1984 Opel Senator 2.5E Road Test

 Driving a 1984 Opel Senator. 

1984 Opel Senator 2.5E
1984 Opel Senator 2.5E. All images: The author.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on DTW on 14 February 2015.

Every time one has a reason to discuss the large cars from the ’70s and ’80s, the large cars that aren’t BMW, Mercedes or Audi, one seems obliged to talk about the status and success of these products in comparative terms. It seems incorrect to speak of the Granada, 604 or Senator without mentioning how they fared relative to the BMW 5 et al. I’ll avoid re-treading all that ground again.

By now even I admit that you would need to be very determinedly prejudiced to deny that the W123 Mercedes Benz is the clear winner of that long-term battle. The W123 is the definition of a high quality passenger saloon, the saloon car to end all saloon cars. I’ve seen these machines up close – we all have – and every visible element is made of some class of entropy resistant material, from the dwarf star chrome on to the NASA-class door seals and then to the cloth with an infinite Martindale value. That’s why they are still on the road and that’s why they are still worth money.

So, yes, noted. The W123 is great and that’s that. Is there any reason to look beyond Stuttgart?

1984 Opel Senator profile pointing left

Maybe you don’t want to drive the same classic car as everyone else. And what if you are prepared to trade Mercedes’ bullet-proof/bank-vault/billet-solid [delete cliché after your preference] quality for some other less material benefit? The Mercedes was well built but it was also not so very nice to drive. So what are the alternatives?

If you really must have some other medium-large car, the field is broad. For decades this was a very healthy market with lots of entrants. In fact the early 1970s was a boom period as various makers went chasing the executive customer. Ford used to shift millions of Granadas. Opel sold 1.4 million Rekord Es. Even Renault sold 700,000 of their 20 and 30 series cars.

I say the field is broad, but in theory more than reality. The numbers of the also-rans that remain on the road are unimpressive, especially here in Denmark. Of all those cars made, the vast majority are gone. It has taken months of looking to find a worthwhile vehicle to test.

Opel’s entrant in this sector was the Senator, today’s test car. The Ruesselsheim firm offered two series of the Senator, one from 1978 to 1986, and another from 1986 to 1993. The first series took the Rekord E, equivalent to a low-series Granada, as its start point. To make the Rekord into Senator it was made longer (mostly at either end) and had different interior trim and unique front and rear exterior styling.

The glasshouse featured extensive brightwork and a reworked side glass and C-pillar treatment. These modifications were intended to produce a luxurious but good value car that would compete with the top-end Granada, Rover SD1, Peugeot 604, BMW 5-series and the W123. Conceivably, even some Jaguar customers might have been tempted.

1984 Opel Senator rear

Engineering: The Senator’s layout was once the industry norm. It was a three-box saloon with rear-wheel-drive, a three-speed automatic transmission and a straight-six cylinder engine with Bosch electronic injection (introduced in 1983). Initially, Senators were sold only with six-cylinder engines but, towards the last half of the car’s career, the smaller engines from the Rekord E were also made available (a move Peugeot could have considered for the 604 but didn’t).

The version I tested was a 2.5E with the camshaft-in-head engine. The suspension uses McPherson struts up front and at the rear are trailing links, a system also used on the Mercedes W118, Austin 3-litre and Peugeot 504 and the Ford Granada. For the series 2 facelift , the Senator A2 had lost its frontal chrome trim and was smoothed off with new bumpers: this also reduced its Cd to 0.39. It’s still not an aerodynamic car, though: Citroen’s 1974 CX had a Cd of 0.34 by comparison.

1984 Opel Senator top side view pointing right

On a more subjective basis, looking at the car in question, I saw a mildy worn but dirt-free example in pale greeny gold. The car was imported from Germany at the end of the 90s and one owner looked after it for most of the time. They could not stop superficial rust nibbling here and there, mostly around the flanges on the bodywork edges. This is the sort of thing the legendary W123 resists.

