Overcoming these and other obstacles, Opel finally celebrated the completion of the first postwar Opel Blitz truck on 15 July 1946 in the presence of United States Army General Geoffrey Keyes and other local leaders and press reporters. Priced at 6600RM, the truck was designed to run either on gasoline or on wood gas, for which a gas generator could be supplied. With a ceremonial bouquet of flowers flying from its rear-view mirror, this historic Opel Blitz left the factory gate bound for a buyer in Wiesbaden on 26 July. Further production followed at a rate of 150 a month, and by the end of 1946, the production total was 839. Frigidaire refrigerators were also being made at Rüsselsheim, as were Olympia engines for the NSU Kettenkrad.
The way it nearly came to the US is interesting, though. Back then, GM North America was a very different place than GM Europe, and it looked like there was very little interest in bridging the gap, unlike today. But after GM bought a 50% stake in the Trollhattan trolls, the General was now burdened with the problem of attracting more than devotees to an aging lineup at dealerships. The solution was to sell the Calibra to Americans through Saab dealerships, but badged as a Saab.
1938 saw the presentation of the highly successful Kapitän. With a 2.5 L six-cylinder engine, all-steel body, front independent suspension, hydraulic shock absorbers, hot-water heating (with electric blower), and central speedometer. 25,374 Kapitäns left the factory before the intensification of World War II brought automotive manufacturing to a temporary stop in the Autumn of 1940, by order of the government.
The Calibra was a hit, with customers lamenting the demise of the Opel Manta and the Ford Capri lining up eagerly. The Opel had competition, no doubt, with the BMW 3-Series coupe outselling it across Europe, but it was still a strong seller and its sleek looks sitting the in showroom did much to lift the image of its humbler stablemates. Ford's rival, the American-build Probe, was unable to match its success, which must have annoyed Ford as the Capri usually gave the Manta a bloody nose in the sales stakes. So confident were GM that the Calibra started to find fans outside of Europe. Holden sold its own version in Australia and New Zealand, albeit fully imported and identical to the European car, while South American markets got a Chevrolet-badged version. Rumoured US sales never happened though.
The Corsa E has been around since 2014 essentially as a more thorough facelift of the model before it and it won’t be until towards the end of the decade when the supermini is going to be overhauled. The development phase has not been what we would call smooth sailing considering the major corporate change. We’re obviously talking about PSA’s decision to buy Opel/Vauxhall from General Motors, which is going to have a direct impact on the new Corsa.
The handling and ride are basically fine, but are all but invisible from the point of view of a keen driver. The Crossland is tidy through corners, with reasonable steering weight but no actual feedback, and the body tilts over only to a reasonable angle. The ride is a touch stiff in its damping, especially around town (which is disappointing, given that any Crossland will probably spend most of its life in town) but it does improve on the open road. Refinement is only average though with quite a bit of wind and road noise. There’s little point in having Opel’s phone-based OnStar concierge service fitted if you can’t hear what the operator is saying . . .
Detail improvements, such as a new dashboard and a steering-column shift, embellished the Kapitän line in May 1950. Bigger changes were saved for March 1951, to anticipate the opening of the doors of the Frankfurt show on 19 April for an 11-day run. Its earlier fast-back style was modified to a mild notch-back contour, and a new horizontal grille – not the prettiest in Opel history – dominated the frontal view. With a higher compression ratio (still only 6.25:1), engine power was 58 bhp (43 kW; 59 PS) at 3,700 rpm and top speed was 80 mph (130 km/h). Output increased to 60 bhp (45 kW; 61 PS) during the further life of this model, which ended in July 1953.
While the Ipanema clearly succeeded the Marajó, production of the Chevette (by now in sedan form only, the hatchback having been discontinued after the 1987 model year) and of the Kadett noticeably overlapped; the newer model was placed above the old one in Chevrolet's lineup. While Chevrolet entertained the possibility of a pick-up version of the Kadett E, it never materialized.