Launched in 1962, GM Europe's small car for the 1960s, the Opel Kadett, looked like a shrunk Chevy Nova, and hid a 1.0-liter water-cooled overhead-valve four-cylinder up its nose. While this motor had pre-War origins, it was a good one. It weighed just 211 lbs, revved beyond 6000 rpm, and made 54 horsepower in the high-compression 'S' version, as long as you used premium fuel.
With these guidelines in mind, the Opel question was put again on 3 May to the GM financial policy committee, which then withdrew its objections to a return to Rüsselsheim. Many details still had to be worked out, both within GM and in the US-occupied zone of Germany, before this could actually occur. At last, the official word was released on 1 November 1948; GM resumed management control of Adam Opel AG. Edward W. Zdunek, formerly regional manager for Europe of General Motors Overseas Operations Division, was named managing director.
The new four-cylinder, oversquare one-litre water-cooled Opel OHV engine weighed only 96 kg and was the first all-new engine developed by Opel since before the war. The side-mounted camshaft was driven not through gear-cogs but using a single chain with a hydraulic tensioner, the valve train employing rocker-arms and light-weight hollow rods. The arrangement was low on weight and on friction, permitting engine speeds above 6,000 rpm. The pistons were formed from an aluminium-alloy and incorporated a bimetal expansion strip to ensure uniform thermal expansion. The three-bearing forged crankshaft was of more traditional construction. The carefully designed aluminium inlet manifold provided for efficient feed of the fuel-mixture to the cylinders and helped provide the engine with good fuel economy characteristics.
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Opel cars appeared under their own name in the US from 1958 to 1975, when they were sold through Buick dealers as captive imports. The best-selling Opel models in the US were the 1964 to 1972 Opel Kadett, the 1971 to 1975 Opel Manta, and the now-classic 1968 to 1973 Opel GT. (The name "Opel" was also applied from 1976 to 1980 to vehicles manufactured by Isuzu (similar to the "Isuzu I-mark"), but mechanically those were entirely different cars).
After the uplifting podium at the Hockenheimring, Opel fell right back into the deep hole they were working so hard to crawl out of. For the next four rounds and eight races, the team couldn’t reach further than 5th place, and experienced numerous mechanical failures. The trips to the Nurburgring, Mugello, back to the Nurburgring and the Norisring all proved fruitless for the outfit.
Within Opel the Calibra was a car with potential but sadly much of it was unrealised. Valmet Automotive in Finland, who had a manufacturing facility that build Calibras alongside the German plant, produced two handsome convertible prototypes that never saw production. A Saab coupe based on the Calibra was also rumoured but, again, never saw the light of day.
In the US, some 500 Buick dealers started carrying the Kadett in 1964, after their previous sole product, the larger Rekord, was knocked out of the ring by GM’s own 1960/1961 compacts. I strongly suspect the Buick dealers (and their ad agency) who hadn’t yet taken down their Opel signs were not really very committed or motivated, and all of 17k ’64s and 14k ’65 Kadett A were sold. Meanwhile, VW was moving some 400k Beetles in America.
Three cylinders, one litre of displacement and a small, yet spacious body plus an autogas system – mix those to and you're bound to end up getting a car that's as cheap to refuel as possible. Yes, you may argue that electric vehicles generate even smaller costs and you'd be right, but remember how expensive these still are. For example, in Germany you can get a petrol-powered Volkswagen up! for less than 10000 euros, while its EV counterpart, the e-up!, is priced at almost three times as much. Dedicated or factory-fitted autogas systems appear dirt cheap in comparison...
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 Kadett clearly featurt a muckle mair modren design than the Volkswagen Beetle which then dominatit the mercat for smaw family caurs in Germany an various surroondin kintras. The Kadett affered mair passenger space, massively mair luggage space an a muckle less encumbered view oot. Its watter cooled ingine enabled it tae provide a far mair effective heater. Even fuel consumption wis unner maist conditions superior tae that o the Volkswagen, an mony commentators muckle preferred the Opel's handlin an its licht an effective brakes tae those o the mercat leader.
The Kadett C appeared in August 1973 and was Opel's version of the General Motors' "T-Car". It was the last small Opel to feature rear-wheel drive, and remained in production at Opel's Bochum plant until July 1979, by which time Opel had produced 1,701,076. Of these, 52% had been exported outside West Germany, most of them to markets in other parts of western Europe.
Just a year later, a new Soviet car, the Moskvitch 400, rolled off a Moscow assembly line. It seemed to be the Opel Kadett in every detail, with only the name changed (various sources provide contradictory information; see the respective article). By late 1950, the Russians were exporting these Kremlin Kadetts to Belgium, stressing in their promotion that spare parts could easily be obtained from Germany. A Moskvitch model that bore no trace of Opel engineering was not introduced until 1959, and by that time, Opel was just about ready to introduce a new Kadett of its own.
Elsewhere, Opel’s wild child comes with all of the safety and comfort features available in the regular KARL. City mode reduces steering effort at the push of a button, greatly facilitating maneuvering in heavy city traffic. Park Assist is also available and assists the driver during parking by giving an acoustic warning as the car approaches obstacles when reversing. Cruise control with speed limiter regulates driving speeds, which is extremely helpful in busy urban traffic and in residential areas.
