Opel Rekord D: A Millionaire Hits 40

14 Feb 2012

• Successful mid-size model launched in 1972
• Opel’s first ever passenger car diesel with 2.1 liters and 60 hp
• Exclusive and sporty six-cylinder model Commodore B

Opel - Opel Rekord D: A Millionaire Hits 40

Rüsselsheim. Forty years ago the new Rekord was making the headlines at Opel. The most recent generation of the successful Rüsselsheim-built mid-size vehicle is presented to the press in January 1972 with advanced technology, functional and elegant design and with the usual wealth of model variants. In addition to the notchback sedan with two or four doors, the customer can choose from a sporty coupe, a three-or five-door station wagon model and a three-door van version.


The engine spectrum includes engines with 1.7 and 1.9 liter displacements used in the predecessor with 66, 83 or 97 hp. In 1973, a diesel power plant is added. The Rekord 2100 D becomes the first ever Opel passenger car equipped with a diesel engine: a four-cylinder with 2.1 liter displacement and 60 hp.

In the spring of 1972 the new version of the sporty and exclusive sister model Commodore has its market launch. Its second generation is only offered as a sedan and coupe plus powerful and smooth six-cylinder engines. The 2.5-liter basic model delivers 115 hp, whereas the GS variant achieves 130 hp. In September 1972, the top version is added: the Commodore GS/E equipped with a 2.8 liter fuel-injected engine with 160 hp. With the engine of the Diplomat and Admiral on board, the GS/E closes the gap between the mid-size and the premium segment. Like its predecessors the Rekord D and the Commodore B reach a big audience: Up to the model change of 1977, 1.2 million units were sold.

Opel - Opel Rekord D: A Millionaire Hits 40

The New Generation

The Rekord D has to fill very big shoes: The predecessor, built in 1966, was the first Opel car in this segment to hit the million sales mark with more than 1.2 million units sold. In addition, the more upmarket Commodore A sold 150,000 units. After three-and-a-half years of research and development, the new generation Rekord was unveiled in January 1972. In contrast to the Record C and its American influenced "Coke-bottle-shaped" body with "pelvic thrust" before the C-pillars, the new models reflect European design traits. Clear and functional lines, smooth surfaces and large windows and a low waistline gave it a timeless exterior.

Opel - Opel Rekord D: A Millionaire Hits 40

"Its European shape keeps its promise"

Like with its predecessor, three body styles are available: the classic notchback sedan, with either two or four doors, the sporty coupe and a station wagon version, which is available with three or five doors. For commerce and government institutions, Opel also offers a van, a three-door station wagon without the rear side windows.´


Passive safety played a key role in the specifications: the flanks are reinforced and the roof provides good protection in case of side impact and rollover. Newly defined crumple zones protect the occupants against frontal impacts. The enhanced chassis with its independent front suspension and rigid "tri-stable rear suspension" is based on the chassis of its predecessor. The Opel advertising slogan at the time is "Its European shape keeps its promise".


The engines of the Rekord D are further enhancements of the tried and tested four-cylinder units with a camshaft-in-head (cih) which had already been used in more than two million vehicles. The new engines include a 1.7 liter power plant with 66 hp, the S-unit with 83 hp and the 1.9-liter plant with 97 hp. Ex works, the Rekord is equipped with a four-speed manual gearbox. The 83 and 97 hp models can be optionally equipped with Opel's three-speed automatic.


Except for the van and models with 66 hp engines all Rekords can be ordered in the sporty “Sprint” trim line. It include a matt black grille, an instrument panel with an rpm counter, a voltmeter and oil pressure gauges. Other extras include a sports steering wheel, seat belts, gas pressure shock absorbers and tires in size 185/70 SR 14th. Both the sedan and the five-door station wagon are also available as a luxury variant. The Rekord Coupé has the premium “L” trim as standard.


In September 1972, Opel celebrates a world premiere: The first diesel passenger car makes its production debut after already more than 70 years of Opel’s automotive history. The diesel engine was used for the first time in June 1972 in the Opel GT. The four-cylinder turbocharged power plant with 95 hp gave the Opel GT 20 international records and world records. The diesel engine in the Rekord delivers 60 hp, consumes an average of 8.7 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers and achieves a top speed of 135 kilometers an hour. The Rekord 2100 D is instantly recognizable because of its curved bonnet in the middle. The diesel engines are higher than their gasoline counterparts because they are fitted with an overhead camshaft and a modified cylinder head.

Opel - Opel Rekord D: A Millionaire Hits 40

"Opel Commodore. A car like that does not appear every year. "

Shortly after the launch of the Rekord D, from March 1972 the Commodore B expands the model range upwards. As a member of the mid-size, it closes the gap between the Rekord and the premium models, the Admiral and Diplomat. The body style is taken from the shape Rekord. However, unlike the Rekord, the Commodore B equipped with more luxury features and is only offered with six-cylinder engines. The 2.5-liter S delivers 115 hp. One level up, the Commodore GS achieves 130 hp. When the GS is developed further later on, it is equipped with a 2.8-liter, 142 hp engine with twin carburettors. In September 1972, the flagship of the Commodore family is launched: the 160 hp GS/E. Its electronic fuel injection provides the 2.8-liter engine with a powerful performance. The coupe reaches top speeds of 200 kilometers an hour and the four-door sedan manages 195 kilometers an hour. The Commodore GS/E has a striking front spoiler which was developed by Opel in a wind tunnel. At the time Opel said: "The GS/E appeals to fans of performance tour cars who like travelling long distances at high average speeds and therefore want optimum handling and ride comfort.”


The Commodore GS/E also makes its mark in circuit racing and car rallies. In 1973, the young racing talent Walter Röhrl makes his debut at the Monte Carlo rally in an Opel. Röhrl and his co-pilot Jochen Berger perform well. However, they were handicapped by the fact that the Irmscher tuned Commodore GS/E Coupe was placed in the category two of pure rally vehicles.


Opel celebrates its greatest victories with its duo in everyday life. One year before the model change, the magic one million production milestone has been reached. In early September 1976, a golden Rekord sedan becomes the one-millionth model to roll off the assembly line. Ready for the anniversary, there is a limited edition of the special "Millionär" model with the premium “Berlina” trim plus the 2.0-liter engine S engine with 100 hp which has been available since September 1975. When in September 1977 the last vehicle of the Rekord generation has its debut already 1,128,196 units of D variant and 140,827 of the Commodore B have rolled off the line.