Opel Senator A
|Also called||Chevrolet Senator Vauxhall Royale Vauxhall Senator|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Full-size luxury car|
|Body style||4-door saloon|
|Platform||V platform (RWD)|
|Wheelbase||2,685 mm (105.7 in)|
|Length||4,810 mm (189.4 in)|
|Width||1,722 mm (67.8 in)|
|Height||1,415 mm (55.7 in)|
|Curb weight||1,640 kg (3,616 lb)|
The Senator A was a lengthened version of the Opel Rekord E, complemented by a three-door fastback coupé version on the same platform called the Opel Monza, which was planned as a successor for the Opel Commodore coupé.
Names and markets
The Senator A and Monza were initially sold in the United Kingdom as the Vauxhall Royale (and Vauxhall Royale Coupé), because the Opel marque was not so well established, but they were also under their Opel names. The vehicle was also available in South Africa as the Chevrolet Senator until 1982, when it was re-badged as an Opel. The Chevrolet Senator was fitted with a locally built version of Chevrolet's 250 inline-six (4,093 cc), with 132 PS (97 kW). The later South African Opel Senator received Australian-built six-cylinder engines.
All year models were available in Australia, as the Holden Commodore in Sedan and Wagon variants, though the Monza Coupe was not available. Local racing legend, Peter Brock, had plans to import, modify and market the Opel Monza Coupé as the Holden Monza Coupé with the Holden 5 Litre V8 fitted, through his own HDT (Holden Dealer Team) business, but the plans eventually fell through. The Holden models, which were built locally, had different front, rear and interior treatments, with local drivetrain options, including Holden's 3.3 litre inline-six, and 4.2 litre and 5.0 litre V8 engine options. Holden still markets the Commodore, but on their own Zeta platform, which the new Camaro is also based upon. The Commodore has been Australia's best selling car for the past 16 years.
The engine range for the first phase of the model's life included the 2.0E, 2.5S (and later the fuel-injected E), the 2.8S and the newly developed 3.0E, which had 180 PS (132 kW; 178 hp) and 248 N·m (183 lb·ft) with fuel injection. The 3-speed BorgWarner automatic transmission from the Commodore range needed to be modified to cope with the new and improved power outputs. Opel's own 4-speed manual transmission was not up to the job and, instead of putting in a more modern 5-speed manual gearbox, Opel turned to transmission producer Getrag, and installed their 264 4-speed manual gearbox in the early Monzas. This was soon replaced with the Getrag 240 for the 2.5 and 2.8 engines, and the Getrag 265 for the 3.0E; both 5-speed manual gearboxes.
The straight-six engines were all of the CIH (camshaft in head) same design earlier used in the Commodore models. The CIH configuration is originated from the 1,7 and 1,9 litre straight 4 engines that was first used in the Opel Kadett and Rekord models in 1966, and subsequently was an engine layout that stayed in the Opel cars up until 1993 (the last CIH engine factory mounted was a 2,4 litre straight 4 CIH used in the Opel Frontera).
With the 3.0 litre engine, the Monza was the fastest car Opel had built up until then, capable of speeds of 215 km/h (134 mph), and 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 8.5 seconds. As of June 1981 the fuel injected 2.5E engine also used in the smaller Commodore was added to the Senator/Monza lineup. With 136 PS (100 kW) it was very close to the now irrelevant 2.8 and its 140 PS (100 kW), and the 2.8S was discontinued in 1982.
The original Senator and Monza were face-lifted in November 1982, although the Senator "A2" (as it is usually called) only went on sale in March 1983. In the UK it initially sold only as an Opel, before being re-badged for the UK (as a Vauxhall) in 1984. The A2 Monza was only sold as an Opel.
The facelifted car looked similar to its predecessor, with relatively minor changes: headlights increased in size, and chrome parts were changed to a matt black or colour-coded finish. The car was much more slippery, with drag resistance down by around ten percent.
Interiors were improved, and engines changed. Now, straight-four CIH 2.0E and 2.2E engines from the Rekord E2 were available; these new smaller engined models essentially replaced the Commodore which was quietly retired in 1982. Later in 1983 the 2.5E was given a new Bosch fuel injection system. The 2.8S been replaced before the Senator A1 was replaced, and the 3.0E and a new 3.0H engine were at the top of the range. The 3.0E received upgraded Bosch fuel injection. A 2.3-litre turbodiesel (shared with the Rekord) became available in 1984, and in November a supercharged version (Comprex) was shown. Going on sale in 1985, this very rare experimental version (1,000 units planned) were officially built by Irmscher rather than Opel. The Comprex offered 95 PS (70 kW) and a 172 km/h (107 mph) top speed; like the other diesels it had a pronounced bulge in the bonnet. From September 1985 until the end of production in late summer 1986 a catalyzed version of the 3.0E was available, with power down to 156 PS (115 kW)
A four-wheel drive conversion was also available, engineered by Ferguson, who had previously provided similar modifications for the Jensen FF. Rather expensive, this could also be retrofitted to an existing car. These were used by British Forces Germany under the BRIXMIS (British Commanders'-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany) operations for the collection of technical intelligence. The same kit was also used by Bitter Cars for their SC coupé, beginning in late 1981.
A limited edition convertible edition was also available in Germany, where the company "Keinath" reinforced the car heavily, and this added to the all round weight to the car.
German tuner and manufacturer Irmscher also made a special "irmscher" version of the Monza, and added small sideskirts and frontspoiler. The engine gained a considerable upgrade: The 3.0 engine got a reshaped crankshaft and different pistons and rods increasing the capacity to 3.6 litres. A remapped ECU was added to the Bosch injection system giving the car 206 PS, and extra torque.