Big things with little cars
Big things with little cars

Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Kapitän

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Welcome to this rather personal edition of Teutonic Tuesday, where we will have a look at a car that my late father owned in Germany, and in which I took my very first car ride as a newborn- a 1962 Opel .Kapitän.

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Illustration for article titled Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Kapitän em/em

This model of the Kapitän was introduced in 1959, with obviously American inspired design - much like other Opels of the era. The previous model had run for just one year. It won some plaudits for its American-inspired “dream-car” styling, but there were also critics who pointed out that the extent of the wrap-around front and rear windows, along with the slope of the rear roof-line, restricted the driver’s view out unnecessarily and made the rear doors very narrow: many back seat passengers, once they had negotiated their way onto the back seat had headroom issues.

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Illustration for article titled Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Kapitän em/em

Despite the up to date styling for 1958, this car still featured the pre-war straight six engine from 1938! The new “P2" Kapitän changed all that. The design was less fancy, but more practical - and it finally received an all new engine. But - the new engine was still a 2.6l straight six with OHV and of pushrod design, which makes you wonder why they bothered. Transmission was either by three or four speed manual - or via the new (for Germany) Turbo-Hydramatic automatic. It produced a respectable 90hp with a top speed of 150 km/h.

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Illustration for article titled Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Kapitän em/em

On the German market, the Opel Kapitän never sold as well as the Mercedes competition - though just for one year, in 1960, the Kapitän was Europe’s best selling six-cylinder car, with with nearly 48,000 sold. So it must have had some success on various Export markets.

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Illustration for article titled Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Kapitän em/em

And driving such a car in the early 1960s was a bit of a statement. Owning this car meant that you had done well - and buying a car with a bit of American flair meant that you weren’t afraid to show it either. And my father must have been very, very proud of it as there is no end to the amount to photos and 8mm film where this car car “just happened” to pop up in the background. Here’s a couple of stills from an 8mm movie that my older brother digitized:

Illustration for article titled Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Kapitän em/em
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(1000 internet points to anyone who can ID the panel van in the background. It appears to have old-style Dutch licence plates - other than that, I don’t have a clue)

Illustration for article titled Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Kapitän em/em
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No matter what, it certainly made a different statement to the neighbor’s car in the background!

Illustration for article titled Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Kapitän em/em
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From August 1959 to December 1963, Opel built 145,618 units of this Kapitän series. No other Opel Kapitän model, before or subsequently, achieved such a high production level.

Illustration for article titled Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Kapitän em/em
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The model you see here is yet another Atlas Dinky. My brother swears he had an original one like this as a kid, but I don’t remember seeing it and it appears to be lost. But when I saw this one on the bay, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to have it.

Illustration for article titled Teutonic Tuesday: Opel Kapitän em/em
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Personally I don’t remember the 1:1 car either, but I do have vague memories of a blue 1965 Admiral. But that, as they say, is a different story. So, there’s my little excursion into the deep dark past, a long long time ago in a country far far away...

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