History of the Opel Kadett C

In august 1973 the successor to the Opel Kadett B was introduced; the Opel Kadett C. Opel was pleased with the new Kadett, because it was no longer just a means of transport but a pleasure to drive.


More than 3.3 million of the previous Opel Kadett's had been produced, of which more than 2.65 million were Kadett B.  After the new Manta (A) and Ascona (A) the Opel Kadett C was a lower middle class car packed full of features. By using these features Opel decided to produce this car as a world car.



The idea was a car which could be produced everywhere in the world as a competitor of the Volkswagen Beetle. The Kadett C, which was under development from1970 under code name "project 1865", had been predestined as a vehicle for the international market.  The idea started at the end of the summer of 1970 at a secret meeting of Opel, General Motors and several other companies. The idea was to design and manufacture a car which it would do just as well in Iceland as in Hawaii. The task of the headquarters of General Motors in Detroit was as simple as it was difficult - building a car which could be built all over the world in several factories with primarily the same bodywork. The bodywork had also to be able to accommodate several engine types.  Production would be in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Great Brittan, Japan and the United States.




A year later "project 1865" was no longer an idea on paper but a concrete plan. The Opel technicians built, in secret, several cars with independent rear suspension and even prototypes with front wheel drive. These developments however stayed on the bench. Eventually the current Kadett C was developed, a car using tried and trusted principles of rear wheel drive and beam axle  but with new bodywork.


Introduction of the Opel Kadett C

The new Kadett C was first exhibited in august 1973 at the 45th Frankfurt motor show. The visitors crowd around the new Kadett not believing what they were seeing - it was one of the stars of the show. Even the new Passat from Volkswagen could not attract as much attention and Ford had to get by with the existing models Granada, Consul and Escort.


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The press praised the new Kadett C. By the addition of the Kadett C to the model line up of Opel along with the Rekord, Manta and Ascona, it was possible for the first time for Opel to take first place in the sales charts from Volkswagen. With the addition of modern sporty design bodywork (among other things. the front spoiler) made the car attractive to a lot of people. Also the space in the car had become larger by several centimeters. This meant that people with a height of 1.85m still had plenty of leg room. Several car magazines reported that the Kadett not only drove well, but it also had been developed to have excellent ride and handling, as a result it was a practical means of transport. At that time the Kadett C also referred to as 'the Volkswagen from Russelsheim.'


The base model Opel Kadett C was very basic  but extras could be purchased separately. There was also a Luxury version available with additions such as adjustable rear view mirror, adjustable seat backs, clock and cigarette lighter. There was also a sporting version available the SR.




The SR was provided with additional meters and a rev counter. Over the years of Kadett C production some of the extras became standard equipment.


oil crisis

Not only Opel itself, but also General engines were very satisfied with the Opel Kadett C. The euphoria did not last long however, because in October 1973 the oil crisis starts as a result of a number of world conflicts. This gives America and a number of European countries significant problems to face. Among other things the price of $ 2.70 for a barrel crude tripled. The Netherlands and the United States had oil supply problems. As petrol prices take off, rationing is introduced in the Netherlands.




In November and December 1973 20% fewer cars are sold than normal. A lot of cars remain unsold in the dealerships. Economical cars have suddenly become attractive and with it a demand for cheap models. Even the already rather economical Kadett C Opel is adapted and in March 1974 an even more economical 1.0-liter engine becomes available for the Kadett C.

This engine which had only been built for the export market became available in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. It is however short lived, with the oil crisis over the 1.0ltr engine soon disappears with the end of rationing.


Competition for the Opel Kadett C

In 1975, the Opel Kadett C gets a strong competitor. Volkswagen decides to take the Beetle out of production and introduces a new model, The Volkswagen Golf. The Golf became from introduction a best-seller - something that Opel did not take sitting down. In acknowledgement of the Golf's technical advantage Opel made several modifications to its models. The base models of the Kadett C now has disk brakes. As from March 1975 all Kadetts are provided standard with steel reinforced radial tires.


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In May 1975 the Opel Kadett City was introduced - a small and maneuverable city car with a hatchback.


The rally specialist for all days

The competition with the golf is very strong. However, in 1975, the golf GTI is introduced - a fast version of Volkswagen golf. In answer to this Opel introduce, at the Frankfurt motor show in 1975, the Opel Kadett C GT/E,  A Kadett Coupé fitted with a powerful  injection engine of 1.9 liters (and we know all that these Kadett were faster and are then the golf GTI). The slogan Opel used for this fast Kadett was 'The rally specialist for all days.'




The Kadett GT/E was also used as a successor to the Ascona SR in rally sport. The road version of the GT/E was a close cousin of the race version of the GT/E. The sports regulations stated that a minimum 1000 cars had to be produced for an approval in group 2 and minimum 5000cars for an approval in group 1.  By the end of 1975 it has already satisfied group 1 rules.

The sporting Kadett driver could for the sum of Fl. 3200, - more than a standard coupé buy a GT/E. The car came in the two color version of black under yellow - known as the war colors. Opel also used these colors in motor sport. If the customer wanted however other colors could be also provided. Included in the price was, up rated anti-roll bars, H4 halogen head lamps, Bilstein gas shock absorbers,  5.5 inch sports wheels. Extra cost extras included a 5 speed close ratio gearbox and a limited slip differential.

The heart of the GT/E is of course the 105hp 1.9 litre injection engine. This was a large hp for such a small car of that time. With the weight of the GT/E, 910kg, this gave a ratio of 8.7 kilo per hp (115.5 hp per metric ton). In addition to the many horsepower there was an excellent gearbox and clear instrumentation. Disadvantages were the hard shock absorbers and poor rear quarter and rear visibility, not helped by the absence of a rear wiper.


Continuation on succes

In 1977, at the Frankfurt motor show a new version of the GT/E was unveiled, which internally at Opel called Opel GT/E2. The designers of this car have made a wolf in sheep's clothing. The appearance is the GT/E what softer with among other things the new yellow/white paint finish. Under the bonnet there have however been a few changes. The 2 liters injection engine of the Opel Rekord has been installed giving 115hp. This gives the Kadett a sub 9 second 0 to 100km/hr.  The GT/E is intended as a car for rally sport for a fast street car there is the Opel Kadett Rallye.




These Kadetts are still provided with either an injection engine (all though only 110hp) or with a less powerful 2 liters or 1.6 liter carburetor motor (from the Opel Manta A). These Rallye Kadetts also came with the necessary sports accessories, such as harder shock absorbers, spoilers and 5.5J or 6J wide sport rims.

Introduction of the 1.6 engines

After the Motor Show in 1977, the1.6S engine became available in all Kadett models and not just the Rallye. The cost of this option was FL. 1300. This was influenced by the fact that the competitors also had larger capacity alternatives for their cars. The models with 1.2 remained in production.

model explosion                

In total, since the introduction of the kadett C in 1973 already 18 different variants were on the market. The range runs from the cheapest, the city J (junior), to the most expensive kadett, the GT/E. In1976 there was also the aero, a half-cabriolet based on the saloon.


aero c1 lichtblauw 3


Unfortunately  the Aero is not a succes. In 1979 production of the kadett C comes to an end because of the introduction of the kadett D. However, some of the last kadett C's were not sold until 1980. Nowadays the Opel kadett C is often referred to as 'The last real Kadett'.