In March 2017, Groupe PSA agreed to buy Opel, its British sister brand Vauxhall and their European auto lending business from General Motors for US$2.2 billion. In return, General Motors will pay PSA US$3.2 billion for future European pension obligations and keep managing US$9.8 billion worth of plans for existing retirees. Furthermore, GM is responsible for paying about US$400 million annually for 15 years to fund the existing Great Britain and Germany pension plans.
Later, an 1800 cc version wis introduced for the Kadett/Astra GTE model. This range o ingines wis an aa uised for later models o the Corsa/Nova, an the mid-sized Cavalier/Ascona. The Kadett D wis an' a' equipped wi a 1600 cc diesel ingine that wis possible tae drive as cheap as 5.0 L/100 km, an a cairy-ower 1196cc OHV ingine. It wis an aa produced as IDA Kadett in Kikinda, Yugoslavie.
In 1924, the Rüsselsheim-based company went even further to cater to the “average consumer” – also thanks to an automotive innovation. After all, from the very first minute Opel was committed to producing cars as efficiently as possible and thus making them affordable for a broad customer base. Consequently, the 4/12 hp heralded the start of assembly line production in Germany. And because the 60 km/h fast car was only available “in a quiet green that pleases the eye” to keep the time and effort required for production at a minimum, everyone called it the “Tree Frog”. Soon, 25 two-seater “cars for everyone” left the assembly line every day. In the following years an entire vehicle family was built on the Tree Frog technology. The smoother production ran, the greater the cost advantage that Opel passed on to its customers. Unbelievable but true: the purchase price of the 4 hp model series, of which 119,484 units were produced, was almost 40 per cent lower in 1931 than at the launch of the Tree Frog model.
During the 1930s, the Rüsselsheim plant was never given a major role in Germany's war preparations. Neither was Ford's plant in Cologne considered trustworthy enough for a big assignment, such as tank manufacture, in view of their earlier foreign associations. Initially, of course, the war was thought to be a short one settled in Germany's favour. Auto plants were shut down, to conserve resources, but not converted to other jobs. As was common with much of the production in Nazi Germany during the war, slave labor of deported civilians and Soviet POWs was utilized in the Opel factories.
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However, Opel Team Joest was in for a tough fight. Not only had Alfa Romeo not been sitting on their hands, Mercedes-Benz had finally found the time to build a proper Class 1 car. Although the C180 V6 DTM lacked four wheel drive and only produced 400 horsepower, it featured a 6-speed sequential transmission, F1-derived active suspension, an innovative active ballast system which counteracted the pitching and diving of the nose under acceleration and braking and an all-carbon bodyshell bringing weight down to 980 kg (2161 lbs).
My dad bought a Kadett when we became a two-car family in the 60’s (Mom got the Rambler Rebel, and then a 72 Impala). It lasted until ’77, when we used the Impala to help push it down the highway and into the Olds dealership where they were having a “We’ll give you $1000 for whatever you can drive onto the lot” trade in sale. (Sadly, we got an awful 77 Cutlas Supreme). I got some of my early driving lessons (in the neighborhood) in that Opel – shifting gears from the passenger seat, or sometimes riding on my Dads lap and steering.
Within Opel the Calibra was a car with potential but sadly much of it was unrealised. Valmet Automotive in Finland, who had a manufacturing facility that build Calibras alongside the German plant, produced two handsome convertible prototypes that never saw production. A Saab coupe based on the Calibra was also rumoured but, again, never saw the light of day.
Joseph DeBattista and his son, Joey, acquired this Lapis Blue wonder after trading a Volkswagen. Owing to its rarity, they had to be creative with the restoration. While Joey was hunting for parts on eBay, his father bent metal to perfection, slowly completing a car that will always remain an underdog, a nice conversation starter, and a fail-proof daily driver. Just ask Richard Hammond, if you need more proof.
Typically, although a far better car, like the Chevette all Kadett models have been the butt of jokes in Europe, particularly for being very common (the quintessential middle-class car in Germany and the Netherlands), very prone to rust and very easy to steal. While essentially good cars, and always praised as such by contemporary press, these gave Opel its commoner reputation it is still struggling to shake off.
Cars and truck production lines were lost by Opel. As reparations for war destruction, under plans of the Allied Forces, the Soviet Union asked the Allied military government for the tools, jigs, dies, fixtures, and drawings for the Kadett. This, they said, they would use to begin auto production at an Opel subsidiary in Russian-occupied Leipzig. The equipment was duly delivered to the Soviets in June 1946, and that was the last Opel was to see of it – but not of the Kadett.
In 1909, the Opel 4/8 hp pioneered the introduction of affordable mobility. It was modern with solid technology, easy to operate and manoeuvrable, enabling ambitious car owners to drive it themselves instead of relying on a chauffeur – considerably reducing the overall cost of ownership. And the quality of materials and workmanship created confidence. The first officially designated “small car” in automotive history was considered fully suitable for everyday use. The vehicle ideal for “doctors, veterinarians and lawyers” according to the adverts was available at prices from 4,000 to 5,000 Marks, while models from other manufacturers cost around 20,000 Marks. Thus the means of transport for the upper class became a vehicle for the middle class - thanks to the “Doctor's car”.
