7th Bodensee Klassik: Opel Celebrates 50th Birthday of Legendary GT
- Give me five: Five Opel GT built between 1968 and 1973 at the start in Bregenz
- Well-wishers: TV star Ludwig Trepte and Joachim Winkelhock behind the wheel
- Mountain stage: From Upper Swabia through the Allgäu to Tirol
Rüsselsheim. Three days, five stages, around 600 kilometres of driving, five Opel GT – this is the 7th Bodensee Klassik (May 3 to 5). The classic car rally will start and end in the beautiful city of Bregenz, which is located on the eastern shores of Lake Constance, and the participants will also have to master the mighty Alpine peaks of Tirol. Opel will kick off the festivities for a true automotive legend at this year’s edition of the Bodensee Klassik – the Opel GT is celebrating its 50th birthday.
Actor Ludwig Trepte will be one of the first well-wishers. The Berliner is best known for his Emmy Award winning role in “Generation War” and for his part in the German miniseries “Deutschland 83”. Trepte will be behind the wheel of a 1969 Opel GT 1900 during the Bodensee Klassik – a car that was built 19 years before he was born. Elsewhere, Opel Brand Ambassador and former DTM driver Joachim Winkelhock will also steer a 1969 GT. However, in this case the driver is somewhat older than the classic car. In addition, spectators will be able to take a closer look at the Opel Insignia GSi. It will be joined in front of the Festspielhaus in Bregenz by one of its predecessors – the Opel Commodore A GS/E.
This year, a total of 180 classic cars will gather on the eastern shores of Lake Constance. The prologue from Bregenz, through the Allgäu and back to Lindau will take place on Thursday, May 3. On Friday (May 4), the route will take the participants to Upper Swabia, the region around Ravensburg. The final will mainly take place in Austria on May 5 when cars and drivers will have to tackle the Alpine stage through the eastern Allgäu, Tirol and Vorarlberg.
Cross-border cooperation for a true dream car
The first Opel GT rolled off the assembly line in 1968, an early example of Franco-German cooperation. Thanks to previous joint projects, the coachbuilder Chausson and Brissoneau & Lotz was a proven partner for Opel and the French company carried out the press work, welding, painting and interior installation of the GT, before sending it to Germany for final assembly of the chassis and powertrain.
GT buyers had two four-cylinder engines to choose from – one with 1.1-litres displacement and 60 hp came from the Kadett and the other – with 1.9-litres and 90 hp – from the Rekord. The GT 1900 was especially popular right from the start. The maximum speed of 185 km/h and zero-100 km/h acceleration in 11.5 seconds were just what buyers wanted. The rear wheels were driven via a four-speed manual gearbox. European customers hardly ever ordered the optional three-speed automatic, but on the other side of the Atlantic the transmission was extremely popular.
Friedhelm Engler, Design Director Exterior at Opel, describes the behaviour of his colleagues at the time as “Cheeky! It was pretty naughty to propose a front mid-engine concept based on the Kadett B. Instead of dressing proven mass-production parts in a new outer skin, they had the nerve to do something totally radical – a real Gran Turismo. You could say that the GT is bravery in steel!”
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