The Kadett’s role in facilitating that is a major piece of automotive history I’ve been wanting to tell for years, but finding a Kadett in this country has been impossible, despite Opel having dumped almost half a million on our shores. It took my son’s recent trip to the old country to find one, sitting on the street in Innsbruck, no less. Maybe folks back there have a greater appreciation for Kadetts and the role they played; Americans’ fling with the Kadett was a very fleeting one, and perhaps many would just as soon forget it. Not me.
The Corsa in particular will give Opel additional impetus this year. The bestseller, the first generation of which made its world premiere 37 years ago, will be available for the first time with a purely electric variant. Lohscheller promises that the pricing will be competitive: “With the new Corsa we will make electric mobility accessible to many customers – it will be a real electric car for the people.”
Chevrolet has only released a teaser photo of the redesigned 2016 Spark minicar so far, but the final product has been hiding in plain sight as the Opel Karl that debuted at the Geneva auto show. The Chevrolet version will have a slightly different look with its brand-specific fascias, but the European-market Karl otherwise provides a good preview of the U.S.-market Spark we’ll see at the New York auto show in a few weeks.
Opel will already open the order books for two new electrified models in the first half of 2019 – for the battery electric version of the next Corsa, and for the Grandland X SUV as plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. “Opel is going electric!” said Opel CEO, Michael Lohscheller. “That is what we announced at the presentation of our PACE! strategic plan in November 2017, and now we are delivering.”
Obviously, the marketing and advertisement was quite different in Germany, and the “Das Auto” campaign was quite successful indeed. Unfortunately, I don’t have ready access to the statistics, but at some point in the Kadett B’s lengthy run from 1966 – 1973, it did unseat the Beetle as Germany’s best selling car. By the late sixties, the Germans were ready to move on, and it was straight into the Kadett’s open doors, as well as Ford’s new Escort, a Kadett-fighter through and through. In all, some 2.7 million Kadett Bs were produced, probably the high point of its life as both the Kadett and successor Astra.
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There were two distinct generations of the Kadett B: 1966-1967, and the 1968-1973. Bob Lutz had a hand in the key feature that distinguished the two. The torque-tube/leaf-spring rear suspension was replaced for 1968 by a coil-spring and control-arm set-up, designed to both improve ride and handling, especially in reducing the Kadett’s tendency to tippiness. Bob had recently arrived at Opel, where he mentioned that the Kadett had a bit of a rep in the US for being a bit tippy, especially in a J-turn maneuver. The engineers told him that the new rear suspension (seen here in this picture) would eliminate that, and invited him to see for himself. The result is self-evident (full story here).
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Four cylinder power came from 1.2, 1.4, and 1.6 litre Family 1 petrol engines, as well as an economical 1.5 L turbodiesel engine. Most cars received a five speed manual transmission, although a four speed automatic was also available with certain engines. In the first few years, a four speed manual was also available coupled to the smallest 1.2 litre engine.
^ General Motors Austria Gesellschaft m.b.H. (GMA, founded 1963 as sales organisation; from 1979: Administration, Non-productive Departments an Sales) and General Motors Austria Werke Gesellschaft m.b.H. (GMAW founded 1979; Production). In November 1987 GMAW (Austrian Handelsregister, HRB 24.436) were merged into GMA (HRB 20.133b, actual Firmenbuch FN 110500a).