Instead, it had the same front fascia as the Latin American Chevrolet Corsa, possibly because GM South Africa wanted the same front fascia as the sedan and pickup, as swapping with the European front fascia would have been expensive sawing and welding due to the Latin American Corsa's sharper headlights. This car was 2001 Semperit Irish Car of the Year in Ireland.
This range of engines was also used for later models of the Corsa/Nova, and the mid-sized Cavalier/Ascona. From May 1981, the 1.3 was also available with a three-speed automatic. The automatic was made available to the diesel in September 1982. One interesting version which first appeared in mid-1982 was the Kadett Pirsch, (for deer stalking, a stealthy form of hunting). In non-German-speaking countries it was generally marketed as the Kadett Off Road. This was a station wagon with rustic trim, fitted with a differential brake, reinforced suspension and more suitable tires, increased ground clearance, a skid plate, and shortened front fenders. In Sweden, a special postal Kadett ("Opel Kadett Post") was offered, fitted with a high roof (necessitating a unique and much taller windshield) and a sliding right-hand door, RHD, and the automatic transmission. This version was converted by Karosseriefabrik Voll (in German) in Würzburg, Germany. Voll also made a postal version of the Kadett E.
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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.
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 E formed the basis of the Daewoo LeMans (later known as the Daewoo Cielo, Racer and Nexia) in South Korea, Nexia being the hatchback version), which was sold in the United States and New Zealand as the Pontiac LeMans, and in Canada (initially) as the Passport Optima. LeMans sales ended in 1993. The Nexia is still being produced at UzDaewoo plant in Asaka, Uzbekistan. The Cielo was last being produced at Automobile Craiova, a semi-independent (from GM) plant in Craiova, Romania. Their license expired in the fall of 2006.
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).