Employees open their garage doors to Opel Post
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You can fall unexpectedly fall in love with a classic car in the blink of an eye. Last April, Dieter Goretzko was wandering unwittingly through the trials workshop at the prototype construction facilities in Rüsselsheim, Germany, when he noticed something written on the blackboard: Someone was offering a 1935 Opel P4.
An interesting message on the blackboard…
The designer, who works in body shell construction in Rüsselsheim, took quick note of the message and walked on. But then he stopped in his tracks. A P4? Up until that point, he had been more interested in riding motorcycles in his free time – but an Opel oldie like that isn’t something you see every day. “I’ve always been fascinated with the chassis construction on those old models in particular,” recounts the 55-year-old. “It’s similar to a classic horse-drawn carriage in principle. A wooden construction is screwed onto the lead frames, and then merely planked with tin.” Goretzko went back to the blackboard and took down the poster’s contact details: “At first, I only wanted to take a look at the car.”
“When I heard the engine for the first time,
my interest was piqued.”
– Dieter Goretzko –
The first few photos the seller sent to him did not reveal a great deal. As a result, Goretzko was motivated to drive to Bitburg, Germany, for the first time, where the car was stored. He liked what he saw: “and when I heard the engine for the first time, my interest was piqued. It ran like clockwork.”
After he took the car for a test drive, he knew: “I wanted to have it.” The whole process went very smoothly: “I’ve never made such a relaxed car purchase.” The negotiations drew on for a while, and the sale was finally completed in the fall. Goretzko was able to take his new purchase home to Hochheim, in the German state of Hesse.
The Pioneer Predating the Kadett
The Opel P4 first saw the light of day in 1935. 65,864 models rolled off the assembly line in Rüsselsheim through 1937. As a compact mid-range car, it paved the way for the Kadett – the model with which the brand was strongly associated until 1991. Together with the Olympia and the six-cylinder Opel P6, the P4 played a decisive role in making Opel one of the largest European automotive manufacturers in 1935. The Opel P4 has a number of characteristics that keep this four-seater so popular to this day – for instance, the starter in the footwell,
as well as the suitcase rack at the rear in place of a trunk.A suitcase – or a watertight container– can be affixed to the rack with the help of leather straps. The P4 came from the plant in two colors, gray and dark blue, while the fenders were always painted black. The special sedan and convertible versions also came with a replacement wheel attached to the right finder – which remains a prized eye-catcher to this day. Well-preserved P4s sell for up to €40,000.
Goretzko did a lot of work on his beloved car at home the following winter: The Opel employee had to bring the classic car’s clutch, brakes, fuel pump, and carburetor back into mint condition. Good thing that Goretzko, who now works as a construction engineer, originally studied universal milling before starting to work at Opel in 1979. “My studies included a toolmaker training program, and I later spent years at the machine – you master mechanics in the process.” He also found out that he could learn even more about that kind of work at 55: “Damaged parts aren’t simply replaced, as is standard today, but rather, repaired.”
Making repairs instead of exchanges
He left his P4’s outward appearance untouched, but is still undecided as to whether he wants to make any changes there: On the one hand, he likes the patina that the car’s developed over the years, but on the other hand, the car has a strange ochre yellow paint job that one of its many interim owners applied, and which he’s not really happy with. Maybe he would be happier with one of the original colors: “The P4 was initially released in gray and dark blue, then later in brown and wine red – that would be my favorite.”
Meanwhile, the classic car has been fitted with a historical license plate. Goretzko’s also taken it for its first few drives. He had a ton of fun, but he wants to practice maneuvering in the vehicle more: “You need to double clutch and double-declutch, otherwise the transmission makes a cracking sound.” There also aren’t any mechanical aids for braking and steering – “and, if you usually drive modern cars, you need to get used to that, too.”
The tank holds 25 liters of Super, which lets Goretzko cover 300 kilometers. That’s an astonishing level of performance for a car that’s over 80 years old with a 1.1.-liter gasoline engine. Incidentally, at its peak, it can reach an impressive 90 km/h – “but then it gets really loud, so 60 to 70 km/h is ideal.” As such, ‘decelerated’ driving is now Goretzko’s MO, and he wants to fully enjoy that: “We’ll be at the Main-Taunus classic car rally in September.”