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Reader test: 1992 Opel Rekord

2008-11-18 07:22

Cobus Potgieter

My Opel is a bit of a thug. 

This Rekord 380i V6 CD is not a lady’s car at all. The styling is aggressive, the dashboard is a vast, upright slab made of Lego blocks and there’s a wing on the back. 

If there were still any doubts, the brutish 3.8-litre V6 soon puts them to flight: it has a potent and immensely torquey brand of power delivery that will set groceries levitating on pull away.  Miss Daisy would be aghast.

Oh, that pull away. The 1950s vintage V6 might be a prehistoric all-iron, pushrod affair, but there’s mapped engine management, knock control and direct ignition, no less! And the thump in the back on setting off is absurdly addictive. 

It roars exactly as a Lexus doesn’t, setting the tyres squealing as it elbows its way through traffic. It doesn’t do subtle. This is not a Toyota Camry…

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

The beast is a bizarre conglomerate of ‘70s through ‘90s GM parts bin leftovers - a lot of Rekord, a bit of Senator, a fair wallop of Holden, even a few sprinklings of Omega. 

All this doth a South African Rekord make: the only independently sprung, leather-trimmed, six-cylinder Holden-engined Rekord in the world! This must be some, err, record…

There are typically GM eccentricities. The interior light is switched on by tugging on the headlight switch and the driver’s seat is wound up and down with a window winder handle. 

Electric window controls are on the centre console and not illuminated at night. Standard on most Opels of this era are rattles (better than a Kadett, though) and bits of trim falling off. 

Oh, and “go” she might, but “stop” she doesn’t: the brakes are rubbish.

Honest but hoof-able

No, rather find a damp stretch to break away those rear wheels with the ample grunt on tap and corner it on a combination of throttle and very rapid (2.6 turns, lock to lock) steering. Extend the engine and savour the rich, baritone thunder while surfing a never-ending wave of syrupy torque. 

And be prepared to feed it lots of unleaded if you habitually hoof it.

However, once in highway cruising mode (a mere 2 200r/min at 120km/h), with that intergalactic fourth gear’s lock-up clutch engaged, it can even better 11km to the litre if you try.

And it will romp up hills in said gear too, such is the bottom-end twist of the engine. The rear seat is squashy as a French sofa and there is honest space all-round. 

The Rekord is roomy and comfortable, but very masculine and a bit brash – a fascinating hybrid of sorts. It has its blemishes, but it has bags of character, which is hard to come by, these days. And it adds credence to the old adage that the engine is the most important factor in determining the character of a car. Oh yes it is; all 3.8 litres of it.

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