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Opel Diplomat. The Opel-o-saurus Rex

Opel Diplomat B V8
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Opel also wanted to join the big boys. And KAD stood for Kapitän, Admiral and Opel Diplomat. These were the Big Three of Opel and the brave attempt of the brand under General Motors at the time with its respectable civil, austere reputation, to take itself a few steps higher in terms of reputation. In short: Opel wanted to achieve the same status as Mercedes-Benz and the strongly emerging BMW at the time.

Photography: Marina Block


Opel wanted more

That strategic move had to be a complete success with hefty cars with long hoods where six- or eight-cylinders could impressively do their job. And that the looks were largely dictated by the American Mother Company, making the Opels as well as the Opel Diplomat really look american? Wasn't that just an advantage?

Unfortunately, it was Opel's exemplary good reputation that never really got the idea started. Nice car. Good car too. Powerful and reliable motorized. And luxury. “Yes you can, but you will still drive in and Opel. And do you want that? ”

When Skoda was just reborn, marketers put the new Skoda on public display without emblems, brand or type designations. The public was allowed to say what they would be willing to pay for the car. Later the same was done while the newcomer was proudly recognizable as Skoda. The public now thought the car was worth DM 5.000 less. So never say "What is in a name?"

The second generation

The second generation Opel Diplomat with a 5,4 liter Chevrolet V8 it was a box of almost five meters and it was equipped with every luxury. Interior mirrors, power windows and footwell lighting were certainly not self-evident options in its day. In addition, the interior, especially for an Opel, was extremely luxurious. The velor upholstery, thick carpet and real wood gave the Diplomat V8 a luxurious living feeling that we knew - if a little more subtle - from the better British luxury cars. Chic!

But in order to bully Mercedes-Benz, you obviously need more than just thick carpet. In the technical field, the Opel Diplomat it is therefore fine. Four ventilated disc brakes, a De Dion rear axle construction and the Chevrolet V8 were important things that made the XXL Opel suitable for the Oberklasse confrontation. What? Opel even ahead of Mercedes-Benz: Mercedes-Benz only came in 1971 with an eight-cylinder W108 S-class in this segment. And it had no recessed wipers, vinyl roof or standard fog lamps under the vertical headlights. With that the Opel Diplomat itself also from the Kapitän and Admiral, who had horizontal units in the front. What remained was the distinctly American styling, although a less exuberant American and more sober and compact than generation A. They were big, beautiful and really good cars.

The big Opels did not become a hit

The Kapitän and Admiral first disappeared softly from view and in 1977 the curtain fell for the Opel Diplomat  At the time, less than 20.000 had been made.

Surviving Diplomats have been completely uninteresting to everyone for years. Probably only because they were Opels. That was at the time when the saying "Every l * l his own Opul" was quite common.

In the meantime, so few of these Opel-o-saurus Rexes remain that solid money is deposited for cool copies. Rightly so. Because they were fantastic cars.

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4 Comments

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  1. That KAD´s sind völlig unterbemittelt. Ich bin Jg. 77 und hätte mir aus heutiger Sicht einen gewünscht damals, as 2. einen W109 6.3 oder W116 450 😉 Habe einen 74er Diplo V8, der seit 2005 steht und auf seine Wiederbelebung wartet. In this year there were about 360 V8 built, also almost your own Tag ein Auto, that is everything. That ist es clean fast bewunderlich that Opel that V8 nicht abgesetzt hat before 1977. Wobei Opel bis zum Erscheinen der KAD-A inheritance war in dieser Klasse. Früher was the American Optik that vereitelt the Erfolg (see Image), heute might have guessed that Autos interesting and have seen ab von der Masse. The Preise für gute Autos machen es deutlich. Und der US-OHV-V8 ist vom Klang her ein Poem, that can be no hochgezüchteter AMG or italienischer Supersportler… Jungs wie wir fahren 5,4!

  2. Yes, they were real quality cars, they were not inferior to a Mercedes. But anyone who entered that segment wanted an asterisk on the nose and no flash. Actually, the B model was still quite good until the oil crisis hit. After 1973, economy became the trump card and these cars were not economical. The Diplomat V8 5,4 ran 1: 5.

    The Diplomat A Coupé is a separate story; they are now worth one and a half tons. Around 350 were made. It includes a Chevrolet Corvette competition engine, as the standard engine did not tolerate a cruising speed above 200 km / h. It caused another riot between Rüsselsheim and Detroit, because the Americans did not tolerate criticism from the Germans. The end of the song was that because of this expensive hard-chrome engine and the special Karmann body, it cost 15.500 German Marks for an Opel that was actually too fast for its chassis and only had two gears in the Turbo-Hydramatic.

    • Correction: the Diplomat Coupé, when introduced in 1966, did not cost 15.500 but 25.500 D-Mark. And forgot to mention: until 1966 there was still pre-war technology in the Kapitän and the Admiral: the ancient but oh so fine 2600cc 100 hp OHV that went back to the 1936 Opel Supersix.

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