GM imported the Opel Kadett B, built at the recently closed plant in Bochum, Germany, into North America starting in 1966. American and Canadian car buyers weren't especially enthusiastic about these cheap little cars, but sufficient quantities were sold that they were fairly easy to find in American wrecking yards through the 1980s. Here's a '67 in a Denver-area self-service yard that managed to outlive most of its contemporaries.
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.
Opel operates 10 vehicle, powertrain, and component plants and four development and test centres in six countries, and employs around 30,000 people in Europe. The brand sells vehicles in more than 60 markets worldwide. Other plants are in Eisenach and Kaiserslautern, Germany; Szentgotthárd, Hungary; Zaragoza, Spain; Gliwice, and Tychy, Poland; Aspern, Austria; Ellesmere Port, and Luton, Great Britain. The Dudenhofen Test Center is located near the company's headquarters and is responsible for all technical testing and vehicle validations.
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.
At the first round of the season held at the former Grand Prix track of Zolder in Belgium, Opel Team Joest’s misfortunes continued. Manuel Reuter retired in the early stages, with both John Winter (16th) and Keke Rosberg finishing a lap down on winner Alessandro Nannini (ITA) in the Alfa. Race 2 was more positive however, with only John Winter dropping early on. Reuter lead the Opel charge in 7th, with Rosberg in 10th.
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.
The way it nearly came to the US is interesting, though. Back then, GM North America was a very different place than GM Europe, and it looked like there was very little interest in bridging the gap, unlike today. But after GM bought a 50% stake in the Trollhattan trolls, the General was now burdened with the problem of attracting more than devotees to an aging lineup at dealerships. The solution was to sell the Calibra to Americans through Saab dealerships, but badged as a Saab.
The final round of the 1994 season was contested at the Hockenheimring, but again the Opel contingent did its laps in relatively colorless fashion. A strong fourth place from Manuel Reuter in Race 2 ended the Calibra V6 4x4’s first full season. For 1995, the car would again be almost completely reshaped into a more effective weapon to take out the big boys in the newly renamed International Touringcar Challenge.
The parent company PSA is also preparing the transition to the electric age: By 2025, the carmaker intends to offer offshoots with electric or hybrid drive for all 40 models of its brands. It will start in 2019 with all-electric versions of the Peugeot 208 (reservations opened in the UK last month) and the DS3 Crossback. An electric version of the Peugeot 2008 will follow in 2020. PSA’s plug-in hybrid offensive starts in 2019 with a corresponding offshoot of the DS7 Crossback, the PHEV versions of the Peugeot models 3008 and 5008, the Citroën C5 Aircross and the Grandland X mentioned above.
The outdoor character created by the exterior design continues on the inside of the car with front door sill plates and the high gloss frame for the infotainment system The optional Radio R 4.0 IntelliLink system brings the world of smartphones to the KARL ROCKS via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. As of this summer, buyers in search of an integrated navigation system can order the urban rocker with the Navi 4.0 IntelliLink system. The connectivity offering of the KARL ROCKS is rounded off by the availability of the Opel OnStar personal connectivity and service assistant including the new Personal Assistant service. It allows OnStar subscribers to book hotel rooms and search for suitable parking spots via an OnStar Advisor.
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.
Obviously, the marketing and advertisement was quite different in Germany, and the “Das Auto” campaign was quite successful indeed. Unfortunately, I don’t have ready access to the statistics, but at some point in the Kadett B’s lengthy run from 1966 – 1973, it did unseat the Beetle as Germany’s best selling car. By the late sixties, the Germans were ready to move on, and it was straight into the Kadett’s open doors, as well as Ford’s new Escort, a Kadett-fighter through and through. In all, some 2.7 million Kadett Bs were produced, probably the high point of its life as both the Kadett and successor Astra.
Under the stubby bonnet, Opel has borrowed engines as well as chassis from PSA, so the EcoTec 1.6-litre diesel is actually the French 1.6-litre BlueHDI engine wearing lederhosen and a false moustache. It’s a very good engine, in fairness. Not as refined, overall, as Opel’s home-grown 1.6, nor as powerful (120hp plays 136hp) but quieter at low rpm when cold, and with very good economy. Sadly, the six-speed manual gearbox is also brought in from France and its sloppy, loose-limbed action does not bespeak of German precision. The engine, to be honest, doesn’t seem to suit the car, surging and growling with rather too much enthusiasm and basically making a nuisance of itself. I suspect the Crossland would be better-suited to the revvy, lightweight 1.2-litre petrol engine.
The Calibra was a hit, with customers lamenting the demise of the Opel Manta and the Ford Capri lining up eagerly. The Opel had competition, no doubt, with the BMW 3-Series coupe outselling it across Europe, but it was still a strong seller and its sleek looks sitting the in showroom did much to lift the image of its humbler stablemates. Ford's rival, the American-build Probe, was unable to match its success, which must have annoyed Ford as the Capri usually gave the Manta a bloody nose in the sales stakes. So confident were GM that the Calibra started to find fans outside of Europe. Holden sold its own version in Australia and New Zealand, albeit fully imported and identical to the European car, while South American markets got a Chevrolet-badged version. Rumoured US sales never happened though.
Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection works automatically at speeds between 5 and 140km/h. For speeds between 5 and 30km/h a 0.9g deceleration is applied to reduce the impact speed of the collision. For speeds of 30 to 140km/h the system reduces the speed by up to 50km/h. To reduce speed by over 50km/h the driver needs to provide additional braking. The operational speed range depends on the type of obstacle detected: