Christmas weekend in Oeding with visit of the Degener Opel MuseumThis year's Christmas weekend in Oeding offered a special surprise, the announced visit of the overwhelming Opel collection of the brothers Martin and Wolfgang Degener. In cloudy weather. Drizzle we come to the D.O.M.O.M. On the edge of an industrial area in Vreden. In the entrance to one of the halls, we are greeted by an older car transporter with 8 Opel wrecks on it. This was on the occasion of a meeting of "Opel-Panoramaschibe" had been erected there and then left standing. Parallel to the hall, the path leads us to the entrance of an office where time seems to have stood still. Old furniture, photos, spare parts. No doubt which brand is favored here. From the office we are allowed to proceed to the workshop where four Opels are hovering above our heads on lifting platforms waiting to be assembled, including one of the rare record sprints from the late 1960s. Whereas the Degeners are importing more and more cars from Sweden lately, including the privately used red 9-5 NG that greets us at the front gate.
While we take our seats at lovingly decorated beer tables and enjoy coffee and delicious pastries, Josef Degener tells us more about the history of this collection. Actually, what we get to see cannot be called a museum, since the ca. 120 restored cars rather off than exhibited present.
Already since the 17. In the 19th century there was a forge in Vreden, which was last run by the grandfather of the Degener brothers. When his son Anton took over the business, he did not see a long-term perspective for a blacksmith shop and founded a company for electrical engineering. Main business was to bring electricity to the remote farms, which he of course visited with the car, an Opel Olympia. Opel was the most important car manufacturer in Europe in the 1930s (with a market share of 37 percent in the German Reich) and even then enjoyed a reputation for reliability. At some point Anton Degener was approached by the farmers to ask if he could get them such a nice automobile. This is how he slipped into the automobile trade. Since his customers also had to learn to drive a car, he got an appropriate driving instructor license. During the war the factory was completely destroyed, so in 1946 it was rebuilt on the same site. From 1947 Opel and from 1948 to 1954 also DKW motorcycles and tractors (Allgaier and Porsche) were sold and of course repaired. In 1970 Anton Degener died and his son Martin took over the business, which moved to newly built premises in 1972.
One day Josef Degener discovered an Opel Olympia like his father had owned and spontaneously bought it. The car was restored at Autohaus Degener. Still stands there today in good condition. This restoration led to the thought that old cars do not necessarily have to be scrapped and the Degener brothers begin to store cars that they take in payment. But still nobody thinks about further restorations. At the end of the 80s, the car dealership was again too cramped and a new building had to be erected, which was occupied in 1991. Since no body work was allowed in the new building for noise protection reasons, another hall with a body shop was built in the industrial area. At that time, extensive bodywork was still the order of the day. This changed after the reunification. Cars that were too badly damaged have since been exported to the East. The body shop was no longer working to capacity, which eventually led to the idea of restoring the collected cars. At Degener, restoration is only started when all necessary parts are available. In addition, there is an extensive spare parts warehouse that we are allowed to visit. Sorted by subject, countless parts lie on a high shelf in the hall next to the workshop. Underneath wait ca. 50 Opels waiting for their restoration. Through the hall doors, the view falls onto the open-air grounds, where more than 100 other more or less completely gutted cars stand side by side. The sight reminds of the time when there were still junkyards and one went with the tool box in the hand on spare part search. At the very back under a roof are 6 Opel Blitz fire trucks, another Blitz (truck) is parked crosswise in front of it.
We continue to the company premises on the opposite side of the street. This is also full of Opel wrecks. Steel racks make it possible to stack three cars on top of each other. Finally the steel gate goes up. Gives a view of over 100 highly polished cars. Nowhere is a speck of dust to be seen. Descriptions are attached to the cars. One hears sentences like, "My father had one like that!", "I learned on it!" "This was my dream car!" In the front are the registered cars. Among them also the already mentioned Olympia, with which everything began. The whole Opel program until the end of the 70's is represented. Also a Bitter CD has found its way into the hall. Of course then a Diplomat V8 may not be missing, on whose technology the Bitter is built up. Right next to it, to complete the KAD series, are an Admiral and a Captain. But smaller vehicles are also abundantly represented. We see Opel Kadett A to C, Manta, Ascona, Rekord, just everything that Opel had to offer. Also two lightning flatbeds are there. One is newly painted and offers an interesting contrast to its neighbor, which is at least visually untouched. This patina helped it make an appearance in a feature film about the Nazi era. Here he was allowed to "deport" actors disguised as Jews.
But Josef Degener still has a surprise for us. Another gate opens and gives a view into a hall, which is crammed to the front with cars, which wait for their restoration. Here, too, the cars are stacked on top of each other in racks. Roughly estimated it should be about 150. In the far corner, a few cars are wrapped in a plastic shell into which conditioned air is blown. The humidity is set so that on the one hand the rubbers and interior furnishings do not become brittle, but on the other hand nothing rusts either. Through one of the covers shimmers an Opel Lotus Omega. You don't see its 377 hp and some may have looked at the speedometer in amazement when this car passed by at over 280 km/h.
It is time to say goodbye and we drive back to the Burghotel Pass, where we enjoy a beer at the bar before dinner. Since we pre-ordered we don't need to spend much time looking at the menu. And soon the appetizer comes to the table. We enjoy the delicious food. Let's end the evening with a couple of cool "Köpis to the end of the day. Somewhat thought-provoking is the question of what will happen to the many cars and the imposing collection of technical cultural assets of the Opel brand if the Degener brothers can no longer take care of them.
We are happy that we had the opportunity to see them and thus also to look beyond our Saab plate edge.
It was again a nice. Very interesting club meeting in a familiar circle. – UndOeding and the castle hotel pass is for us without question, like coming home.