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.
The basic trim level was called just the Corsa, which was followed by the Corsa Luxus, Corsa Berlina and the sporty Corsa SR. The SR receives a spoiler which surrounds the rear window, alloy wheels, checkered sport seats, and a somewhat more powerful 70 PS (51 kW) engine. Six years later, the Corsa received a facelift, which included a new front fascia and some other minor changes. The models were called LS, GL, GLS and GT.
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Typically, although a far better car, like the Chevette all Kadett models have been the butt of jokes in Europe, particularly for being very common (the quintessential middle-class car in Germany and the Netherlands), very prone to rust and very easy to steal. While essentially good cars, and always praised as such by contemporary press, these gave Opel its commoner reputation it is still struggling to shake off.
In the early 1990s, South African Kadett GSi's were further upgraded based on their success in production car racing and initially 500 special units were built as road cars for homologation purposes. This was a minimum requirement for entry into the Stannic Group N races. They went against BMW's 325iS (A 2.7 litre homologation special from BMW). They featured more aggressive 276-degree camshafts made by Schrick with 2 different settings for timing overlap (110° and 107°), revised intake and exhaust modifications (4-in-1 branch manifold and freeflow exhaust), Irmscher spring kit, modified engine management system by Promotec, a limited slip differential developed by Andre Verwey and special Aluett 7Jx15-inch ET35 alloy wheels, they were nicknamed the "Superboss" and held the world record for the most torque per litre (114 Nm per litre) for a naturally aspirated car until 2009 being beaten by the Ferrari 458 (117 Nm per litre). After the first 500 units were produced, many more were built to satisfy public demand.
It formed the basis o the Daewoo LeMans (later kent as the Daewoo Cielo, Racer an Nexia) in Sooth Korea, an an' a' as Heaven in Chile (Nexia bein the HB version), which wis sauld in the Unitit States an New Zealand as the Pontiac LeMans, an in Canadae (initially) as the Passport Optima. LeMans sales endit in 1993. The Nexia is still bein produced at UzDaewoo plant in Asaka, Uzbekistan. The Cielo wis last bein produced at Automobile Craiova, a semi-independent (frae GM) plant in Craiova, Romanie (the license expired in Hairst 2006).
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).