Home » Mid-2000s Opels Had An Amazing Hidden Bike Rack Option That Seems To Be Forgotten

Mid-2000s Opels Had An Amazing Hidden Bike Rack Option That Seems To Be Forgotten

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You know what I unashamedly love in a car? A gimmick. Maybe it’s unsophisticated, maybe it’s a reflection of the abysmal shallowness of my nature, but I don’t care. Gimmicks are fun. Whether it’s the rear sun visors in a Porsche 928 or all six sun visors in a Citroën CX Familiare or cars with bumpers on their bumpers or how C3 Corvettes had wipers that were hidden under a vacuum-operated cover.

I love all the unexpected, overdone, absurd gimmicky features of cars, so when I just recently found out about a particular optional feature on some Opels and Vauxhalls, I was delighted. So delighted I want to be sure you see this, too. It’s an integrated bike rack system called Flex-Fix.

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What I like about the Flex-Fix system is how, especially on the smaller Opel/Vauxhall Corsas, it has a certain Bond-car type of quality. That’s mostly because the whole setup is hidden behind the license plate, and, upon pulling a lever in the trunk area, it pulls out like a drawer, revealing a duplicate set of taillights and a whole bike rack able to hold up to two (I’ve also seen three, even four) bikes.

Bikerackcutaway

Here’s a video of someone showing the whole magical process:

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Now, even if you don’t need to carry any bicycles around, you have to admit that’s pretty cool. There were some slightly different variations on other models, like the small SUV Mokka or the Antara, which duplicated the number plate, since the plate was normally mounted on the tailgate, not the bumper:

Look how nice and thin those auxiliary taillights are, by the way! That’s impressive! And also, here we see the full three-bike capacity, as well as a smart tilt-down method to allow access inside the cargo area via the hatch, too. It’s a well-thought-out system!

You know, I don’t think I appreciated just how many models Opel/Vauxhall offered this option on; look, here’s a version for the Opel Zafira minivan, and it held four bikes:

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Zafirarack

And, there was a version for the stylish little Adam:

Adam Rack

 

I suppose the downside of the FlexFix integrated bike rack system is that you have to give up a spare tire, but so many cars have eliminated a spare tire and given you Jaqueline Squat in return. It’s just a really clever setup, and I bet really satisfying to pull out, especially when you’re with someone who has no idea such a thing exists.

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I also wonder if any nervous Opel or Vauxhall driver in heavy traffic has ever pulled out the drawer just to act as a sort of rear-impact buffer? I bet it’s happened at least once.

The FlexFix option doesn’t ever seem to have been a huge seller, and I think that’s tragic. This was a top-notch automotive gimmick, and for the most part, the world seems to have slept on it. I want to be a voice for this sort of clever thing, useful tools or features that slide in and out of drawers, unfurl out of compartments, pop up from surprising places.

Of course, maybe part of the reason these didn’t sell as well as you’d think was because of how they were advertised, like this ad, which manages the very difficult trick of combining sexual predator qualities with what kind of looks like an anthropomorphic peanut puppet:

Bang-up job, marketing team!

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I love this kind of crap! Not enough modern cars are employing these gimmicky wonders, but maybe that’s going to change. Modern electric cars should offer more physical room and opportunities for this sort of thing right? One can hope.

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Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
4 months ago

I thought this feature was only on the Antara crossover and was bummed that the Saturn version didn’t get it. As a cyclist having a quick and easy rack would be great. I make do with a Kuat hitch receiver rack that is easy to load bikes on but blocks the hatch. It’s too bad no maker has continued to make hidden racks. The closes we get is Subaru’s fold away cross bars.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
4 months ago

“Why didn’t they offer this in the US?”

(Watches video)

“Oh, yeah…. we are too stupid for this”

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

And because in the U.S. bicycles have a stigma that they’re only for fitness weirdos and children, and occasionally adrenaline junkies but only if it’s a mountain/BMX bike.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
4 months ago

This idea is as brilliant as that commercial is disturbing. And I say that as someone who doesn’t need to haul a bike. That’s just brilliant.

TheNewt
TheNewt
4 months ago

If I were comparing two similar cars, this feature alone would likely be the decider. This is amazing.

TheNewt
TheNewt
4 months ago
Reply to  TheNewt

Just watched the ad… Yeah, that’s pretty cringe worthy.

Ben Chia
Ben Chia
4 months ago

I remember this! I test drove an Astra from that era and they made a huge deal out of this feature.

I wish more companies would offer something like this. It’s hella useful.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
4 months ago

A push bike? What am I a peasant?

Clupea Hangoverus
Clupea Hangoverus
4 months ago

I bet you could retrofit this into a Buick Encore.
Besides, I think you had to give up towing hook (also retrofit option) when ordering this, which may explain the lack of success. Elegant solution, but very specialised use case.

