Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
The history of General Motors' two European subsidiaries of Opel in Germany and Vauxhall in Britain were remarkably similar. During the 1960s both were stagnating from the point of view of new car design and aesthetic appeal alike. The revival started in the 1970s as GM began to take a greater interest in the fate of both companies and a measure of co-operation and standardisation between them was started.
The culmination of this took the form of cars such as the Vauxhall Cavalier
, which was to all intents and purposes an Opel. Rationalisation was taken a step further in 1978 with the introduction of Opel's Senator and Monza; both cars appeared in Vauxhall guise, as the Carlton and Royale coupe respectively.
The Senator first appeared at the 1977
Frankfurt Motor Show, but it did not become available until May of 1978. With it Opel moved into the luxury car market with a vengeance providing very stiff opposition to the rival BMWs and Mercedes. A revised and more powerful version of Opel's in-line six-cylinder engine was chosen for the new car, and it was available in 2.8-litre or 3-litre forms.
Opel's own design staff, rather than an outside styling house, ensured that visually the Senator was more than acceptable, and the chassis design easily matched the body's good looks with mechanical efficiency. Front suspension
was by MacPherson struts with lower transverse arms and anti-roll bar
, while the rear features semi-trailing arms and variable rate springs, and, again, an anti-roll bar
was one of the highlights of the car, providing a good compromise of handling
and comfort. It was successfully designed to avoid rolling, pitching, or settling at the rear under acceleration, yet still soak up the effects of poor or broken road surfaces at moderate speeds.
The original Senator and Monza were face-lifted in 1982/3. In the UK, the Senator "A2" (as it is sometimes referred to) initially sold only as an Opel, before being re-badged for the UK (as a Vauxhall) in 1984. The A2 Monza was only sold as an Opel. The facelifted car looked similar to its predecessor, with relatively minor changes: headlights increased in size, and chrome parts were changed to a matt black or colour-coded finish.
Interiors were improved, and engines changed. Now, straight-4 CIH 2.0E and 2.2E engines from the Rekord E2 were available. The 2.5E was given a new Bosch fuel injection
system. The 2.8S was taken out of production, and the 3.0E and a new 3.0H engines were at the top of the range. The 3.0E received upgraded Bosch fuel injection.
Opel Senator Quick Specifications
Front-mounted, in-line, six-cylinder. 95mm (3.74in) bore x 89.8mm (3.q3in) stroke 2968 cc (181.1 cu in). Maximum power (DIN) 180bhp at 5800rpm; maximum torque (DIN) 180lb ft at 4200rpm, cast-iron cylinder block and head. Compression ratio 9.4:1. 7 main bearings. 2 valves
per cylinder operated via hydraulic tappets
by single overhead camshaft. Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection.
Automatic gearbox with torque converter. Ratios 2.400, 2nd 1.480, 3rd 1.000, reverse 1.920. Final drive ratio 3.45:1.
Front-independent by MacPherson struts, transverse lower arms, and anti-roll bar
, rear- semi-trailing arms and anti-roll bar
Discs front and rear. Dual hydraulic circuit. Servo assisted.
6in x 14in. Tyres 195/70VR x 14in.
4 door, 4 seats. Integral.
Dimensions and weight:
Wheelbase 105.63, track-front 56.8in, rear- 57.7 in length 170in; width 68.0 in; height 55.7 in turning circle 35.43 ft: weight 2486 lb; fuel tank capacity 16.5 gal.
Maximum speed 127 mph; acceleration 0-60mph 10.5secs, fuel consumption approx. 25 mpg.