After the Second World War the Soviet Union requested the tooling from the Opel Rüsselsheim car plant in the American occupation zone as part of the war reparations agreed by the victorious powers, to compensate for the loss of the production lines for the domestic KIM-10-52 in the siege of Moscow. Faced with a wide range of German "small litrage" models to choose from, Soviet planners wanted a car which closely followed the general type of the KIM – a 4-door sedan with all-metal body and 4-stroke engine. They therefore rejected both the rear-engined, two-door KdF-Wagen (future VW Beetle) and the two-stroke powered, front-wheel-drive, wooden-bodied DKW F8, built by the Auto Union Chemnitz plant in the Soviet occupation zone. The closest analog of the KIM to be found was the 4-door Kadett K38.
In 1935 the time was ripe for the people’s car – from Opel, mind you. The P4 presented in November rolled of the assembly line soon thereafter. The four-seater with four-cylinder four-stroke engine – according to the P4 brochure “like the most expensive cars in the world” – cost only 1,450 Marks in the standard version. “How is this possible? To offer so much value, a real full-out automobile that even exceeds expectations for so little money?” The answer was clear: thanks to state-of-the-art mass production. This also came into play shortly thereafter with the Kadett 1, which also took over the design of the Opel Olympia. This made it one of the first German cars to feature a self-supporting all-steel body, which was more comfortable, safer and more durable than the conventional frame structures.
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.