"(Opel) had been seized by the German government soon after the war began. In 1942, our entire investment in Opel amounted to about $35 million, and under a ruling which the Treasury Department had made concerning assets in enemy hands, we were allowed to write off the investment against current taxable income. But this ruling did not end our interest in, or responsibility for, the Opel property. As the end of the war drew near, we were given to understand that we were still considered the owners of the Opel stock; and we were also given to understand that as the owners, we might be obliged to assume responsibility for the property." It was a responsibility that Sloan and his associates were not at all sure was worth the risk in the chaos of postwar Europe.
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.
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.
Confident in the heavily reworked Calibra’s potential, Opel Team Joest expanded to a three car team. The third car was taken by John Winter, a successful businessman and sportscar racer for Joest. Winter took the top step of the podium at the 1985 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1991 24 Hours of Daytona, as well as becoming German Interserie Champion in 1986.
The real people’s car successor was the 1962 Kadett A. The low maintenance costs were expressly part of the recipe for success of the two-door notchback model. The lines were matter-of-fact and modern. At the same time, the interior space was anything but typical of a small car. The advertising promised “well-formed seats, plenty of legroom. We have dispensed with overhanging metalwork and unnecessary bells and whistles. That would only have cost a lot of money.” Instead, the boot was a real luggage compartment and – the fuel filler cap was on the outside! “You never have the smell of petrol in your boot,” it said with a wink towards Wolfsburg. With its modern, water-cooled front engine, the Kadett offered a further design advantage over the Beetle. “Opel Kadett, in short: O.K.” – Opel built almost 650,000 units by 1965 alone.
The manufacturer now offered two versions of the Kadett, designated the "Kadett KJ38 and the "Kadett K38" the latter also being sold as the "Kadett Spezial". Mechanically and in terms of published performance there was little to differentiate the two, but the "Spezial" had a chrome stripe below the window line, and extra external body trim in other areas such as on the front grill. The interior of the "Spezial" was also better equipped. To the extent that the 300 Mark saving for buyers of the car reflected reduced production costs, the major difference was that the more basic "KJ38" lost the synchromous springing with which the car had been launched, and which continued to be fitted on the "Spezial". The base car instead reverted to traditional rigid axle based suspension similar to that fitted on the old Opel P4.
More or less by fait accompli, in the absence of the tools to build the Kadett, Opel found itself in the middle-priced bracket in Germany's postwar auto market, sandwiched between Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz. This position was familiar to both GM and Opel, and one in which it did amazingly well. In 1953, output rose above 100,000 units for the first time since the war, and in 1954, when the sprawling plant by the Main River was considered completely rebuilt, 24,270 were employed at Adam Opel AG and 167,650 vehicles were built, an all-time high. Opel actually fully recovered from the consequences of the postwar era.
German manufacturer Opel and its British sister Vauxhall have committed to no less than eight all-new or refreshed models before 2020, with a focus on growth segments. Of these eight models, three will be all-new versions of the Corsa light hatch, Vivaro van, and the successor to the Mokka X small crossover, the former two scheduled for launch next year, while the latter will hit the European market in 2020...
The Calibra was introduced to counter the Japanese sports coupés, of the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. It employs the running gear of the first generation Opel Vectra, which had been launched in October 1988. Calibra production was based in the Opel factory in Rüsselsheim, Germany, and the Valmet Automotive factory in Uusikaupunki, Finland, where production was consolidated in November 1995.
Things are a little better up front, where we find driver and passenger seats approved by the Aktion Gesunder Rucken, or German Bad Back Association. They are truly, properly comfortable, and even long journeys fail to induce numb-bum, nor thigh-tremble. It does go a bit downhill from there though. The fascia and instrument panel are pulled, more or less directly, from the Corsa hatch, which means everything’s reasonably well made, but a bit dour and glum in appearance. That contrasts sharply to the quirkier, more welcoming interiors of the Crossland’s French cousins. There are good things – the seven-inch IntelliLink touchscreen is clear and good to use, albeit it has a slightly messy menu system, but the main dials look drab, and items such as the column stalks actually feel quite fragile and cheap.
The Kadett C the day is a cult caur in Germany, especially in fastback (coupé) form. The maist sought efter versions o the Kadett C Coupé are the Rallye an GT/E models. Thir models wur biggit first wi the Bosch fuel injectit 1897 cc OHC (ower-heid cam) Opel ingine, an follaed bi the updatit 1998 cc OHC ingine. Conversions uisin the newer GM Family II ingine are common.
Plastic cladding on the lower end of the vehicle along with silver inserts in the front and throughout the lower section of the vehicle serve as reminders of the vehicle’s confident appearance while displaying functional and sporty elegance. The side profile features crisp side lines and a seemingly ‘floating roof’, which visually separates the lower section from the upper one, visually stretching the Crossland X. The ‘floating roof’ also displays its relationship to the arched chrome window line on the Opel Adam, which drops towards the rear. Like on the Adam, customers are able to order a different color for the Crossland X’s roof.