In November 2010, a facelift was announced. A revised front end was the most dramatic difference over its predecessor, consisting of a new grille, a restyled front bumper and new 'Eagle Eye' headlamps (introduced on the Insignia) which contain daytime running lamps, standard across the refreshed Corsa range. (Vauxhall versions gained the latest badge from 2008 on the front grille, tailgate and steering wheel). A new 'Touch and Connect' multimedia system from Bosch was made available as an option on certain Corsas, replacing the CD60 unit. Alloy wheels are upgraded on SXI, SE and OPC/VXR versions. Production ended in the end of 2014, with the Adam styled Corsa E released.
In 1982 Opel once again accomplished a great feat with a small car: the Corsa A joined the range below the Kadett, which by now was becoming a compact model. Designed by Chief Designer Erhard Schnell, who also penned the legendary Opel GT, the only 3.62m-long Corsa was notable for its prominent rally-car wheel arches and a drag coefficient of 0.36. Offered initially as a two-door hatchback and sedan, and a five-door as of 1985, the Corsa again demonstrated how masterfully Opel can generate space on a small platform. The 100hp GSi also combined frugality with fun. Originally conceived as an entry-level model for those on a tight budget, the Corsa A had become a bestseller by 1993 with a total of 3.1 million units sold.
The engine came with a choice from two power levels. For the standard 1.0 litre engine maximum output was listed as 40 PS (29 kW) at 5,000 rpm, and in October 1963 the high compression "1.0 S-Motor" was added, sharing the 993 cc capacity of the original power unit, but offering a maximum 48 PS (35 kW) of power at 5,400 rpm. The more powerful "S-Motor" engine featured modifications to the inlet manifold, cylinders and camshaft along with a carburetor employing larger (36 mm (1.4 in) diameter than the 30 mm (1.2 in) used on the standard engine. This came with an 8.8: 1 compression ratio whereas the 40 PS (29 kW; 39 hp) engine used a compression ratio of only 7.8 : 1. Higher compression ratios for performance versions of standard engines were a growing trend in West Germany in the 1960s, led by Opel and Ford, and made possible by the growing availability of higher octane "Super" grade fuel at filling stations.
The real people’s car successor was the 1962 Kadett A. The low maintenance costs were expressly part of the recipe for success of the two-door notchback model. The lines were matter-of-fact and modern. At the same time, the interior space was anything but typical of a small car. The advertising promised “well-formed seats, plenty of legroom. We have dispensed with overhanging metalwork and unnecessary bells and whistles. That would only have cost a lot of money.” Instead, the boot was a real luggage compartment and – the fuel filler cap was on the outside! “You never have the smell of petrol in your boot,” it said with a wink towards Wolfsburg. With its modern, water-cooled front engine, the Kadett offered a further design advantage over the Beetle. “Opel Kadett, in short: O.K.” – Opel built almost 650,000 units by 1965 alone.
The Corsa A was rebadged as the "Vauxhall Nova" between 1983 to 1993 for the United Kingdom. It replaced the ageing Vauxhall Chevette. All Nova models were manufactured in Spain, with the first customers in the United Kingdom taking delivery of their cars in April 1983. It gave Vauxhall a much needed modern competitor in the supermini market in the United Kingdom, as the Chevette was older than the majority of its main competitors which consisted of the Ford Fiesta and the Austin Metro.
In the US, some 500 Buick dealers started carrying the Kadett in 1964, after their previous sole product, the larger Rekord, was knocked out of the ring by GM’s own 1960/1961 compacts. I strongly suspect the Buick dealers (and their ad agency) who hadn’t yet taken down their Opel signs were not really very committed or motivated, and all of 17k ’64s and 14k ’65 Kadett A were sold. Meanwhile, VW was moving some 400k Beetles in America.
Under the stubby bonnet, Opel has borrowed engines as well as chassis from PSA, so the EcoTec 1.6-litre diesel is actually the French 1.6-litre BlueHDI engine wearing lederhosen and a false moustache. It’s a very good engine, in fairness. Not as refined, overall, as Opel’s home-grown 1.6, nor as powerful (120hp plays 136hp) but quieter at low rpm when cold, and with very good economy. Sadly, the six-speed manual gearbox is also brought in from France and its sloppy, loose-limbed action does not bespeak of German precision. The engine, to be honest, doesn’t seem to suit the car, surging and growling with rather too much enthusiasm and basically making a nuisance of itself. I suspect the Crossland would be better-suited to the revvy, lightweight 1.2-litre petrol engine.
Opel had been Germany's largest auto-producer in the 1930s, and in Wolfsburg the producers of the Kadett's principal target did not disguise their concern at the prospect of Opel's return to small car production. At the Volkswagen annual general meeting a few months before the launch of the Kadett, Volkswagen chairman Heinrich Nordhoff (who himself had been a senior manager with Opel in the 1930s and 1940s) went on record with a warning to shareholders that Opel (along with Ford Germany) were backed by a level of financial muscle on a scale unimaginable to any German company, and that it seemed that the two American transplants were now determined to use their financial strength to make aggressive inroads into the German auto-market at any price.
The Opel Kadett D was also built in South Africa by General Motors South African (Pty) Ltd. The South African range was made up of four-door fastback sedans, five-door hatchbacks, and a five-door estate model called the Voyage. The engines used are Opel's 1.2 litre overhead valve inline-four (L models only), or the OHC 1.3 liter (GL, GLS, and Voyage). Power is 60 PS (44 kW) and 75 PS (55 kW) respectively. Later a 1.6 liter was added and also a 1.8 in the GTE performance model.
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.