When I was 16 or 17, some friens and I used to buy old cars from the junkyard to drive it to pieces in the woods. Most cars did not last very long, as we tortured them with smashing them trough rough terrain, rolling over many times and held races through soft sands. Until we got an Opel Kadett. It gave us rally pleasure for weeks and weeks. Until one day, the orange oil pressure light went on.

But how was Opel/PSA able to shave off so much fat from the hatchback? For starters, all engines will be made from aluminum (-15 kg / 33 lbs), much like the hood (-2.4 kg / 5.3 lbs). The optimized seats (-5.5 kg / 12.1 lbs front and -4.5 kg / 10 lbs rear) contribute to this significant weight loss, while the insulating material used throughout the cabin is also a new weight-saving development. The most important diet is found in the body-in-white, which is a term referring to the body panels being joined together before adding the engine, sub-assemblies, and trim. The new BIW is an impressive 40 kg (88 lbs) lighter than the old one.

The Opel Corsa in general and the Corsa “120 Years” in particular show that it is a core brand characteristic to always offer customers more than they expect in the respective vehicle class. The foundation for this was laid at the end of the 19th century by the Opel patent motor car “System Lutzmann”. Its short price list already included two innovative extras: the first was the pneumatic tire, which was invented by Robert William Thomson in 1845, but had not yet found widespread use in automobile production. The second was the optional removable child seat available for the small two-seat motorised coach, whose one-cylinder, 4 hp engine delivered a speed of 30 km/h. This example alone clearly illustrates what Opel has been all about from the very beginning: absolute suitability for everyday use instead of technology as an end in itself.

Opel will already open the order books for two new electrified models in the first half of 2019 – for the battery electric version of the next Corsa, and for the Grandland X SUV as plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. “Opel is going electric!” said Opel CEO, Michael Lohscheller. “That is what we announced at the presentation of our PACE! strategic plan in November 2017, and now we are delivering.”

Chevrolet has only released a teaser photo of the redesigned 2016 Spark minicar so far, but the final product has been hiding in plain sight as the Opel Karl that debuted at the Geneva auto show. The Chevrolet version will have a slightly different look with its brand-specific fascias, but the European-market Karl otherwise provides a good preview of the U.S.-market Spark we’ll see at the New York auto show in a few weeks.


* = Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures shown are determined according to the NEDC homologation regulations (R (EC) No. 715/2007 and R (EC) No. 692/2008, applicable version), which allows comparison with other vehicles. From September 1, 2017, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions data for certain new vehicles are determined using the new World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). For easy comparison between new and older vehicles the relevant figures are re-calculated into NEDC. Please contact your Opel dealer for the latest information.
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.
In 1924, the Rüsselsheim-based company went even further to cater to the “average consumer” – also thanks to an automotive innovation. After all, from the very first minute Opel was committed to producing cars as efficiently as possible and thus making them affordable for a broad customer base. Consequently, the 4/12 hp heralded the start of assembly line production in Germany. And because the 60 km/h fast car was only available “in a quiet green that pleases the eye” to keep the time and effort required for production at a minimum, everyone called it the “Tree Frog”. Soon, 25 two-seater “cars for everyone” left the assembly line every day. In the following years an entire vehicle family was built on the Tree Frog technology. The smoother production ran, the greater the cost advantage that Opel passed on to its customers. Unbelievable but true: the purchase price of the 4 hp model series, of which 119,484 units were produced, was almost 40 per cent lower in 1931 than at the launch of the Tree Frog model.
The Kadett featured a more modern design than the Volkswagen Beetle that then dominated the market for small family cars in West Germany and various surrounding countries. The Kadett offered more passenger space, more luggage capacity, and better visibility for the driver. Its water-cooled engine provided effective heating for the passenger compartment. However, by the mid-1970s the Kadett's weakness was already apparent as the car's bodywork was not well protected from corrosion.
The Kadett D was introduced in the middle of August 1979, with deliveries on the home market beginning early in September 1979.[14] In November 1979, the car went on sale in the United Kingdom, some five months before the Vauxhall Astra Mark 1, the British version, was launched in April 1980. The cars were designed as three- or five-door hatchbacks and estates or station wagons. There were also two- and four-door sedans featuring separate boots/trunks, which shared the silhouettes of the hatchbacks: in the United Kingdom, the sedan versions were soon withdrawn, until the 1986 launch of the MKII-based Belmont. For the first time since 1965 there was no coupé-bodied Kadett in the range: the previous Kadett C coupé was indirectly replaced by the three-door 1.3 SR sports model.
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