Monday 22nd July 2019,

Opel Rekord E1 1977 – 1983

In the fall of 1977 Opel unveiled the Rekord E, to replace the successful Rekord D, itself in production since 1972. It was to be produced until ’82 as the Rekord E1, and, with a restyling, as the Rekord E2 from ’83 to ’86. I’ll focus here on the E1.

The Rekord was the middle-upper range, with an interior as large as the Commodore but less luxurious, and a shorter wheelbase than the top line Senator.

The new model looked longer and wider, with interesting style touches. The front end, in lateral view, was no longer “reversed”, with the top longer than the bottom, giving it a more aerodynamic look with a slanted profile, which was more apparent in the Vauxhall Carlton version. The rear end of the Rekord was taller and vertical, with a more solid, robust appearance. Rear doors had a vertical rear edge, but a ventilation grille behind them looked like a continuation of the smaller rear window.

In itself, the greenhouse was larger-looking. The hood now reached the front grille, with the classic Opel logo centered, larger in size than on earlier models. The Rekord’s grille extended between both headlights, which were level with it and rectangular in shape. Turn indicators wrapped around the edge of the car, side by side with the headlights. In tune with the times, rear view mirrors (or the lone driver mirror if the right hand one wasn’t specified)  were housed in a black case, and were curved… that was before the legend “objects in mirror may be larger than they appear”.

The Opel Rekord E1 was larger than the version it replaced, with 4,62 m bumper to bumper and 2,67 m wheelbase.

In the rear end, larger bezels contained at the center, backup lights, had space for red halogen lights (mandatory in some countries in Europe), reflectors, driving rear lights, and turn indicators, again wrapped around the edges of the car.

The rear deck contained make and model in a new style. “Rekord” on the left, “Opel” on the right. This badging would appear on each new model presented by Opel over the next few years, until 1983. Following Rekord, the engine size and type would be displayed in liters, whereas until that model it was displayed in smaller type and in CC.  So, the basic model read “REKORD 1.7”, while the larger read “REKORD 2.0 E”.

Engines ranged from 1.7 (60 bhp, 1.9 – 75 bhp from 1980) to 2.0 liters with carburetion, there was a 2.0 E (Einspritzung) fuel injected model, and there was also a diesel engine. The diesel was at the beginning a 2.1, then a 2.3 (from 1978 onwards). Diesels had a few differences, with a “D” after the liter (REKORD 2.3 D), and most visible, a raised central dome in the hood, to make room for a taller engine.

All engines but the 1.7 could be specified with either the standard 4 speed manual or a 3 speed automatic. All Rekord E1’s could be ordered with a ZF power steering unit, which in a car weighing in at about 1230 kg (curb weight) was really necessary.

Air conditioning was really taxing on the relatively low output engines (2.3 D developed just 65 bhp, while 2.0 developed 90, 2.0 S (higher compression) developed 100, and 2.0 E got 110 bhp). Acceleration wasn’t great even in the 2.0 engine versions. The Rekord could make 0-100km/h in 15 seconds at best, and top speed rarely exceeded 160 km/h for the largest petrol engines and 130 km/h in the 2.3 D, which also took 25 sec to get to 100 km h. Not very impressive.

This however was excused for the interior was vast and comfortable. Bucket seats in front with large headrests, regulated by pressing two discs on their sides, operating buttons located beneath the upholstery.

The Rekord’s rear contoured seat was very comfortable for the side passengers, not so much for the center passenger due to the tall driveshaft tunnel. But even when riding behind a very tall driver, there was enough legroom for a six-footer.

The dashboard was imposing. A large, high section housed speedometer, odometer and trip odometer to the left of the driver and the typical large clock to the right, with horizontal dumb lights between those two bezels. To the left of the speedometer and to the right of the clock were housed two smaller dials for gas and temperature. When specifying an RPM counter, it would be placed in the clock dial, moving the clock to a very small, difficult to read space above the ventilation ducts in the middle of the Rekord E1’s dashboard. Above temperature and gas dials could optionally be found an ammeter and oil pressure gauge.

To the left of the steering column was the very large light control (typical Opel positioning after 1972) with another one to the right of the column controlling AC when specified. The center of the dash housed the radio, HVAC controls, central ventilation ducts, lighter, ashtray, and some ancillary controls.

The right side of the dashboard was lowered so it could be used as a shelf. The whole structure was very different to the earlier model and had a BMW-ish look to it, perhaps more in general style and finish than in real form. Usual color was black, eventually sporting an upholstery- colored lower panel for the most luxurious Rekord versions. Upholstery varied in color and material, from just black artificial leather to mohair, to leather.

Body styles included 2 and 4 door sedans, and 2 and 4 door station wagons. The station wagons were the  “Caravan”, as had been common on Opels for a while, while in some markets 2 door “Caravans” were in fact panel vans or delivery vehicles, with no windows to the rear of the doors.

The popular 2 door hardtop coupe was dropped, even though it had been a mainstay of the sportier Rekord versions since 1961, and It had had its center-pillar removed, American-style, since 1968.


My own experience with the Opel Rekord E1 was with a 4 door sedan, metallic medium blue, with a vinyl top covering (really popular in Uruguay at the time). My father bought a 17.000 km ’79 model in ’81, and I got to drive it since ’83, when I got my license, till ’86, when we sold it.

The car was wonderfully silent. It didn’t like to be pushed too much, so it worked great as a sedate touring car and a great road car, provided you stayed within 120-130 Km/h for cruising. Many friends at the time owning the same car would say it was good for 170… I never pushed it past 140, and even though the engine could probably push the car a little faster, the suspension was definitely not up to it.

