I bought a used Opel Wagon in 1971. It came to the US from Brazil where my college roommate’s father worked for an American firm. It was a 1968 model, had impressive handling and was fun to drive. While the car was excellent in all respects, and I owned it from ’71 through ’74, I took a lot of grief about it. Gas station people made comments like “Is this your car? It’s not paying your taxes.” and “Does this thing come with a motor?” and “This thing is made for insects.” But, worse, were the insults from the Queens County (NYC) Buick dealer parts department who consistently said really nasty things to folks buying replacement parts: “Ya look like the kinda’ guy who’d buy this ting”. After completing my Industrial Design degree, and I went on to design vehicles here and abroad, I never bought a GM car.
The plucky Kadett B. I am still daily driving a 1100 sedan here in southern CA. Simple basic trouble free comfortable transportation. It does its job without fuss or pretentiousness. I am amazed at how well the engineers made a cheap car so useable without feeling as if you were in a penalty box. They just have a certain feel that I find appealing. *
The final round of the 1994 season was contested at the Hockenheimring, but again the Opel contingent did its laps in relatively colorless fashion. A strong fourth place from Manuel Reuter in Race 2 ended the Calibra V6 4x4’s first full season. For 1995, the car would again be almost completely reshaped into a more effective weapon to take out the big boys in the newly renamed International Touringcar Challenge.
After the uplifting podium at the Hockenheimring, Opel fell right back into the deep hole they were working so hard to crawl out of. For the next four rounds and eight races, the team couldn’t reach further than 5th place, and experienced numerous mechanical failures. The trips to the Nurburgring, Mugello, back to the Nurburgring and the Norisring all proved fruitless for the outfit.
The Kadett C was introduced in Brazil as the Chevrolet Chevette. The three-door station wagon was called the Chevrolet Marajó, and a pick-up was named Chevy 500. Brazilian production commenced in 1973, with the Marajó being added in 1980 and the Chevy 500 in 1983, shortly after a significant facelift affected the entire line. Brazilian cars had engines in various combinations of size - 1.0 (1992-1993), 1.4 (1973-1982), or 1.6 (1982-1995) liters - and fuels (gasoline or ethanol), though not all combinations were available for all body configurations. The last Marajó was built in 1989, the last Chevette in 1993, and the last Chevy 500 in 1995.
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.
Meanwhile, the Crossland X and the Opel Mokka X have similar dimensions. While the Mokka X is a thoroughbred crossover with optional all-wheel-drive, the Crossland X is available exclusively in front-wheel-drive, making it less capable offroad. As such, the Crossland X can be best described as a crossover-like MPV. As Opel puts it, the vehicle is “predestined for urban areas with its crisp exterior dimensions while also being perfectly suitable for a shopping spree at the organic farm shop or for a holiday trip to Tuscany.”
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 . . .
The Calibra holds the title of having been the most aerodynamic car in the world at its 1990 launch, with a drag coefficient of just 0.26. With engines ranging in displacement from 1998 cc to 2498 cc, the car reigned supreme over other makes at the time. Its privileged position as the most aerodynamically efficient car would be held until the end of the 90's when the Calibra was overthrown by new Audi and Honda releases, the A2 and Insight respectively.