The Senator’s hood is a fabulously heavy sheet of steel with no struts to support it. You lift the many kilos up all by yourself and hope no stray fingers are around. The engine bay is superbly free of clutter. There sits in the bay a huge metal loaf dead centre, aligned longitudinally in front of you. That’s the straight-six of 2.5 litre capacity. For anyone who has only seen modern engine bays, this looks either refreshingly straightforward or worryingly agricultural. I like it. The set-up looks simple to repair and robust; pleasingly analogue.

1984 Opel Senator 2.5E dashboard: very square but very neat.
1984 Opel Senator 2.5E dashboard: very square but very neat.

Sitting inside: After taking a look at the voluminous boot with its unfashionably high sill, I got into the car and took some moments to get used to the sensory disconnect. The Opel is in one way a large car. It looks big from the outside and looks big when seen in isolation. When you sit inside you feel very close to the door as in a smaller car, though.

Then there is an openness to the interior created by all the space between fittings and the space from driver to passenger, and from the distance from driver to the passenger door. By comparison, modern cars are either very snug or over-furnished. Our cars now are full of trim. I like the Senator’s ambience and the relaxing quality of the broad, yellow velour seats.

There’s no centre armrest for the driver, alas. Back to sensory disconnect, the Senator feels very dense indeed.  These days it’s about the same size as a Focus saloon but that car feels lighter. The reported weight of the Opel is in the 1,500 to 1,600kg range and most of this weight is metal and glass. The feeling then is of hardness, and of things fitting close together.

1984 Opel Senator interior front side

Settting off: Describing the sensation of driving a 30 year-old car (with roots in the 1970s) is not that easy. For a start, my immediate reference was the brand-new Fiat 500 I had rented for my trip. Trying to assess red wine after gargling cola is not ideal. What one really needs to do is to compare the car to its peers or try to judge it in isolation.

The engine started up with a healthy and very mechanical roar. There is no engine creep when you push the automatic into D. I pressed the floor-hinged accelerator pedal a little too enthusiastically and the rear wheels spun. My impressions are that the engine required more poking than I’d have expected. It growls and makes a fine noise but doesn’t react as quickly as I would have expected.

I drove the car over narrow country roads on a wet and windy day. The manners of the car suggest that it is a vehicle to drive carefully at all times. A recirculating ball steering system is used, which helps to eliminate kickback from the road but also creates a floppy feeling around the straight-ahead. Car magazine described it as “somewhat lifeless” in 1978.

Perhaps with experience I would get used to the Senator’s behaviour; initially it was something I felt required caution. I think the car is one that could easily be made to slide or, worse, it might slide when you don’t want it to. So I braked early and accelerated out of corners. It put me in mind of the Lancia Thesis I tested some years back.

The Senator in automatic form is a servant not an entertainer (not in a dynamic sense). In 1978, Car’s view was that the Senator was the most reassuring and rewarding to drive compared to the BMW 730 and Alfa Romeo 6. That makes one wonder about how the other cars were.

Outward visibility is superb all around. The slim C-pillars help in this regard so that when you look over your shoulder at a T-junction, you can see what is coming. It’s a very pleasant characteristic.

Overall impressions: Turning to the car’s showroom quality, one can’t help but admire the cheerfulness of the soft velour which covers the seats and doors. Though somewhat faded, it has held up well. The chrome fittings and brown plastic are all part of the car’s period charm. Alas, I know that the car I am testing is not the top of the Opel tree. The 3.0 Senator came with wooden door cappings, rear head restraints and an opulent green or blue material, which for me would make the car irresistible. I bet it had a centre arm-rest too. On the other hand, the car in question is not one you’d be afraid to use respectfully as it’s not a museum piece to be driven only with white cotton gloves on dry summer Sundays.

It is in the matter of plastics that you can see the W123’s clearest perceived quality advantages over the Opel. Looking around the car there are areas of incorrectly matched plastics that you don’t find in a W123; the driver’s ashtray has a squeaky zinc spring and the glove box lid sounds hollow when it shuts. This is trivial stuff and you’d forget it on a day-to-day basis, yet these little details are the ones that generate the long-term impressions.