Within Opel the Calibra was a car with potential but sadly much of it was unrealised. Valmet Automotive in Finland, who had a manufacturing facility that build Calibras alongside the German plant, produced two handsome convertible prototypes that never saw production. A Saab coupe based on the Calibra was also rumoured but, again, never saw the light of day.
The next step for Opel was the resumption of passenger car production. It might have seemed easiest to bring back the Kapitän first since its engine was already in production for the truck, but occupation regulations restricted German civilians to cars of 1.5 L or less, which made the Olympia the obvious candidate. Under Dr Ing e.h. Karl Stief, who had been chief engineer at Opel since 1934, useful changes were made to this tough little car. The Dubonnet front suspension was replaced by a conventional coil-and-wishbone layout and the steering was correspondingly rearranged.
My parents got a ’66 Wagon in December, 1965, just after the ’57 Beetle they had owned ground its engine to bits on the way to my grandmother’s house in ‘DC. I still remember the chemical smell of the upholstery, those black rocker switches on the left side of the dash with little diagrams in lieu of English, and the twin plastic bulges in the “way back” for the fuel tank and spare tire. The clutch pedal fell apart the first year, and I remember it being an ongoing battle getting it to start in wet weather; GM sold (thanks for nothing!) some kit that was supposed to fix the problem, but it never really went away. The rest of the clutch also eventually fell apart, though I’m not sure if that was Opel’s fault or that of the last person to service it. My father got $50 for it just before he took delivery of a fuel-injected VW Type 3 “Squareback” in 1969; a much better car for only a little more money. There seem to be plenty of references to Kadettes loosing parts in these comments, so I can’t help but assume that they weren’t screwed together all that well. But I also suspect that with more diligent customer support from GM and Buick, these problems would have stayed fixed longer, some of the chronic problems of this car (like starting in North-American weather) would have been worked out and they would have stayed on the road longer. Such support was probably more than what anyone could expect from a Buick dealer used to selling twice the car at twice the price.
In 2012, Opel announced the closure of the Bochum plant (now known as Plant Bochum II), effective 2016, with the loss of approximately 3,000 jobs, in response to the manufacturer's longstanding over capacity and loss of market share in key western European markets. Ellesmere Port in England became Opel's lead plant for the Astra/Kadett platform for subsequent generations.
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The basic trim level was called just the Corsa, which was followed by the Corsa Luxus, Corsa Berlina and the sporty Corsa SR. The SR receives a spoiler which surrounds the rear window, alloy wheels, checkered sport seats, and a somewhat more powerful 70 PS (51 kW) engine. Six years later, the Corsa received a facelift, which included a new front fascia and some other minor changes. The models were called LS, GL, GLS and GT.
Unfortunately, Audi took things a step too far in 1990, when it unleashed an unlikely super weapon. A massive 4.8 meter limousine powered by a V8 created from two Golf GTi 16V engines: the V8 quattro DTM. Helped by 450-500 horsepower and quattro four wheel drive traction, the huge brute took the 1990 and 1991 championships by storm, embarrassing BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the process. When the company took the liberty of fitting a modified flatplane crankshaft in 1992, the jig was up.
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.
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But that all began to change quickly in the fall of 1965, when the new Kadett B appeared on both sides of the Atlantic. This ad trumpets the Kadett’s doubling of sales in 1966, and taking the number two import spot. That still left a pretty big gap behind VW, but in the next three or four years, the Kadett did enjoy a very profound explosion in the US. There were two main factors: the B was a bit bigger in every dimension, making it a somewhat more palatable for Americans, although it still used the A’s rather archaic transverse leaf-spring front suspension and a torque tube in the back with leaf springs.
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Both the driver and the front seat passenger can take advantage of the award-winning and AGR-certified (Campaign for Healthier Backs) ergonomic seats with Opel being the only manufacturer to offer such comfort in the segment (in both the Crossland X and the Mokka X). Elsewhere, maximum trunk volume of 520 liters – without folding the rear seats down – is class leading. In addition, passengers in the rear have the possibility to adjust their seating position by 150 millimeters in longitudinal direction, thus either increasing legroom or the capacity of the luggage compartment. This makes the Crossland X even more versatile.
As a German living in Germany, I join in the question “Where did they all go?”. Even in Germany you won`t find many Opel Kadetts “A-D”, the D-Kadett was built until 1984, being regularly driven anymore. Even at classic car shows that my wife and me attend with our cars you are sure to see at least about 30 vintage Porsche 911 or Mercedes SL for every Opel Kadett oder rear-wheel-drive (built until 1980) Ford Escort.
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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.
