Competitive pricing led to commercial success, and Kadetts continued to be produced during the early months of the war: by the time production ended in May 1940, following intensification of World War II, 106,608 of these Opel Kadetts had come off the assembly line at Opel's Rüsselsheim plant, which had been the first major car plant in Germany to apply the assembly-line production techniques pioneered by Henry Ford.
1938 saw the presentation of the highly successful Kapitän. With a 2.5 L six-cylinder engine, all-steel body, front independent suspension, hydraulic shock absorbers, hot-water heating (with electric blower), and central speedometer. 25,374 Kapitäns left the factory before the intensification of World War II brought automotive manufacturing to a temporary stop in the Autumn of 1940, by order of the government.
By the 1970s, Opel had emerged as the stronger of GM's two European brands; Vauxhall was the third-best selling brand in Great Britain after the British Motor Corporation (later British Leyland) but made only a modest impact elsewhere. The two companies were direct competitors outside of each other's respective home markets, but mirroring Ford's decision to merge its British and German subsidiaries in the late 1960s, GM followed the same precedent. Opel and Vauxhall had loosely collaborated before, but serious efforts to merge the two companies' operations and product families into one did not start until the 1970s - which had Vauxhall's complete product line replaced by vehicles built on Opel-based platforms - the only exception to the rule being the Bedford CF panel van, the only solely Vauxhall design which was marketed as an Opel on the Continent. By the turn of the 1980s, the two brands were in effect, one and the same.
Faced with an ever-evolving Alfa Romeo and a regrouped Mercedes-Benz, the company was simply lagging behind for the second time during their short DTM career. It was clear something drastic had to happen to bring the car up to speed. With Joest and Cosworth sharpening their swords for a definitive strike, 1995 would have to be Opel’s breakthrough once and for all.
The brakes were now controlled using a hydraulic mechanism. The suspension featured synchromous springing, a suspension configuration already seen on the manufacturer's larger models and based on the Dubonnet system for which General Motors in France had purchased the license. The General Motors version, which had been further developed by Opel’s North American parent, was intended to provide a soft ride, but there was some criticism that handling and road-holding were compromised, especially when the system was applied to small light-weight cars such as the Kadett. By the end of 1937 33,402 of these first generation Kadetts had been produced.
The Kadett featured a more modern design than the Volkswagen Beetle that then dominated the market for small family cars in West Germany and various surrounding countries. The Kadett offered more passenger space, more luggage capacity, and better visibility for the driver. Its water-cooled engine provided effective heating for the passenger compartment. However, by the mid-1970s the Kadett's weakness was already apparent as the car's bodywork was not well protected from corrosion.
As such, the car’s 2.5L C25XE V6 was turned around 90 degrees to assume a longitudinal position. Keeping only the most essential bits, British engineering firm Cosworth turned the 170 horsepower engine into a large bore, short stroke masterpiece. Using design principles akin to those used in Formula One, the unit belted out 420 horsepower at 11,650 rpm.
The German company based in Rüsselsheim, which now belongs to the PSA group, made a profit in 2018 for the first time since 1999. According to Lohscheller, this enabled them to make the necessary investments in electric mobility. Opel intends to electrify its entire product range by 2024. “The smaller vehicles, in particular, are especially suitable for electric propulsion,” said the company boss, who also explained that Opel, also known as Vauxhall, is switching from nine to just two platforms: “One small and one large, which can be used throughout the group. In addition to diesel and gasoline engines, each has an electrified drive system – either purely electric or as a plug-in hybrid.”
The Opel Karl is powered by a new 1.0-liter turbocharged Ecotec three-cylinder making 74 hp, a bit less than the outgoing Chevrolet Spark’s 84 hp from a 1.2-liter four-cylinder. The three-cylinder engine is part of GM’s new global, small-displacement Ecotec engine family, so it’s possible that Chevrolet may offer a slightly larger turbocharged engine for the Spark in the U.S. The European-market Opel is also available only with a five-speed manual, while the Spark will almost surely be offered with an automatic transmission option.
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).