The smell: engine oil and old plastics, how evocative. The noise: the engine feels very nearby and the sound is loud. While driving, you are very aware of more vibration and of machinery working not so far off. I didn’t mind this at all as it reminds you that you are in a machine from a different time. It is not anaesthetic.

Conclusions: I can’t offer any data on things like fuel consumption, but reports suggest it likes to have a gallon every 20-25 miles. The boot is nice and large. Can you live with a thirty year-old, straight six, automatic, rear drive, near-luxury saloon? In isolation, yes. The Opel offers clear advantages over the Granada, for example, in that it seems to be a better made car.

And in status terms, the Granada came in a wide range of trim levels from 2.0 L to 3.0 Ghia spec, whereas engine and interior differences plus nicer styling separate the Rekord E from the Senator. The difference was reduced somewhat when the Senator A lost its chrome in 1982. Again, the ultimate Senator is not this 2.5 E A2-series car, but the full-fat chromed 3.0 A-series.

I don’t mind the rusty edges, but I do mind the fact that I know there is an even nicer Senator out there. Perhaps the most surprising thing that makes me think twice about what is a very affordable car that needs no work, ready for immediate use, is the rear accommodation.

How did Helmut Kohl like this compared to Granadas, 300Es and Audi 100s?
How did Helmut Kohl like this compared to Granadas, 300Es and Audi 100s?

The theme of the month is passengers. And it’s in the back of the Senator that you can see the disadvantage of basing the car on the Rekord. The wheelbase is nearly the same in both cars. Hence,the rear legroom is not what you’d expect, and Car too thought so in 1978. I don’t think anyone would be uncomfortable in the back of the Senator. It’s better than the E12 BMW 5 Series and the Alfa 6, and the equal of the Benz. The seats are very cossetting.

Yet I think it’s not a car in which you’d sprawl on a long journey. You should sit upright and try to find a way to deal with the small and oddly positioned ashtry. I really wish it was more spacious because here the Senator’s other enemy, the Peugeot 604, hoves into view. That’s a car for passengers and it’s steering is on record as being better.

If you can get past the existence of the Mercdes W123, which you have to if you are going to go and test a Senator, you’ll find a very agreeable car. Some of the qualities are to do with historical accident: the passage of time has killed off straight-sixes so the Opel can provide what a modern car can’t. The same goes for the airiness of the car. Almost any old car is airier than a modern one.

So what is it about the Senator in particular that appeals, compared to the other possible contenders? I suspect that the Senator’s material and fabrics are amongst the best after the Mercedes. The engine is a strong and reliable unit that sounds great. Most of the other cars in the class offered V6s. The gearbox is smooth and the car looks decisively more impressive than Ford’s admittedly very good Granada of the same period.

On balance and adding it all up, I think that the Senator 2.5E lacks that extra something though, the particular element that gives absolute appeal, rather than appeal relative to its peers. I’d certainly like to live with a Senator for a while but I am not sure it’s quite good enough (in 2.5E form) to gain the gold medal.

As a counterpoint, it’s worth remembering that the car exists in quite good numbers compared to its peers, which might give a hint that if you did get into a Senator, you’d not regret it. It’s a survivor.

Author: richard herriott

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

32 thoughts on “1984 Opel Senator 2.5E Road Test”

  1. Good morning, Richard. Here is a shot of the engine bay, although I think your example came sans the red thing:

    I occasionally saw a light blue Senator 3.oE with dark blue velours interior in my younger years. The car is probably long gone by now, but I can remember the sound of the straight six. Rather lovely.

    I can only find one Senator for sale in the Netherlands, a 1983 2.5E in the same shade of blue as the car I remember from my childhood. It’s solid, by the looks of it, but needs cosmetic work. Asking price is € 3k. I like these cars, but don’t love them, competent as they might be.

    1. Good morning Freerk. I wonder if that strut brace is a bit of ‘preventative maintenance’ given Opel’s historic issues with cracking bulkheads?

