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.
Speaking of which, our speculative render of the next Corsa builds upon the styling langue implemented by the Rüsselsheim-based marque for the pair of crossovers, but adapted to better suit a supermini. It’s unclear at this point whether the styling direction will change now that Opel is underneath PSA’s umbrella, but it could happen considering the underpinnings are significantly being modified.
In Australia, the car was launched to much fanfare from many motor journalists, and went on to win the Wheels 2001 "Car of the Year" (COTY). Holden also imported the SRi version with the 1.8L Astra motor and uprated sports suspension including traction control, ABS brakes, a better tyre/wheel combination and Irmscher body kit to produce a "baby hot hatch" Barina.
In 1992 a potent turbocharged four-wheel-drive version joined the range. The 204bhp Calibra had a six-speed gearbox and an independent rear end borrowed from the Omega. Unlike the regular car, this Calibra Turbo struggled to find a following as it was complex and expensive, and the lack of a motorsport pedigree didn't help. The following year saw the introduction of perhaps the most sought after Calibra model. Dropping a 168bhp 2.5 V6 engine into the Calibra made for a refined and highly enjoyable grand tourer, a role that suited the spacious and comfortable car well.
The Kadett featured a more modern design than the Volkswagen Beetle that then dominated the market for small family cars in West Germany and various surrounding countries. The Kadett offered more passenger space, more luggage capacity, and better visibility for the driver. Its water-cooled engine provided effective heating for the passenger compartment. However, by the mid-1970s the Kadett's weakness was already apparent as the car's bodywork was not well protected from corrosion.
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.
Car sales statistics are from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. Sources: Manufacturers, ANDC, JATO Dynamics.
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 addition, the engine used had to be at least loosely based on a production block. Other than this, all bets were off. Sequential shift gearboxes, four wheel drive, traction control, electronic differentials and anti-lock brakes were all allowed. The aerodynamics package was free as well, as long as they were kept below the centerline of the wheels.
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.