1937 Opel Super 6 für Georg von Opel

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We have thoroughly researched the history of the Opel Super 6 for Georg von Opel


The following history - and thus our model car (registration number IT-105212) - is based on information that we were kind enough to receive from the Opel Archive on the one hand and were able to purchase from the archive of Reinhard Freiherr von Koenig-Fachsenfeld on the other. This includes, among other things, the test report on run-out and taxiway measurements of the Research Institute for Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines of the Technical University of Stuttgart (FKFS), as well as extensive correspondence between Georg von Opel, the coachbuilder Dörr & Schreck, Baron von Koenig-Fachsenfeld, and Paul Jaray. From the picture archive Dr. Paul Wolff & Tritschler e. K. we bought 51 largely unpublished photos of the Opel Super 6. On the photo negative bag is written 'Opel-Spezial-Stromlinienwagen'. For legal reasons we are not allowed to publish the aforementioned documents and photos.


In today's specialist literature, there is little and sometimes contradictory information about Georg von Opel's streamlined Opel Super 6. We would like to change this today. We would now like to take you on an exciting journey based on the aforementioned documents. First, however, a brief car-historical classification:


Adam Opel AG had no real interest in streamlined designs at the time. A 2-litre Opel converted by Jaray into a streamlined saloon was not even looked at (body by Vetter Karosserie from Fellbach 1935/36). Paul Jaray was an Austrian engineer (11.03.1889 - 22.09.1974) and a gifted aerodynamicist and designer. He was the decisive pioneer of aerodynamics in automobile construction, and is also known as the "father of streamlines". He shaped an entire era in architecture, art and design. The first streamlined car built was the Ley Type T6 (Spohn, Ravensburg). Paul Jaray died penniless and anonymous in St. Gallen in 1974. 


Koenig-Fachsenfeld was at that time the German representative of the Swiss AVP (Aktiengesellschaft für Verkehrspatente), whose technical director was Paul Jaray. Koenig-Fachsenfeld was involved in the initial development of the Opel 'Super 6' but was never officially commissioned. Georg von Opel paid Jaray licence fees due directly to Dörr & Schreck, thinking that Koenig-Fachsenfeld's performance would thus be covered. But this was not the case. 


Koenig-Fachsenfeld found a payment of 500 RM (1 RM in 1937 = 4.30 € today) appropriate for his services (letter dated 29.09.1937). Georg von Opel politely referred Koenig-Fachsenfeld to Dörr & Schreck for clarification. In the same letter (dated 13.10.1937) it was pointed out that after consultation with Dörr & Schreck it had been established that the implementation of the streamlined bodywork deviated very significantly from the originally approved drawing (37/918).


Georg Opel was born in 1912, the grandson of Adam Opel and son of Carl Opel. At the age of 16 (1929), Georg von Opel received a considerable fortune from the sale of Adam Opel AG to General Motors (see the Opel Regent story: Autopioneer 04 and 12). He invested his money together with his uncle Fritz Opel (and not with his cousin, the rocket racer Fritz von Opel) in the Opel Automobile Verkaufsgesellschaft in Frankfurt. In 1938 Georg von Opel married his cousin Irmgard von Opel, a famous show jumper. In short, Georg von Opel was a wealthy German automobile entrepreneur, held five car speed world records and six world records with an electric car, was a sports official (IOC, NOC), co-founder of the German Sports Aid Foundation and a successful athlete (seven-time German rowing champion). To name just a few.


But now to the 1937 Opel Super 6 by Georg von Opel:


Georg von Opel was interested in streamlined designs and the top speeds that could be achieved with them. The letter from Dörr & Schreck to Koenig-Fachsenfeld, dated 31.08.1937, referred to a technical discussion with Georg von Opel. "Herr von Opel envisages a very low body, similar to the last Mercedes racing cars. In Herr von Opel's opinion, the superstructure should be made of celluloid. We are of the opinion that the entire cap should be made hinged. Mr. von Opel thinks it would be enough to make an opening on one side to fold it sideways or upwards." In a letter dated 6 September 1937, Georg von Opel received an extract from the international automobile record list. According to the letter, the aim was to attack and break the records listed there with the Opel 'Super 6'. Special reference is made to various 'Adler' records. Here there seems to have been a local sporting rivalry with the number 3 German car manufacturer.


The name Dörr & Schreck from Frankfurt (1919 until the 1960s) once stood for the haute couture of Frankfurt coachbuilding. In the 1920s, car bodies on Bugatti and Horch chassis achieved many a success in beauty contests. Over 100 people worked for Dörr & Schreck in the early 1930s. The company now produced small-series bodies for the Adler Trumpf and Adler Trumpf Junior, as well as one-offs on Opel, Chevrolet and Maybach chassis and the 1937 Adler 1.7 l streamliner.


