Small station wagons have always been popular in Europe. They offered the efficiency and affordability of their sedan stablemates with a little more room for groceries, lumber, or the hounds. Known as estates, shooting brakes, and tourings, the station wagon’s popularity jumped across the pond but somehow was diminished by the rise of the sport-utility vehicle, itself merely a station wagon with big tyres.
I grew up in small station wagons like the Datsun 510 and 610, as well as a smallish late-70s Chevy Malibu. The geek gene is strong and the temptation for a silly wagon occasionally has to be beaten back with a stick. Or a stiff Scotch. Since my wife is similarly afflicted, I have the feeling there will be another square five-door in my life at some time. Hello 1961 Pontiac Catalina or 1963 Chevy Impala?
It may or may not be a late-1950s Opel Olympia Caravan. Welcome back to How Hard Can It Be?, the game show where we viciously pit dollars and time against your sanity.
The Opel Rekord P I was initially available as a two-door sedan or wagon. Later, in 1959, a four-door sedan was added. We don’t know if this stellar example of German enthusiasm is an Opel Olympia Rekord or the decontented version marketed simply as the Olympia, also referred to back in the day as the “Bauern-Buick” (Peasant’s Buick). The seller refers to it only as a Caravan.
Several engines were available, ranging from the lowly 1196 cc to the relatively mighty 1680 cc, as well as an optional sorta-automatic transmission called the Olymat. Interestingly, the Autenrieth firm built coupes and convertibles out of Rekord two-door sedans, priced at roughly 30-40% higher than the standard cars.
Of course, there is rust. We can see the surface rust on the body and the seller states the floors are crispy. It looks remarkably intact, however, from the glass to the trim. The roof rack would look totally boss with a couple of surf boards bungeed to it. The interior looks… there. And not a festering hole of rotting vinyl and horse hair, either. So that’s a bonus.
This particular Olympia Caravan was built sometime between mid-1957 and 1960. The engine turns, but the seller doesn’t let us know by what means. We’re thinking maybe, based on the sunny nature of the pictures, solar power. Internal combustion is probably right out. For us, the engine doing a full-on Linda Blair Exorcist head-turn would put a stake in the heart of the US $750.00 asking price.
Despite the obvious issues, we can almost see putting this car back together. Let’s assume parts are available and time is infinite. That leaves dollars, but we can rationalize the dollar size will be proportional to the car’s size. Trust us.
The real problem with this Opel? It oozes cool, which doesn’t so much graze the geek button but repeatedly stabs it with a red-hot poker.
[ Craigslist ]