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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 Kadett C was introduced in Brazil as the Chevrolet Chevette. The three-door station wagon was called the Chevrolet Marajó, and a pick-up was named Chevy 500. Brazilian production commenced in 1973, with the Marajó being added in 1980 and the Chevy 500 in 1983, shortly after a significant facelift affected the entire line. Brazilian cars had engines in various combinations of size - 1.0 (1992-1993), 1.4 (1973-1982), or 1.6 (1982-1995) liters - and fuels (gasoline or ethanol), though not all combinations were available for all body configurations. The last Marajó was built in 1989, the last Chevette in 1993, and the last Chevy 500 in 1995.
The Calibra holds the title of having been the most aerodynamic car in the world at its 1990 launch, with a drag coefficient of just 0.26. With engines ranging in displacement from 1998 cc to 2498 cc, the car reigned supreme over other makes at the time. Its privileged position as the most aerodynamically efficient car would be held until the end of the 90's when the Calibra was overthrown by new Audi and Honda releases, the A2 and Insight respectively.
The Insignia flagship followed exactly the same initiative as the Astra. Once again the Opel engineers’ main objective was efficiency. Thanks to optimized packaging and lightweight materials they could save up to 175kg on the Insignia Grand Sport compared with its predecessor – much to the benefit of dynamics and fuel consumption. Depending on powertrain and equipment, the current Insignia Sports Tourer even weighs up to 200kg less than the similar model variant from the first generation.
Although GM's passenger vehicle line-up in South Africa consisted of Opel-based models by the late 1970s, these were sold under the Chevrolet brand name, with only the Kadett being marketed as an Opel when it was released in 1980. In 1982, the Chevrolet brand name was dropped, with the Ascona, Rekord, Commodore, and Senator being rebadged as Opels.
As a German living in Germany, I join in the question “Where did they all go?”. Even in Germany you won`t find many Opel Kadetts “A-D”, the D-Kadett was built until 1984, being regularly driven anymore. Even at classic car shows that my wife and me attend with our cars you are sure to see at least about 30 vintage Porsche 911 or Mercedes SL for every Opel Kadett oder rear-wheel-drive (built until 1980) Ford Escort.
^ 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).