    2. Fitting a strut brace is a must for these cars because without one front end failure is a question of when, not if.

      The Senator’s rear suspension had semi trailing arms, a design that had evolved into a European standard in the late Sixties with BMW’s Neue Klasse (and all subsequent BMWs up to E36, except Z1), Mercedes W114/115 (/8, the W118 was the early concept that became the Audi F103), Ro80, K70, Fiat 130, Peugeot 504, Ford Granada/Consul.

      The 2.5 engine surely was the least satisfying choice for a Senator. Its unwillingness to rev and the delayed throttle response were intentional GM safety features to prevent drivers from getting too enthusiastic just like the famous ‘sneeze factor’ steering.

    3. Dave, that’s interesting about the strut brace. They are rarely fitted to the Australian Commodore unless extensive track racing is envisaged- and even then, their efficacy is questioned. So the extra strengthening that GMH engineers put in after the early prototypes broke in half really was needed. And of course the front subframe was changed for an Australian specific one to fit the rack and pinion steering.

    4. Cleaning up my old motoring magazines over Easter I found a buyer’s guide for Rekord E/Commodore C/Senator A.
      Urgent recommendation number one: “If it doesn’T´t already have a strut brace, fit one immediately”
      Urgent recommendation number two: Measure the distance between the inner edges of the suspension turrets. It it is ninety-nine centimetres, the car is still correct, if it is less, its front structure already has weakened and you should not buy this car.
      It’s all the more astonishing when you see how tiny the stiffening brackes fitted to Australian cars were. It surely would not have cost more then two or three dollars per car to fit them to the European cars as well but seemingly was too expensive.

  2. Good morning Richard and thanks for an illuminating write-up. I think you’ve captured the essence of the Senator very well. It was an honest and competent car that was, perhaps, a little too ‘tutonic’ for its own good. Checking this morning, there doesn’t appear to be any Vauxhall Royale / Senator A models on sale in the UK and just 35 left according to DVLA records.

  3. Not in this segment and of a later date, but how often does one see one of these nowadays?

    This red Bluebird (that should be impossible) has made an appearance in my area. The car must be local as I’ve seen it multiple times now.

    1. How do these brick soldier courses work? I hope that they’re not glued on tiles, or ‘slips’ to use the British term.

    2. Good morning Freerk. Ah yes, the first Sunderland-built Nissan Bluebird, the T12 (saloon) and T72 (hatchback) series models. Contrary to what many people think, however, this was not the first FWD Bluebird to be sold in Europe. This was:

      The U11 series Bluebird above was very similar looking to the last RWD model, the big-selling 910, although it shared nothing in common with it. It was only on the market for two years before it was replaced by the Sunderland-built model, which wasn’t actually a Bluebird at all, but a rebadged Nissan Auster. Because there was no estate version of the latter, the U11 continued to be imported in estate form. This caused some confusion because it was a completely different car to the saloon and hatchback.

    3. Good morning Robertas. Regarding that brickwork, we faced a similar problem when we built a garden room addition onto our period house and needed to support rows of half-brick headers above ten large sash windows so that they appeared to be ‘floating’:

      After some head-scratching, we found the solution. We had C-section stainless steel lintels made up for each of the windows. The bottom two rows of headers have a horizontal slot cut into the rear face of the bricks and they are bonded to the lintels using epoxy resin, leaving space for the pointing. The lintels were simply placed on the brick piers either side and pointed up with the rest of the brickwork. The building is now ten years old and all is well. I imagine they’ve done something similar with the brickwork in Freerk’s photo.

    4. Thank you Freerk. Beautiful Bluebird it is, great colour. Are these wheels aluminium or steel? And the building on the foreground is a house or a restaurant or hotel?

  4. Interested in finding out more about the background of the Opel CiH engine beyond the original design being done by GM US and it being part of a large post-war investment programme by GM into Opel.

    Was it originally a rejected design by the Americans that was pensioned off to another GM division, similar to how the 1948 Holden came about via the design of some pre-war/wartime GM Project?

