I bought a used Opel Wagon in 1971. It came to the US from Brazil where my college roommate’s father worked for an American firm. It was a 1968 model, had impressive handling and was fun to drive. While the car was excellent in all respects, and I owned it from ’71 through ’74, I took a lot of grief about it. Gas station people made comments like “Is this your car? It’s not paying your taxes.” and “Does this thing come with a motor?” and “This thing is made for insects.” But, worse, were the insults from the Queens County (NYC) Buick dealer parts department who consistently said really nasty things to folks buying replacement parts: “Ya look like the kinda’ guy who’d buy this ting”. After completing my Industrial Design degree, and I went on to design vehicles here and abroad, I never bought a GM car.
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.
The incarnation of classic car enthusiasm is spelled DeBattista. Joe and his dad Joseph are not just passionate collectors of classic cars but also gifted mechanics who built and restored cars to Concours perfection. Like my 65 Jensen CV-8, which had been painstakingly ground up restored by them in record breaking time. Joe and his dad personally delivered the car from San Francisco to LA a couple of hours before the car entered the Greystone Concours de Elegance in 2014… and won the ‘Best Restoration’ award. Unforgettable moments with Joe and Joseph DeBattista.
The Kadett C was introduced in Brazil as the Chevrolet Chevette. The three-door station wagon was called the Chevrolet Marajó, and a pick-up was named Chevy 500. Brazilian production commenced in 1973, with the Marajó being added in 1980 and the Chevy 500 in 1983, shortly after a significant facelift affected the entire line. Brazilian cars had engines in various combinations of size - 1.0 (1992-1993), 1.4 (1973-1982), or 1.6 (1982-1995) liters - and fuels (gasoline or ethanol), though not all combinations were available for all body configurations. The last Marajó was built in 1989, the last Chevette in 1993, and the last Chevy 500 in 1995.
Launched in 1962, GM Europe's small car for the 1960s, the Opel Kadett, looked like a shrunk Chevy Nova, and hid a 1.0-liter water-cooled overhead-valve four-cylinder up its nose. While this motor had pre-War origins, it was a good one. It weighed just 211 lbs, revved beyond 6000 rpm, and made 54 horsepower in the high-compression 'S' version, as long as you used premium fuel.
Rüsselsheim. In 2019 Opel celebrates 120 years of automobile production – and thereby 120 years full of innovations for everyone. The German brand has a tradition of pioneering high-tech advancements and quickly bringing them to series production. This makes mobility affordable for many and the cars safer, cleaner, more comfortable and more practical. The 120 years advertising campaign, “Opel. Born in Germany. Made for everyone.” is based on this philosophy. It was as true of the first Opel – the Patentmotorwagen “System Lutzmann” of 1899 – as of all the other models that followed, from the “Doktorwagen” to “Laubfrosch” (Tree Frog), P4 and Kadett. Today the philosophy matches the Opel Corsa more than any other model.