History of Opel Kadett (Wagon)
The Opel Kadett was a small family vehicle made by the German car maker Opel in 362 until 1940 and again from 1962 till 1991 (when it was replaced by the much more reliable Opel Astra). It was designed as an all-purpose vehicle that could be used for work or for sports, as was the case with the Volkswagen Beetle which itself had been a hot favourite with working people during the Second World War. The German car maker, Opel, kept the popularity of the Opel Kadett strong through the 1950s and into the early 1960s. Although, like many of the modern Beetles, it was hit by a change in fashions during this period, it retained its high popularity with its hardy durability and attractive design. The vehicle’s popularity lead to it being put into production for the rest of the Third Reich, although it is debatable as to whether it should have been included.
The most important characteristic of the Opel Kadett was its sheer size, which made it perfect for mass production. Like many of the German small cars, the Kadett was also designed for high speed road use, in addition to its utility use on the road. The overall dimensions of the German motor vehicle at the time of its introduction was rather small compared to those of the modern day vehicles. However, the design team did have some innovative ideas when it came to increasing the length of the vehicle by taking out some of the metal parts and adding some cleverly placed windows in the interior.
Two versions of the Opelkadett existed, the first being the ‘Box’ which remained essentially the same design as the rest of the vehicles, including the radiator and the bonnet. The other variation was the ‘Boxster’ which had a very different shape, including an extremely long hood, unlike any of the German designs which had been released before this date. The overall impression which can be formed by looking back at the original German kadett was that these vehicles were hugely attractive both to drivers and to the general public. Indeed, it was these very factors which led to the success of the kadett design and the brand in general.
One of the most famous examples of the Opel kadett which has been used in movies or motor sport events is the movie Topsy-Turvy. This film was based around the adventures of a Formula 1 driver called Jackie Stewart. This particular vehicle was also used by Winston Churchill during one of his Formula 1 races in the early days of World War II. It is thought that the real Winston Churchill may have used a modified Opel kj 38 engine during the war, although the actual source of this information is not known.
In spite of the success of the Opel kadett name, the company faced difficulties in the early part of the thirties. The major issue was the cost of the motor vehicle. These cars were extremely expensive because of their complex construction. Parts and components were also very expensive and controlling them was a major problem for the whole company. The company’s other major competitor was the British company Bendix, who was much better at producing simple but reliable engines. Bendix’s reputation in the field of motor vehicle was also impeccable, so Opel’s sales suffered greatly.
With the new year, however, the sales of the Opel kadets began to pick up once again. The reasons behind this are not really known, but it is thought that the introduction of the lighter aluminium bodywork may have had a positive effect on sales. Bendix, by contrast, was well established in the manufacturing of rear-wheel drive wagons. By the following summer, Opel had launched a new model which was the kadette, based on the previous model of the year, the Bendix.
The all-new, redesigned, Bendix type engine put an end to Opel’s problems. The all-new engines produced up to sixty percent more horsepower than the older ones, and increased top speed as much as fifteen percent. The power boost was not just for the kwyer, though. The all-new engine also meant that the Opel wagon was lighter, with better handling and more robustness. All of this put Opel ahead of its competition, and made it an even more popular option.
The general trend in wagons in the period was to simplify their bodies and make them more streamlined for better handling. Although the Opel Kadett was not redesigned with a unitary body shape, it did gain significant weight loss thanks to lighter aluminium materials. Other elements of the design included the use of the all-braced front axle, and a new double-wound spark plug. The most notable innovation of the 1936 model was the adoption of a straight, high-low kerb finish, which meant that the wagon could be viewed in lower, higher, and middle positions without any loss of visibility.