All of this was a product of corporate leverage and synergies and all of these corporate-sounding words that sound so much better when Jack Donaghy says them. The cynical say that the idea to badge Opels as Saabs happened a few years later with the second-generation 900, which shares a lot of pieces with the Calibra, but in reality they're very different cars. As a Saab, I say the Calibra would've been derided from the start and its reputation ruined that way. Listen to Chris Goffey and his beard go on about its styling and merits when he drove it as the Vauxhall Calibra on old Top Gear.
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.
The decklid badge says it's an automatic, but there's a four-speed manual inside. Was it a decklid or transmission swap? Either way, these cars were very, very cheap; the MSRP on a 1967 Kadett two-door sedan was $1,657 (about $12,500 in 2018 dollars), which compared favorably to the $1,639 Volkswagen Beetle that year. The Kadett had 54 hp to the Beetle's 53 (and weighed 93 fewer pounds than the Volks, to boot), so it was a bit quicker. On top of that, it had a heater that worked, plus a design dated a lot later than the late 1930s. Of course, most American car buyers looking for something economical preferred stripped-down versions of "traditional" American cars, e.g., the Chevy II ($2,090), the AMC Rambler American 220 ($2,073) the Ford Falcon ($2,118), or the Plymouth Valiant ($2,017). The Corvair two-door was $2,128 that year, too, and let's not forget the $1,790 Toyota Corona sedan.
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.
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