When in 1942 it became clearer that the fighting would go on for a while, car and truck factories were switched to war work in a modest way, Opel taking up the production of aircraft parts and tanks. Only at the Brandenburg plant did truck manufacture roar ahead at full speed. From the end of 1938 onward, the big Opel Blitz trucks had been powered by the same basic 3.6 L engine used in the Opel Admiral. To meet the growing demands of wartime, 3 short tons (2.7 t) trucks of Opel design were built under license by Daimler-Benz at the former Benz factory at Mannheim.
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On the British motoring show Top Gear, Richard Hammond drove a 1963 Kadett A through the middle of Botswana and across the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan. He loved the car so much that he named it Oliver and later had the car shipped to the United Kingdom and restored, and it remains in his possession. It appeared on Richard Hammond's Blast Lab with the personalised number plate 'OL1 V3R'. It also appeared in the Top Gear lorry challenge as one of the used obstacles.
The Kadett C appeared in August 1973 and was Opel's version of the General Motors' "T-Car". It was the last small Opel to feature rear-wheel drive, and remained in production at Opel's Bochum plant until July 1979, by which time Opel had produced 1,701,076. Of these, 52% had been exported outside West Germany, most of them to markets in other parts of western Europe.
A rare "Sport" model was produced in 1985 to homologate for the sub 1,300 cc class of Group A for the British Rally Championship. These sport models were white and came with unique vinyl decals, a 13SB engine with twin Weber 40 DCOE carburettors, an optional bespoke camshaft, a replacement rear silencer, and few luxuries. This gave 93 hp and a top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h) with a 0–60 mph time of 8.9 seconds. These are by far the rarest models (500 produced) and thus acquire a high market price if one does become available.
This new category, Group A, featured very stringent homologation requirements. In order to qualify for competition, the competing model needed to be produced at least 25,000 times. Furthermore, the FIA required ten percent of these cars to be a specialty model, with another 500 allowed as “Evolution” models. If the 25,000 car limit had not yet been met, the new model had to attain a production number of at least 5000 units a year.
In March 2017, Groupe PSA agreed to buy Opel, its British sister brand Vauxhall and their European auto lending business from General Motors for US$2.2 billion. In return, General Motors will pay PSA US$3.2 billion for future European pension obligations and keep managing US$9.8 billion worth of plans for existing retirees. Furthermore, GM is responsible for paying about US$400 million annually for 15 years to fund the existing Great Britain and Germany pension plans.
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Both the driver and the front seat passenger can take advantage of the award-winning and AGR-certified (Campaign for Healthier Backs) ergonomic seats with Opel being the only manufacturer to offer such comfort in the segment (in both the Crossland X and the Mokka X). Elsewhere, maximum trunk volume of 520 liters – without folding the rear seats down – is class leading. In addition, passengers in the rear have the possibility to adjust their seating position by 150 millimeters in longitudinal direction, thus either increasing legroom or the capacity of the luggage compartment. This makes the Crossland X even more versatile.
As in the 1993 released cars' case, there were no notable differences between the 3 and the 5-door versions except a larger wheelbase and slight cargo volume increase. The choice of engines was kept the same with only a few upgrades having been made, leading to the introduction of new equipment levels such as the 1.4 i 16 V Strada and Onyx. As for the Diesel engines, the 1.7 Liter were kept...
In September 1995, the Vectra A was replaced, but Calibra production continued until June 1997. Although a smaller coupé (the Tigra) was available, the marque was left without a mid sized coupé until the Astra Coupé was launched in 2000, and with the introduction of the Opel Speedster in 2000, three years after the Calibra was discontinued, Opel finally offered a sports car again.
Joseph DeBattista and his son, Joey, acquired this Lapis Blue wonder after trading a Volkswagen. Owing to its rarity, they had to be creative with the restoration. While Joey was hunting for parts on eBay, his father bent metal to perfection, slowly completing a car that will always remain an underdog, a nice conversation starter, and a fail-proof daily driver. Just ask Richard Hammond, if you need more proof.
One resource that did not appear on the books of General Motors or on the rolls of the occupying authorities was most responsible for the recovery of Opel in 1945, the collaborative nature of its workers. They were not itinerant hires who had looked on their work at Rüsselsheim as just another job. They were men and women who had, for the most part, come from that immediate area, many from the country, and had literally grown up with the Adam Opel AG. The fate of Opel was important to its workers, for its collapse would mean the loss of the most important employer for the people of Rüsselsheim, who were finding their way home from the chaos of war.
In Australia, the car was launched to much fanfare from many motor journalists, and went on to win the Wheels 2001 "Car of the Year" (COTY). Holden also imported the SRi version with the 1.8L Astra motor and uprated sports suspension including traction control, ABS brakes, a better tyre/wheel combination and Irmscher body kit to produce a "baby hot hatch" Barina.
However, Opel Team Joest was in for a tough fight. Not only had Alfa Romeo not been sitting on their hands, Mercedes-Benz had finally found the time to build a proper Class 1 car. Although the C180 V6 DTM lacked four wheel drive and only produced 400 horsepower, it featured a 6-speed sequential transmission, F1-derived active suspension, an innovative active ballast system which counteracted the pitching and diving of the nose under acceleration and braking and an all-carbon bodyshell bringing weight down to 980 kg (2161 lbs).
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The Kadett’s role in facilitating that is a major piece of automotive history I’ve been wanting to tell for years, but finding a Kadett in this country has been impossible, despite Opel having dumped almost half a million on our shores. It took my son’s recent trip to the old country to find one, sitting on the street in Innsbruck, no less. Maybe folks back there have a greater appreciation for Kadetts and the role they played; Americans’ fling with the Kadett was a very fleeting one, and perhaps many would just as soon forget it. Not me.
The suspension and brakes got some serious attention too, and the Rally 1900 was quite the sensation in its brief heyday, and garnered a very positive review by Car and Driver. (see related story on C/D’s Opel Kadett assassination story). Until the Ascona/Opel 1900 (CC here) came along in about 1971, the Rally carried a bright flame for Opel. The Ascona had been planned as a replacement for the Kadett, but when Ford launched their very bare-bones Escort, Opel kept the Kadett on, although at least in the US, it reverted to a very basic trim level and only with the 1100 cc motor, and sales swooned, due to rising prices as a result of the falling dollar.
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 Crossland X was introduced in 2017 as a replacement to the Opel/Vauxhall Meriva. It offers more crossover styling but similar practicality as its predecessor, as the segment of small MPVs has been shrinking in Europe, while small crossovers and SUVs continue to gain popularity across the continent. The Crossland X is based on the same platform as the Citroën C3 Aircross, which will be launched later. In Opel’s line-up, the Crossland X will be positioned below the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka X, but both compete in the same segment of small crossovers.
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.