One of the most versatile small German military vehicles, the Kettenkrad, a blend of a tractor and a motorcycle, was powered with a 1.4 L Olympia four-cylinder engine. Produced by NSU, it had motorcycle-type front-wheel steering for gentle turns and negotiated tight corners with brakes on the propelling caterpillar tracks. The Kettenkrad towed antitank guns and transported troops and signal gear in several theatres of war. NSU continued to make it after the war for use in mines and forests. It was one of the few vehicles that could do jobs formerly performed by horses for which, owing to the shortage of oats, even less fuel was available than for motor vehicles.
GM retains an engineering centre at Millbrook in the UK and is no stranger to tuning cars there, because it knows that British road conditions are different from those elsewhere. So whereas Opel Corsas, belying their German engineering origin, will apparently have greater straight-on stability to their steering, UK cars get a different power steering tune (electric assistance makes that much easier).
However, Opel Team Joest was in for a tough fight. Not only had Alfa Romeo not been sitting on their hands, Mercedes-Benz had finally found the time to build a proper Class 1 car. Although the C180 V6 DTM lacked four wheel drive and only produced 400 horsepower, it featured a 6-speed sequential transmission, F1-derived active suspension, an innovative active ballast system which counteracted the pitching and diving of the nose under acceleration and braking and an all-carbon bodyshell bringing weight down to 980 kg (2161 lbs).
The car was roughly the same size as the dreaded Audi V8, but lacked the power and four wheel drive traction to keep up. Owing to Group A’s strict homologation rules, Opel had no way of bringing the car up to speed without building a dramatically expensive road car as well. In the much looser environment offered by FIA Class 1 however, this was no longer an issue.
"(Opel) had been seized by the German government soon after the war began. In 1942, our entire investment in Opel amounted to about $35 million, and under a ruling which the Treasury Department had made concerning assets in enemy hands, we were allowed to write off the investment against current taxable income. But this ruling did not end our interest in, or responsibility for, the Opel property. As the end of the war drew near, we were given to understand that we were still considered the owners of the Opel stock; and we were also given to understand that as the owners, we might be obliged to assume responsibility for the property." It was a responsibility that Sloan and his associates were not at all sure was worth the risk in the chaos of postwar Europe.
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During its lifetime, the Calibra was much more popular in Europe, and outsold its nearest rival, the Ford Probe, which was considered to be underpowered, and very American for most European drivers. However, in the United Kingdom, it failed to outsell the Rover 200 Coupé, which offered comparable performance, but without 4WD in the top of the range models.
A convertible version was also available, for the first time in 1987, built by Bertone of Torino/Italy, bringing it to line with competitors, such as the Ford Escort and Volkswagen Golf. For the 1988 model, capacities were raised from 1.3 to 1.4 litres. In the fall of 1986 a new 1,998 cc engine replaced the 1.8 hitherto used on the GSi and Vauxhall Astra GTE in many markets, although the 1.8 continued to be sold in some places. In 1988, a 16-valve twin-cam version was developed for a high-performance GSi/GTE model, yielding 156 PS (115 kW) in non-catalyzed form, six less horsepower with a catalytic converter fitted. While criticized for a lack of refinement, the GSi 16V was also lauded as the most powerful car available in its class at the time. Aside from the "16V" badging, it could be told from an eight-valve GSi by its twin rectangular exhaust pipes.
The Kadett A (above) finally appeared in 1962, and was a classic GM/Opel effort: highly pragmatic, conventional in every respect, reasonably stylish for its time, and designed to deliver a good bang for the buck. In just about every way possible, it was the antithesis of the VW: front-engine rwd, a rather tinny but roomy body, highly tossable but with a primitive suspension and ride, a very roomy trunk, and excellent visibility as well as economy. Oh, and a proper heater even! Its little 987 cc OHV four made 40 net/46 gross hp, six more than the VW 1200. Its trim fighting weight of 1475 lbs (670 kg), some two hundred pounds less than the VW, showed in both its acceleration and body integrity.