Spice of Life

The Opel Kadett B was resolutely unexceptional, except in one respect.

Opel Kadett B Kiemencoupé. Image: Favcars

The development of flexible modular platforms and standardised component sets has enabled automakers to spin off a wide variety of models from the same basic architecture. This allows them economically to target market niches where projected sales would make unique stand-alone models entirely unviable. For example, the Cupra Formentor would probably not have been signed off for production if it were not for the existence of volume sellers such as the Škoda Karoq, with which it shares a great deal under the skin.

In similar vein, Opel / Vauxhall’s Stellantis-era models are based on existing Peugeot / Citroën architectures, which has allowed them to be developed for production in a remarkably short time. Whether this widespread commonality is conducive to providing genuine choice for drivers is a moot point, but it is certainly here to stay and is likely to become even more widespread as we move fully into the EV era.

More than half a century ago, however, Opel produced a single model that was available in a bewildering variety of different variants, each one having unique bodywork. That model was the Kadett B, an otherwise wholly unremarkable car.

Opel Kadett B Limousine four-door saloon. Image: honestjohn.co.uk

The Kadett B was Opel’s small family car. It was launched at the Frankfurt motor show in the autumn of 1965. The Kadett B was a conventional front-engined rear-wheel-drive car with a wheelbase of 2,416mm (95”) and overall length of between 4,100mm and 4,182mm (161½” and 164¾”) depending on bodystyle. It was powered by an OHV inline four-cylinder engine, initially with a capacity of 1,078cc(1) and available in standard 44bhp (33kW) and high-compression 54bhp (40kW) forms. A four-speed gearbox and live rear axle completed the drivetrain. The suspension used a transverse leaf spring at the front and longitudinal semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Brakes were drums all round.

Opel Kadett B Caravan three-door. Image: carscoops.com

The styling of the Kadett B was considered somewhat dowdy compared to its neat and linear predecessor. Its deep, unadorned sides and shallow DLO, with just a hint of a curve in the waistline(2), was perhaps just too plain and functional, even if it allowed for a roomy interior. The arrival in September 1966 of its flashier English cousin, the Viva HB, with its fashionable GM-influenced coke-bottle waistline and shallower front and rear ends, did the poor Kadett no favours, making it immediately look somewhat outdated.

However, Opel had played a trump card in the sheer variety of bodystyles offered by the Kadett B. It was available as a two and four-door three-box Limousine saloon, a two and four-door Fastback saloon, a three and five-door Caravan estate and a two-door Coupé. That’s seven different bodystyles so far, and we’re not yet done.

Not (quite) a coupé: Opel Kadett B Fastback four-door. Image: wheelsage.org

The Fastback saloons were identical to the Limousine as far back as the B-pillar. Behind this, the two-door had a differently profiled rear side window, while the four-door had a different rear door with a rounded trailing edge to the quarter-light. The Fastback’s wider C-pillar swept down in a smooth concave arc to the tail of the car, raising the leading edge of the boot lid and (slightly) increasing luggage capacity. The Fastback’s rain gutter followed the rear side window or door window frame down to the waistline rather than continuing horizontally across the C-pillar to meet the top of the rear windscreen, as on the Limousine.

The combination of these changes gave the Fastback versions a sleeker profile, but we are talking in strictly relative terms here: it was pleasant, but certainly no radiant beauty. That said, Opel might well lay claim to have invented the currently highly popular four-door coupé with the Fastback variant of the Kadett B(3).

The Coupé had an upswept lower edge to the rear side window, the trailing corner of which aligned with and almost touched the upper corner of the curved rear windscreen. Behind the rear side window, three fake grilles were pressed into the broad triangular C-pillar. This feature was responsible for the car’s soubriquet, the Kiemencoupé, which translates as ‘gills coupé’. The American-influenced style of the DLO was similar to that of the 1964 Plymouth Barracuda.

Opel Kadett B Coupé F. Image: clasicosenescala.blogspot.com/

For some strange reason, Opel decided almost immediately either that the Coupé’s styling was outdated, or that the restricted vision from the rear seats was off-putting to potential buyers, so the company designed a second coupé with a longer C-shaped rear side window and flatter rear windscreen. This model was launched in 1967 and was known as the Coupé F. Its side window treatment predated and predicted that of the 1969 Ford Capri Mk1. The Coupé F was produced alongside the original Coupé in higher-trim LS form for four years before replacing it completely in the Kadett B range.

