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(first posted 3/9/2012)      For those under a certain age, the name Opel Kadett may be as familiar as Richard Speck, The Troggs, or Valley of the Dolls. Yes, 1966 was a long time ago, but that’s when the second generation of Opel’s VW fighter appeared and knocked down the long-time king of the small car hill. VW should thank Opel for that thumping; it really needed the wake up call that resulted in a new world order, spelled: G-O-L-F.
Announced in November 1947, production of the postwar Olympia, with austere painted hubcaps, began in December 1948 and allowed a modest return to export sales in that year. In October 1948, the Kapitän came back to the Opel line-up, unchanged except for such details as the shape of the headlights and improvements in the leaf springs and dampers. Prices in 1948 were 9950 DM for the Kapitän and 6,785 DM for the Olympia (the Deutschmark having replaced the Reichsmark on 20 June 1948).
Chevrolet has only released a teaser photo of the redesigned 2016 Spark minicar so far, but the final product has been hiding in plain sight as the Opel Karl that debuted at the Geneva auto show. The Chevrolet version will have a slightly different look with its brand-specific fascias, but the European-market Karl otherwise provides a good preview of the U.S.-market Spark we’ll see at the New York auto show in a few weeks.
The Rally’s 1100 cc SR engine was hardly a drag-strip terror: the little 1100cc buzz-bomb got higher compression and a second carburetor, as well as possibly some other changes. The result was 67 gross/60 DIN-net hp. And what little torque there was, now moved even higher into the rpm range. I can hear their raspy and nervous exhaust in my ears still, as common as they were now in the Towson area. Undoubtedly, they improved on the regular Kadett’s 21 second 0-60 dash by maybe a couple of seconds. But they looked good doing it, as well as sounding good.
Compared to the outgoing model, the new Corsa F is going to lose up to 10 percent of weight, translating into a curb weight of just 980 kilograms (2,160 pounds) for the five-door model in its lightest form. That’s up to 108 kg (239 lbs) less than the car it replaces, even though it will have roughly just about the same size. Speaking of which, Opel says the new Corsa will be 4.06 meters (159.8 inches) long.
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.
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