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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Berlin's most famous car is also its filthiest

My philosophy is that I leave the car as-is, and I don't change anything. It's like Yellowstone National Park: If there's a fire, they let it burn, because it's nature. Here, I say what happens, happens." That's Hanns-Lüdecke Rodewald, a German engineer and professor.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/car-profiles/berlins-most-famous-car-is-also-its-filthiest/
50 REPLIES 50
CFH
Intermediate Driver

I'm thinking that Mr. Rodewald is a bachelor.
Racko
Pit Crew

You meant bachelorette, right? Because I’ve known multiple women that had so much crap in their vehicles they looked like small town municipal dumps. Multiple.
CitationMan
Gearhead

At least it’s got more useful physical controls than the new GTI.
audiocage
Advanced Driver

I hope he's had his tetanus shot.
Oscar
Intermediate Driver

I'd have to clean the windscreen. I wish I knew to what the lack of rust perforation should be ascribed.
KHG
New Driver

This is a famous car ! A car, built today is not this much fun!

I hope, the car will live for another 50 years! Hopefully the buercratic government will cooperate?! An attraction in Berlin!!!

Rider79
Technician

Poor old car. This guy says it is an experiment, but I think the experiment may be in automotive sadism. I would be mortified, if I let an old car age in that manner, without even an attempt to keep up the appearance.
TG
Gearhead

This car may still be on the road strictly due to his experiment. At least it hasn't been shipped off to China for scrap or chopped and lowered and LS-swapped. It is still the car it was meant to be doing what it was meant to do
Steve1957
Intermediate Driver

I get it. I've had all the cubic inches and hp I've ever wanted in my life, and now in my 7th decade, it's the old cars I loved but with sixes in them that interest me the most. They're alien to me. I haven't ever owned a six.
AG1962
Instructor

Exactly: original and doing what it was meant to do. Reminds me of the bone-stock original 1953 Dodge I dailied for two years in the mid-2000s, though mine was clean and entirely respectable, if worn. I bought it from the original owner’s family in Vancouver. My son learned standard on the odd, unstallable hydromatic three-speed (you could just leave it in third and drive it like an automatic, or shift it for “maximum power”). I eventually decided the lack of seat belts and safety equipment were unsuitable for teenagers to drive on their own, and sold it to an enthusiast to restore. It was a fun experiment, but as with this Opel, there are limits as to such a car’s driveability…
PRScott
Instructor

That is serious patina. It just reeks of character. Or maybe it's the mold and moss .I'd drive it!
AG1962
Instructor

Where I live, a brand new car sat outside in the “right” place for two or three years could look very similar… inside as well.
ulmapache
New Driver

You must live on the Oregon Coast...
RedRyder_SFZ
Detailer

I love it. A car and society of that stature is a perfect experiment. The guy can keep it running, that’s a fact. The issue is the governmental control.

I have a question for the author.
You say the judge fined him because he “feared” [he] would drive it at night.

Fining someone out of fear for something they’ve not yet done is not only immoral, it’s illegal. Tell us more about this statement. Is this true?

And why is it illegal for him to drive the vehicle at night?

Great article. I love it.
TonyT
Technician

One word: Germany. They still subscribe to the notion that the government knows what is best for them, common sense and freedom be damned.
E86A57
Intermediate Driver

Sounds like a bunch of Nazis run that country. I'd tell them to pound sand.
Patinaopel
New Driver

Comment by the car’s owner Rodewald:
German law can be interpreted in a way that the condemnation of possible driving in the future is lawful. Even only stationary traffic without an environmental sticker is illegal. In order to impose a fine, it is unreasonable for the police to have to wait until the engine is actually started. In general, it can be assumed that the vehicle will be moved away with engine power, even if it is at rest at the moment of inspection.

Furthermore, driving at night is not generally illegal. It only was an example of the judge during the hearing, explaining why possible driving in the future can be sentenced. He said: "Maybe you drive the car clandestine at night and nobody takes notice". Therefore possible future driving without a valid environmental sticker can be sentenced as well.
bblhed
Instructor

I don't know, my daily driver is a 2005 Scion xA that has 223,XXX miles on it and I really don't do all that much beyond basic maintenance and repairs to it either. In my defense, I do wash it because I live in New England and Salt is evil.
Rick2
Instructor

The 1951 Chevy I drove in the winter did not look near as bad at this Opel. But I did get custody of the Chevy in the divorce!
topside
Instructor

So, the clowns that enacted a "low-emissions zone" must believe that they created a column of pure air ? Does the atmosphere behave differently in Germany, and not intermingle with adjacent atmospheres ?
That would be as goofy as, say, mandating electric vehicles when the grid to support recharging them isn't capable of doing so; all for the vanity of virtue-signalling. Not to mention the full environmental impact is arguably no better.
TG
Gearhead

wait... you're trying to make sense?
Flashman
Technician

If this car lived where I do, it would have collapsed into iron oxide decades ago.
N227RV
New Driver

Reminds me of the Tappet Brothers who tried to find out long their Dodge Colt would last if they never changed the oil. An automobile is just a box on wheels that goes by itself … no horse. This guy has proved it.
hyperv6
Collector

I had a local contractor buy a Datsun truck for economy. That means no washing or even an oil change till 70,000 miles. It was like tar.

We repeated the second change about the same miles again. No washing.

I think he drove nearing 300k miles before he passed. I think the truck was still running but I thing it was retired at that point by his son.

We get people all the time debating 3,000 miles or 9,000 miles to change oil. Or Mobil 1 to Amzoil like it was a religion. But in the end the margins of error is pretty great on oils in most street cars.

Many cars can take a ton of abuse as I have seen it first hand. I do not recommend it or condone it but a couple thousand miles either way with a decent oil makes little difference.
TG
Gearhead

My general experience is long as you can keep the oil and coolant in the engine, that is half the battle. Most of the folks I know who have toasted engines have done so due to unmanaged leaks and not checking level

Rick1
Intermediate Driver

Can't relate to this - neglect is not an artform.
TG
Gearhead

I bought a 94 Blazer that was bought as a general kicking-around truck and as served as a general kicking-around truck well into classic-hood. It is at a point condition wise where I would be better off buying a nice one if I wanted a nice one than trying to restore this one - but it still serves well in its current role. I can see how things get here
Jr1
Detailer

Ever since the re-unification of the 2 Germany's, the East German bureaucrats seem to have infiltrated the West. The Nazi's and the communists have come out as the winners. The German people have become resigned to the fact that if they just ignore the abuse of their consciences, it will get better by itself.
After the WW2 end, the German people claimed that they knew nothing about what was going on, even though they had ashes of the ovens were falling on them every day.
AG1962
Instructor

Why in the world is the car STILL registered in Koblenz (KO at beginning of number plate)? Rodewald must still be registered as living there (all Germans have to register their permanent place of abode) — and presumably has been registered as living there since that first picture was taken at the very least. If he were registered in Berlin, normally his car would also have to be plated and taxed there (Berlin plates start with B). This dude *abides* (in Koblenz), even if he *lives* in Berlin…

Patinaopel
New Driver

Answer by the car’s owner Rodewald:
I used to have two residences in Germany, Koblenz and Berlin. The car was registered in Koblenz and therefore received the license plate with KO. After moving to Berlin, I was able to keep this license plate because the tax law changed a few years ago in 2015, so you can keep a city’s license plates even when having moved to another city.
Steve1957
Intermediate Driver

Eeehhhhhh... this is a "quirky" undertaking. To put it mildly. This isn't a car, it's an ecosystem on wheels.
mbr2000
Advanced Driver

It would still be original if he washed it!
Gary
Detailer

I had a couple opels in the 70’s they were great cars. They would cruise easily at 80 all day and still deliver 30 mpg. But like every thing good they quit importing them and stuck the name on a Isuzu and tried to sell them here
Studenorton
Instructor

Wir sind jetzt alle Opel Olympias.
JimBob49
New Driver

Where I grew up in the Detroit area in the 50s and 60s, there were beater work cars parked on the streets that looked this bad and weren't that old. Guys who worked at the local steel mills and the Rouge Plant, where the parking lot atmosphere was corrosive (and I presume toxic), didn't bother washing them. Not to mention what flowed out of the discharge pipes into the Detroit River back then...
Johnnay
New Driver

Oh, so THAT's what I have - it's not a junker, it's a mechanical and legal experiment. 🙂
Midsize16
New Driver

This is stupid. 105,000 miles is nothing.
Any car can last that long with minimal repairs if is is not driven a lot. Washed or not. It can sit in the driveway and last.
Now if it had 400,000 miles and driven daily this would be something.
And not washing it is lazy.
E86A57
Intermediate Driver

EXACTLY! 105K??? I was thinking they were going to say a half-million, or something to that effect.

This is really not any big deal. I have a Taurus beater that is so rusted out that it is ready to break in two...but I refuse to get rid of it because it runs fine and, in the last year, it has been on multiple (5 or 6) 1000-1500 mile round trips. It's got 159,000 and still going strong. Just put new brake pads and rotors on the front a couple of months ago ($69) and a new starter on it last week ($44).
Zephyr
Technician

He has set the gold standard for Beaters everywhere!

To me this is just gross.
brians356
Advanced Driver

"They're only original once!"
ladycarlover
Intermediate Driver

I love it. It's a testament to life. I want to hug it.
cactus
Pit Crew

This car needs to be appreciated. It is like discovering a charcoal lined drawing of a bison in a cave. You can't just paint over something like that. Look at the fine details-the bodywork surrounding the right front signal light, the wood shim adjusting a door mount, the local hardware store supplied fasteners. Not one, not two, but three species of moss call the habitat their home. Amazing.
LeeFred78
New Driver

"The result was an 80-euro fine (about $90) for the 15th complaint, because the judge feared that Rodewald would try to drive the car at night." The owner got fined for something that he might do?
E86A57
Intermediate Driver

I'd tell them to shove it up their tailpipe.
Patinaopel
New Driver

Answer by the car’s owner Rodewald:
According to the judge’s judgement, vehicles without an environmental sticker are generally forbidden to drive in an environmental zone, inlcuding when they are parked, uninvolved in traffic. It can be assumed that the car must have been driven before, will be driven afterwards or still is being driven. Consequently, the punishment can address this possible future act of driving.
E86A57
Intermediate Driver

Neat car, too bad he doesn't, at least, take a little care of it. Poor thing. I don't think this guy is a car guy at all. Any real car guy would never allow for their car to fall into this serious of a state of neglect.
ulmapache
New Driver

Had a '62 Rekord...loved it!!
KdFregistry
Intermediate Driver

Another story that makes me love the car community so much. What fun! You should consider bringing him & his car over as the Guest of honor for Alan Galbraith's the Cars d'Lemons!!