As General Motors grew, it sought to expand its reach outside of the American market throughout the teens and twenties. In 1928, GM purchased a controlling stake in the German firm Opel AG. By 1931, they had full ownership of the company, and within a few short years, Opel was thriving as Europe’s largest and most successful automaker.
The Opel 1.8-Liter was the first new model introduced since GM’s initial investment. The handsome little car looked a bit like a contemporary Chevrolet but scaled down to suit the European market. The similarities were no coincidence, as much of the design work for the Opel 18 was done in Detroit. Power came from a 1,790-cc side-valve inline six-cylinder, with a single Solex carburetor and a 3-speed gearbox, updated to a four-speed later in production. Despite its modest stated output of 32 horsepower, the lightweight model 18 had sprightly performance and a top speed of 53 miles per hour. The updated Model 18C arrived for the 1932 model year, with various improvements to the coachwork and minor refinements to the mechanical spec. The Regent models were the top of the range, featuring revised styling that incorporated a useful trunk fitted behind the close-coupled body, and additional upscale trimmings. It was indeed a stylish little motorcar, with useful power and performance from its impressive six-cylinder engine.
One of the best looking models of the series was the 18C Regent Cabriolet, as offered here. This 1932 Opel comes from long-term ownership in an extensive and diverse collection of rare German vehicles. It boasts a high-quality, well-documented restoration, and is presented in a lovely two-tone burgundy and black livery. The older nut-and-bolt restoration is in excellent order all around, with very attractive paintwork, fit, and detailing. Fittings include Bosch lamps, a radiator stone guard, single side-mount spare, disc wheels, upholstered factory trunk, and a moto-meter – all providing this Opel with a decidedly upscale appearance.
The cozy four-place cockpit features burgundy leather-trimmed seats and door panels against black carpeting to complement the exterior color scheme. The leather upholstery is in excellent condition front and rear, displaying some slight creasing on the driver’s seat, but remaining wonderfully inviting. The black-painted dash houses period-correct VDO instruments, original style switchgear for the essential functions, and a charming frosted cut-crystal interior light. The convertible top is upholstered in black German canvas, and the chrome-plated landau irons are in excellent condition. With its broad blind quarters and recessed top well, the styling conjures Convertible Victoria style coachwork, which further enhances the classic appeal.
Upon firing up the little six, you’re greeted with a surprisingly throaty exhaust note that belies its modest 1,790-cc displacement. Paired with a three-speed gearbox, it is surprisingly refined and feels peppier than its 32 horsepower rating might suggest. The 18C is propelled down the road nicely and is a marvelously enjoyable motorcar to drive. Restoration photos show the engine was completely rebuilt, and it appears well detailed in the correct colors and finishes. Some signs of aging are noted, which are consistent with a car that was driven as intended by the enthusiastic previous owner.
Rarely seen on our shores, this marvelous Opel is an immensely charming automobile that would be a welcome addition to any collection, and it is sure to delight its next keeper with many miles of open-air motoring.
Offers welcome and trades considered