In 1973 the 1959 Opel P-1 shattered world performance records at Wood River, Illinois with a whopping 376.59 m.p.g.
This near-original condition record-setter holds an important—and for many, nothing less than shocking—place in American automotive history. Competing as an experimental modification, the exploits of this street legal paradigm were widely reported upon prior to its induction into the Talladega SuperSpeedways’ Motorsports Hall of Fame, and cited in numerous industry reports and white papers.
It was then—inexplicably—forgotten and lost to history. Not recognizing its historic importance, the Hall of Fame’s managers reportedly sold the vehicle without fanfare despite its potential value and importance to collectors. The vehicle was recovered at auction in 2008 by Cosmopolitan Motors LLC, a Seattle collector car dealership, which began research on the car and brought it to the attention of Doug LeMay and the LeMay Family Collection Foundation, where it is now stored and available for public viewing today.
Intact Recovery and Preserved for History
Following its surprise recovery at auction, the Opel was transported to the climate controlled Seattle showroom of Cosmopolitan Motors LLC for storage, preservation and documentation. As the result of first outreach efforts, the new owners quickly determined that the vehicle was a national treasure whose historical importance required the stewardship of major public institution capable of preserving its future availability to the public.
Press Availability and First Viewings
Following the disclosure of its availability—and amazing history—the car immediately became the subject of numerous national and worldwide press inquiries and was made available for numerous 360 degree onsite inspections and viewings. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, National Public Radio and foreign press television coverage rapidly ensued.
Despite its near loss to history, the car survived in remarkably good condition and retains many important markings and features. The names of the original record-shattering team members are still proudly emblazoned on the vehicle and it retains the color and definition of its important logos and designs.
A New Day in the Sun
Later, with the acquisition and support efforts of Doug LeMay and the world-famous LeMay Family Collection Foundation (LFCF), the historic find has become available for public viewing at its Marymount Campus location as well as numerous venues.
The Opel made its local public debut at the LFCF Lucky Car Auction in Tacoma, Washington on September 2012. At the request of the Seattle Auto Show, the vehicle was displayed with several historic autos in November 2012.