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.
The Corsa E has been around since 2014 essentially as a more thorough facelift of the model before it and it won’t be until towards the end of the decade when the supermini is going to be overhauled. The development phase has not been what we would call smooth sailing considering the major corporate change. We’re obviously talking about PSA’s decision to buy Opel/Vauxhall from General Motors, which is going to have a direct impact on the new Corsa.
Use the dropdown at the top right of this page to find sales figures for any other car model sold in Europe since the early 2000’s. Car sales statistics are from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. Sources: Manufacturers, ANDC, JATO Dynamics.
Taking a good long year to plan their assault on Alfa Romeo, the company enlisted the best names in the business in the hope of quickly conquering what was steadily becoming the world’s most prestigious touring car series. Unfortunately Joest Racing and Cosworth could only do so much. Even with the immense talent of three very determined drivers, the first iterations of the Calibra just didn’t cut it. A lucky win and two random podiums was all it could muster.
Within Opel the Calibra was a car with potential but sadly much of it was unrealised. Valmet Automotive in Finland, who had a manufacturing facility that build Calibras alongside the German plant, produced two handsome convertible prototypes that never saw production. A Saab coupe based on the Calibra was also rumoured but, again, never saw the light of day.
Opel campaigned the car extensively in motorsport too. The rally version was uncompetitive, but Opel eagerly waded into the 160mph traffic jam that was the International Touring Car Championship. The ITCC was created from the German DTM series, in which Opel had struggled. A rule change allowed Opel to use a new 480bhp V6 derived from the road car. The resultant four-wheel-drive monster carried Manuel Reuter to the 1996 ITCC driver's crown and Opel won the manufacturers' gong, beating Alfa Romeo and Mercedes-Benz. It was the Calibra's finest hour.
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.
In the front, the Crossland X features a prominent grille with a shining Opel Blitz logo that is embraced by two chrome winglets and flow outwards to the ‘double-wing’ Opel signature LED daytime running lights. The horizontal lines from the Opel logo in the middle to the chrome winglets and the chrome bars following through to Adaptive Forward Lighting (AFL) LED headlights create the illusion of extra width.
We took the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe and then headed down to Forges-les-Eaux, along winding D-roads through quiet villages and dense forests, scenes to be repeated over the following three days. What you notice immediately about the Calibra is how civilised it is. That V6 engine is a gem, not especially powerful by today’s standards but honestly quick and genuinely refined.
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.
Crisp side lines along with the seemingly ‘floating roof’, which visually separates the lower from the upper section of the vehicle, optically stretch the Crossland X and reinforce its spacious interior. The ‘floating roof’ also displays its relationship to the Opel ADAM’s arched chrome window line that drops towards the rear. Just like for the individualization champion, customers can order a different color for the roof. The prominent rear makes a clear SUV statement with its visible underride protection.
The manufacturer now offered two versions of the Kadett, designated the "Kadett KJ38 and the "Kadett K38" the latter also being sold as the "Kadett Spezial". Mechanically and in terms of published performance there was little to differentiate the two, but the "Spezial" had a chrome stripe below the window line, and extra external body trim in other areas such as on the front grill. The interior of the "Spezial" was also better equipped. To the extent that the 300 Mark saving for buyers of the car reflected reduced production costs, the major difference was that the more basic "KJ38" lost the synchromous springing with which the car had been launched, and which continued to be fitted on the "Spezial". The base car instead reverted to traditional rigid axle based suspension similar to that fitted on the old Opel P4.
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.