The Mc Pherson front, rear coil and live axle were typical American in style, great for a boulevard ride, but the Rekord did not tolerate less than perfect roads. My city has plenty of old tram rails, even though we haven’t had trams for something like 50 years. The rear wheels would easily spin over those rails, and the rear axle would clearly move a little more than I would have liked. Then again, almost all rear wheel drive, live axle, larger cars at that time behaved like that.

The manual gearbox and power-steering were delightful to operate. The gear changes were precise with a very short throw… that was a great change from the Rekord D, which had a very long gear lever protruding from much farther forward, just over the gearbox. The first editions of the Rekord E also had that gear lever, revised very early on in the model run. An interesting detail is that diesel models had a different gear lever, with a black knob instead of the simulated wood on the petrol cars.

Petrol consumption of the Rekord was very high. I was never able to get more than possibly 12.5l/100km in town, stop and go driving, and 16.7l/100km wasn’t rare. The automatic choke made the carb difficult to keep in tune, and the engine would usually run at 2000 RPM for more than it needed to get to operating temperature, even in summer. Of course… that didn’t help petrol consumption at all. Road consumption was in the 10l/100km league.

Many cars (and that means probably around 70% of all cars sold) were fitted, after about 5 years, with some model of diesel engine. Several had a 2.3 Opel diesel, but most got a Mercedes 240 D. Some owners went all the way and installed a 5 cylinder 300 D, with automatic gearbox. The reason to go to Mercedes was that there were so many more engines available, and furthermore, the Opel unit was very noisy and rattling. Also the Mercedes lower profile didn’t need the hood change and firewall adaptation.

As most cars I got to see were assembled in Uruguay, it’s likely that the hood was a factory option and that all diesel kits were imported that way. Some particularities of the model being sold here were that some accessories changed every year. So, for ’78 some cars came without rear window defogger, then for ’79 a sports steering wheel, rev counter and green tinted glass all around were added, and for ’80 tinted glass was in a brown shade. Also for ’80, AC was made optional. For ’81 there was a Luxus option, which included special instrumentation, styled steel wheels, headlight wiper/ washers, and a right hand rear view mirror. 1980 also saw the local introduction of the Caravan, which had a simpler dashboard, without the rev counter and tinted glass, but with right rearview mirror as standard equipment.

Even though rust was a concern, metal treatment of the Rekord E was much better than in the average car being sold at that time, at least in my country. So, if you are looking for a solid ‘70s sedan, which, as my ’82 Automobile Revue Catalog would say, is a “Voiture de conception Americaine-Europeeane” (excuse my French… there is probably some misplaced character somewhere), with a solid and cheaply re-buildable engine, and don’t mind proceeding a little slower than modern traffic, a Rekord might be interesting as an oldtimer.

Opel Rekord E1 1977-1982
Body Type5 seater 2/4 door sedan/saloon, 3/5 door estate
Engine PlacementFront
Drive TypeRear wheel drive
Length (estate)4620181.9
Cargo Volume490 L17.3 cu. Ft.
Cargo Volume (estate)820 L29 cu. Ft.
Engine1.7 Single DD Carburetor (1977-1980)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1698 cc103.6 cui
Power44 Kw59 bhp4800 RPM
Torque112 Nm83 ft. lb2600 RPM
Power/weight48 bhp/t
Top Speed143 km/h89 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph21 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight1230 kg2712 lb
Engine1.9 Single DD Carburetor (1977-1982)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1897 cc115.8 cui
Power55 Kw74 bhp4800 RPM
Torque132 Nm97 ft. lb2800 RPM
Power/weight60 bhp/t
Top Speed152 km/h94 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph19 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight1230 kg2712 lb
Engine2.0 Single TC Carburetor (1977-1982)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1979 cc120.8 cui
Power66 Kw89 bhp5200 RPM
Torque142 Nm105 ft. lb3400 RPM
Power/weight72 bhp/t
Top Speed162 km/h101 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph16.4 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual3 seep automatic
Weight1230 kg2712 lb
Engine2.0 S Single TC Carburetor (1977-1982)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1979 cc120.8 cui
Power74 Kw99 bhp5200 RPM
Torque165 Nm122 ft. lb3600 RPM
Power/weight80 bhp/t
Top Speed170 km/h106 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph15 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual3 seep automatic
Weight1230 kg2712 lb
Engine2.0i E Jetronic (1977-1982)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1979 cc120.8 cui
Power81 Kw109 bhp5400 RPM
Torque159 Nm117 ft. lb3000 RPM
Power/weight89 bhp/t
Top Speed176 km/h109 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph14.5 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual3 seep automatic
Weight1230 kg2712 lb
Engine2.1 D OHV Injection (1977-1978)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement2068 cc126.2 cui
Power44 Kw59 bhp4000 RPM
Torque118 Nm87 ft. lb2500 RPM
Power/weight45 bhp/t
Top Speed135 km/h84 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph26.5 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual3 seep automatic
Weight1305 kg2877 lb
Engine2.3 D OHV Injection (1978-1982)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement2260 cc137.9 cui
Power48 Kw64 bhp4200 RPM
Torque126 Nm93 ft. lb2500 RPM
Power/weight49 bhp/t
Top Speed137 km/h85 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph25 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual3 seep automatic
Weight1305 kg2877 lb
GD Star Rating
Opel Rekord E1 1977 - 1983, 9.1 out of 10 based on 7 ratings
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About Rafael Fabius

Hi I'm Rafael and I am INOPIAN

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Hi I am Rafael and I am INOPIAN

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