Classic Road Test: 1979 Opel Kadett LS

Renowned motoring writer Archie Vicar takes a short look at Opel’s new entrant in the small family car market and wonders whether it will affect prospects of Vauxhall’s eerily similar Astra.

This article first appeared in Modern Motorism Magazine, December 3 1979. Due to the poor quality of the the copied images, stock pictures have been used. The original photos were by Douglas Lan-Dwinderere (sic).

Pity the poor chaps at Vauxhall! Not just generally, mind, for their lot is not a happy one, but in particular since Opel have decided to launch a car right in the middle of the heart of Vauxhall’s best lump of the market. Bad luck, as the Opel shows how Vauxhall should be doing it. First, the appearance of both cars and at the same time the similarity of the models shows muddled thinking at General Motors who own both Opel and Vauxhall.

The Opel has a 1293 cc four cylinder engine, which also trumps Vauxhall’s own Chevette for a few hundred quid less. The Kadett in middle tune produces not much less power than the 3 door Berlina I tested in the west of Germany earlier this year. Lively and responsive, sums it up. The Astra on the other hand (available in the Spring!) is slow and tired and the Chevette feels its age, with just 57 bhp to show for itself.

1980 Opel Kadett three door: source

Talbot and Volvo drivers will be beside themselves when they sample the Opel’s jolly gearchange, predictable road manners and faithful tiller. Vauxhall drivers will be going down to their dealer to demand a refund!

Drivers will particularly appreciate the excellent ventilation (Aston Martin, take note!) and the seats which kept my vertebræ in place from Dusseldorf to Graz. However, even if the engine note strikes a rorty pose, the noise levels were so loud as to make hearing my pipe’s contents combust all but impossible.

The manual choke will provide many hours of entertainment for unfamiliar drivers – if you overdo it you can be assured of amusing clunks and chattering; underdo it and you may very well as give up any hopes of forward motion. Best go for models with the automatic choke but it’s not so much fun as it all runs like a clock.

Overall, Opel have scored a decisive goal over their Vauxhall sister: the Kadett serves up pleasurable and, indeed, comfortable motoring for a modest sum and stands above many of its peers such as the Colt 1400 GLX, Volkswagen Golf LS and the worthy but rather mundane Talbot Horizon 1.3 LS 5-door which also costs appreciably more of your hard-earned though the snappper, Land-Windermere says the rear view is not that good for photography.

A passenger sun-visor will be standard for UK and N. Ireland sales.

Author: richard herriott

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

4 thoughts on “Classic Road Test: 1979 Opel Kadett LS”

  1. I remember quite well the presentation of this Kadett which made the Golf Mk1 look much better than it really was.

  2. My father ordered a brandnew Kadett D 1.3N in 1979 and had to wait some months because of the high number of orders for this new Opel with the new engine. Everything was new in this Opel, frontwheeldrive, plastic bumpers, the new OHC engine, huge tailgate etc. Everything but the choke.
    My father was a loyal Ford-Driver, and the decision against the Ford Taunus was not easy, but the Kadett was the far more modern and frugal car.

    I as a young boy always loved the roomy and warm interior.

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