Koenig-Fachsenfeld informed Paul Jaray and, in a letter dated 28.09.1937, asked for his assessment of the changes requested by Georg von Opel and Dörr & Schreck: "Compared with your previous drawing 37/918 (Entw. einer Jaray-Stroml.-Karosserie für Opel-Chassis Z. Nr. 2542300), the following changes result: ....." Examples of the requested changes were: Driveability with and without side cover of the front wheels, displacement of the door post, lowering of the car, and slant of the windscreen etc. A little later, however, the text also says: "The coachbuilder objects to the fitting of the streamlined wheel covers projecting downwards from the lower guard." Koenig-Fachsenfeld asked Paul Jaray to revise drawing 37/918 accordingly. Furthermore, he wrote: "I ask that a wedge fin be provided. The car is very light and not exactly suitable for such a high speed, so that I would like to provide such a fin for safety reasons".


Jaray replied on 01.10.1937 with the draft drawing 37/930. He pointed out that the relocation of the door jambs would result in the already very wide front windows becoming even larger. This could lead to manufacturing problems. Jaray elaborates: "The wheel lower section trim has been left out. However, for a record car, where the last is to be extracted, they seem to me, after careful consideration, to be necessary after all, because the tyre resistance is still very great. The fin is provided."


On page 125 in the book 'Paul Jaray Streamline Pioneer' by HP. Bröhl (1978; edition: 500 copies) the drawing of the Opel Super 6 with fin is shown in different perspectives. Thus, this most likely shows the drawing design 37/930. However, the design Opel Super 6 with fin was never realised. Jaray put it this way: "In my opinion, the design is much less elegant, although aerodynamically it is not much worse.


The Opel Super 6 Jaray (registration number IT-105212) was tested by the Research Institute for Motor Vehicles and Vehicle Engines of the Technical University of Stuttgart (founded in 1930). The report: FKFS 232 (9 pages description and 7 illustrations) was released by the head of the institute Wunibald Kamm on 11/02/1937. Wunibald Kamm was a German scientist in the field of automotive and engine technology and one of the leading automotive aerodynamicists. His findings in the field of tyre-road contact were also important. Even today, people still speak of the "Kamm rear end".


The 'Super 6' very likely had a standard 6-cylinder four-stroke engine and original power transmission. In the documents available to us, we have found no substantiated reference to a modification of the engine. The test track was a section of the Heidelberg-Frankfurt motorway with practically no gradients. The values at 3000 and 3250 rpm were determined on the motorway. The driving speed in 3rd gear was 123 km/h and 133 km/h respectively. All other driving speeds were calculated (and are therefore only theoretical values): E.g.: at 4000 rpm a speed of 164 km/h. The Cw value was given as 0.245. In comparison: the top speed of a normal-bodied Opel limousine was 116 km/h at that time. There are several photos from the salesroom of Opel Verkaufs-AG Frankfurt, whose director was Georg von Opel. One photo says that the Opel Super 6 with a special motorway body had a stopped performance of 150 km. We have not found any reliable evidence for this. We know for certain that the Opel Super 6 with the registration number IT-105212 was also driven by Georg von Opel on public roads.


The most visually striking feature of the sports car was the spherically curved windscreen, which must have provided an excellent view, but also aided streamlining and reduced wind noise to a minimum. All windows consisted of weight-saving Plexiglas panes. In the magazine Motor und Sport (issue 14, 1938) the following is said about windows made of safety glass: 'The floor of the car is completely covered and offers an absolutely smooth surface (Our note: first applied to the 1922 Ley T6 with Jaray body, the first streamlined car in the world). Top speed at quite normal consumption approx. 135km/st, when using two carburettors and increased rear axle reduction approx. 164km/st. According to his own information, Georg von Opel had the streamlined car built on a normal Opel Super 6 chassis.


The doors were retracted far into the roof and thus allowed good access to the low seats despite the low vehicle height. The steering column was moved slightly to the left to create a little more space. Three people could sit comfortably in the front. The driver's seat was designed as an adjustable single seat. Behind the front seats, another transverse seat provided space for a fourth passenger. This created a large, enclosed luggage compartment. The capotte (presumably intended as an emergency exit) was enclosed at the front and rear with a metal strip. The bonnet was fixed with four round rivets. The exhaust was on the right side. The colour of the car was most likely red.


Please allow two significant observations at this time: 


1) The Opel Super 6 tested on 02.11.1937 had the spherically curved windscreen. This was a fundamental deviation from the original drawing 37/918 of the originally planned Opel Super 

6. Thus the question arises: Was this one of the deviations Georg von Opel pointed out in his letter to Koenig-Fachsenfeld of 10/13/1937?


2) Apparently, the measured result at the FKFS was not sufficient for an attempt at a speed record run. Moreover, there is no record of any attempt or concrete planning for such a record run. Or was this record run already discarded due to the upcoming wedding with Irmgard?


On 18.01.1938 Georg von Opel informed Koenig-Fachsenfeld that he had bought an additional gearbox for the engine from Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen: "However, there is still the possibility that I will have use for a second gearbox. I would therefore ask you to let me know what changes would have to be made to your additional gearbox, and how high the acceleration (*transmission ratio) would be through its installation." The gearbox in question was a Swiss high-speed gearbox (cost RM 250) with a ratio of 1:1.4 from the Kronenberg company. This was also bought and tested in the Opel Super 6. As the vibrations were too great, the high-speed gearbox was removed and returned to Koenig-Fachsenfeld for a small fee (68.50 RM), which had been agreed for and before the test.


