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Production started on December 4, 1946. The Moskvitch 400/420 continued to be made in Moscow with some minor changes until 1956, when it was replaced by the Moskvitch 402. The latter was an all-new design apart from the engine, for which Moskvitch continued to use the Kadett side-valve engine until 1958, when it was replaced with a domestically designed OHV engine.
I bought a used Opel Wagon in 1971. It came to the US from Brazil where my college roommate’s father worked for an American firm. It was a 1968 model, had impressive handling and was fun to drive. While the car was excellent in all respects, and I owned it from ’71 through ’74, I took a lot of grief about it. Gas station people made comments like “Is this your car? It’s not paying your taxes.” and “Does this thing come with a motor?” and “This thing is made for insects.” But, worse, were the insults from the Queens County (NYC) Buick dealer parts department who consistently said really nasty things to folks buying replacement parts: “Ya look like the kinda’ guy who’d buy this ting”. After completing my Industrial Design degree, and I went on to design vehicles here and abroad, I never bought a GM car.
After seven years, 238,647 Calibras had been produced at the main plant in Rüsselsheim, and also at Valmet in Uusikaupunki, Finland. The Calibra’s biggest markets were Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain and France. The 115 hp entry-level model led the sales charts with production totaling more than 130,000 units, followed by the 150 hp, 2.0-liter version, of which more than 61,000 were built.
Opel had been transformed and rebuilt before. Beyond the efforts of the company's staff, very little was functioning in the factories and plants. Many of the tools with which they once had worked were gone. The Brandenburg truck plant fell into the Russian zone of a divided postwar Germany. It did not stay there long. All the machinery and equipment – right down to the window frames and bathroom fixtures – were dismantled and shipped to a site near the Ural mountains.
On 29 February 2012, Opel announced the creation of a major alliance with PSA Peugeot Citroen resulting in GM taking a 7% share of PSA, becoming PSA's second-largest shareholder after the Peugeot family. The alliance was intended to enable $2 billion per year of cost savings through platform sharing, common purchasing, and other economies of scale. In December 2013, GM sold its 7% interest in PSA for £250 million, after plans of cost savings were not as successful. Opel was said to be among Europe's most aggressive discounters in mass-market. GM reported a 2016 loss of US$257 million from its European operations. It is reported that GM has lost about US$20 billion in Europe since 1999.
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Edward shot it just as that red Citroen wagon pulled in to park, which gives a nice frame of reference. The Kadett was fairly big for its time, but that has long gone. But before the name Kadett is lost forever, at least in Americans’ memories, here’s a final toast to Opel’s Chevy II: thanks for the memories; good and middling. Bad? There must be a reason why there’s none to be found anywhere.
GM imported the Opel Kadett B, built at the recently closed plant in Bochum, Germany, into North America starting in 1966. American and Canadian car buyers weren't especially enthusiastic about these cheap little cars, but sufficient quantities were sold that they were fairly easy to find in American wrecking yards through the 1980s. Here's a '67 in a Denver-area self-service yard that managed to outlive most of its contemporaries.
The Kadett A (above) finally appeared in 1962, and was a classic GM/Opel effort: highly pragmatic, conventional in every respect, reasonably stylish for its time, and designed to deliver a good bang for the buck. In just about every way possible, it was the antithesis of the VW: front-engine rwd, a rather tinny but roomy body, highly tossable but with a primitive suspension and ride, a very roomy trunk, and excellent visibility as well as economy. Oh, and a proper heater even! Its little 987 cc OHV four made 40 net/46 gross hp, six more than the VW 1200. Its trim fighting weight of 1475 lbs (670 kg), some two hundred pounds less than the VW, showed in both its acceleration and body integrity.