The Opel Olympia Rekord was a two door family car which replaced the Opel Olympia in March 1953. Innovations included the strikingly modern Ponton format body-work incorporating numerous styling features from the USA and large amounts of chrome decoration both on the outside and on the inside.
The car was offered till 1957. Unusually, at least in European terms, the manufacturer followed the example of General Motors in Detroit by applying an annual facelift. There was a new front grill every year along with other detailed modifications to the trim. The policy of annual facelifts ensured plenty of publicity, and the car was a commercial success, achieving second place in the West German sales charts year after year, beaten to the top slot only by the much smaller, less costly and at this time seemingly unstoppable Volkswagen. Around 580,000 Olympia Rekords were produced. Opel boss Edward Zdunek justified the annual facelifts with the explanation that they gave customers the possibility of "sozialen Differenzierung" (social differentiation). Nevertheless, commentators also noted that the Detroit inspired annual face-lift disadvantaged owners because it depressed second hand values for the Olympia Rekord. The Olympia Rekord set a pattern that Opel would follow for many decades, providing a lot more car for the money than most competitor manufacturers.
By contrast to the modern and annually modified bodywork, the 1488 cc ohc four cylinder water cooled engine was very little changed since it had first been offered in the Opel Olympia back in 1937. When the Olympia Rekord first appeared in 1953 maximum power output of 40 hp (29 kW) at 3800 rpm was claimed. This was increased at the end of 1955 for the 1956 model year to 45 hp (33 kW) at 3900 rpm. At the same time there was a marginal increase in maximum torque, and the compression ratio was raised from 6.5:1 to 6.9:1. The 1950s was a decade during which minimum fuel octanes were raised progressively across western Europe: the manufacturer continued to specify "normal" grade fuel for the Olympia Rekord throughout its life.