As already mentioned in the introduction, we purchased 51 largely unpublished photos of the Opel Super 6 from the picture archive Dr. Paul Wolff & Tritschler e. K. These photos show the Opel in a courtyard, now with the transfer registration number VH-47525. The photos were taken in 1938 on the premises of Auto-Haas. It is very likely that the car was transferred back to Dörr & Schreck to be rebuilt there. VH stood for the province of Hesse. Frankfurt was in the province of Hesse. To obtain a transfer licence plate, a car first had to be deregistered. A transfer licence plate is only valid for a few days. After a 'major' conversion, the car then has to be re-registered. In the photos, a large silver adhesive strip can be seen, which apparently had the task of attaching the transfer number plate.


On 4 April 1938, an Opel streamliner was registered in Bad Homburg in the name of Georg von Opel and had the registration number IT-26509. The first vehicle registration certificate had the number 2010745. This vehicle registration certificate was lost at the time and was replaced by the replacement vehicle registration certificate no. 143256C (dated 18 October 1939). We have a copy of this replacement registration document. The technical data in the vehicle registration certificate are as follows:


According to the motor vehicle registration certificate, the 'Super 6' had a 1937 chassis with the number 104-13899 and a 6-cylinder four-stroke engine (capacity: 2456 cm3, factory no. 37 13928) with 55 hp. 


Length 4700 mm, width 1660 mm, height 1380 mm, ground clearance 200 mm.

Rim size 3.25 x 16


The tare weight was given as 1110 kg. The maximum additional load was set at 490 kg. The permissible total weight was therefore 1600 kg.


According to the book 'Paul Jaray Stromlinienpionier', the technical data of the 'two' streamlined Opels are identical. It is not conclusively clear whether there were really two completely different Opel streamlined cars, or whether only the streamlined body of the 1937 Opel Super 6 was replaced or modified. There is very clear evidence for the latter. Especially as both Opel streamlined bodies were very similar and apart from the motor vehicle registration certificate and a few photos, there is no correspondence or historical documentation of the so-called second streamlined Opel (Fish Silver; IT-26509).


The colour of the Opel with the registration number IT-26509 may very likely have been fish silver. It is interesting that now this 'new' Opel Super 6 looked like the first and original model drawing 37/918 by Jaray. In addition, this Opel also no longer has a capotte. Just like the original model drawing 37/918.


In a letter dated 14.04.1938, Georg von Opel informed Koenig-Fachsenfeld: "The streamlined body and engine are now completed to the extent that test drives can be started in the next few days." This indicates that at this stage the standard 6-cylinder four-stroke engine and the original power transmission have been increased. In addition, Georg von Opel invited Freiherr von Koenig-Fachsenfeld to show him the finished streamlined car on his next visit to Frankfurt. This indicates that the modifications were carried out without Koenig-Fachsenfeld's involvement.


According to a publication by Heribert Hofner and HP Bröhl (date unknown), 164 km/h were achieved after the installation of a modified two-carburettor engine with 85 hp output and increased rear axle reduction. With a modified reduction ratio, even an unbelievable 190 km/h was said to have been reached - an incredible speed for those days. In a letter dated 23.10.1939 Georg von Opel states that with 85 hp V a maximum of 200 km/h can be reached. The letter is only mentioned in a typewritten note and is not available to us. 

A sales advertisement from the car dealer Fritz Opel & Co. can be found in the magazine 'Motor und Sport', issue 21 (21.05.1939), page 48. An "Opel Super 6-Spezial" and an "Opel Super 6-Spezialmotor" are offered for sale. The advertisement does not give any further details.


The Opel 'Super 6' was sold in May 1940 for 6000 RM to Paul Manderbach from Wissenburg. The seller was the car dealership Fritz Opel & Co, Frankfurt. Manderbach was once a business partner; the trailers manufactured by his company could be bought from Autohaus Fritz Opel & Co. The 'Super 6' was probably already deregistered at the time of the sale. Manderbach registered it again in Frankfurt on 24 July 1942. The car was given the police registration number IT-213 733, after which the traces disappear.


Art: Did you know that the famous car illustrators Betti made art drawings of the 1937 Opel Super 6 for Opel? The four drawings are well worth seeing and show the Opel in red.



Do you have any knowledge of the Opel streamliner(s), photos or drawings? If so, please let us know! We will be very happy to pass this on to the Opel historical archive. Because that's where the information and photos belong. Impossible? No! Through our model car 1936 Maybach SW 38 Authenrieth for Heinrich Müller (Schuco), we have already received valuable and previously unknown information and photos about the original car: A model car thus solved an automotive-historical mystery. A very important contribution for the friends and connoisseurs of automobile history. Please also help us with the Opel Super 6!


Legal notice:


Knowing that not all information and historical documents are available to us, I have compiled the history of Georg von Opel's streamlined Opel Super 6 car to the best of my ability and with the best of intentions. I have invested a lot of hours (and money) in this. Therefore, fairness, but also the applicable legal protection rights, require that I be asked for written permission before any copying, publishing, passing on or quoting.

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