More modern, larger and stylish: Rekord A succeeds Rekord P2 in 1963. Variety of body styles: As a saloon, coupe, station wagon and express delivery van. Clear lines: Straightforward design with advantageous, generous use of space. Bold and pure, focussed and electrified: This is the latest generation Astra.
Rüsselsheim. 1963 was an eventful year: US President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin and spoke the legendary words “Ich bin ein Berliner”. German Chancellor Adenauer resigned from his office in the then capital Bonn at the age of 87; his successor was Ludwig Erhard – the father of the German economic miracle. And among the young generation, "The Beatles" celebrated their breakthrough and conquered the charts.
There was also a lot of movement in the automotive industry with a new style pushing through. Opel presented the new Record in the spring of 1963. "A car of uncompromising progress," as the sales brochure at the time put it. With its combination of clear lines and exemplary use of space, the new mid-range model inspired the general public. Just like the latest generation Astra does today, almost six decades later. It is clearer, bolder and more focussed than ever and electrified for the first time. The Astra shows Opel’s approach to the future with zero local emissions and innovative technologies.
60 years ago, Opel presented the record for the first time. However, the history of the name of the successful mid-range model is slightly more complicated and dates back even further. Because its ancestor is the Opel Olympia Rekord, which was introduced in 1953, i.e. 70 years ago – it was the first completely new design by Opel since vehicle production had resumed in 1946. With the 1957 model year, Opel also referred to the Olympia Rekord as P1, a reference to the panoramic windscreen. From 1960, Opel dispensed with the Olympia name altogether. The new model, the Rekord P2, received the numerical supplement 2, although the windscreen no longer had the strong curvature of its predecessor. In the spring of 1963, Opel presented a new medium sized vehicle and the Rekord A was born.
From the start, new Opel Rekord A attracted attention with its clear, smooth design. Accompanying materials from the time stated: “Motorists particularly praised the smooth, straightforward body and the generous amount of space. With its interior comfort and its driving values this latest newcomer from Rüsselsheim enters the area that ten years ago was still reserved for the Kapitän. It even surpasses its interior, but uses 20 percent less fuel.” The typical American curves have given way to smooth surfaces on the Rekord A. The headlights are no longer located above the radiator grille, but flank it on both sides at a height so that the vehicle face forms a visual unit – almost a first forebear of today's Opel Vizor brand face, which was inspired by the Opel Manta. The sides and rear also impress with their clarity. Superfluous chrome trim strips or applications are no longer popular – the new model focusses on the essentials.
And that means offering the driver and passengers as much car as possible: With dimensions of 4,512 x 1,696 x 1,465 millimetres (length x width x height), the Rekord A hardly changed compared to its predecessor – and yet it became significantly larger in the interior. Thanks to state-of-the-art development methods, it was possible to achieve a significant gain in space, which has a positive effect on comfort and everyday use. The also 4.51 metres long estate variant now offers more than two cubic metres of loading volume. And thanks to the wheelbase, which has been increased by almost ten centimetres to 2,639 millimetres, passengers in the rear in particular enjoy more legroom. Furthermore, the sloping windscreen and rear window reinforce the long, elegant appearance of the Rekord A. At the same time, safety and the driving experience were the focus of development. The torsional rigidity of the body was increased by around 30 percent. In addition, the Rekord A came with a two- spoke safety steering wheel and could also be ordered with disc brakes at the front and a dual-circuit brake system. The newly developed heating and ventilation system also benefitted comfort and safety. For example, the nozzles for the side windows are located in the corners of the instrument panel in such a way that they optimally counteract any possible misting.
With the Rekord A, those responsible at Opel offered customers a variety of variants that catered for almost every taste and every requirement profile: the medium sized model, which was available at the time from an affordable DM 6,830, was available as a two- and four-door saloon with and without luxury equipment, as a sporty coupe and as a practical Rekord Caravan estate. The range is rounded off by the three-door express delivery van. Buyers could choose from a total of 28 different colours – 13 one-tone and 15 two-tone. The standard equipment included the Opel fresh air warm water heater, windscreen wipers, a central locking system (which was not a matter of course at the time), seats and ceiling coverings upholstered in imitation leather and, in the estate, a cover for the spare wheel in the rear. The 1.5 and 1.7-litre in-line four-cylinder engines with 40 kW/55 hp and 44 kW/60 hp ensured reliable performance. Those looking for additional performance could choose the Rekord “6” from 1964. Thanks to its 2.6-litre in-line six-cylinder engine and 74 kW/100 hp it boasted a top speed of more than 170 km/h. At the same time, the Rekord 6 is considered the forebear of the Opel Commodore. The last Rekord A rolled off the assembly line in autumn 1965 and was immediately replaced by the next generation Rekord.
Performance and emotional design – that is what the compact class bestseller Opel Astra stands for today with the latest Astra generation being electrified for the first time, both as a five-door model and as an Astra Sports Tourer estate. At the same time, Astra and Astra Sports Tourer with their length of 4.37 and 4.64 metres respectively reflect the dimensions of the former medium-sized Rekord A. As a plug-in hybrid, the "Golden Steering Wheel 2022" winner1 offers locally emission- free and responsible driving pleasure. The most recent Astra additions, the new GSe models of Opel’s dynamic GSe (for "Grand Sport electric") sub-brand provide further proof. With a system output of 165 kW/225 hp and maximum torque of 360 Nm, the Astra GSe sets standards in its class (fuel consumption according to WLTP2: 1.2-1.1 l/100 km, CO2 emissions 26-25 g/km; each combined). And thanks to the 12.4 kWh lithium-ion battery, it can cover up to 64 kilometres locally emission-free according to WLTP3 (EAER City according to WLTP3: 69-73 km).
In addition, the current generation Astra interprets the strong heritage of the brand in an innovative and inspiring way: with clear, exciting lines without superfluous flourishes and the characteristic Opel Vizor brand face inspired by the Manta A. The Astra is also highly practical. As a sporty, elegant Sports Tourer, it offers a loading volume of up to 1,634 litres; even the plug-in hybrid still holds up to 1,553 litres with the batteries installed in the underbody.
And a high level of safety and comfort is also ensured: the Astra offers numerous state-of-the-art technologies from the adaptive, glare-free Intelli-Lux LED® Pixel light with a total of 168 LED elements to the Intelli-Drive 1.0 system, which combines many driver assistance systems, to the fully digital, intuitively operated Pure Panel Cockpit. In line with the brand credo, Opel continues to bring innovations from higher vehicle segments and make them affordable for everyone.