3,308cc Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
4-Speed Selective Shift Manual Transmission with Shaft Drive
Front and Rear Three-Quarter Elliptical Leaf Springs
Rear-Wheel Drum Brakes
*Extremely rare in North America
*Very striking original bodywork
*Shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
THE OPEL 14/38 PS
The Opel name is best-known in the United States as the German arm of General Motors, manufacturers of the Kadett, Olympia, and the GT sports coupe of the 1970s. The firm's history extends back much further, to a bicycle manufacturing firm of the late 1800s, and it built its first car in 1899.
By the early 1920s the firm had pioneered the automobile assembly line in Germany and enjoyed an enormous market share in the country, as its largest automaker and automobile exporter. Its products were known for quality engineering and robust construction.
Among the finest Opel products of this era was the 14/38 PS, a luxury model built during the Nickel Era, which featured an aluminum alloy block with cast iron heads, leather cone clutch, and a manual four-speed transmission, and was offered in several different body styles. Easily the most attractive was the Double-Phaeton, which featured a fascinating reverse-angled tail, resembling the transom of a great ship. When folded the top and its bows lay flush with the body, creating a smooth, graceful line reminiscent of the torpedo designs of Italian coachbuilder Sala. This was an advanced and quite dramatic body for a German automaker of its era, well-suited to the 14/38 PS's top speed of 70 km/h. It seems that few were delivered to the United States, as today the Opels of this era remain virtually unknown on American shores except to the fortunate few who have experienced them firsthand.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
According to the FIVA Identity Card issued a prior owner, the Schnuerer Opel was first registered on October 22, 1918, later moving to Northern Sweden. It is believed to have had one owner from 1922 until 1939, then was parked and out of circulation until 1998. That year it was acquired by Eric Löfberg, who sold it on December 2, 1999, to German enthusiast Ernst-August Bremer of Barsinghausen. A photo album remains with the car, with many detailed images showing the Opel's overall solid and intact condition as it appeared in storage, prior to the restoration; its odometer then reflected 44,166 km.
During the restoration the Opel was returned to its original condition, with a few minor concessions to modern road use and traffic safety, including a modern clutch lining and turn signal lights. It was finished in the original colors of a beautiful deep burgundy red lacquer varnish, with black fenders, buttoned black leather interior, and a beige canvas top, of an unusual style that nearly fully envelopes the interior when erected – ideal for all-weather touring in the Alps! Painted wooden artillery wheels are a wonderful accent, as is a brass horn and a winged Opel-badged motometer atop the radiator shell.
The original brass threshold plates remain intact, as does the original serial number plate afixed to the dashboard. Indeed, the overall appearance of the car is thoroughly authentic and delightful, indicating an effort made to maintain and use whatever original components could be safely preserved. Mr. Bremer's correspondence, also included in the file, reflects his attention to detail to this end, including conversations with Opel roster-keepers regarding the car's specifications and history.
The car then moved to the United States and into the hands of Gerhard Schnuerer in 2003. Mr. Schnuerer undertook his typical extensive mechanical improvements to the drivetrain. Following completion of the work, the car was exhibited at the 2004 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. It was later awarded 1st in Class at the ATSC Concours d'Elegance in Irvine, California, that same year. More recently the rear axle and carburetor were rebuilt by Tired Iron Works, which also fitted a new set of gears. Invoices for this work are also included in the history file.
Any early, pre-General Motors Opel is extraordinarily rare in the United States. This 14/38 PS is certainly the only example presently available on these shores, and with its dramatic bodywork and high-quality restoration, would be a delightful addition to any private collection of German automobiles. Reflecting his own passion for unusual and historic automobiles of Teutonic origins, it has been a favorite of Mr. Schnuerer's and will certainly maintain the same respect in a new owner's carriage house – perhaps alongside a restored Opel GT, its natural successor.