The Children of Eisenach

In 1991 Opel launched the F-series Astra which lasted until 1998. These unsung cars form part of our streetscape and are often overlooked. I took a series of photos of them in their daily setting so as to document the afterlife of the car.

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While the VW Golf basks in kudos for its design consistency, and Ford enjoys the warm glow of popular approval, the poor old Astra lingers in the deep shadows of something or other. I find the shape has aged very well and I wish later cars in this class had the same clear fenestration.

1991 Opel Astra Kombi

The Opel is designed to balance a rational approach with some character. The shutlines are all tidy and the small details well-handled.

The one stylistic flourish is the feature above the rear wheel arch: it’s quite daring in the context of the car and its times. It adds a bit of visual length and is the grace note that distinguishes this from equally tidy but lifeless designs from Toyota and Renault from the same period.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

3 thoughts on “The Children of Eisenach”

  1. I always thought the F was a handsome continuation of the themes set by the E, which was appropriate given the carryover nature of the chassis. The flush glazing of the F made it look very sophisticated and the dashboard was miles superior to the grey cliff face of the E. A shame then that the drive was supposedly choppy, but then again the Escort of the time was hardly a leader in dynamic terms.

  2. This is the car that bore the brunt of Opel’s image self-destruction efforts here in Germany. I know of more than one case of a family which had hitherto been allegiant to the Rüsselsheim lightning and left the brand after terrible experiences with the F-series.
    Maybe I’m (mis-)crediting him, but the F was, if I’m not mistaken, one of the first Opels to benefit from José Ignacio Lopez’s quality minimisation programme. Some claimed he was paid by VW after having left Opel for handing over inside information – but the more likely scenario is that he was being paid by VW in the first place for ruining Opel’s reputation.

    (Before Ferdl Piech pushes the button to send his bloodhounds out to get me: that was just me kiddin’.)

  3. My ownership experience of Opels/Vauxhalls is confined to the period just before this. An Astra E, bought at three years old for a low price, ended up serving us as a work runaround for 8 years, until it was stolen. It wasn’t the most refined car, but it was honestly agreeable to drive, and seemingly bulletproof. Odd that VW would want to employ someone who thought it would be a smart idea to economise on quality.

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