The other reason for the B’s success had to do with GM: once again, after having failed to slow down the VW’s ascent with their 1960-1961 compacts, they were forced to take the small car market seriously. That led eventually to the Vega in 1971, but in the shorter term, it meant marketing the Opel as something other than with which to remodel the garage. Now the Kadett family, which included a new fastback coupe, sedans and wagon, was seen in front of the typical American garage: two Opels for the price of one Buick.
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Detail improvements, such as a new dashboard and a steering-column shift, embellished the Kapitän line in May 1950. Bigger changes were saved for March 1951, to anticipate the opening of the doors of the Frankfurt show on 19 April for an 11-day run. Its earlier fast-back style was modified to a mild notch-back contour, and a new horizontal grille – not the prettiest in Opel history – dominated the frontal view. With a higher compression ratio (still only 6.25:1), engine power was 58 bhp (43 kW; 59 PS) at 3,700 rpm and top speed was 80 mph (130 km/h). Output increased to 60 bhp (45 kW; 61 PS) during the further life of this model, which ended in July 1953.
That's distressing, but it's also distressing to see how far along GM and Saab dealers went with that plan. In a June 1990 article from Automotive News, even then-Opel chairman Louis Hughes said "There's quite a difference between the Calibra concept and the traditional Saab concept." That's about as close as any auto exec will get to saying "this car doesn't fit in with the brand, but we're going to badge it anyway." That Auto News story expected the car would be approved to go by the end of 1990, and that they'd be built in the same factory in Finland that turned out special Saabs like the 9-3 Viggen and all of the convertibles.
In 1924, the Rüsselsheim-based company went even further to cater to the “average consumer” – also thanks to an automotive innovation. After all, from the very first minute Opel was committed to producing cars as efficiently as possible and thus making them affordable for a broad customer base. Consequently, the 4/12 hp heralded the start of assembly line production in Germany. And because the 60 km/h fast car was only available “in a quiet green that pleases the eye” to keep the time and effort required for production at a minimum, everyone called it the “Tree Frog”. Soon, 25 two-seater “cars for everyone” left the assembly line every day. In the following years an entire vehicle family was built on the Tree Frog technology. The smoother production ran, the greater the cost advantage that Opel passed on to its customers. Unbelievable but true: the purchase price of the 4 hp model series, of which 119,484 units were produced, was almost 40 per cent lower in 1931 than at the launch of the Tree Frog model.
By 1970, the Kadett’s brief stay in the US import car rank number two was over, having been muscled aside by Toyota’s hot new redesigned Corolla (CC here). The Corolla was very much a car in the Kadett’s formula: traditional rwd and conventional in every respect. But the combination of a high D-Mark, and Toyota’s hot momentum changed the tide forever. In the US, the Corolla would soon enough depose VW out of the top slot. In Germany, the Beetles rapid crash and the Kadett’s success forced VW’s hand with the very advanced Golf, recouping the gold. The Kadett/Astra were the perennial number two in germany, but some years ago, it dropped further down the the top seller list, as smaller cars, including Opel’s Corsa have become more popular. But the Golf still sits on the throne.
The Kadett did seem to be all over in the late 60’s early 70’s time frame, but rapidly dissappeared from the scene by the end of the 70’s. Bay Buick-GMC in Torrance CA. had an Opel sign for many years, at least until the mid-90’s. Maybe they thought Opel was coming back. Back in the early 70’s I remember a family that had a light metallic green Kadett wagon. I though it was cool for no other reason than it was a 2 door wagon.
The GSi's engine mapping had been carried out by Opel tuning specialists Irmscher. A model with the 82 PS (60 kW) 1.4 L multi point fuel injected engine, which was otherwise mechanically identical to the GSi, also became available as the Nova SRi in the United Kingdom. In January 1988, a turbocharged version of the Isuzu diesel engine was introduced, with power increased to 67 PS (49 kW).