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With 2019 fast approaching, it is time to start feeling very old. The Opel Calibra, that rakish and oh-so fashionable coupe beloved by high-flying businessmen and boy racers alike, is 30 years old in 2019. That's right, the Calibra is now officially a classic. On paper there was nothing to single the Calibra out for greatness. It followed the standard coupe formula. Take a humdrum saloon, in this case the Vectra, smother it in a sleek body courtesy of famed GM designer Wayne Cherry, give it a sexy new name and voila. The Calibra was launched on June 10, 1989, and waded into battle against Toyota's evergreen Celica and Nissan's recently launched 200SX.
The motor's all new as well. At least, this 114bhp one is. Like Ford, Vauxhall now has its own 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol unit. The rest of the range is made up of mainly petrol engines, with only a 1.3-litre diesel in 74bhp and 94bhp to choose from the oilburning fratenity. The gasoline line-up starts with a duo of naturally aspirated 1.4-litre engines producing 74bhp, and 89bhp respectively, followed by a pair of blown 1.4-litre units producing 99bhp and 148bhp, while the Corsa VXR gets a 202bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
The Kadett C formed the basis o the Breetish Vauxhall Chevette, which haed a restyled front end an launcht wi a hatchback body, in addition tae uisin a 1256 cc OHV (ower-heid valve) Vauxhall ingine rather than the 1196 cc OHV Opel ingine. The Chevette made the Kadett C notable bi allouin it tae acome Opel's first hatchback — a version named Kadett City appeared in August 1975, based on the Chevette's hatchback body. The Kadett's coupé body style wis niver manufactured as a Chevette housomeivver. Awtho Kadett C production endit in 1979, the Chevette wis produced till Januar 1984. Unuisually for Vauxhall models, the Chevette wis importit tae Germany startin in 1979 tae satisfee the needs o the rear wheel drive traditionalists an wis quite a success for a year or twa. This import version, housomeivver wis niver offeecially badged as an Opel or a Vauxhall - bein named simply as 'Chevette'.
My Familys first car in the US was a used 1959 Opel Rekord – I dont remember that one much but when I was 4 we got a powder blue Kadett Wagon – My mother a Berliner loved Opels – 1978-79 my Sister inherited the car as her first car and then I got it as a hand me down again in 1981 – when I first got it it had never been driven over 50 MPH so I was a bit of a shock to the poor car – but even back then it got amazing gas mileage. That is until we took it to a mechanic for a tune up and he had apparently wasn’t good with european makes – he went to adjust the carburetor and some spring loaded valve shot out and we couldnt find parts anywhere by that time. gas mileage dropped massively and running poorly the car died while crossing on the side of a field on a farm. The family there adopted it as a bit of a fort – clubhouse for a few years as we chose to buy another car when I graduated – I miss the simplicity of the car – of course I remember it fondly by I’m betting the reality of it would be a shock!
One of the most versatile small German military vehicles, the Kettenkrad, a blend of a tractor and a motorcycle, was powered with a 1.4 L Olympia four-cylinder engine. Produced by NSU, it had motorcycle-type front-wheel steering for gentle turns and negotiated tight corners with brakes on the propelling caterpillar tracks. The Kettenkrad towed antitank guns and transported troops and signal gear in several theatres of war. NSU continued to make it after the war for use in mines and forests. It was one of the few vehicles that could do jobs formerly performed by horses for which, owing to the shortage of oats, even less fuel was available than for motor vehicles.
The extra-light, all-aluminium engines, together with optimization of the front and rear axles, also contribute to the low total weight. The particularly compact three-cylinder petrol engines weigh around 15kg less than the previous generation of similarly powerful four-cylinder units. Highly unusual in the small-car-sector is the new Corsa’s aluminium engine bonnet, which although longer, saves 2.4kg in comparison to the previous model’s bonnet made of steel. The Insignia flagship was previously the only model in the Opel range with an aluminium bonnet. The seats also have been put on a diet. The new optimized seat structure saves a total of 10kg – 5.5kg at the front, 4.5kg at the rear. New lighter insulating material was used for fine tuning. Altogether the measures result in a weight reduction that, in combination with optimum aerodynamics and the efficient powertrains, will lead to a considerable reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Opel campaigned the car extensively in motorsport too. The rally version was uncompetitive, but Opel eagerly waded into the 160mph traffic jam that was the International Touring Car Championship. The ITCC was created from the German DTM series, in which Opel had struggled. A rule change allowed Opel to use a new 480bhp V6 derived from the road car. The resultant four-wheel-drive monster carried Manuel Reuter to the 1996 ITCC driver's crown and Opel won the manufacturers' gong, beating Alfa Romeo and Mercedes-Benz. It was the Calibra's finest hour.