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).
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 Opel Kadett B was sold from 1966 to 1973, with two- and four-door versions (including notchback and, from 1967, fastback form), a three-door wagon, and two coupés (regular and fastback). There was also a competitive Opel Kadett Rallye, with a 1.9 liter engine. The Kadett B was sold in the United States through Buick dealers from 1967 through 1972. Kadetts were technically simple cars whose task was to compete with the market leader, the VW Beetle. Schuco is a legendary German toy manufacturer, founded in 1912. The company achieved worldwide fame with its toy cars manufactured in the '30s, '40s and '50s, many of which were patented. While Schuco continues to issue a limited number of metal retro-toys for collectors, today the company is better known for its amazing diecast vehicle replicas. Working directly with manufacturers and car collectors, Schuco painstakingly re-creates each vehicle in miniature, often incorporating tiny details only visible with a magnifying glass. Most Schuco models are issued in specified limited quantities, and once gone, will not be made again. That’s why wise collectors know that a Schuco model isn’t just a purchase: It’s an investment with a lifetime return of enjoyment.
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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.
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.
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.
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).
The remains of Ackerman Buick in beautiful Ferguson MO were finally bulldozed recently…I think they sold Hyundai or Kia out of that building most recently. I can’t say that I’ve seen an Opel of any description, in the flesh, in several decades, with the exception of an occasional Opel GT. I was a car freak as a kid, and I’m not convinced that I’ve ever seen any of the ones featured in this post…
He dropped by my house early one Friday evening the day he bought it at Ackerman Buick in Ferguson, MO, picked me up, drove to a buddy’s, picked him up and we took off over the bridge into Illinois to ride all the levee roads and every other back road we could find. We had to drop off our buddy around 9 o’clock, put $1.80 in the tank and went back to Illinois! We finally returned home after midnight and somehow put over 250 miles on the car in that time!
^ 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).