Opel Kadett B Bodystyles. Image: Frank Welches

Notwithstanding its staid looks and rather rudimentary mechanicals, which bestowed equally rudimentary ride and handling characteristics according to contemporary road tests, the Kadett B was a strong seller for Opel and remained on the market for eight years, during which time a total of 2,691,300 found buyers. It enjoyed a reputation as a roomy and reliable family car and became the best-selling Opel to date.

In addition to the eight concurrent passenger versions of the Kadett B, there was also a two-door pick-up with an open rear deck. That makes a total of nine different bodystyles. I’ll stick my neck out and assert that no other European mass-production car has been concurrently offered in so many different bodystyles during my lifetime, which is sixty or so years, since you ask.

Unless you know differently, of course…


(1) Smaller and larger capacity variants of the OHV engine would be offered later, as would Opel’s larger CIH (cam-in-head) units.

(2) Oddly, the three-door estate version had a straight, horizontal waistline, unlike any of the others.

(3) I’m sure automakers have made more implausible claims than this one.

Author: Daniel O'Callaghan

Shut-line obsessive...Hates rudeness, loves biscuits.

52 thoughts on “Spice of Life”

  1. Daniel, stretching it a bit but don’t forget the Olympia, a posh Kadett B variant with a different grille. Which came in fastback, coupé and CarAVan permutations.

    1. Was there never a panel van version of the Kadett B?

      Perhaps German televisions and washing machines never broke down, even in the 1960s…

    2. Hi Robert. I think allowing the GT would be stretching things too far.

      When I wrote the piece, I found no reference to a panel van, but look what I’ve just turned up:

      Only two photos of a single example, but one swallow does make a summer in this case, so that’s ten variants of the Kadett B in total, assuming it’s not an aftermarket conversion, of course.

    3. Opel made panel van versions of most of their CarAVans at that time but these were not regularly sold in their home country.
      If you want a panel van Rekord you’d have to go to (of all things) Switzerland.
      In Germany people in need of a panel van bought a VW bus.
      In other countries a large source of market demand for panel vans is the national post office – remember all those 205 XADs with ‘La Poste’ lettering? German Bundespost used VW buses and bought 15,000 of them every year or they used specially converted Golfs made in large numbers or even the Fridolin.

  2. Not exactly a whole new bodystyle but a luxury version with subtly different sheet metal (front wings): Opel Olympia, a Kadett B Fastback with the large CIH engine and the ultimate sign of luxury, a standard vinyl roof.

    The Kadett B alone did more harm to Opel’s image than everything else combined. In next to no time after its appearance on the market it became THE dream car for German philistines – and believe me, at that time German philistines were what they were meant to be. A Kadett B with a parcel shelf decorated with either a toilet roll with knit cover, a pillow with embroidery in form of the registration number or a plastic dachshund with movable head and blinking eyes was a true dream – or a nightmare if you had one in front of you.

    One day on Carnival’s monday in the late Seventies we were working on a friend’s DS to replace a driveshaft tripod in the workshop of someone we knew. At minus ten Centigrades in thick snow the workshop owner and two of his mates were standing in the open, drinking some bock beer and smoking cigarettes. One of the guys had a Kadett B and the workshop owner was swinging his steel toe shoe in front of the Kadett’s grille as if he wanted to kick it. “You dare – coward – you won’t – oh he did it (and with full force)!” They were nearly dying of laughter – the miracle effect of one beer too many in the early morning… The leg was stuck in the grille nearly up to the knee and when he pulled it out there was a gurgling sound and coolant was running away under the car from the kicked in radiator. Like every proper workshop owner he had lots of used Kadett spare parts and a new radiator was found in minutes and fitted half an hour later by us because our alcohol level was sufficiently low (zero) for the work.

  3. When I was a child in the Netherlands, every second car was a Kadett (the first one was a Volkswagen), al least so it seemed to me. I never liked the dull design of the Kadett, but after all these years I must admit that it was in a way beautiful in its ugliness. However, I wonder if design was an issue for Opel at all during that era. Except for some Coupé models it has no subtlety or refinement, it’s just a very plain and functional car. It looks like direct copy of a Chevrolet in a smaller size.

  4. I can confirm the observation of Zacharias; the Opel Kadett was the best selling car in The Netherlands for years on end and represented the quintessential car for the Dutch “average Joe”. Plainly styled, technically unadventurous and no better than average at anything but at the same time cheap(ish), roomy enough and reliable it was just what so many people wanted.

    In regard to the record amount of nine different bodystyles, I think Eòin is right- the one European car that comes closest that I can think of was the original SAAB 900:

    – 2 door sedan
    – 4 door sedan
    – 4 door sedan with extended wheelbase (CD/Finlandia)
    – 3 door coupé
    – 5 door hatchback
    – Convertible

    And arguably for at least half a point the 90 2 door sedan.

