One resource that did not appear on the books of General Motors or on the rolls of the occupying authorities was most responsible for the recovery of Opel in 1945, the collaborative nature of its workers. They were not itinerant hires who had looked on their work at Rüsselsheim as just another job. They were men and women who had, for the most part, come from that immediate area, many from the country, and had literally grown up with the Adam Opel AG. The fate of Opel was important to its workers, for its collapse would mean the loss of the most important employer for the people of Rüsselsheim, who were finding their way home from the chaos of war.
The manufacturer now offered two versions of the Kadett, designated the "Kadett KJ38 and the "Kadett K38" the latter also being sold as the "Kadett Spezial". Mechanically and in terms of published performance there was little to differentiate the two, but the "Spezial" had a chrome stripe below the window line, and extra external body trim in other areas such as on the front grill. The interior of the "Spezial" was also better equipped. To the extent that the 300 Mark saving for buyers of the car reflected reduced production costs, the major difference was that the more basic "KJ38" lost the synchromous springing with which the car had been launched, and which continued to be fitted on the "Spezial". The base car instead reverted to traditional rigid axle based suspension similar to that fitted on the old Opel P4.
He dropped by my house early one Friday evening the day he bought it at Ackerman Buick in Ferguson, MO, picked me up, drove to a buddy’s, picked him up and we took off over the bridge into Illinois to ride all the levee roads and every other back road we could find. We had to drop off our buddy around 9 o’clock, put $1.80 in the tank and went back to Illinois! We finally returned home after midnight and somehow put over 250 miles on the car in that time!
The Crossland’s rear seats are rather more vanilla than that. They split-fold, alright, with a slim centre section doubling up as a ski-hatch or arm-rest, and they do slide back and forth. That can liberate a seriously large amount of extra boot space, as when the rear seats are in the slid-forward position, the boot expands from 410-litres to a whopping 520-litres. At last, a small SUV with a boot big enough for a family. The unfortunate compromise is, obviously, in rear seat room. Maximise the boot, and you’ll be lucky to fit anyone at all in the back. Minimise the boot and, er, to be honest, there’s still not great space back there. It’s adequate, but no more than that.
Quite a few of these were sold in Canada in the 1960’s as they were cheap, along with other associated dreck like the Viva. They were famously for skinflints, the kinds of dads who boasted how cheap he got everything. The problem in places like Ottawa was the cars couldn’t handle the frigid winters and moonscape roads. They were very light and Canadian winters pounded them to dust in a few years.
The decklid badge says it's an automatic, but there's a four-speed manual inside. Was it a decklid or transmission swap? Either way, these cars were very, very cheap; the MSRP on a 1967 Kadett two-door sedan was $1,657 (about $12,500 in 2018 dollars), which compared favorably to the $1,639 Volkswagen Beetle that year. The Kadett had 54 hp to the Beetle's 53 (and weighed 93 fewer pounds than the Volks, to boot), so it was a bit quicker. On top of that, it had a heater that worked, plus a design dated a lot later than the late 1930s. Of course, most American car buyers looking for something economical preferred stripped-down versions of "traditional" American cars, e.g., the Chevy II ($2,090), the AMC Rambler American 220 ($2,073) the Ford Falcon ($2,118), or the Plymouth Valiant ($2,017). The Corvair two-door was $2,128 that year, too, and let's not forget the $1,790 Toyota Corona sedan.
^ General Motors Austria Gesellschaft m.b.H. (GMA, founded 1963 as sales organisation; from 1979: Administration, Non-productive Departments an Sales) and General Motors Austria Werke Gesellschaft m.b.H. (GMAW founded 1979; Production). In November 1987 GMAW (Austrian Handelsregister, HRB 24.436) were merged into GMA (HRB 20.133b, actual Firmenbuch FN 110500a).
the Chevy Chevette, while a MUCH better car than the Vega was at the time, and even now, that’s not saying a whole lot, other than it WAS infinitely more durable and longer lasting and reliable than the Vega, though by ’76, the Vega was decent enough, but the damage was done. I know as my Mom drove a ’76 Vega from roughly 78-83 with the only major thing being the carb being rebuilt around 1980. The Chevette was basically a redesigned Kadett/Vauxhaul Chevette.