The case of the Saab Calibra is one I'm glad didn't pan out, but I wish the car had made it here somehow. Even weirder than this was a plan to sell the Opel Senator through Porsche dealers in the late '80s, after GM's dealers were uninterested because their lots were full of Park Avenues and didn't need another luxo-barge competing. Strange, too, since the company was willing to sell that car as an Opel until the cost of importing became too strong. That likely killed the math for sending the Calibra here, too.
As an Opel, it could've been a great rival for the Ford Probe, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Toyota Celica and all of the handsome sport coupes that popped up in the early '90s. You could get a Calibra with an all-wheel drive system, or a turbocharged engine (not from Saab), or a 2.5-liter V6 (shared with Saab). It had a hatchback for practicality. Versions with big wheels look rather handsome, too. Had it been priced like a Saab, though, it would've attracted too many comparisons with the E30 and E36 coupes from BMW at the time, and that probably wouldn't have ended well.
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.
The Calibra came with 2.0-litre 16-valve four-cylinder engine from the Family II range with a Cosworth-designed cylinder head that put out a healthy 150bhp, which when combined with the sleek shape gave the Opel a healthy turn of speed. These early cars, which were built until 1993, are becoming desirable as the C20XE engine produced more power than the cleaner X20XEV engines of later cars, which only put out a still credible 136bhp. Other markets got an eight-valve version of the Calibra producing 115bhp. This car was never sold here in Ireland, but it did have the distinction of being the most aerodynamic production car in the world at that time.
The 114bhp 1.0-litre engine fires to a near-silent idle, and in general it’s responsive and keen. It revs willingly, and such is the quietness and consistency of output that there are times while cruising when you could be in any of, say, three gears and you wouldn’t notice much difference in either noise or throttle response. It drives as standard through a six-speed gearbox that is occasionally notchy but otherwise positive.
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In 2012, Opel announced the closure of the Bochum plant (now known as Plant Bochum II), effective 2016, with the loss of approximately 3,000 jobs, in response to the manufacturer's longstanding over capacity and loss of market share in key western European markets. Ellesmere Port in England became Opel's lead plant for the Astra/Kadett platform for subsequent generations.
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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.
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.
** = Fuel consumption data and CO2 emission data are determined using the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), and the figures are re-calculated into NEDC to provide comparative data. (according to regulations R (EC) No. 715/2007, R (EU) No. 2017/1153 and R (EU) No. 2017/11). The figures do not take into account variations in driving style, driving conditions, equipment and options including the type of tyres fitted. For more information on official fuel consumption and CO2 emission values, please visit http://wltpfacts.eu or consult your Opel dealer.
Opel had been transformed and rebuilt before. Beyond the efforts of the company's staff, very little was functioning in the factories and plants. Many of the tools with which they once had worked were gone. The Brandenburg truck plant fell into the Russian zone of a divided postwar Germany. It did not stay there long. All the machinery and equipment – right down to the window frames and bathroom fixtures – were dismantled and shipped to a site near the Ural mountains.
The first cars were produced in 1899 after Opel's wife Sophie and their two eldest sons entered into a partnership with Friedrich Lutzmann, a locksmith at the court in Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt, who had been working on automobile designs for some time. These cars were not very successful and the partnership was dissolved after two years, following which Opel signed a licensing agreement in 1901 with the French Automobiles Darracq France to manufacture vehicles under the brand name Opel Darracq. These cars consisted of Opel bodies mounted on Darracq chassis, powered by two-cylinder engines.
We’ll come back to that in a minute, but first – what is a Crossland X and why is it here? It’s actually Opel’s new small crossover, and also a replacement for the old Meriva MPV, and it shares a chassis and some major mechanical bits with the Peugeot 2008 and Citroen C3 Aircross. Ah, so you’ll assume, this must be the first fruits of the much-bandied-about buyout of Opel by the PSA Group that owns Peugeot and Citroen. Well, not quite. The three car brands actually began collaborating on new chassis and engines some time ago, and the forthcoming Grandland X (Opel’s rival for the Nissan Qashqai) will share its chassis with the Peugeot 3008 and the Citroen C5 Aircross.
The handling and ride are basically fine, but are all but invisible from the point of view of a keen driver. The Crossland is tidy through corners, with reasonable steering weight but no actual feedback, and the body tilts over only to a reasonable angle. The ride is a touch stiff in its damping, especially around town (which is disappointing, given that any Crossland will probably spend most of its life in town) but it does improve on the open road. Refinement is only average though with quite a bit of wind and road noise. There’s little point in having Opel’s phone-based OnStar concierge service fitted if you can’t hear what the operator is saying . . .