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The Corsa GSi family was founded in 1988 by the 100 hp Corsa A (now a much sought-after classic) Then came the Corsa B GSi 16V with 109 hp and a powerful low-end torque characteristic, the Corsa C GSi with 125 hp and a top speed of 202 km/h, and from 2007 the Corsa D GSi, for the first time with turbocharging and 150 hp from 1,600 cubic centimetres. In August 2012 Opel and the Corsa took a break from the GSi – until September 2017. At the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA), the Opel Insignia GSi celebrated its world premiere and the GSi label its comeback. And now, one year later, the Corsa GSi has returned too.
Opel remains in the middle of society today. Across the range the brand offers features more often found in more expensive cars. Now in its fifth generation, the Corsa is typical for this democratisation of mobility. The small Opel star is heading for 14 million registrations in Europe, also thanks to the “120 Years” special model, which already comes as standard with a host of state-of-the-art technologies as well as design and comfort features at attractive prices. The next generation of this practical, stylish and dynamic model will be launched in a few months’ time, also with a pure battery electric variant. The 2019 Corsa will continue Opel’s 120-year history of automotive engineering and mobility for millions with a significant and ground-breaking new chapter.
The Opel Eye front camera processes diverse data, thus forming the basis for the driver assistance systems such as Speed Sign Recognition and Lane Departure Warning. If the system registers that the lane is being left unintentionally it warns the driver by emitting audible and visible signals. Cruise control with speed limiter also makes driving more pleasant. Forward collision alert with pedestrian detection and Automatic Emergency Braking helps avoid accidents, and it is combined with a special Driver Drowsiness Alert.
The manufacturer now offered two versions of the Kadett, designated the "Kadett KJ38 and the "Kadett K38" the latter also being sold as the "Kadett Spezial". Mechanically and in terms of published performance there was little to differentiate the two, but the "Spezial" had a chrome stripe below the window line, and extra external body trim in other areas such as on the front grill. The interior of the "Spezial" was also better equipped. To the extent that the 300 Mark saving for buyers of the car reflected reduced production costs, the major difference was that the more basic "KJ38" lost the synchromous springing with which the car had been launched, and which continued to be fitted on the "Spezial". The base car instead reverted to traditional rigid axle based suspension similar to that fitted on the old Opel P4.
Efter the war, Opel production facilities frae Rüsselsheim (caurs) an Brandenburg an der Havel (trucks) wur cratit up an transportit tae the Soviet Union as pairt o a lairger reparations package agreed upon bi the victorious pouers. Frae 1948 the prewar Kadett wis manufactured as the Moskvitch 400/420: it continued tae be produced on the edge o Moscow as a Moskvitch till 1956.
It formed the basis o the Daewoo LeMans (later kent as the Daewoo Cielo, Racer an Nexia) in Sooth Korea, an an' a' as Heaven in Chile (Nexia bein the HB version), which wis sauld in the Unitit States an New Zealand as the Pontiac LeMans, an in Canadae (initially) as the Passport Optima. LeMans sales endit in 1993. The Nexia is still bein produced at UzDaewoo plant in Asaka, Uzbekistan. The Cielo wis last bein produced at Automobile Craiova, a semi-independent (frae GM) plant in Craiova, Romanie (the license expired in Hairst 2006).
Edward shot it just as that red Citroen wagon pulled in to park, which gives a nice frame of reference. The Kadett was fairly big for its time, but that has long gone. But before the name Kadett is lost forever, at least in Americans’ memories, here’s a final toast to Opel’s Chevy II: thanks for the memories; good and middling. Bad? There must be a reason why there’s none to be found anywhere.
A mark of General Motors' confidence in their plans for the small car sector, and something that the Opel Kadett and the Vauxhall Viva had in common, was that the manufacturer built for each new model a completely new car plant in a region characterized by relatively high unemployment and the availability of a skilled workforce, but with no strong tradition of volume auto-making. The Vauxhall Viva was the first car built at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant while the Kadett A was the first product of Opel's new purpose built Bochum plant. Ellesmere Port and Bochum would effectively become sister plants, producing subsequent generations of Kadett as well as their Vauxhall badged sisters (the Chevette and Astra) for the next fifty years.
German manufacturer Opel and its British sister Vauxhall have committed to no less than eight all-new or refreshed models before 2020, with a focus on growth segments. Of these eight models, three will be all-new versions of the Corsa light hatch, Vivaro van, and the successor to the Mokka X small crossover, the former two scheduled for launch next year, while the latter will hit the European market in 2020...
Other special jobs were undertaken at the Rüsselsheim factory. One that was too exotic to be typical was the construction of an intercooler for the supercharger of the famous Junkers Jumo aircraft engine. Special methods had to be developed to fabricate this vital assembly from very thin sheets of aluminium. With work like this going on, Germany's enemies naturally took note of the various Opel plants, and starting in August 1944, began attacking them by air. Destruction was heavy at both Rüsselsheim and Brandenburg from the attacks by Allied bombers. Never was the outlook bleaker at Adam Opel AG than in the first months of 1945.
After the Second World War the Soviet Union requested the tooling from the Opel Rüsselsheim car plant in the American occupation zone as part of the war reparations agreed by the victorious powers, to compensate for the loss of the production lines for the domestic KIM-10-52 in the siege of Moscow. Faced with a wide range of German "small litrage" models to choose from, Soviet planners wanted a car which closely followed the general type of the KIM – a 4-door sedan with all-metal body and 4-stroke engine. They therefore rejected both the rear-engined, two-door KdF-Wagen (future VW Beetle) and the two-stroke powered, front-wheel-drive, wooden-bodied DKW F8, built by the Auto Union Chemnitz plant in the Soviet occupation zone. The closest analog of the KIM to be found was the 4-door Kadett K38.