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.
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).
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.
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Frânarea automată de urgență¹ detectează pietonii și alte autovehicule pe care este posibil ca tu să nu le fi văzut. La viteze între 5 și 85 km/h, sistemul măsoară continuu distanța până la alte autovehicule și te avertizează dacă se apropie prea rapid/sunt prea aproape. Dacă nu reacționezi, sistemul activează automat frânarea de urgență, reducând viteza autovehiculului. Pentru viteze sub 30 km/h, autovehiculul va frâna până la oprire.
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.
Confident in the heavily reworked Calibra’s potential, Opel Team Joest expanded to a three car team. The third car was taken by John Winter, a successful businessman and sportscar racer for Joest. Winter took the top step of the podium at the 1985 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 1991 24 Hours of Daytona, as well as becoming German Interserie Champion in 1986.
The high performance of the new Corsa GSi is complemented by the athletic exterior looks featuring large air intakes, sculptured bonnet, prominent rear spoiler and precisely modelled side sills. From the front, the bold Opel GSi fascia with large honeycomb grille and the central Opel Blitz supported by two wings, along with the exterior rear view mirror housings in carbon racing-look become visible. The large chrome-ringed design elements that are visually connected in a horizontal line via black crosspieces running across the front, along with the black traverse cleat on the bonnet support the impression of sportiness. The vibrant styling is also present when viewed from the rear. The prominent spoiler on the edge of the roof creates additional downforce, the sporty chrome tailpipe is framed by the vibrant design of the rear apron in body colour.
Well, one of the boys went away to get some oil from his father’s house. When he returned, he had a 5 liter tin of Castrol with him. We opened it, felt the oil inside ( “Yes! Its oil!”) and poured 3,5 liter into the Kadett engine. Then, it appeared to be white paint. With a layer of oil upon it, off course. Damn father! Typical father! Who puts paint into oil cans!
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.
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.
The Kadett A (above) finally appeared in 1962, and was a classic GM/Opel effort: highly pragmatic, conventional in every respect, reasonably stylish for its time, and designed to deliver a good bang for the buck. In just about every way possible, it was the antithesis of the VW: front-engine rwd, a rather tinny but roomy body, highly tossable but with a primitive suspension and ride, a very roomy trunk, and excellent visibility as well as economy. Oh, and a proper heater even! Its little 987 cc OHV four made 40 net/46 gross hp, six more than the VW 1200. Its trim fighting weight of 1475 lbs (670 kg), some two hundred pounds less than the VW, showed in both its acceleration and body integrity.