Opel the reliable: When high mileage performance and solidity are called for, the brand with the Blitz is the way to go. A good example of this is Henning Barth's Super-Astra.


Some heroes wear a cape. Others a steel outfit. Like our latest high mileage hero, an Opel Astra Caravan from 2003. What makes it a hero is its reliability. “My Opel was my faithful and reliable companion for over half a million kilometres,” says owner Henning Barth. Day in and day out, he drove his Astra around 100 kilometres from his home in the Hunsrück to Opel headquarters in Rüsselsheim and back. Barth had bought the Astra used with a hundred thousand on the clock for €5,000. Then he added another 500,000km with no major repairs along the way, so that now 600,000km stands on the clock. That’s how nice and economical driving can be.

The dream of eternal youth

The really amazing thing is that the Astra hasn’t aged much in all these years and with this mileage. “Admittedly, I take good care of it, but it is incredible that the engine, the gearbox, the turbocharger and the high-pressure pump have never needed attention. Even the clutch is still the original,” says the proud Barth.

Unmistakable: The face of the Astra G with almond eyes and the radiator grille integrated into the bonnet.
With Elegance trim: This includes alloy wheels and TC Plus traction control.

The really amazing thing is that the Astra hasn’t aged much in all these years.

It’s not that Henning Barth doesn’t also appreciate the advantages of the current models. A new Opel Corsa joined his family fleet a few weeks ago: “When you’ve experienced how the matrix light turns night into day, it’s really impressive.” The performance that the three-cylinder engine brings to the road also makes the passionate driver beam from ear to ear: “The Corsa is an absolute powerhouse!” 

It’s about common sense – and passion

But when it comes to a reliable partner for his daily commute, the Opel employee relies on robust used cars. “If you drive 200 kilometres a day, it’s a question of common sense. A new car would lose too much of its value,” says Barth. But it’s not just common sense, he adds after a moment’s reflection. It is also the passion to take care of things. It’s no coincidence that Barth is a colleague at the headquarters in Rüsselsheim and is part of the service and maintenance team for the 50-tonne heavy-duty cranes in the press shop and the goods lifts in the paint shop, for example. These are machines and systems that are indispensable for keeping production running reliably.

Good genes: With a little care, Henning Barth has thwarted the ageing process in the interior as well. It is one of the late Generation G models with a 1.7-litre diesel engine and 59kW (80hp).  
View of the rear seat: Here, too, the 17 years have left almost no trace on the Astra. 


  • Hose down the bodywork regularly. “Clear water is enough. In winter, when gritting is done, once a week. In summer, every fortnight is enough.“
  • Wipe the fittings with a damp cloth. Here, too, the rule is: “Just water, no care additives. They only leave a greasy film.”
  • Care products: “Only use now and then for the plastic door sills.”Pflegemittel: Die gibt es nur hin und wieder für die Kunststoff-Einstiegsleisten.
  • No food: “My family doesn’t like it, but there’s no eating in my car. It’s the only way to keep the seats clean.”
More than just service manual maintenance: The interior is in mint condition, even the original radio is still on board.

So the “Super-Astra” project also developed out of a penchant for keeping things in good condition – repairing and maintaining instead of replacing. Actually, the goal was 400,000 kilometres. But the Astra kept on running and running. 500,000 kilometres followed, and finally the 600,000. “Whether it’s the technology or the bodywork – the quality and workmanship of the Opel are truly remarkable. The Super-Astra would have easily cracked the one million mark,” says Barth.

Place of honour in the Classic Collection 

Nevertheless, the two are now parting ways. Barth has donated his ageless Astra to Opel Classic. When it became clear that the 17-year-old estate car in mint condition would get a place of honour in the Rüsselsheim collection, he ended the project at 600,000 kilometres: “To be able to go into retirement in the Classic Collection – that’s really a special honour.” And what will Henning Barth do now? He got himself another Astra – a well-kept Generation J with a 165hp 2.0 diesel engine. Part 2 of the Super-Astra mission has already begun.

Reliable bestseller: The Opel Astra G was offered from 1998 to 2005 in seven body styles with twelve different engines ranging from 48kW (65 hp) to 147kW (200 hp).
Well-deserved retirement: Henning Barth’s super estate with a good 600,000 kilometres on the clock has now been given a place of honour in the Rüsselsheim Classic Collection.

April 2021

Photos: Opel