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To keep sales brisk, Opel facelifted the car in 1994 with the 2.0-litre engine getting more efficient but less powerful. There were various minor changes to help improve the Calibra without alienating existing customers. Most notable were improvements to safety, which included the introduction of a full-sized driver's side airbag. Exterior styling, perhaps the car's single greatest strength, was almost completely unaltered. The only way to tell a post-facelift car is the Opel badge is tucked into the middle of the grille, while early cars have it nailed to the bonnet.
The Kadett did seem to be all over in the late 60’s early 70’s time frame, but rapidly dissappeared from the scene by the end of the 70’s. Bay Buick-GMC in Torrance CA. had an Opel sign for many years, at least until the mid-90’s. Maybe they thought Opel was coming back. Back in the early 70’s I remember a family that had a light metallic green Kadett wagon. I though it was cool for no other reason than it was a 2 door wagon.
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.
the Chevy Chevette, while a MUCH better car than the Vega was at the time, and even now, that’s not saying a whole lot, other than it WAS infinitely more durable and longer lasting and reliable than the Vega, though by ’76, the Vega was decent enough, but the damage was done. I know as my Mom drove a ’76 Vega from roughly 78-83 with the only major thing being the carb being rebuilt around 1980. The Chevette was basically a redesigned Kadett/Vauxhaul Chevette.
In 2012, Opel announced the closure of the Bochum plant (now known as Plant Bochum II), effective 2016, with the loss of approximately 3,000 jobs, in response to the manufacturer's longstanding over capacity and loss of market share in key western European markets. Ellesmere Port in England became Opel's lead plant for the Astra/Kadett platform for subsequent generations.
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.
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This range of engines was also used for later models of the Corsa/Nova, and the mid-sized Cavalier/Ascona. From May 1981, the 1.3 was also available with a three-speed automatic. The automatic was made available to the diesel in September 1982. One interesting version which first appeared in mid-1982 was the Kadett Pirsch, (for deer stalking, a stealthy form of hunting). In non-German-speaking countries it was generally marketed as the Kadett Off Road. This was a station wagon with rustic trim, fitted with a differential brake, reinforced suspension and more suitable tires, increased ground clearance, a skid plate, and shortened front fenders. In Sweden, a special postal Kadett ("Opel Kadett Post") was offered, fitted with a high roof (necessitating a unique and much taller windshield) and a sliding right-hand door, RHD, and the automatic transmission. This version was converted by Karosseriefabrik Voll (in German) in Würzburg, Germany. Voll also made a postal version of the Kadett E.
The Kadett D was introduced in the middle of August 1979, with deliveries on the home market beginning early in September 1979. In November 1979, the car went on sale in the United Kingdom, some five months before the Vauxhall Astra Mark 1, the British version, was launched in April 1980. The cars were designed as three- or five-door hatchbacks and estates or station wagons. There were also two- and four-door sedans featuring separate boots/trunks, which shared the silhouettes of the hatchbacks: in the United Kingdom, the sedan versions were soon withdrawn, until the 1986 launch of the MKII-based Belmont. For the first time since 1965 there was no coupé-bodied Kadett in the range: the previous Kadett C coupé was indirectly replaced by the three-door 1.3 SR sports model.