, as the company was the German subsidiary of General Motors. With the Kapitän P1, presented in 1958, Opel had high hopes. The car looked gorgeous, but the motor press quickly pointed out the evident flaws: especially the access to the rear seats was difficult, due to a low roofline and short doors. GM realized the hard way that simply scaling down contemporary American designs wasn't the right method to win over customers in Europe, and already in summer of 1959, a completely overhauled model was presented.

Dubbed Kapitän P 2,6 (P as in "Panorama"), it was an instant hit: 145,618 Opel Kapitän left the factory in Rüsselsheim between August 1959 and 1963, making this generation the most successful Kapitän ever. The higher roof, similar to other 1959 GM models, solved the headroom problems and finally gave the rear passengers appropriate space.

The designers had developed a very modern and restrained look, that wouldn't become old-fashioned too soon. Only the panoramic windshield betrayed the kinship with the 1958 construction underneath the new Opel's skin.

Our pictured car has a handcrafted front grille and a Volga engine, but otherwise everything looks original. Even the serial number plate, proudly displaying "Made in Western Germany" as the Opel's origin, is at its place. That's something quite rare on vintage vehicles in Cuba.

"Mine is one of just nineteen Opel Kapitän that were imported to Cuba in 1960," says its owner. "I like the car because it is very duro and has a good construction. And with the Volga engine it really runs well."

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