The sight of Roland and Henri Rübel coming around the corner reminds some of the neighbors in Neunkirchen am Potzberg, Germany, of the old German movie ‘Wenn der Vater mit dem Sohne.’ However, the father and son duo are nowhere near as sentimental as Heinz Rühmann’s character in the movie. Nostalgia is definitely in the air, but the Rübels make it look extremely cool. The 49-year-old father and his 18-month-old son are cruising the streets in an Opel Commodore A Coupé, built in 1967.
Henri is already excited to be sitting in the car with its signature red leather seats. “He has a great view of the road from his booster seat,” says his father. That will improve further as he gets older, as will his understanding of this historical piece of Opel technology that his dad bought to mark his birth. The two-speed automatic gearbox featured in this model and the cast iron transmission that brings the a total weight of the car up to a respectable 1,185 kilos may seem strange from today’s perspective, but Henri will soon come to appreciate them.
AS FAR AS CLASSIC CARS GO, THE COMMODORE IS THE BEST
Admittedly, outsiders may initially think that it looks like the head of the family bought the classic car for himself, but “the Commodore is going to be a car for the entire family,” according to Roland Rübel, who works in bodywork prototyping at Opel in Kaiserslautern. That’s what he says – even if none of the Rübels apart from Roland are interested in driving the racer. There was no power steering back in 1967, and the owner wants his classic car to be as close to original as possible.
Roland Rübel has always had a soft spot for Coupés. You can tell by looking back at his younger years: Roland Rübel co-founded the Kadett C club in Kaiserslautern and drove a Coupé version of the 1970s icon for many years. As the years went by, though, he felt he needed more space for himself and his loved ones: “I’ve gone up a few belt notches over the years, and my cars should reflect that, too.” As a result, he decided that if he was going to buy a classic car, it had to be a Commodore and more specifically, a Coupé.
NO B-COLUMN AND 180 HORSEPOWER
Roland Rübel quickly found a few models among the used cars on offer on mobile.de, but real enthusiasts know how much people can charge for a classic car. “Some people were asking for up to €20,000 for a Commodore Coupé.” He liked the look of a model on offer for €9,000 in Bruchsal near Karlsruhe. Rübel got the seller to drop his asking price by €1,500. He got rid of a range of anachronistic additions and accessories, and he’s been enjoying his authentic Opel ever since.
An extra nice touch: The car doesn’t have a B-column. If you roll down the front and back windows at the same time, a torrent of fresh air rushes through the car. The three-liter engine with 180 horsepower and six cylinders is sure to lift the spirits of any driver, too. It’s stronger than what was used in the Commodore at the time, as it actually comes from an Opel Senator, but it still fits under the hood like a glove.
SAFETY FIRST: SEAT BELTS MUST BE WORN
Roland Rübel only drives his Commodore to work when the sun is shining. “You have to remember that the car is 47 years old. I don’t want to subject it to rain, snow, and mud any more.” Every now and then, he comes up with a new idea on how he can make the classic car even more perfect. He plans to add an original revolution counter to the instruments, which were made from real glass. He found the previous solution between the seat and the center console “too American.”
Rübel’s Commodore has one feature that was not in the original: seat belts. Seat belts were not mandatory in vehicles that hit the market before 1970, but Roland Rübel doesn’t want to do without for the sake of Henri.
The Coupé version of the Commodore A was once touted by the press as the “dream car you’d be mad not to buy.” It was seen as the sportiest Commodore.
Trademarks of the Opel Rekord’s classy sister include its stylish hardtop, powerful six-cylinder engine, skillfully applied chrome trim, and the wide side window with no B-column.
The German designers drew inspiration for its design from the muscle cars that became fashionable in the U.S. in the late 1960s. The Commodore was intended to hold its ground for Opel in the upper end of the mid-range class segment, covered mostly by the Rekord. That’s how it became known as the ‘commander of the Rekord squadron.’ The only car that outranked it was the Opel Kapitän.
The Commodore managed to seize market shares from the Mercedes 250 and other premium sedans, thanks to its attractiveness and low price.
156,330 Commodore A models were built between 1967 and 1971. Two further versions were released through 1982.