Tuesday 9 August 2011
The Opel Kadett was a small family car produced by the German automobile manufacturer Opel between 1937 and 1940, and then again from 1962 until 1991 (Cabrio 1993), when it was replaced by the Opel Astra, (branded in the UK as the Vauxhall Astra MK3).
In 1957 Opel Product Director Karl Stief was mandated by General Motors headquarters in Detroit to develop "the perfect Anti-Volkswagen" ("einen perfekten Anti-VW"). The development team was headed up by Stief, supported by Hans Mersheimer (car-body) and Werner K. Strobel (engine and running gear), under conditions of such secrecy that even now very little is known of the development history of the 1962 Kadett. 649,512 of cars had been built at the company's new Bochum factory by the time it was replaced in July 1965.
The car later became known as the Kadett A. In addition to the standard saloon there was an L (luxury model), a coupé, and an estate (called Caravan). The new Opel OHV engine was available as 1.0 with 40 hp (30 kW) and as 1.0 S with 48 hp (36 kW).
The Kadett clearly featured a much more modern design than the Volkswagen Beetle which then dominated the market for small family cars in Germany and various surrounding countries. The Kadett offered more passenger space, massively more luggage space and a much less encumbered view out. Its water cooled engine enabled it to provide a far more effective heater. Even fuel consumption was under most conditions superior to that of the Volkswagen, and many commentators much preferred the Opel's handling and its light and effective brakes to those of the market leader.
However, by the mid-1970s the Kadett's greatest relative weakness was already painfully apparent, as the cars disappeared rapidly from German roads while the Beetles endured. The Kadett's bodywork was not well protected from corrosion.
On the British motoring show Top Gear, Richard Hammond drove a 1963 Kadett A through the middle of Botswana during a 2007 challenge. During the challenge, Richard Hammond successfully drove the Opel Kadett across the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan, making the Kadett A one of the first ever cars to cross the whole 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.
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 1000 cc
- horsepower: 48 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 140 km/h