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During the 1930s, the Rüsselsheim plant was never given a major role in Germany's war preparations. Neither was Ford's plant in Cologne considered trustworthy enough for a big assignment, such as tank manufacture, in view of their earlier foreign associations. Initially, of course, the war was thought to be a short one settled in Germany's favour. Auto plants were shut down, to conserve resources, but not converted to other jobs. As was common with much of the production in Nazi Germany during the war, slave labor of deported civilians and Soviet POWs was utilized in the Opel factories.
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.

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.
In 1982 Opel once again accomplished a great feat with a small car: the Corsa A joined the range below the Kadett, which by now was becoming a compact model. Designed by Chief Designer Erhard Schnell, who also penned the legendary Opel GT, the only 3.62m-long Corsa was notable for its prominent rally-car wheel arches and a drag coefficient of 0.36. Offered initially as a two-door hatchback and sedan, and a five-door as of 1985, the Corsa again demonstrated how masterfully Opel can generate space on a small platform. The 100hp GSi also combined frugality with fun. Originally conceived as an entry-level model for those on a tight budget, the Corsa A had become a bestseller by 1993 with a total of 3.1 million units sold.

The Opel Performance Center in 2011 launched a hardcore version of the Corsa OPC – Corsa OPC Nürburgring Edition. The engine is the same, 1.6 litre turbo, but it has been tuned to punch out 210 PS (154 kW; 207 hp) and 250 Nm (280 Nm with overboost function) of torque at 2,250 to 5,850 rpm. 0–100 km/h time is 6.8 seconds and top speed is 230 km/h (143 mph).
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The Kadett featured a more modern design than the Volkswagen Beetle that then dominated the market for small family cars in West Germany and various surrounding countries. The Kadett offered more passenger space, more luggage capacity, and better visibility for the driver. Its water-cooled engine provided effective heating for the passenger compartment. However, by the mid-1970s the Kadett's weakness was already apparent as the car's bodywork was not well protected from corrosion.
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).
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).[8]
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