Opel Senator A / Monza – Opel’s entrance into the Master Class

Opel Monza A

Opel press manager Hellmut-Peter Clauss was emphatically optimistic: “With our new top models Opel Senator A / Monza we are spot on in the market for sophisticated six-cylinder saloons: The number of pre-orders speaks for itself.”


During the presentation of the new cars in words and pictures, Opel’s advertising strategists then showed which competitors they intended to compete with: the Daimler-Benz 280 E, the BMW 528i, the Granada 2.8 GLI and even the Peugeot 604 could be seen as the measure of all things. Opel Senator A / Monza, the saloon and its sporty brother are thus intended to bring honour and money to their creators in one of the most competitive classes.


The foundation for this is good. In terms of looks, both models are very eye-catching. It is immediately clear that their shapes are largely the product of the wind tunnel, as evidenced by the front spoiler and the slight wedge shape. Although the body of the Senator still bears a slight resemblance to the Opel Rekord, the car has become longer and more elongated overall. The large square halogen headlights and the full-width grille also make for an imposing appearance. The Opel designers came up with a special gimmick for the rear section of the two cars: The cover lenses of the light unit are equipped with an extraneous light-protected lens system. In other words, even the sun shining directly on them does not cover the brake lights with its irritating reflections.

While the Senator still recalls small memories of other models in the Opel range, the Monza has become a completely distinct model: The low-slung beltline, the wide door that gives plenty of access to the rear seats and the hatchback with its large upward-opening glass tailgate ensure that this coupé not only looks good, they also provide comfort: once you have taken a seat in the interior, you have to acknowledge several things about Opel’s largest: Firstly, the visibility to the outside is very good; secondly, the instruments are all in the right place, and thirdly, the seat in this car is finally appropriate for a car in this price range. You sit very comfortably, supported in the right places, and the seat would have earned a grade of “A” if it had given your body a little more lateral support at the high cornering speeds possible with this car.

Furthermore, Opel’s engineers have taken special efforts to reduce the interior noise as much as possible. The extra care taken has paid off: both cars can be described as unusually quiet.


The smooth running of the newly developed six-cylinder engine, which in its most powerful version produces 180 hp (132 kW) at 5800 rpm, naturally contributes to this; this engine has a capacity of 3 litres and is equipped with a Bosch L-Jetronic. Its weaker brother, on the other hand, has a displacement of only 2.8 litres, a downdraft double-register carburettor, which, interestingly enough, is also used in the BMW 728 and 730, and produces 140 hp (103 kW) at 5200 rpm.

In autumn, a three-litre carburettor model with 150 hp will be available for those seeking salvation in the middle.

The two engines now available for Opel Senator A / Monza run very smoothly up to about 4500/min, above that both become a little rougher than one should expect in this price range. Otherwise, they provide very good driving performance. Of course, the weight of the models plays a role here, and that is impressive in both the Senator and the Monza. The Senator weighs 1370 kg and the Monza 5 kg more. The weight in combination with the streamlined shape makes the Senator 2.8 190 km/h fast; the Senator 3.0 E even reaches 210 km/h. The Monza is yet 5 km/h faster – in this speed range, the slightly more favourable Cw-value pays off.

The acceleration figures are also in a pleasing range: Senator 2.8: 10.5 sec. for 0 to 100, Senator 3.0: 9.0 sec. and the Monza 3.0 merely 8.5 sec. The fuel consumption required for this, of course, depends heavily on the driver and his or her throttle foot, but you have to reckon with 14 to 16 litres for 100 kilometres. In combination with the 75-litre petrol tank, this means a range of about 400 kilometres.


In addition to the excellent seats, the newly designed chassis ensures that these 400 kilometres are not a torture: while the proven independent suspension with McPherson struts is installed at the front, an independent suspension with semi-trailing arms has to contend with the pitfalls of the road at the rear. Both axles are also equipped with torsion bar stabilisers. Furthermore, a new type of coil spring on the rear axle, a barrel-shaped structure called “mini-block spring”, ensures comfort and pleasant progress. The result of all these efforts is neutral cornering over wide areas; Opel Senator A / Monza are unusually light and pleasant to drive for cars of their size. If you enjoy driving fast, it is no problem to bring the car into a slight oversteer with a little more throttle, which is controllable at any time.

Bumps and potholes are absorbed very well, and the four disc brakes (ventilated at the front) ensure that you feel comfortable and safe in Opel’s largest car. The rich standard equipment also contributes to the feeling of well-being: Even in the basic model, things like power steering, exterior mirrors adjustable from the inside, laminated glass windscreen, heated rear window and halogen headlights are standard. There is also an S version for sporty, ambitious drivers, a C version with a rev counter, height adjustment of the driver’s seat, alloy wheels and electromagnetic boot lock and, to top it all off, the CD version, which has everything that is good and expensive, from air conditioning to electric windows and an automatic transmission.

The prices for the new top-of-the-line Opel Senator A / Monza models can be described as quite reasonable, if they remain so until the start of production: The basic version of the 2.8-litre Senator costs 23,380 marks; for the 3-litre injection engine there is a 4030 mark surcharge. The C-version is listed at 1655 Marks, and the Senator CD top model is said to cost 37,250 Marks. For the basic Monza model, 25,325 Marks are to be put on the table of the Rüsselsheim company – here, too, the three-litre engine costs 4030 Marks extra each. This brings the final price for the sportiest Opel to 29,355 Marks. Not exactly a lot when you compare the prices of the Untertürkheim and Munich competitors.

With its new top models, Opel could indeed make life difficult for the established competition, if they were not missing the star so beloved by the public.



This text was first published on 26 June 1978 in the magazine hobby issue 14/1978.

Pictures Opel Automobile GmbH

Author: Jürgen Lewandowski

Jürgen Lewandowski schreibt seit mehr als 40 Jahren über Menschen und Autos - und hat mehr als 100 Bücher veröffentlicht. Traumklassiker: Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Touring Spider und Lancia Rally 037. Eigener Klassiker: Alfa Romeo R.Z. von 1993.

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