50 Years Ago: Opel Celebrated Production of 10 Millionth Automobile
- 1971 Opel Rekord C Caravan marked production-milestone at Rüsselsheim plant
- “10 millionth Opel” cars donated to state government heads for charity
- Innovative Rekord C featured coil spring rear axle and front disc brakes
- Successful Rekord C was first mid-size Opel to be sold more than one million times
Rüsselsheim. 50 years ago, on September 6, 1971, the 10 millionth Opel automobile produced since 1898 rolled off the assembly line at the Rüsselsheim plant.
The brand with the Blitz marked the occasion by donating a Rekord C Caravan – the “10 millionth Opel” – to the heads of government in each of the Federal states where Opel operated a production plant: Hesse (Rüsselsheim), North-Rhine Westphalia (Bochum) and Rhineland-Palatinate (Kaiserslautern).
Opel reached the first millionth car produced in 1940, 490 months after the start of automobile production. Only 190 months were required to reach the second.
From then on, the million intervals got shorter and shorter. 17 months were needed for the eighth, 16 for the ninth and only 15 months were needed for the tenth.
The increasingly short intervals were not only proof of the rising democratisation of individual mobility, they were also a sign of progress in modern production technology.
Stretching to the moon: Convoy of 10 million Opel cars
“If you sent all these Opel cars into space, with a distance of 30 metres between each one, the tip of the convoy would reach the moon as the last car left the plant”, remarked Opel at the time. As the PR department added, “The journey to the moon would look like a busy German autobahn.”
The innovative Opel Rekord C – the third generation of the Rekord model range – made its debut in 1966. It was the first Opel passenger car with coil springs on the rear axle and set further standards in its class with front disc brakes in front and a brake booster.
Powered by four and six-cylinder CIH (camshaft-in-head) engines, the Rekord C was also notable for its characteristic “Coke bottle” signature line in front of the C-pillar. In addition to the Caravan estate and a limousine, Opel added a dynamic coupé to the line-up in spring 1967. The performance version was the 1.9-litre 106 hp “Sprint”.
The Rekord C also provided the basis for the Commodore, a new Opel model that raised the bar for sporty limousines even higher. Launched in 1967 and available as a two or four-door notchback or a two-door coupé, the Commodore A bridged the gap between the Rekord and the top-of-the-line Opel Kapitän/Admiral.
By the end of production in December 1971, Opel had built 1,253,161 units of the Rekord C. It also set a new record for sales as the first mid-size Opel to achieve more than one million new registrations.
At the event in Rüsselsheim on September 6, 1971, Opel requested that each head of government donate their “10 millionth Opel” to a local charity. State Secretary Heinz Truschkowski presented the Rekord for North-Rhine Westphalia to the “Arbeiter Wohlfahrt” workers charity, while Minister President Albert Osswald put the Hessian Caravan at the disposal of the local German Red Cross. As did the Minister President of Rhineland-Palatinate – a certain Helmut Kohl, who would become the Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 and would also be known as the “Chancellor of German Reunification”.