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Hyman Ltd Classic Cars
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1918 OPEL 14/38 PS DOUBLE-PHAETON For Sale

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  • As stated
  • 1918
Message the seller
Price As stated
Ad Type For Sale
Category Classic Cars
Make Opel
Year 1918
Country USA
Region International
Telephone 001 (314) 524-6000
Status Trade
Date 09-Jun-2020
Ref C1217288
As one of Germany’s oldest automakers, most enthusiasts know Opel for its long-running association with General Motors. The firm became a GM subsidiary in the 1920s, but its roots go back to the late 1800s, first with sewing machines, and later expanding into bicycle production. They built their first automobile in 1899 and eventually entered into a partnership with Automobiles Darracq to produce cars under license, combining Darracq chassis and engines with Opel-built bodies. By 1907 Opel produced its first complete in-house design, which proved to be a popular seller and sealed the company’s future in the motorcar business.

Opel factories sustained substantial damage during World War I, and French forces occupied the plant near the end of the conflict. Material shortages made for a difficult return to production, but civilian vehicles slowly trickled out, and by 1919 Opel had six models ranging from a 1.5-liter four-cylinder to a gargantuan six-cylinder tourer displacing 7.8 liters. Sitting neatly in the middle was the 14/38 PS, which began production in 1913. This luxurious and sporting motorcar featured a 38 horsepower, 3,450-cc inline-four with an aluminum alloy block and cast-iron head, four-speed manual gearbox with cone clutch, and a shaft-driven rear axle for smooth and refined operation. Of the variety of bodies available, the so-called Double Phaeton was easily the most attractive and distinctive and was quite advanced by German coachbuilding standards of the period. With its reverse-angle tail treatment and a large convertible top that sat flush with the body line, it looked more Italian than Teutonic. Total production numbers are unknown, but there are very few known survivors of this fascinating and luxurious brass-era German touring car.

Featured here is likely the only Opel 14/38 PS on American shores, and is one of just a handful of known examples in the world. This beautiful motorcar features the highly attractive original Double Phaeton coachwork and is the subject of a high-quality restoration to concours standards. According to the previous owner, this is one of the only, if not the only Opel type 14/38 delivered to a civilian in 1918. It found its way to Sweden very early on, perhaps from new, and remained there for most of its life. The Opel was used the road until 1939 when the outbreak of World War II forced its retirement from duty. In 1998, Mr. Eric Löfberg discovered the big Opel in Northern Sweden, quietly tucked away where the owners left it some six decades prior. After recovering it from its resting place, Löfberg sold the Opel to Mr. Ernst-August Bremer, a German enthusiast who, upon recognizing the car’s significance, commissioned a full restoration to original specification.

Photos of the project show the car survived its lengthy slumber remarkably complete and intact, making the job of preserving its original features that much more straightforward. In 2003, Mr. Bremer sold the freshly restored Opel to its most recent owner. The new American-based owner was a good friend of Bremer’s and keeper of an extensive collection of historically significant German vehicles. The new owner commissioned some additional sorting and restoration work to prepare the car for concours and touring. He and his wife showed it in numerous events, including the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2004. Along the way, they maintained the mighty Opel in strong running and driving condition and enjoyed it regularly.

Presented in its original colors of burgundy with black wings and chassis, the 14/38 is a striking and imposing machine. From the large spitzkuehler (V-shaped radiator) to the twin single-sided spares and angled tail treatment, this wonderful Opel exudes a marvelous presence. During the two-year restoration, Bremer and his team employed traditional techniques and materials to ensure accuracy, going so far as to track down one of the last remaining artisans capable of applying the special lacquer finish by hand. The paint quality remains excellent, and in the years since its restoration, it has taken on an appealing character that suits regular enjoyment.

The interior is similarly well presented, featuring period-style black leather with lots of brass detailing. Front seats are bucket style, while a pair of folding opera seats supplement the spacious rear bench. All around, the leather is in excellent condition, showing a light character from use and enjoyment. Unusually for a large touring car of this era, the convertible top folds flush into a well behind the seats, which is finished by a black boot cover for a distinctly sleek appearance.

The enthusiastic previous owners spared no expense ensuring the Opel remained in top running condition, and a generous stack of receipts document its maintenance. Recent work included a rebuilt carburetor and complete overhaul of the rear axle, including a new gearset. For the sake of reliable running, the restorers updated the cone-clutch with modern friction material in place of the original leather. Otherwise, the engine and driveline are in the proper original specification and pleasingly detailed for an authentic presentation.

With its powerful four-cylinder engine and spacious accommodations, this Opel 14/38 is a superb choice for touring, while its rarity and sharp presentation would make it a crowd-pleasing participant in regional concours and club gatherings. Brass-Era enthusiasts and German automobile collectors alike are certain to find this attractive and rare Opel a most delightful motor.

Offers welcome and trades considered


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