1.4 million Opel Rekord E models sold, dear readers. This one is still running though maybe not for so much longer.
Nothing new under the sun, is there? When the current generation of Opel Insignia appeared, it upset me that there was a false pane in the side-glass. Since then I noticed the previous Mazda6 came very close to the same supposed sin. If we go back to 1977 we find the Rekord D1 where the last element of the apparent DLW is a black panel or fake pane.
I can´t decide if Opel’s Mark Adams was nodding in the direction of the Rekord or if he missed a trick by not taking a small extra effort to
flag up the fact the last panel on the Insignia sideglass is not transparent – grooves? A texture? Another material?
Ratty as this example might be I can still see something to admire in the form. It is distinctly different from a Ford Granada and indeed all the other large cars of the time, without being wilfully wierd.
One thing that catches my eye is the flow from the front wing, up the A-pillar, over the roof and down to the bootlid. The base of the DLO does not make an effort to flow around to the base of the windscreen, not even a half-hearted little bend. And there is a small increase in curvature on the forward part of the front wing which is (this is magical, the designers implemented this detail) not the same as the one on the Peugeot 604.
The contrast with the straight bootlid is pleasing but I am at a loss to say why. It might be the way it sets up the context for the apparent DLO (really the C-pillar) to cut into the boot volume.
I went to find out how much a decent Rekord costs. The answer is about 4000 euros or more. This spiffing 1976 Opel Rekord 1900 SH De Luxe appeared in my search and I nearly fell off my chair:
Take a look at the subtle way the front wheel cut-out leans forward, in sympathy with the forward lean of the wing; at the back the rear wheel cut-out is slightly flattened. The rocker panel/sill is inclined upwards as it goes backwards. This is a symphony of subtle touches.
That realisation makes me return to the Rekord E1 which is the main point of this article. I don’t have an answer to this question: what motivated the move to much plainer shapes for the E1? The boring answer is “to make it look different”. There is an infinity of other shapes that would have been different to the Rekord D – the designers chose the plain, industrial shapes of the E1 as their preferred expression of difference.
Was this choice inspired by Brutalism in architecture? Was it inspired by a wish for apparent sobriety? I like the E1; the D is even better, an inspired mix of rectangular with nuanced deviations from the simplest lines.