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.
In the US, some 500 Buick dealers started carrying the Kadett in 1964, after their previous sole product, the larger Rekord, was knocked out of the ring by GM’s own 1960/1961 compacts. I strongly suspect the Buick dealers (and their ad agency) who hadn’t yet taken down their Opel signs were not really very committed or motivated, and all of 17k ’64s and 14k ’65 Kadett A were sold. Meanwhile, VW was moving some 400k Beetles in America.
The Calibra came with 2.0-litre 16-valve four-cylinder engine from the Family II range with a Cosworth-designed cylinder head that put out a healthy 150bhp, which when combined with the sleek shape gave the Opel a healthy turn of speed. These early cars, which were built until 1993, are becoming desirable as the C20XE engine produced more power than the cleaner X20XEV engines of later cars, which only put out a still credible 136bhp. Other markets got an eight-valve version of the Calibra producing 115bhp. This car was never sold here in Ireland, but it did have the distinction of being the most aerodynamic production car in the world at that time.
Just a year later, a new Soviet car, the Moskvitch 400, rolled off a Moscow assembly line. It seemed to be the Opel Kadett in every detail, with only the name changed (various sources provide contradictory information; see the respective article). By late 1950, the Russians were exporting these Kremlin Kadetts to Belgium, stressing in their promotion that spare parts could easily be obtained from Germany. A Moskvitch model that bore no trace of Opel engineering was not introduced until 1959, and by that time, Opel was just about ready to introduce a new Kadett of its own.
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.
What I love about this series of videos is their diversity. According to the literature, this Kadett was produced for three years, so obtaining parts for the restoration must have been very challenging. Production of the 1 liter, OHV, I4 engine starts with this car, and continues for 30 years, with minor variations. From the beginning the engine had advanced features for the period such as aluminum pistons; a hydraulically tensioned, chain driven cam shaft; hollow push rods; and an aluminum intake manifold. The fact that this engine has never been apart says a thing or two about their longevity.
The GSi's engine mapping had been carried out by Opel tuning specialists Irmscher. A model with the 82 PS (60 kW) 1.4 L multi point fuel injected engine, which was otherwise mechanically identical to the GSi, also became available as the Nova SRi in the United Kingdom. In January 1988, a turbocharged version of the Isuzu diesel engine was introduced, with power increased to 67 PS (49 kW).