    1. Back in the day Opel was the bestselling car by far, for over 30 consecutive years, mainly because of the Kadett. At the top of its popularity over 1 out of 10 cars sold was a Kadett. All Opel model combined had a marketshare below 5% in 2021. In the 90’s this scenario was simply unthinkable.

      I think the popularity of the Kadett was due to a number of factors: the base price was low while residuals were high, it had decent reliability and there was a complete range of engines and body styles. Yet the car had a terrible image.

  5. It´s a bit unfair that successfully meeting the needs of a lot of customers with a well-priced and adqequate (in the Rolls-Royce/philosophy sense) turned out to be bad for Opel´s image. VW have sold gazillions of Golfs and Ford a lot of Escorts without getting tarred with the brush of selling what people want.
    I think product variety has switched to the softer parts of the car and the software: one bodystyle with a bewildering number of software options and maybe trim variations (other than colour, of course). I would suppose that the features of each of Opel´s Kadetts were much the same regardless of body style.
    From a styling point of view, the Kadett´s not worse than a Golf Mk 2 or an Escort Mk3. Opel seems to attract criticism for some deeper reason. Being satirical, if an Opel could cure male-pattern baldness people would find a reason to hate it for that.

    1. Good morning Richard. Growing up in Ireland half a century ago, I perceived Opel to be half a step above Ford, BMC and Vauxhall. Perhaps it was its Germanic origins that coloured my opinion? The question is, was it a general perception, or just me?

    2. The Kadett was meant to be a Beetle killer, something it certainly wasn’t but it opened a new market niche which certianly isn’t a bad thing and it was much more successful than the similar early Escort.
      The Kadett also had an important role because its Bochum factory contributed to cushioning the first signs of structural change in Ruhrgebiet where tthe first coal mines or coking plants were about to close and Opel provided more than four thousend jobs – British coal miners got Neil Kinnock, German ones got the Kadett factory.
      Its sales success in the Sixties says more about German society than about the car itself and that’s what I meant with my reference to German philistines.

      The VWs you mentioned arrived ten years later and brought something to the buying public that had been completely missing from German mass products up to then, driving fun. A Golf Mk1 with unashamedly hedonistic 70 PS was something unthinkable as a German mass product up to then – there even was a press campaign against it because ever nannying German press declared it reckless to provide so much power to everybody.

    3. I have two parallel attitudes to the “philistines” who are still with us. One is that I don´t personally care for that lower-than-middle-brow attitude but also I am not bothered by most of their consumer choices. Part of me cheers the harmless expressions of vernacular life.
      About Opel´s image: I didn´t credit Opel with any special status as I grew up. The way I see them now is derived from retrospective studies of their pre 80s designs (the Senator, the Kadetts and the first Asconas) which are blended in my mind with jolly nostalgia and Alpine scenes. I have swallowed the marketing message but 50 years too late. I still see Opel as a brand providing a good quality for a decent price and the “mainstream” character is part of the appeal. I could not drive a Mercedes but I could happily waft around in a loaded Insignia costing as much as some other Merc, Audi or BMW.

    4. I’n not sure people’d entirely hate Opel’s cure for baldness, but I am pretty sure that it would suddenly become a bit gauche to have a full head of hair as a man – up to ‘fashionable’ hair salons offering to cut your hair in a male pattern baldness cut.

      I share my countrymen’s impressions of the Dutch popularity of Opel. Even abroad Opel’s image has been akin to overcooked vegetables somehow, when Ford had long been much more prosaic about its designs being ruthlessly cost-efficient.

    5. I can already imagine an advertising campaign for such a hairshop showing Kurosawa-style haircut and katana and the line ‘Samurais don’t drive Opels’

    6. You can read this very sloppily indexed document about Opel marketing the “unpark your head” campaign:file:///C:/Users/rhe/Downloads/OPEL-with-cover-page-v2.pdf
      and this more tangential item:
      Mamet, P. (2010). Changing patterns of Opel branding policy–a linguistic analysis. Linguistica Silesiana, 181-192.
      and maybe this:
      Saxena, R. P. (2000). Owners of premium cars and their satisfaction level: An empirical investigation. Paradigm, 4(1), 99-110.