Last edited 4 months ago by Clupea Hangoverus
Martin Ibert
Martin Ibert
4 months ago

With the Adam, I would be worried about cargo space. I drive an Adam (without this contraption), it doesn’t a well for the spare wheel that could be deleted, and cargo space is very limited as-is.

Ffoc01
Ffoc01
4 months ago

Kinda reminds me of the roof rack that used to be available on the Ford Escape from 01-04 as part of the “No Boundaries” package. It was a standard roof rack but with a release handle in the back. When you turned the release, the roof rack slid rearward then tilted down to lock into notches in the rear bumper, making a bike rack.

https://images.app.goo.gl/sUym6iB9XtxeRUNK7

Rafael
Rafael
4 months ago

I have a Zafira like that, and tried to import the rack as an accessory, but it seems the chassis itself was modified for this (nothing huge, just some mounting points). I gave up because my bike is foldable anyway, but man, what a nifty little party trick!
However, I wonder how much that thing weights… I carry a bike for like 0.01% of the time in driving, would the extra dead weight be worth it?

Greensoul
Greensoul
4 months ago

Why can’t we have nice things like that in the US? Did it fail the crash test with the option? Never mind, no one would by one here. Unless…..unless. You could ride a bike through a drive thru, never mind, us fat assed Americans won’t be bothered .I would be terrified to ride a bike here. My neighbor just bought a F250 so she feels safe, you need a fricken step ladder to check the oil. Ridiculous

PajeroPilot
PajeroPilot
4 months ago

I remember seeing the Vauxhall version of that very Corsa ad when I was in England years ago. I remember thinking the puppet in the ad was weird and the bike rack itself was kind of a cool idea.

I didn’t remember the bit where he focuses the rear view mirror on the young woman’s breasts… I’m surprised that go approved even back then! Or maybe they cut that bit out of the UK version of the ad and it was allowed in other parts of Europe, or something?

FlyingMonstera
FlyingMonstera
4 months ago
Reply to  PajeroPilot

I can’t remember the breasty bit either so probably cut for the UK before the phone started ringing at the Advertising Standards Authority.

Bobblehead
Bobblehead
4 months ago

I love this! It solves a major safety hazard created by add-on racks; that is, decreased taillight visibility.

Last edited 4 months ago by Bobblehead
Knowonelse
Knowonelse
4 months ago

This is the first time seeing a bike rack that uses the pedal crank arm to hold a bike. Very, very clever. And short!

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
4 months ago
Reply to  Knowonelse

The Yakima Ankle Biter roof rack mount also locks onto the crank arm and predates the Opel racks. It’s very useful if you have fenders that interfere with a wheel clamp or a weird frame that’s hard to grab with a frame clamp.

Goblin
Goblin
4 months ago

If we’re to stay into Citroen gimmickness, let’s talk about the actual glass window between the rear seat and the trunk (while remembering we’re talking about a hatchback).

T’was there to protect rear passengers from annoying drafts when the rear hatch was opened.

DadBod
DadBod
4 months ago

This is so cool. I have a Kuat hitch rack that weighs a ton, I don’t enjoy the install/uninstall process.
edit: holy shit I just watched the ad WTF

Last edited 4 months ago by DadBod
Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
4 months ago

These are awesome!
Wow, that commercial…

Last edited 4 months ago by Freelivin2713
SG
SG
4 months ago

This is awesome! I saw some Thule racks in Germany with integrated tail lights and had a tag cut out that fit into a 1.25 trailer hitch receiver but this is even cooler!

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
4 months ago

This seems ripe for a rehash, Subaru and 1UP bike racks should team up. The Subaru cross track wilderness 1UP edition.

A. Barth
A. Barth
4 months ago

an integrated bike rack system called Flex-Fix

Weird Flex, but okay. 🙂

JK – this is objectively pretty nifty.

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
4 months ago

I’m assuming this was ‘lost in translation’ when the Antara and the Mokka turned into the Saturn Vue and Buick Encore came over?

Tinctorium
Tinctorium
4 months ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

I.e. cost cut by GM middle managers …

Alec Rosenbaum
Alec Rosenbaum
4 months ago

That ad is so cringy I almost threw up.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago
Reply to  Alec Rosenbaum

Same here. Even for its time that was creepy.

Adam Rice
Adam Rice
4 months ago

I think Porsche had a Taycan or Panamera show car with this feature. Super-cool that Opel actually put it into production.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
4 months ago

I never saw these before. You are right, this is a really great idea which should recapitulated.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
4 months ago

I don’t trust Mr. Peanut’s motives with that young lady.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Mr. Peanut coming out of his shell?

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