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.
On the British motoring show Top Gear, Richard Hammond drove a 1963 Kadett A through the middle of Botswana and across the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan. He loved the car so much that he named it Oliver and later had the car shipped to the United Kingdom and restored, and it remains in his possession. It appeared on Richard Hammond's Blast Lab with the personalised number plate 'OL1 V3R'. It also appeared in the Top Gear lorry challenge as one of the used obstacles.
The Insignia flagship followed exactly the same initiative as the Astra. Once again the Opel engineers’ main objective was efficiency. Thanks to optimized packaging and lightweight materials they could save up to 175kg on the Insignia Grand Sport compared with its predecessor – much to the benefit of dynamics and fuel consumption. Depending on powertrain and equipment, the current Insignia Sports Tourer even weighs up to 200kg less than the similar model variant from the first generation.
Faced with an ever-evolving Alfa Romeo and a regrouped Mercedes-Benz, the company was simply lagging behind for the second time during their short DTM career. It was clear something drastic had to happen to bring the car up to speed. With Joest and Cosworth sharpening their swords for a definitive strike, 1995 would have to be Opel’s breakthrough once and for all.
It had some crazy mechanical issues. At one point it stumbled and stalled because the carburetor had come loose from the intake manifold and I had to tighten it back down! Another time, my brother was driving it and the brakes failed. Somehow the end of the brake shoe that meets the brake cylinder piston had become worn on one side, causing the piston to slip off the end of the shoe when the brakes were applied, losing braking and squirting fluid all over.