Opel Kapitan (1953 – 1958) Review

Opel Kapitan (1953 – 1958) At A Glance


+American styling, German engineering

-One for German car fans only

Just as the big Vauxhalls of the era has clear American influences, it was clear that the situation was similar for its German cousin, Opel. The company's flagship had obvious Detroit overtones, with vast metalwork, an ornate chrome grille with shining 'teeth', whitewall tyres and polished metal side flashes. Despite that, the Kapitan was a very well engineered car featuring a tough, solid body, independent coil and wishbone suspension at the front and semi-elliptic leaf springs at the back. The 2.4-litre straight six was smooth and lively, while the three-speed column change transmission and because the engine was so well endowed with torque, it was an effortless drive.

The Kapitan was facelifted in 1955, and the nasty grille was dropped in favour of something much more European in feel, and other improvements such as an all-synchromesh gearbox and better-trimmed interior were added. When the Kapitan was replaced in 1958, it was by an even more Trans-Atlantic effort, which featured a wraparound windscreen that passengers could easily smack their knees on to when trying to get in or out. A more powerful engine, which produced 90bhp, four-speed gearbox and automatic transmission were drafted in for the new model, which remained in production until 1964.