    Was the CiH engine something Opel themselves wanted or did they have their own plans that as a result of their post-war position were forced to abandon in return for GM being willing to open its up coffers and experimental engine department, which just happened to fulfil their brief in replacing their pre-war rooted 4/6-cylinder engines?

    Were smaller versions of the CiH 4/6-cylinder below 1.5/2.2-litres envisaged? Particularly as have read what became the Kadett A was originally conceived with a 700cc OHV before it grew to 993cc as development progressed.

  5. Praise indeed for the w123 but surprised you infer that it was somehow more rust resistant than other cars of the period. My experience of w123’s and 280 SL’s was that they were equally as bad.
    They rusted from the inside out it was often terminal or horrendously expensive. Maybe the authorities in Denmark don’t put salt down in winter?

    1. Mercedes’ from that era corrode just as badly as everybody else’s products but are more expensive to repair. They had double skinned panels where others only had simple pressings like at the W123’s rear valence (which also made even minor accident damage very expensive to repair), they had multiple layers of metal like the base of the A post which on tailfin Benzes has up to four layers on top of each other at the subframe mounting points, the /8 still has three layers where A post, sill and floorpan meet. These cars are write-offs in case of corrosion at those points because they are nearly impossible to repair. The areas where the tube-type wheel jack attachments meet the sills are notorious rust traps, too and expensive to repair. After market treatment with Teroson or Dinol cavity wax sealing helped a lot as did retrofit inner front wings from companies like Lokari which were popular until proper rust protection became a standard part of the production process.

  6. Hi, I too do not consider Mercedes to be particular immune to rust having seen many decaying examples. When you add the fact to which you allude, that they are pretty boring to drive, I believe it is not possible to say that W123’s are in a class of their own. Straight 6 engines almost died out a few decades ago but recently Mercedes has revisited them which is a very good thing. BMW of course stuck with them and I would suggest this was the best part of that company’s output. The Senator is to my mind a large Astra especially the inside.

    1. When the W123 was new I always wondered why Mercedes bothered with giving them such a good chassis when ninety percent of them were driven so slowly that they never used more than five percent of their capabilities. But this misses the point of a Benz. If you were in the mood/mode to race, the Benz would obey but it would not tempt you to do it. A 280E could be driven seriously fast but you didn’t have to. This character of an unobtrusive obedient servant was quite unique to Mercedes products and was typical until the Sacco era cars.
      Another typical characteristic of old Benzes like W123 was that if they were properly rust protected by their owner they would last forever with very little maintenance (which was very easy to do because mechanical spare parts for Mercedes were astonishingly cheap). A /8 or W123 with optional taxi pack (including reinforced door hinges and locks, (even) more robust seats preferably with MB-Tex synthetic cover) is good for several hundreds of thousands of kilometres without signs of excessive wear. There’s a reason why these cars still are sought after and in service in sunny countries.

  7. Hi Richard, thanks for this roadtest of one the somehow-still-quite-desirable large cars of a foregone era. I love to drive older cars and, in comparison, i can affirm that many modern cars seem to be offering a degree of ADHD in some sort of synthetically augmented form. Makes me nervous…
    Still dabbling a bit on the hierarchy between Vauxhall and Opel. Today i saw an Astra TwinTop right across the street. With no badging it is actually a nice and clean design (in its class of hard hat cabrios, mind you). If someone would somehow give me one (the tooth fairy perhaps?), I’d happily accept it and rebadge it into a Vauxhall; in NL this sounds more exotic, and thus fitting, than the bread-and-butter whiff that adheres to Opel… In the UK it seems the desirability is the other way around, right?

  8. I always liked these cars because they were certainly well built and upmarket but dignified and understated, not flashy. A big contrast to what´s typical nowadays.
    In my country (Spain) they got their share of popularity in the mid ´80s when the government bought Senators 3.0E for our ministers and some other leading representatives; one of them suffered a terrorist attack from ETA when three grenades were launched from the boot of a parked R11 and hit his Senator. Fortunately they impacted in the rear and didn´t explode, and no one was injured, although the fact that three grenades landed a few centimetres behind your back had to be a bit scary.

