I bought my first car when I was 17 years old in the fall of 1977 from a neighbor. I paid $450 and agreed to shovel their snow for the winter. I was the happiest 17 years old you ever met. A sporty little red two seater with hidden headlights that swiveled open and it looked like a mini Corvette, albeit a little rusty. What a great deal I though. I knew very little about cars, I was used to working on 2 stroke motorcycles and of course they have no crankcase oil to change.
That winter my dad helped me remove the trim pieces for paint and body work. With new shiny red paint, the Opel was looking good. The next six months yielded tons of great driving fun. Yes, I drove it like a teenager, who likes high revving motorcycles, would drive. That’s when my inexperience with four stroke engines began to cost me. The oil pressure started dropping and the advice my dad offered was to add more oil. My Dad was not big on oil changes. The outcome was predictable as I kept driving, the motor self-destructed.
My dad’s idea to get me back on the road was to replace the motor with a junkyard motor. Which we did but it was also bad, and then another, which was bad, and a third, which ran okay but had a bad rear main seal and it wrecked the clutch. I became very good at replacing the engine, which was removed from the underside of the car. I only drove my shiny red Opel for five months until I pushed her into the corner of a barn.
At this point it was time to go away to college, and then, start my career, get married and have three kids. My little red Opel sat in storage for next 25 years. My wife knew the car existed but never actually saw the car in person until we were married for 15 years. The only “old car” she knew of was my 1972 911S Targa which I proposed to her in and still own.
Some may call this bad luck, I feel fortunate that I still have the car. Probably because I’ve bought and sold over twenty cars during that twenty five year period including, three Datsun Z cars, a Porsche 914, a Porsche 356 Conv. D, two Mustang Conv.’s and two VW Sirocco’s. Lots of fun cars came and went, I suspect this would have been the fate of the Opel. It’s now a part of my childhood memories and will never be sold.
In 2003 my Dad bought a heated barn close to home and work and he allowed me to restore the Opel there. I would spend lunch hours getting small projects done and more time on Saturdays with some of the kids in tow. My first drive after making it go (carb rebuild, rear main seal, new clutch) and making sure it would stop (brakes lines, pads etc.) was a nostalgic trip back in time. That first drive made me tingle all over and laugh out loud. It took me two and a half years to complete restoration and make it into a reliable driver, including a freshly rebuilt motor.
I’ve logged over 4,000 miles since the restoration. It’s been nice to spend time with an old friend that was never forgotten.