The way it nearly came to the US is interesting, though. Back then, GM North America was a very different place than GM Europe, and it looked like there was very little interest in bridging the gap, unlike today. But after GM bought a 50% stake in the Trollhattan trolls, the General was now burdened with the problem of attracting more than devotees to an aging lineup at dealerships. The solution was to sell the Calibra to Americans through Saab dealerships, but badged as a Saab.
Overcoming these and other obstacles, Opel finally celebrated the completion of the first postwar Opel Blitz truck on 15 July 1946 in the presence of United States Army General Geoffrey Keyes and other local leaders and press reporters. Priced at 6600RM, the truck was designed to run either on gasoline or on wood gas, for which a gas generator could be supplied. With a ceremonial bouquet of flowers flying from its rear-view mirror, this historic Opel Blitz left the factory gate bound for a buyer in Wiesbaden on 26 July. Further production followed at a rate of 150 a month, and by the end of 1946, the production total was 839. Frigidaire refrigerators were also being made at Rüsselsheim, as were Olympia engines for the NSU Kettenkrad.
Both the Opel Karl and its Vauxhall Viva twin will be built alongside the new Spark in South Korea. Looking at the Opel’s measurements, we can see that the new 2016 Chevrolet Spark’s footprint will grow ever so slightly, with a 0.4-inch longer wheelbase and a 0.2-inch longer overall length. The new car’s roof is 3 inch lower overall, and the car could also weigh around 200 lb less than today’s model if the Karl’s 2070 lb curb weight is indicative of the U.S.-spec 2016 Spark’s specification.
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.
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.
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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.
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.