A Photo for Sunday: 1965-1973 Opel Kadett

A once invisible piece of streetscape, now rendered fascinating by age and rarity.

1963-1973 Opel Kadett
1963-1973 Opel Kadett

The most interesting thing about the 1965 Kadett is that it donated parts to the Opel GT. And even more interesting is the 1968 Opel GT was made in France by Brisonneau and Lotz in Creil. Eight versions of the Kadett could be had: four door saloon, two door saloon, two door fastback, four door fastback, a two and four door estate and two variants, one known in German as a Kiemencoupé and the other the LS coupé.

The Kadett has a fair amount in common with the themes of the Dipolmat/Kapitan/Admiral saloons (1964) and Rekord B but scaled down. It appears to have kicked off the series of Buick-inspired Opels which drew their inspiration from the 1963 Buick Riviera.

1963-1973 Opel Kadett
1963-1973 Opel Kadett

Making sense of the timing is the fact that the Rekord B was designed in the US and had stylistic links to the Chevy II. Presumably designers from the various studios were free to wander around and look at what each other were up to.

1963-1973 Opel Kadett - the script on the bootlid is charming.
1963-1973 Opel Kadett – the script on the bootlid is charming.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

16 thoughts on “A Photo for Sunday: 1965-1973 Opel Kadett”

  1. What a lavish range of bodystyles the Kadett B offered when compared to its Vauxhall Viva HB cousin. That car was introduced as just a 2 door saloon, after time joined by a 2 door estate, then, finally, a 4 door saloon. The Kadett however had this huge range of bodyshells. The 2 and 4 door ‘fastback’ variants of the saloon are particularly interesting. These didn’t have hatchbacks so offered nothing except variety. They are another contender for the proto 4 door coupe though.

  2. It wasn’t easy to create these variants using analogue methods of section drawings and wooden bucks. It makes the achievement all the more impressive. Imagine if they had had CAD at the time. Or has CAD not lived up to expectations?

  3. I’ve always felt that 60s German Fords and Opels looked more serious and more solid than their flashy Brit counterparts. When I was younger that counted against them in my book, but remembering the awful and sloppy HB Viva I learnt to drive in I appreciate them more now.

  4. If you like traditional design elements, the typical C-pillar-design of the Kiemencoupe can be found again at the very new Astra (and the Astra J Coupe too).

  5. I see what you mean Markus, but the detailing of that C pillar is a dreadful mess isn’t it? The whole car doen’t move Astra styling on for me. It’s a bit Focus meets Giulietta with a visit to Mercedes for some inappropriately oversculpted side creases

    1. It’s a bit faddy for the brand too. Opel might have a reputation for being staid, but to give them their due, they have carefully evolved the aero theme introduced by Wayne Cherry’s mark 2.

  6. I have come to expect this sort of thing now. Perhaps six or seven years ago it would have given me a cardiac arrest but right now I am inured to the chaotic collisions of shutlines and colour areas. It is due entirely to the way cars are drawn now. The designer sketches a car-like silhouette and then adds shapes to it and *then* has to work out how to get the shutlines to relate to the shapes. I imagine that the major panels have not the same freedom to move.
    Should I give up and accept this type of empty design or should I care again about it? Both positions seem unappealing.

    1. I find myself taking all this less personally than I used to. As a teenager, the first Capri’s bogus side vents actually made me angry. Things like this should (because they cost a lot of money to produce which ‘we’ end up paying for and because, somewhere, there must be better designers who’d appreciate the work) but, in reality, I don’t lose sleep any more. If I’d designed that C pillar I’d lose sleep though.

  7. Sociologically, these designs are the work of blokes in their late 30 and early 40 overseeing other guys in their mid-20s. Is the cultural failure one where the the managers are accepting this kind of design because they think its youthful and fresh? And the actual designers: are they offering this because they are asked to? “Do something wild and edgy, Craig. We are aiming for a less conservative audience…” And later, among his peers, Craig says “I did three themes for the Astra and they went with the one I knocked off before lunch, not the one I liked, that one that was all serious, like.”

  8. It’s true that when you look at a design, you can sometimes see how elegant it must have seemed to the designer. They remember the original sketches where the top of the rear window flowed round without interruption to become the base of the side glass. And I suppose they just bang on about how the production engineers ruined their design by pointing out that a 30 degree piece of sharp metal at the top end of the rear doors was a might impractical. And then they insisted on including an opening to the boot – and rear lamps for God’s sake! Crikey, these small-minded pedants really get in the way of true creativity don’t they?

  9. Coming back to the original topic and looking at all the body styles of the Kadett, obviously producing cars for every niche isn’t a 21st century phenomenon. I was astonished to learn that there was a 5-door estate for this generation Kadett. The Kadett C seems to have dropped this. I never understood the German obsession with 3-door estates. An estate is supposed to be practical, so why should it lack rear doors? Apparently, even the Kadett E had a 3-door estate as late as 1991. And the 1980 Escort was first only available as a 3-door estate and rear doors had to be added quickly afterwards. Can anyone explain this?

    1. That is because the three door estate was also available as a van (without rear side windows).
      No need for rear doors in a commercial vehicle…

  10. If you actually use an estate as a work vehicle, rather than family transport, then possibly a three door seems a bit more rugged and practical, with the option of putting people in the back on those rare occasions. But I agree that, generally, 2 and 3 door cars confound me rather.

    1. Ok, the work car is a point. Growing up with French cars, I can’t but agree to your last statement.

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