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.
A convertible version was also available, for the first time in 1987, built by Bertone of Torino/Italy, bringing it to line with competitors, such as the Ford Escort and Volkswagen Golf. For the 1988 model, capacities were raised from 1.3 to 1.4 litres. In the fall of 1986 a new 1,998 cc engine replaced the 1.8 hitherto used on the GSi and Vauxhall Astra GTE in many markets, although the 1.8 continued to be sold in some places. In 1988, a 16-valve twin-cam version was developed for a high-performance GSi/GTE model, yielding 156 PS (115 kW) in non-catalyzed form, six less horsepower with a catalytic converter fitted. While criticized for a lack of refinement, the GSi 16V was also lauded as the most powerful car available in its class at the time. Aside from the "16V" badging, it could be told from an eight-valve GSi by its twin rectangular exhaust pipes.
There were two Opel-franchised assembly plants in Ireland in the 1960s. One in Ringsend, Dublin, was operated by Reg Armstrong Motors, which also assembled NSU cars and motorcycles. The second assembly plant was based in Cork and operated by O'Shea's, which also assembled Škoda cars and Zetor tractors.The models assembled were the Kadett and the Rekord. From 1966, the Admiral was imported as a fully built unit and became a popular seller.
The Calibra was a hit, with customers lamenting the demise of the Opel Manta and the Ford Capri lining up eagerly. The Opel had competition, no doubt, with the BMW 3-Series coupe outselling it across Europe, but it was still a strong seller and its sleek looks sitting the in showroom did much to lift the image of its humbler stablemates. Ford's rival, the American-build Probe, was unable to match its success, which must have annoyed Ford as the Capri usually gave the Manta a bloody nose in the sales stakes. So confident were GM that the Calibra started to find fans outside of Europe. Holden sold its own version in Australia and New Zealand, albeit fully imported and identical to the European car, while South American markets got a Chevrolet-badged version. Rumoured US sales never happened though.
Although GM's passenger vehicle line-up in South Africa consisted of Opel-based models by the late 1970s, these were sold under the Chevrolet brand name, with only the Kadett being marketed as an Opel when it was released in 1980. In 1982, the Chevrolet brand name was dropped, with the Ascona, Rekord, Commodore, and Senator being rebadged as Opels.
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.
The car was roughly the same size as the dreaded Audi V8, but lacked the power and four wheel drive traction to keep up. Owing to Group A’s strict homologation rules, Opel had no way of bringing the car up to speed without building a dramatically expensive road car as well. In the much looser environment offered by FIA Class 1 however, this was no longer an issue.
All Mexican previous versions were known as the Chevy, with the names Monza used on the saloon, and Swing (five-door) and Joy (three-door) for the hatchbacks, all with a 1.6-liter 78 PS (57 kW) four-cylinder. There was also a low-end three-door model called the Chevy Popular, which was equipped with a 52 PS (38 kW) 1.4-liter engine. The latter 2004 and 2008 redesigns were simply named Chevy and Chevy Sedán. The Chevy was a favourite among taxicab drivers and one of the best selling cars in the country.
The extra-light, all-aluminium engines, together with optimization of the front and rear axles, also contribute to the low total weight. The particularly compact three-cylinder petrol engines weigh around 15kg less than the previous generation of similarly powerful four-cylinder units. Highly unusual in the small-car-sector is the new Corsa’s aluminium engine bonnet, which although longer, saves 2.4kg in comparison to the previous model’s bonnet made of steel. The Insignia flagship was previously the only model in the Opel range with an aluminium bonnet. The seats also have been put on a diet. The new optimized seat structure saves a total of 10kg – 5.5kg at the front, 4.5kg at the rear. New lighter insulating material was used for fine tuning. Altogether the measures result in a weight reduction that, in combination with optimum aerodynamics and the efficient powertrains, will lead to a considerable reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
The origin of the lightning in the 2012 Opel logo lies in the truck Opel Blitz (German Blitz = English "lightning"), which had been a commercial success, widely used also within the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germany's military. Originally, the logo for this truck consisted of two stripes arranged loosely like a lightning symbol with the words "Opel" and "Blitz" in them, in later, 1950s models simplified to the horizontal form of a lightning which appears in the current Opel logo. The jag in the lightning always follows the original from the "Opel Blitz" text stripes, in the form of a horizontally stretched letter "Z".
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.
Technologically, the Kadett D wis a major departure, as it wis Opel an Vauxhall's first front wheel drive caur. It an aa introduced the Family II ingine design wi an single owerheid camshaft, aluminium alloy cylinder heid, hydraulic valve lifters, wi capacities o 1300 an 1600 cc, an haed a unique transaxle design which alloued the clutch tae be replaced athoot removin the transmission unit.
The Latin American Corsa received a small facelift in 1999, with smoother bumpers, and from April 2002 (when the new Corsa II was introduced) the Corsa B began being marketed as the "Corsa Classic" until 2010, where it became the "Classic" when the Corsa B derived Chevrolet Sail and Chevrolet Celta replaced it. Production finally ceased in October 2016.
The Opel Kadett D was also built in South Africa by General Motors South African (Pty) Ltd. The South African range was made up of four-door fastback sedans, five-door hatchbacks, and a five-door estate model called the Voyage. The engines used are Opel's 1.2 litre overhead valve inline-four (L models only), or the OHC 1.3 liter (GL, GLS, and Voyage). Power is 60 PS (44 kW) and 75 PS (55 kW) respectively. Later a 1.6 liter was added and also a 1.8 in the GTE performance model.
^ 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).