The Kadett E has been seen as a grey import in the United Kingdom, but it is quite rare compared to its badge engineered sister, the Vauxhall Astra Mk II. It was never officially sold in Britain, and by 1989, General Motors was only marketing the Vauxhall brand in the United Kingdom, although Astras assembled at Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant were exported to the rest of Europe badged as Opel Kadetts. There was also a van version with a raised roof, called the Opel Kadett Combo.
The engine came with a choice from two power levels. For the standard 1.0 litre engine maximum output was listed as 40 PS (29 kW) at 5,000 rpm, and in October 1963 the high compression "1.0 S-Motor" was added, sharing the 993 cc capacity of the original power unit, but offering a maximum 48 PS (35 kW) of power at 5,400 rpm. The more powerful "S-Motor" engine featured modifications to the inlet manifold, cylinders and camshaft along with a carburetor employing larger (36 mm (1.4 in) diameter than the 30 mm (1.2 in) used on the standard engine. This came with an 8.8: 1 compression ratio whereas the 40 PS (29 kW; 39 hp) engine used a compression ratio of only 7.8 : 1. Higher compression ratios for performance versions of standard engines were a growing trend in West Germany in the 1960s, led by Opel and Ford, and made possible by the growing availability of higher octane "Super" grade fuel at filling stations.
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The Calibra was a hit, with customers lamenting the demise of the Opel Manta and the Ford Capri lining up eagerly. The Opel had competition, no doubt, with the BMW 3-Series coupe outselling it across Europe, but it was still a strong seller and its sleek looks sitting the in showroom did much to lift the image of its humbler stablemates. Ford's rival, the American-build Probe, was unable to match its success, which must have annoyed Ford as the Capri usually gave the Manta a bloody nose in the sales stakes. So confident were GM that the Calibra started to find fans outside of Europe. Holden sold its own version in Australia and New Zealand, albeit fully imported and identical to the European car, while South American markets got a Chevrolet-badged version. Rumoured US sales never happened though.
Unfortunately, Opel’s first victory in the DTM turned out to be as much of a fluke as the podium at Hockenheim. The Calibra’s fell behind once more, and resorted to occupying the lower end of the top 10. The airfield circuit at Diepholz, a third visit to the Nurburgring and the high-speed section of autobahn known as the AVUS-ring were all without meaningful results.
^ General Motors Austria Gesellschaft m.b.H. (GMA, founded 1963 as sales organisation; from 1979: Administration, Non-productive Departments an Sales) and General Motors Austria Werke Gesellschaft m.b.H. (GMAW founded 1979; Production). In November 1987 GMAW (Austrian Handelsregister, HRB 24.436) were merged into GMA (HRB 20.133b, actual Firmenbuch FN 110500a).