Opel Elektro GT. Electric experiment with six world records in 1971

ER Classics Desktop 2022

Opel is currently not letting go of it. The current Stellantis subsidiary is fully committed to the electrification program. Recently, a tip of the veil was lifted with a report about the Opel Manta GSe. That will be an electric car completely inspired by the Manta-A. Opel also embarked on the path of electrification a long time ago. This is how the Stir Lec Kadett was built. That was the Kadett-B coupé (type 92) with a hybrid powertrain. In another experiment, Opel set six world records for battery electric cars in 1971. The protagonists: the Opel Elektro GT and Georg von Opel. 

The speed records were set at the Hockenheimring in Germany on 17 and 18 May 1971. He did this with a specially developed and modified sports car: the Opel 'Elektro GT'. In the end, the car thus set six world records. The record attempt with Georg von Opel's 'Elektro GT' was not only a test for the future of battery-electric vehicles. It was also the continuation of a family tradition. His cousin Rocket Fritzfrom 1927 to 1929 regularly made the front pages of rocket demonstrations. The peak took place on May 23, 1928. On the Avus circuit, the Opel RAK-2 reached a top speed of 238 km / h, an absurd value at the time.

Two Bosch DC electric motors, increased weight

The 'Elektro GT' was equipped with two Bosch DC electric motors that together delivered a continuous output of 88 kW (120 hp) and a peak power of 118 kW (160 hp). Varta supplied the four nickel cadmium batteries, which were placed next to and below the driver's seat. The placement of the batteries resulted in a considerable increase in weight. That was 1.550 kilograms: about as much as an Opel Diplomat B of that time and around twice the weight of a Kadett-B.

Adjustments and compensation for weight gain

The batteries contained a total of 280 cells, but for the long-distance record attempt, 360 cells were needed, so that the Elektro GT weighed not 1.550 kilograms, but 1.700 kilograms. Due to the higher weight, firmer suspension was required. Continental developed special high-pressure tires that kept rolling resistance to a minimum. Furthermore, all air inlets and outlets at the front were closed. The hood became flat. The bumpers, mirrors and door handles were removed. Finally, the engineers stripped the car of unnecessary engine and interior parts.

Just enough space for the driver: fighter jet batteries fill the interior

An electronic control system filled the luggage compartment and - unique to a GT - the rear of the car received a large spoiler. The taillights had been removed and the holes that formed as a result were covered. The muffler was replaced by a heat exchanger. A conventional car battery supplied the electronics with power. This was placed in the front, in the engine compartment where an electric motor was now located. The batteries (normally found in fighter jets) were placed in special racks in the interior. They took up all the space behind and next to the driver. It had just enough room to sit on a regular chair.

Six records, almost 190 kilometers per hour

On May 17, 1971, Georg von Opel set four new world records for electrically powered cars behind the wheel of the 'Elektro GT'. This concerned the distance of 1 kilometer, 1 kilometer standing start, half a kilometer standing start and 0,25 mile standing start. Georg von Opel reached the highest speed during the first part, reaching a speed of 188,86 km / h. On May 18, Von Opel celebrated its 59th birthday. What was special was that he set two more records with the Elektro GT on this day. In both the 10 km and 10 miles, the Elektro GT became the fastest battery electric car with average speeds of 126,89 km / h and 127.15 km / h respectively. Incidentally, one new world record was not achieved: driving for 100 km at a constant speed of 100 km / h. The record attempt stalled at a distance of 44 km.

Experiment successful despite low payload.

Nevertheless, Opel showed with the Elektro GT what the possibilities were in terms of speed. In terms of loading capacity and weight capacity, there was certainly still a lot to be gained in 1971. But Opel did succeed in implementing the experiment. Georg von Opel drove the Elektro GT beautifully into the history books. With six world records. It was one of Von Opel's last tricks, as he died not long after setting the records. Georg von Opel died on August 14, 1971.





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  1. Well, I also grew up with “explosive engines” but why extract energy from the earth when the “copper sphere” provides the earth with thousands of times more energy every day than it needs? With all the bad consequences of "rooting in the earth" that entails?
    I've been allowed to drive a Model 3 ………… .. Phenomenal.
    Now I think that these kinds of cars will make way for hydrogen cars. If I still have my Abarth, I want to have it renamed Aba (e) rth.

  2. Experiencing with your nose = nothing wrong with that. I personally think diesel and 2-stroke smells nice. Not many people agree with me by the way, but that is probably not because of me 😜
    I myself have long ago serviced devices with large nicd batteries. When closed, those batteries turned red hot and the wiring filaments. The batteries could still be used after closing and cooling.
    The improvement compared to the current e-car is that the battery of those things will burn (unquenchable). I recently saw a burnt-out Tesla on a car trailer of which nothing was more recognizable than a rear light.

  3. Nice piece Erik! It also proves how we are being cheated by all governments!
    Oil companies. Manufacturers. Et. Etc.
    Again with E10 or E5. Of course oil "boys", and the state knew beforehand what would break your auti if engine! Then only 5 in! At least more will be earned again! However !!

  4. Electric cars worthless a lot of problems and those batteries are what isn't harmful to the environment I don't want one yet and climate change occurs once every few years

  5. Electric propulsion has advantages, people knew that even around 1900. Nevertheless, the explosion engine won that competition. Until now, because in the meantime the detonation engine has perished due to its own success (quantity, technology and cheating). And so the automobile becomes electric because there are no local emissions of harmful fumes. And so-called no greenhouse gas emissions: “Because what you don't see isn't there”.

    But…. I'm not going to experience that. I don't want a Miele buzz but noise under the hood, no touch screen but pull-push-turn switches, not endlessly long, standing at a charging pole at tide and dawn but just fill my tank with a super-plus-98 tiger peut. I enjoy the auditory and olfactory experience (I also had to look them up, it's about smell) of an Otto engine.
    Luckily I have a few oldies in my stable, I will still sing it out for a while 😎 and therefore not an E-classic for me either.

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