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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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