Instead, it had the same front fascia as the Latin American Chevrolet Corsa, possibly because GM South Africa wanted the same front fascia as the sedan and pickup, as swapping with the European front fascia would have been expensive sawing and welding due to the Latin American Corsa's sharper headlights. This car was 2001 Semperit Irish Car of the Year in Ireland.
The Kadett E formed the basis of the Daewoo LeMans (later known as the Daewoo Cielo, Racer and Nexia) in South Korea, Nexia being the hatchback version), which was sold in the United States and New Zealand as the Pontiac LeMans, and in Canada (initially) as the Passport Optima. LeMans sales ended in 1993. The Nexia is still being produced at UzDaewoo plant in Asaka, Uzbekistan. The Cielo was last being produced at Automobile Craiova, a semi-independent (from GM) plant in Craiova, Romania. Their license expired in the fall of 2006.
All of this was a product of corporate leverage and synergies and all of these corporate-sounding words that sound so much better when Jack Donaghy says them. The cynical say that the idea to badge Opels as Saabs happened a few years later with the second-generation 900, which shares a lot of pieces with the Calibra, but in reality they're very different cars. As a Saab, I say the Calibra would've been derided from the start and its reputation ruined that way. Listen to Chris Goffey and his beard go on about its styling and merits when he drove it as the Vauxhall Calibra on old Top Gear.
This range of engines was also used for later models of the Corsa/Nova, and the mid-sized Cavalier/Ascona. From May 1981, the 1.3 was also available with a three-speed automatic. The automatic was made available to the diesel in September 1982. One interesting version which first appeared in mid-1982 was the Kadett Pirsch, (for deer stalking, a stealthy form of hunting). In non-German-speaking countries it was generally marketed as the Kadett Off Road. This was a station wagon with rustic trim, fitted with a differential brake, reinforced suspension and more suitable tires, increased ground clearance, a skid plate, and shortened front fenders. In Sweden, a special postal Kadett ("Opel Kadett Post") was offered, fitted with a high roof (necessitating a unique and much taller windshield) and a sliding right-hand door, RHD, and the automatic transmission. This version was converted by Karosseriefabrik Voll (in German) in Würzburg, Germany. Voll also made a postal version of the Kadett E.
From 1986 to 2003, Opel models were produced by Delta Motor Corporation, a company created through a management buyout following of GM's divestment from apartheid South Africa. Delta assembled the Opel Kadett, with the sedan version called the Opel Monza. This was replaced by the Opel Astra, although the Kadett name was retained for the hatchback and considered a separate model. A version of the Rekord Series E remained in production after the model had been replaced by the Omega in Europe, as was a Commodore model unique to South Africa, combining the bodyshell of the Rekord with the front end of the revised Senator. The Opel Corsa was introduced in 1996, with kits of the Brazilian-designed sedan and pick-up (known in South African English as a bakkie) being locally assembled.
The case of the Saab Calibra is one I'm glad didn't pan out, but I wish the car had made it here somehow. Even weirder than this was a plan to sell the Opel Senator through Porsche dealers in the late '80s, after GM's dealers were uninterested because their lots were full of Park Avenues and didn't need another luxo-barge competing. Strange, too, since the company was willing to sell that car as an Opel until the cost of importing became too strong. That likely killed the math for sending the Calibra here, too.
Opel remains in the middle of society today. Across the range the brand offers features more often found in more expensive cars. Now in its fifth generation, the Corsa is typical for this democratisation of mobility. The small Opel star is heading for 14 million registrations in Europe, also thanks to the “120 Years” special model, which already comes as standard with a host of state-of-the-art technologies as well as design and comfort features at attractive prices. The next generation of this practical, stylish and dynamic model will be launched in a few months’ time, also with a pure battery electric variant. The 2019 Corsa will continue Opel’s 120-year history of automotive engineering and mobility for millions with a significant and ground-breaking new chapter.
The Opel brand is present in the most of Europe, in parts of North Africa, in South Africa, the Middle East, in Chile and in Singapore. Their models have been rebadged and sold in other countries and continents, such as Vauxhall in Great Britain, Chevrolet in Latin America, Holden in Australia and New Zealand, and previously, Saturn in the United States and Canada. Following the demise of General Motors Corporation's Saturn division in North America, Opel cars are currently rebadged and sold in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China under the Buick name with models such as the Opel Insignia/Buick Regal, Opel Astra sedan/Buick Verano (both which share underpinnings with the Chevrolet Cruze), and Opel Mokka/Buick Encore.
The Crossland X was introduced in 2017 as a replacement to the Opel/Vauxhall Meriva. It offers more crossover styling but similar practicality as its predecessor, as the segment of small MPVs has been shrinking in Europe, while small crossovers and SUVs continue to gain popularity across the continent. The Crossland X is based on the same platform as the Citroën C3 Aircross, which will be launched later. In Opel’s line-up, the Crossland X will be positioned below the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka X, but both compete in the same segment of small crossovers.