^ Jump up to: a b c Note: The powertrain plant Opel Wien GmbH in Aspern/Vienna (Austria) is not a subsidiary of Adam Opel AG but a first-tier subsidiary of General Motors Europe Limited (GME) (99.5%) and of GM AUTOMOTIVE UK (GMAUK) (0.5%), see "Opel Wien GmbH, FN 110500a". FirmenABC Marketing GmbH. Retrieved 3 April 2017. Both, GME and GMAUK, are located in Luton. GME Ltd. itself is a daughter company of GM CME Holdings CV, which is directly controlled by the General Motors Corporation (GMC), see "Name: GENERAL MOTORS EUROPE LIMITED, Company Number: 07556915". Company search, Made Simple Group Ltd. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
You may remember the beloved Opel Kadett A named “Oliver” that Richard Hammond of Top Gear fame slogged through the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan of Botswana. He became so attached to the little car that he had it restored and owns it to this day. Hammond’s love of this classic comes with good cause as it was a secret weapon of Opel developed specifically to invade the dominance of Volkswagen during the 1960s. Even though it delivered similar levels of horsepower (around 40 hp) it did offer better heating as well as more interior and luggage space. The Kadett’s popularity and engine reliability provided a resurgence for Opel and the car was exported to many countries including the United States. Whether you punish yours in the muck and mud or reserve your driving strictly to the road is entirely up to you.
In 1957 Opel Product Director Karl Stief was mandated by General Motors headquarters in Detroit to develop "the perfect Anti-Volkswagen" ("einen perfekten Anti-VW"). The development team was headed up by Stief, supported by Hans Mersheimer (car-body) and Werner K. Strobel (engine and running gear), under conditions of such secrecy that even now very little is known of the development history of the 1962 Kadett. It has been alleged that GM was trying to conceal a new technique of platform and design sharing between Opel and its British sister company Vauxhall, which released the strikingly similar Viva HA in 1963, a year after Opel introduced the Kadett. Over the subsequent two decades Opel and Vauxhall's ranges would rapidly converge as Vauxhall's design independence from Opel was eroded to the point where by 1985, Vauxhall's car range entirely consisted of rebadged Opel models.
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 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 German company based in Rüsselsheim, which now belongs to the PSA group, made a profit in 2018 for the first time since 1999. According to Lohscheller, this enabled them to make the necessary investments in electric mobility. Opel intends to electrify its entire product range by 2024. “The smaller vehicles, in particular, are especially suitable for electric propulsion,” said the company boss, who also explained that Opel, also known as Vauxhall, is switching from nine to just two platforms: “One small and one large, which can be used throughout the group. In addition to diesel and gasoline engines, each has an electrified drive system – either purely electric or as a plug-in hybrid.”
The plucky Kadett B. I am still daily driving a 1100 sedan here in southern CA. Simple basic trouble free comfortable transportation. It does its job without fuss or pretentiousness. I am amazed at how well the engineers made a cheap car so useable without feeling as if you were in a penalty box. They just have a certain feel that I find appealing. *
It had some crazy mechanical issues. At one point it stumbled and stalled because the carburetor had come loose from the intake manifold and I had to tighten it back down! Another time, my brother was driving it and the brakes failed. Somehow the end of the brake shoe that meets the brake cylinder piston had become worn on one side, causing the piston to slip off the end of the shoe when the brakes were applied, losing braking and squirting fluid all over.