Both the Opel Karl and its Vauxhall Viva twin will be built alongside the new Spark in South Korea. Looking at the Opel’s measurements, we can see that the new 2016 Chevrolet Spark’s footprint will grow ever so slightly, with a 0.4-inch longer wheelbase and a 0.2-inch longer overall length. The new car’s roof is 3 inch lower overall, and the car could also weigh around 200 lb less than today’s model if the Karl’s 2070 lb curb weight is indicative of the U.S.-spec 2016 Spark’s specification.
The new four-cylinder, oversquare one-litre water-cooled Opel OHV engine weighed only 96 kg and was the first all-new engine developed by Opel since before the war. The side-mounted camshaft was driven not through gear-cogs but using a single chain with a hydraulic tensioner, the valve train employing rocker-arms and light-weight hollow rods. The arrangement was low on weight and on friction, permitting engine speeds above 6,000 rpm. The pistons were formed from an aluminium-alloy and incorporated a bimetal expansion strip to ensure uniform thermal expansion. The three-bearing forged crankshaft was of more traditional construction. The carefully designed aluminium inlet manifold provided for efficient feed of the fuel-mixture to the cylinders and helped provide the engine with good fuel economy characteristics.
It had some crazy mechanical issues. At one point it stumbled and stalled because the carburetor had come loose from the intake manifold and I had to tighten it back down! Another time, my brother was driving it and the brakes failed. Somehow the end of the brake shoe that meets the brake cylinder piston had become worn on one side, causing the piston to slip off the end of the shoe when the brakes were applied, losing braking and squirting fluid all over.