    1. Hi b234r. I wonder, did the ‘recoil’ from the grendes do that the the rear wing of the R11?

    2. Reading an article in “El Pais” newspaper (05/09/1986), the three holes in the R11 rear wing were prepared by the terrorists. In the boot behind every hole there was a pipe from where the grenades were launched. Probably the rear wing holes were covered to go unnoticed.
      I don´t remember another ETA attack using this method; I do remember ETA used a lot of R9 and R11s in their attacks; perhaps they were easy to steal, but the main reason must be they were very popular cars in Spain and didn´t stand out.

  9. “The Senator’s rear suspension had semi trailing arms, a design that had evolved into a European standard in the late Sixties with BMW’s Neue Klasse (and all subsequent BMWs up to E36, except Z1), Mercedes W114/115 (/8, the W118 was the early concept that became the Audi F103), Ro80, K70, Fiat 130, Peugeot 504, Ford Granada/Consul.”

    The history of early IRS is not so well documented. There is a wonderful draft document by Ludvigsen (writing under a pen name) from the mid-1950s outlining all the early IRS efforts; the trailing arm is put into production in in two versions – a complicated one by Lagonda in 1948, and also as Lancia’s own semi-trailing link used in the Aurelia. The Lancia system is much simpler, was patented in 1947, and put into production in 1950.

    The Lancia approach was published in Automobile Engineer in 1951 (with clear drawings), and there was also a major discussion on IRS in the Institution of Mech’l Engineers with Donald Bastow publishing his paper in August, 1951, reviewing both the Lagonda and the Aurelia in comparison to the swing axle of Mercedes-Benz. His paper was followed by comments from Maurice Olley and Eberan von Eberhorst, both of which supported the de Dion approach instead. This was the grand trio of suspension engineers at the time.

    Lancia’s approach was also published by Paul Frère in Motor Italia in Autumn 1952, with descriptions he attributed to discussions with Jano – quite rare to see in print.

    There has been suggestion that BMW’s later adoption of the Aurelias semi-trailing link (used in the sedans (B10-B22) and B20 s.1-3) was timed at about the time Lancia’s patent might have run out, but this have never been confirmed. For more info on the Aurelia suspension (with drawings and photos) see: http://www.lanciaaurelia.info/rear-suspension—irs.html

  10. Bob

    IIRC the Opel CiH engine was designed at Opel. It was based on a design which had been undertaken in North America, but it was not the same as that. The engineers at Opel wanted to do an OHC engine instead of the conventional OHV type with the camshaft in the block. Some US engineers had been posted to Opel from GM North America and they were influential. Nevertheless the effort was an in-house Opel affair and was not just lifted off the shelf from GM in North America.

    The Opel CiH design came about due to a requirement to keep the development and tooling budgets as low as possible. That meant using as much carry-over componentry as possible. To get the cam into the cylinder head at all, some innovative compromises were called for. Hence the rockers are almost the same as before (made on the same tooling as previously), same deal with the camshaft. Note that the head is a non-crossflow design. This was necessitated by the position of the camshaft and that in turn was necessitated by the valves being nearly the same stem length as previously (so they could be made on the existing tooling). The cam followers are where the real changes were made and even these could be made on existing tooling set-ups.

    Fun fact: CiH valve-gear was declared safe to more than 8,000rpm. Much more was possible with competition springs installed.

    Fact #2: at least two design studies were undertaken wherein the valve stems were lengthened to allow the cam to be relocated higher in the cylinder head, hence creating the opportunity for a true cross-flow variant. One of the studies was done in Germany and one in Melbourne

    Fact #3: Opel CiH engine was available for Holden in Australia to use should they have chosen to. At the time Holden needed a replacement for their aged pushrod six. They realised that all the tooling for their engine was long past worn out and demanded replacement. The Opel CiH manufacturing plant along with all tools and transfer lines was available to be shipped to Australia. Pride and a lot of time wasting meant that by the time the Holden management told Opel they wanted the line it had been scrapped. Holden ended up purchasing Nissan RB six cylinder engines from Japan in fully built-up form for some years.

