Opel and American V8

Reading the diverse and numerous comments on the Internet, I come to the conclusion that Opel today does not have an bright image and reputation

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Reading the diverse and numerous comments on the Internet, I come to the conclusion that Opel today does not have an overly bright image and reputation among European customers. Some still swear by it, as it provides the most in the so-called "working class", especially if you look at what you get for the money invested, while others believe that "Ford exists so that Opel would not be the worst car".

But if we open history books, we can find a large number of legendary models, such as Kadett, Manta, GT, Ascona and many others...

Despite the fact that many blame the Yankees, more specifically General Motors, for Opel's move from splendor to despair, it should be said that the German brand, thanks to its rich owner, was also able to experiment with various models and produce them only for the sake of image.

Most competitors could not enjoy such luxury, especially during the post-war years when the average customer could barely afford a Volkswagen "Beetle" or a Citroen 2CV . In this issue of curiosity of the day, we will pay attention to the Opel trio of premium cars which, thanks to the connection with General Motors, were powered by powerful V8 engines, at a time when even significantly bigger names could not afford such a luxury.

Opel was founded in 1863 as a factory for the production of sewing machines, and in 1887 they expanded their business to bicycles. The first car arrived eleven years later, but the business will explode only in the period after the First World War.

Cheap city cars were responsible for something like that, although the offer was based on those in the six- and eight-cylinder configuration. This attracted the attention of General Motors, which in 1928 overtook Ford and became the largest American manufacturer, and then wanted to expand its business to Europe.

During 1931, Opel officially became part of the American company, but with the arrival of the Nazis in power, they slowly began to lose influence in the company. It was not recaptured until 1948, and just five years later, Opel again delivered over 100,000 vehicles a year.

While the majority of the mentioned figures were cheap copies, the German vehicle manufacturer was also active in the category of larger and more expensive vehicles. For example, the Captain model has been in production since 1938 and has always provided a desirable combination of likable style, premium equipment and a relatively powerful six-cylinder engine.

In the late 1950s, when the German economy was growing at a rapid pace, and when customers began to demand cars that were more than a cheap means of transportation, Opel approved trilling of sedans under the KAD label. She was actually an abbreviation for Captain, Admiral and Diplomat.

As we mentioned, the Captain was already in series production, the Admiral borrowed the name from a pre-war model that was produced for only three years (1937 to 1939) while the Diplomat was brand new.

For starters, Opel has provided a completely new platform with a wheelbase of 2,845 millimeters. With a length of approximately five meters, and a weight that exceeded 1.6 tons, the cars from the KAD family were larger and heavier than most Mercedes, BMW's, and even Jaguars from that period. The design was dominated by chrome and resembled large American limousines in many characteristics.

This fact is not so surprising when it is known that a large number of Opel were designed in the vicinity of Detroit until the seventies of the last century. If we look at Opel videos during development, we can see how luxurious and special the competitors from the KAD series were for their period.

Leather seats, seats and push-button windows and automatic transmission are just some of the features that no other Opel could boast of, and for some reason the German giant has paid a lot of attention to the story, and how many ashtrays are in the vehicle, and how not to spread the smell of nicotine even when you leave cigarette butts, or even when you don't clean the pixel.

Of course, the detail that attracted the most attention was the one under the hood. The captain had previously offered six-cylinder petrol's, so the offer of those with a volume of 2.6 and 2.8 liters was expected. But Opel shocked the public when it included Chevrolet's 4.6-liter V8 engine with 190 horsepower.

It is unknown when the decision was made to install the famous "Small Block", but we will mention that Chevrolet engines in the period were at the epicenter of attention in terms of performance, power, reliability and ease of tuning. Along with the eight-cylinder engine, which Opel apparently thought would enhance the image of the entire company, the Captain also got a two-speed automatic transmission, making it one of the few cars in Europe with such an option. According to the sources available in the mentioned period, the maximum speed was around 200 km / h with acceleration from standstill to 100 km / h in less than 11 seconds.

A year after the Captain, the Admiral was given the option of owning an eight-cylinder engine, while he was part of the standard equipment at the Diplomat. But just two years later (1966), Opel got a new leader in terms of image, when the Diplomat debuted with an even more powerful 5.4-liter engine with 227 horsepower. It also drew its origins from Chevrolet, and was once considered the fastest sedan in the world (at least until the new Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3 arrived).

While all cars from the KAD mini range were only available as sedans, Opel contacted the famous Karmann house in 1965 and demanded that the Diplomat be converted into a two-door model, leaving a period of six months. Unlike the limousine, which cost 17,500 German marks, the coupe required as much as 7,500 marks more, so no one was surprised that production stopped at only 304 units (some sources say that 347 units were actually produced).

Between 1964 and 1968, Opel sold 89,277 KAD series cars. The Admiral proved to be the most popular with 55,876 satisfied customers, followed by the Captain with 24,249 units, while the sales of the Diplomat amounted to 9,152 vehicles.

Although customers were impressed with how the German giant managed to make three very different products from one, by the late 1960s it became clear that Opel could not afford to nurture so many models just for the sake of image.

The captain was refreshed in 1969 with only a six-cylinder engine and shut down a year later, while the Admiral and Diplomat continued to succeed until 1977. It should also be mentioned that Diplomat B was actually a Cadillac rejected from the American market.

In the eight years of production of the second generation, only 61,559 copies were delivered, mainly due to the oil crisis that accompanied the automotive industry during the seventies.

It was also Opel's last attempt with V8 engines as the successor Senator concentrated only on those six-cylinder thermal units. But, that does not mean that there were no attempts, especially in the form of a prototype of the Omega model with a V8 engine.

Source - Auto Republika

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