Opel Senator (1978 – 1986) Review

Opel Senator (1978 – 1986) At A Glance


+Another finely engineered good to drive big Opel, fast in 3.0-litre form, based on tried and tested components

-Lacking some charisma compared with its rivals, not as well made or rust resistant as it could be

The Opel Senator, and its coupe sister, the Monza, were direct replacements for the slow-selling KAD models - and were far more suited to executive buyers' tastes. It was based closely on the Rekord E, although clever restyling of the front- and rear-ends, as well as the move to six-light glasshouse, meant that the Senator was a far more substantial looking car. It was pitched as a rival to cars, such as the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz W123 - and in the UK, the Rover 3500.

The engine range was limited to the larger straight-six cam-in-head units, in 2.8- and 3.0-litre forms, with outputs ranging between 140 and 180bhp. The higher-powered model was a genuinely capable car, with excellent handling, well-controlled ride, and ample performance. Interiors were luxurious and commodious, but trim choices could be on the chintzy side. In the UK, it rivalled the Vauxhall Royale - a badge-engineered Senator with a UK-designed dashboard - and that obviously limited sales. Facelifted with a GM-generic front end in 1982, to become the Senator A2, although few of these were sold in the UK, as the Opel range was dropped in favour of an all-Vauxhall line-up.