Last week when I was looking at 90s coupes, I came across one that Americans never had the chance to get – the Opel Calibra. A successor to the Opel Manta that Americans once got through Buick dealerships, I began to realize it was a shame we never got to have this. Weirder, considering it shares a lot of underneath pieces with the second-generation Saab 900.
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.
Depending on fuel price relations in particular markets, the factory-converted Karl should pay back the price premium over its conventionally motivated sibling after covering some 50-60 thousand km. That's not exactly little for a city car, but still the LPGTEC version should be interesting to those who would normally go looking for a diesel. Hopefully we'll be able to tell you more about this latest offering from Opel when we put it through its paces in a test!
My dad bought a Kadett when we became a two-car family in the 60’s (Mom got the Rambler Rebel, and then a 72 Impala). It lasted until ’77, when we used the Impala to help push it down the highway and into the Olds dealership where they were having a “We’ll give you $1000 for whatever you can drive onto the lot” trade in sale. (Sadly, we got an awful 77 Cutlas Supreme). I got some of my early driving lessons (in the neighborhood) in that Opel – shifting gears from the passenger seat, or sometimes riding on my Dads lap and steering.
That's distressing, but it's also distressing to see how far along GM and Saab dealers went with that plan. In a June 1990 article from Automotive News, even then-Opel chairman Louis Hughes said "There's quite a difference between the Calibra concept and the traditional Saab concept." That's about as close as any auto exec will get to saying "this car doesn't fit in with the brand, but we're going to badge it anyway." That Auto News story expected the car would be approved to go by the end of 1990, and that they'd be built in the same factory in Finland that turned out special Saabs like the 9-3 Viggen and all of the convertibles.
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).