The art deco style car, which went into production in 1938, was Opel’s first self-supporting steel-bodied model. The name Kapitän (captain) is not just a fancy name, it also refers to the rank in the range. It provided a transition between the smaller and cheaper Kadett (Cadet) and the Admiral (Admiral), the top of the range.
The very first Opel Kapitän rolled off the production line in 1938 and initially bore the name of its predecessor, the Super 6, a reference to the engine’s cylinder. However, the name was very quickly changed, which in today’s terms is justified, as the new model had nothing to do with its predecessor other than the engine. While the Super 6 had a chassis body, the Kapitän, together with the Cadet and the Olympia, which appeared at about the same time, had a modern, self-supporting body, and only the Admiral remained chassis-bodied.
The 54 hp engine had a top speed of 126 km/h and could reach 100 km/h in 29 seconds. Its fuel consumption might seem daunting to today’s eyes, with 13 litres per 100 km. In the decades that followed, it became such a popular car that it was produced for six generations. It was succeeded by the Diplomat, which appeared in 1964.
The captain’s birthday was celebrated by several oldtimer and Opel enthusiast clubs in Germany and the Netherlands. The vintage car has become one of the most important and influential examples of Opel, and one of the most important in the history of motoring. It was the 80th anniversary of this event.
Between 1953 and 1958, 154 098 Kapitän were produced. In its day, this generation was the third most popular car in Germany behind the Volkswagen Beetle and Opel’s own Rekord.
For the 1956 model year, it received a slight facelift, a more modern grille, framed headlights, larger front indicators and side trim, and increased power to 75 bhp.
From May 1957, a semi-automatic three-speed overdrive gearbox with an additional fourth gear was available on request.
Production continued until 1970. The Admiral and the Diplomat lived for seven more years until they were replaced by the Senator in 1978.

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