Funny enough, the Calibra almost made it to the shores through Saab dealers. The timing was fortuitous, the Calibra went on sale in 1990 or right around the time GM stuck its claws into Saab. Based on the also-not-for-us Vectra, the Calibra was a slick coupe that was touted as the most aerodynamic car in the world … in 1990. A drag coefficient of 0.26 is still damn good today.
The saloon model was built and sold in Latin America as the Chevrolet Corsa Classic until 2010, when it was replaced with the model previously released for China in 2005 as the Buick Sail. A budget version introduced for the Brazilian market, the Chevrolet Celta, has bodywork resembling the end of the 1990s Vectra and Astra. The Celta was sold in Argentina as the Suzuki Fun for a certain period.
The Opel Kadett was reintroduced by Opel in 1962, with deliveries beginning on 2 October, a little more than 22 years after the original model was discontinued in May 1940. Like the original Kadett, the new car (designated the "Kadett A") was a small family car, although it was now available in 2-door saloon, 3-door Car-A-Van (estate) and coupé versions.
At market launch in 1990, all-wheel drive system was optionally available in addition to the standard front-wheel drive for both 2.0-liter gasoline engines. In March 1992 Opel made waves when the Calibra Turbo entered dealerships at a price of 49,800 marks. All-wheel drive, a six-speed gearbox, sports seats and 16-inch light alloy wheels came as standard. However, those affected aerodynamics – 16V, V6, 4x4 and turbo models had a worse Cd of 0.29, due to changes in a cooling system, underbody, use of spoked wheels and glass detail.
While critics raved about the Calibra's looks and performance, they were less keen on the interior which, despite sporty looking seats and some nice detailing, used a dash lifted straight from the Vectra. The Vectra also donated most of its chassis, which led to some less than flattering road tests at the time. The critics were especially harsh about the gearchange, vague steering and low-speed ride quality, although praise was heaped on the car for overall refinement, keen prices, practicality and performance.
1938 saw the presentation of the highly successful Kapitän. With a 2.5 L six-cylinder engine, all-steel body, front independent suspension, hydraulic shock absorbers, hot-water heating (with electric blower), and central speedometer. 25,374 Kapitäns left the factory before the intensification of World War II brought automotive manufacturing to a temporary stop in the Autumn of 1940, by order of the government.
This new category, Group A, featured very stringent homologation requirements. In order to qualify for competition, the competing model needed to be produced at least 25,000 times. Furthermore, the FIA required ten percent of these cars to be a specialty model, with another 500 allowed as “Evolution” models. If the 25,000 car limit had not yet been met, the new model had to attain a production number of at least 5000 units a year.
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.
My parents got a ’66 Wagon in December, 1965, just after the ’57 Beetle they had owned ground its engine to bits on the way to my grandmother’s house in ‘DC. I still remember the chemical smell of the upholstery, those black rocker switches on the left side of the dash with little diagrams in lieu of English, and the twin plastic bulges in the “way back” for the fuel tank and spare tire. The clutch pedal fell apart the first year, and I remember it being an ongoing battle getting it to start in wet weather; GM sold (thanks for nothing!) some kit that was supposed to fix the problem, but it never really went away. The rest of the clutch also eventually fell apart, though I’m not sure if that was Opel’s fault or that of the last person to service it. My father got $50 for it just before he took delivery of a fuel-injected VW Type 3 “Squareback” in 1969; a much better car for only a little more money. There seem to be plenty of references to Kadettes loosing parts in these comments, so I can’t help but assume that they weren’t screwed together all that well. But I also suspect that with more diligent customer support from GM and Buick, these problems would have stayed fixed longer, some of the chronic problems of this car (like starting in North-American weather) would have been worked out and they would have stayed on the road longer. Such support was probably more than what anyone could expect from a Buick dealer used to selling twice the car at twice the price.
However, KARL ROCKS has much more to offer than its enticing looks and stylish interior – it is also just as practical as the Opel KARL. Four doors guarantee easy access to the front and rear seats while the five seats ensure that even families can enjoy Opel’s SUV-inspired mini car. And when needed, the rear seats, with a 40/60 split as standard, can be folded down completely giving the KARL ROCKS an impressive total trunk space of exactly 1,013 liters.
Opel also produced the first mass-production vehicle in Germany with a self-supporting ("unibody") all-steel body, closely following the 1934 Citroën Traction Avant. This was one of the most important innovations in automotive history. They called the car, launched in 1935, the Olympia. With its small weight and aerodynamics came an improvement in both performance and fuel consumption. Opel received a patent on this technology.
I bought a used Opel Wagon in 1971. It came to the US from Brazil where my college roommate’s father worked for an American firm. It was a 1968 model, had impressive handling and was fun to drive. While the car was excellent in all respects, and I owned it from ’71 through ’74, I took a lot of grief about it. Gas station people made comments like “Is this your car? It’s not paying your taxes.” and “Does this thing come with a motor?” and “This thing is made for insects.” But, worse, were the insults from the Queens County (NYC) Buick dealer parts department who consistently said really nasty things to folks buying replacement parts: “Ya look like the kinda’ guy who’d buy this ting”. After completing my Industrial Design degree, and I went on to design vehicles here and abroad, I never bought a GM car.
The Carnection thing was only part of Behlmann’s problems. The fact that no one was buying full-size conversion vans anymore surely couldn’t have helped. Behlmann was by far the biggest dealer in the country for those things. The ’90s SUV craze was a little slower to take hold in STL because Behlmann’s volume allowed them to sell big conversion vans for not much more than a loaded up SUV. Those vans were EVERYWHERE!
^ General Motors Austria Gesellschaft m.b.H. (GMA, founded 1963 as sales organisation; from 1979: Administration, Non-productive Departments an Sales) and General Motors Austria Werke Gesellschaft m.b.H. (GMAW founded 1979; Production). In November 1987 GMAW (Austrian Handelsregister, HRB 24.436) were merged into GMA (HRB 20.133b, actual Firmenbuch FN 110500a).