The White Giant

Part 2: The sound of the Rennwagen 1903

The Opel racing car is 114 years old, but with its cubic capacity of 1.8 liters and 12 horse powers it is still sprightly enough to get as fast as 70 km/h.

Fully independent Opel production

Two rattling cylinders with 12 horse powers are doing their job under the bonnet of the 1903 Opel Rennwagen. The starting procedure takes a while, but Jens Cooper who works in the Classic garage can handle it perfectly. He lets some drops of petrol drip out of the carb, opens the motor valves, turns the pistons in the 1 liter cylinders up and down, closes the valves, sets the ignition and then throws himself on the crank handle in the front of the card. “It is a real challenge to drive this car”, emphasizes Jens Cooper. The car took part in the legendary 2006 „London to Brighton Veteran Car Run“ for oldtimers until 1904 where it reached the destination after a solid five hours ride.

For all those who like it to be precise: two cylinders in line with a cubic capacity of 1885 cm³, bore x stroke 100 x 120 mm, cross-flow-principle, power 12/8,9 PS/KW, valves sidewise, two camshafts, spray carburetor, battery ignition.

The basis of this racing car, an Opel with 10/12 horse powers, is the first ever completely independent Opel construction. The engineers integrated all technical innovations in this car – like the rear-wheel-drive with a joint shaft.

Part 1: The sound of the Admiral V8

Straight European Although the design of the 1965 Admiral was influenced by the American style, it also reflected a new form of practicality without additional metal plates and ornaments. This came as no surprise: only one year before the very first European Opel design studio had just begun its work in Rüsselsheim.

Only 622 cars were built


It was our colleague Jens Cooper who suggested the Opel Admiral with V8-engine and who actually started it. KAD – Kapitän, Admiral and Diplomat were “The big Three” in the top ranks of the Opel world in the 60ies and 70ies. Although with more than 55,000 cars, the Admiral was the most sold model in this category; the V8-version with a 4.6 l engine with 190 horse powers was regarded as exotic. Only 622 cars were built between 1965 and 1968. The chassis was adapted to the higher performance, and the stronger shafts, axes, wheels, tires and breaks were included in the price of 15,950 Mark. The engine originally came from the huge shelves of Chevrolet. With this engine, the Admiral was able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just about 10 seconds.


Zeitgeist of the sixties Ash trees ware available on both the left and the right side integrated in the red leather of the doors.

No lateral support The red leather seats look more like a sofa. When driving fast curves you might still hold onto the steering wheel.

Outlook The speed roller runs horizontally. And another nice detail: With rising speed, the speedometer changes its color: up to 50 km/h it is green, up to 100 km/h it is orange and beyond that it turns bright red.

December 2017

Photos: Alex Heimann