1968 Opel Kadett a high volume low cost production

Opel Kadett was the basic workhorse model imported and sold by GM's Buick dealers. A compact-sized automobile from the German Opel Company which is part of GM's European division, the Kadett was a small family vehicle produced between 1937 until 1940, and then again from 1962 until 1992. In December of 1936 Opel introduced the first generation to carry the Kadett name by Opel's Commercial-Technical director, Heinrich Nordhoff. (Nordhoff would later become well known for his leadership role in building up the Volkswagen Company.)
Opel Kadett was designed for high volume low cost production and followed the innovative Opel Olympia in adopting a chassis-less monocoque construction, much like the Vauxhall 10 that debuted in 1937. The Kadett was very competitively priced which led to its commercial success. Kadett's continued to be produced during the early months of the war, and by the time production was halted in 1940 following intensified hostilities. A total of 107,608 Kadetts came off the assembly line at Opel's Rüsselsheim plant which had been the first major vehicle plant in Germany to apply the assembly-line production techniques developed by Henry Ford.

Following the war, Opel production facilities from Rüsselsheim and Brandenburg an der Havel were all packed up and relocated to the Soviet Union in an effort of a larger reparations package agreed on by the victorious powers. The prewar Kadett was manufactured as the Moskvitch 400/420 and it continued to be produced in Moscow until 1956.

Appearing in October of 1962, the first Opel Kadett was the Kadett A which was produced until 1965. Featuring a much more modern design than the Volkswagen Beetle, which at the time had dominated the small family car market in Germany and surrounding countries, the Kadett offered more passenger space, much more luggage space and a much less encumbered view out. In addition to the standard saloon, there was an L; luxury model, a coupe, and an estate (called Caravan). The all-new Opel OHV engine was available as 1.0 with 40 hp and a 1.0 S with 48 hp. The fuel consumption was even under most conditions superior to that of the Volkswagen. Many commentators preferred the Opel's handling and its light and effective brakes to those of the market leader.

Unfortunately by the mid-1970's the Kadett's greatest relative weakness was becoming painfully apparent. The Kadett was disappearing rapidly from German roads while the Beetles remained strong. The bodywork on the Kadett was not well protected from corrosion. From 1966 until 1973 the Kadett B was sold with two and four-door saloons, a three-door estate and two coupes. With a 1.9 L engine, there was a sporting Opel Kadett Rallye. Based heavily on Kadett B components, there was a two-seat Opel GT with its body constructed by a French contractor, Brissonneau & Lotz.

Opel opened their new plant at Bochum in 1966 which was devoted exclusively to Kadett production. Opel produced 2,691,300 Kadett B's between 1965 and 1973 which makes the B the most successful Opels to date in terms of sales volume. At this time the domestic market was going through a progressive slowing of demand for the old Volkswagen Beetle which benefited the Kadett, while the Ford Escort and Volkswagen Gold which would compete for sales more effectively against the Kadett C both got off to a relatively slow start respectively in 1968 and 1974.

The Opel Olympia A was a ‘luxury' derivative of the Kadett B. From 1967 until 1972 the Kadett B was sold in the U.S. through Buick dealers simply as the Opel. U.S. models were eventually granted the front end and trim of the new Opel Olympia which was introduced in 1966 as an up-market version of the Kadett. During its commercial life the Kadett B took part in the Trans-Am Series. Technically simple cars, the Kadett A and B were produced to compete with the market leader, the Volkswagen Beetle. Unfortunately Car and Driver magazine published a highly critical test of the Kadett in 1968 with feature photos of the vehicle in a junkyard, highlighting the car's lack of sophistication. GM withdrew any ads from Car and Driver for several months following that publication.

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