    1. The CIH engine circumvented a problem area inherent in true OHC designs with parallel valves: valve gap adjustment. V-angled valves BMW-style were out of the question for cost reasons and Lampredi had not yet invented his ingenious system with shims on top of bucket tappets. Having to take out the camshaft Jaguar- or Alfa-style would have made maintenance too expensive and an adjustment mechanism with a thread somewhere was needed. One solution was to use finger tappets like Mercedes or to have the camshaft at the side of the valves and use bucket tappets and rockers with an adjustment mechanism. In case of the CIH before it got hydraulic tappets the valves had to be set with the engine running, resulting in oil being thrown around. Most Opel garages had modified cam covers with a hole cut into them that were temporarily used for setting the valves with less of an oily mess.

    2. Thanks for the info J T & Dave.

      So elements of the Opel CiH design carried over much of the pre-war Olympia derived engines used in the Rekord A?

      Was also not aware the Opel CiH was an option at Holden to replace their Straight-Six, was initially under the impression the latter was at one time to be updated to 3-valves and OHC before realising that was actually the Holden OHC V8 project. The Lotus Carlton/Omega and other CiH Six developments do suggest was there enough development potential left in the Opel CiH for it to eventually become Holden’s answer to the Ford Barra straight-6.

    3. Here’s a video showing the valves being adjusted with the engine running (that alone would be enough not to want such an engine):

  11. Dave, that is easy enough. Much simpler than dealing with buckets and shims. What’s the problem?

    1. What puts me off is the fact that it has to be done with the engine running.
      Normally you get an oily mess (missing in the video) and the feeler gauge is a write off after being beaten flat by the moving rockers.
      It’s simply not my kettle of fish because it’s against my engineering grain…

  12. I owned a 3.0l Monza (manual 4) and a 2.5l Senator (manual 5). The Senator, bought a few years later, was quite gutless, though. Both were confortable, spacious cars for their time. They were bought used, dirt cheap and well worth their money. The Monza was quite thirsty and the Senator, while slightly better in this aspect, was not frugal either. I have fond memories of them, especially the Monza which could easily be driven sliding around roundabouts (something I would not recommend doing nowadays, though). Driving on snow was also quite a blast – the setup was very predictable.

    These were cars that one could easily fix, not that it was particularly necessary (apart from a water pump on the Monza, if memory serves me well).

    The Monza, while still running strong, had to be scraped because of rust – Swiss laws are quite unforgiving in this regard. No doubt it could technically have been driven a few more years, though.

    The Senator, from the second series, appeared to be much better protected against rust, but was involved in a highway accident with my then girlfriend driving – she was absolutely unharmed, but the car was totalled. Crumbling zones worked as expected.

    Whoever thinks the W123 was less prone to rust should have a look at ‘Soup Classic Motoring’:
    https://www.youtube.com/c/GeorgeKarellas/featured

    Well worth a look even if you don’t care about the W123, actually.

    1. Thanks for your post. About the rust, I can only observe there are lots of W123s left and they aren´t obviously rusting. If they are as prone to rust as other cars something about them encourages repair and defense which their peers did not enjoy to the same extent, even BMW´s 7-series. Perhaps the Volvo 240 and 740 are beginning to catch up in terms of general prevalance, more as W-123´s leave the roads than 200s and 700s increasing in number.

  13. This seems to be a suitable place to mention the Korean versions of the V car, the Senator/Rekord ending up a very very long way from it’s German roots at Opel and much more akin to Buicks of the time. They started by ‘Japanese mid range sedan’ing the front, before full Buick on the rear. From the Daewoo Royale to the Daewoo Imperial…




    The Imperial had the full Senator running gear, 3.0 litre six, front and rear suspension and centre body section with doors. But it doesn’t look like it.

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