Opel had been Germany's largest auto-producer in the 1930s, and in Wolfsburg the producers of the Kadett's principal target did not disguise their concern at the prospect of Opel's return to small car production. At the Volkswagen annual general meeting a few months before the launch of the Kadett, Volkswagen chairman Heinrich Nordhoff (who himself had been a senior manager with Opel in the 1930s and 1940s) went on record with a warning to shareholders that Opel (along with Ford Germany) were backed by a level of financial muscle on a scale unimaginable to any German company, and that it seemed that the two American transplants were now determined to use their financial strength to make aggressive inroads into the German auto-market at any price.
My parents bought a brand new ’67 Opel Kadett Rallye, was red/white from our local Buick dealer. I believe the price was under $2K back then. Pretty unusual around the neighborhood, as most back then drove Caddy’s, big Chryslers and V-8 Station Wagons. It had a manual stick and a am radio and bucket seats. Got pretty good mileage and our dog liked to ride around in the back window. Learned to drive in it and after awhile was quite comfortable to drive around..wished now I had it..pretty rare now..even back then.
That makes it a similar size and weight to the outgoing Corsa, at a whiff over four metres long and 1177kg. Beyond that, new means new. Every panel on the mildly Adam-ised, slightly more butch exterior is different. Every component forward of the A-pillars is new. Every suspension component, too, as are the pick-up points for the front MacPherson struts and the rear torsion beam.
One resource that did not appear on the books of General Motors or on the rolls of the occupying authorities was most responsible for the recovery of Opel in 1945, the collaborative nature of its workers. They were not itinerant hires who had looked on their work at Rüsselsheim as just another job. They were men and women who had, for the most part, come from that immediate area, many from the country, and had literally grown up with the Adam Opel AG. The fate of Opel was important to its workers, for its collapse would mean the loss of the most important employer for the people of Rüsselsheim, who were finding their way home from the chaos of war.
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 final round of the 1994 season was contested at the Hockenheimring, but again the Opel contingent did its laps in relatively colorless fashion. A strong fourth place from Manuel Reuter in Race 2 ended the Calibra V6 4x4’s first full season. For 1995, the car would again be almost completely reshaped into a more effective weapon to take out the big boys in the newly renamed International Touringcar Challenge.
In March 2017, Groupe PSA agreed to buy Opel, its British sister brand Vauxhall and their European auto lending business from General Motors for US$2.2 billion. In return, General Motors will pay PSA US$3.2 billion for future European pension obligations and keep managing US$9.8 billion worth of plans for existing retirees. Furthermore, GM is responsible for paying about US$400 million annually for 15 years to fund the existing Great Britain and Germany pension plans.