    7. Dave – Neil Kinnock was a 20 year old student when the Bochum factory opened in 1962.

  6. The Mk.2 Astra/Kadett E had eight:
    3-door hatchback
    5-door hatchback
    4-door saloon
    2-door estate
    4-door estate
    estate based van (Astravan)
    high roof van (Astramax/Combi)

    While the HB Viva itself only had three bodies, it lived on as the Holden Torana (HB, LC, LJ & TA), receiving a major restyle of the DLO and back end LC onwards as well as an extended nose for the 6 cylinder options and later, in South Korea as the Saehan Camina, a 4 door estate was added.
    In Uruguay fibreglass bodied versins were made by Grumett in some really odd variants, including Viva HB and Kadett B outline combinations, but they are really so different as not to count as either!

    1. Well done, Bernard. The Kadett E runs the B a close second.

      Thanks also for alerting us to the Viva HB variations. The Holden Torana LC looks weirdly similar to the Datsun 120Y Sunny:

    2. Audi 80 B1 was sold as:
      – Audi 80 two door saloon
      – Audi 80 four door saloon
      – VW Passat Mk1 two door fastback
      – VW Passat Mk1 four door fastback
      – VW Passat Mk1 two door hatchback
      – VW Passat Mk1 four door hatchback
      – VW Passat/Audi 4000 estate

    3. The longer nose on the six cylinder versions left enough room for a 300+ bhp, 3.3 litre, 202 c.i., triple Webered motor which beat all the Falcon V8s to win the great Bathurst race.

    1. Hi Rubens. The Chevrolet Chevette was actually based on GM’s T-platform, which underpinned the Kadett C, successor to the car above.

    2. And that final RWD generation T-Car was available as;

      2-door sedan
      4-door sedan
      Fastback coupe
      Targa-style convertible (rare)
      3-door wagon
      3-door hatchback
      5-door hatchback*
      Fully integral pickup
      Semi-body on frame pickup*

      * These two had longer wheelbases than the rest. I’m not sure if it’s the same one but the 5-door was US/Canada only and the long pickup made only in Korea so they were likely developed completely independently.

  7. I was incredibly close to buying a Kadett Rallye back in the early 2000s since i really wanted a cheap and fun little vintage car, but went for a mini 1000 instead.

    They were quite popular over here in Norway, so the Rallye’s were rather cheap and readily available back then, figured i could always pick one up later, as they were so plentifull.
    Now i cant even remember the last time i saw one…


    1. @dave
      yeah, thats actually pretty good for the time.
      they came in 1900 form as well with 90hp – i think that was the one i saw the most back then.

    2. A Rallye Kadett 1900 is a rare beast.
      It arrived after they phased out the 1,100 cc/60 PS engine and replaced it with 1,200/60 PS because of the then new emissions regulations. At that point they introduced the big CIH in the regular Kadett making it a spiritual predecessor to the later GT/E.
      Here’s a view of the Rallye’s dashboard – and they wonder why people were making silly jokes about Opels when they mark a range of red danger in the speedo starting at 100 kph (this was before the introduction of the general speed limit on B-roads).

  8. I can think of a few other remarkable things about the Kadett B – the complete redesign of the rear suspension after two years, the retention of unfashionable front transverse leaf springing, and an engine developed in parallel with a Vauxhall unit which was virtually identical in size an configuration, yet had only one interchangeable component – the pressed steel rocker arms.

    Not directly relevant, but equally remarkable, is that the Kadett A had a production life of only 33 months, and its successor was far larger; 91mm longer wheelbase, 177mm longer overall, and 103mm wider. Without doubt the 1962 Kadett had been designed to compete with cars like the DKW Junior, Lloyd Arabella and BMW 700, and the Wirtschaftswunder had raised German customers’ ambitions, but it seems remiss that the two could not have continued in parallel, with the bigger car given a name suggesting a more aspirational rank.

  9. I have already posted enough stupid texts here, so it almost doesn’t matter if I post another one: The first person to put a wiggly dachshund on the hat rack should have been quietly removed from circulation by Opel’s advertising department in classic secret service fashion. Just like the first one to use a crocheted toilet roll.

    The two Coupes are simply a dream.
    Plain and simple. Almost elegant. Not ostentatious.

    When I started my automotive life, these vehicles were (unfortunately) not affordable for me. And later, when the budget would have allowed it, there were influences (the wrong pop idols or having been south of the Alps too often) that made me look at other vehicles.

    1. Hi Fred. I really like the Kiemencoupé, but the Coupé F looks a bit heavy in its rear quarters. I think that the two-door Fastback actually makes a nicer looking coupé than the Coupé F:

  10. Wasn’t Lee Iacocca weirdly proud of overturning one of these? I seem to recall a picture of him grinning with a cigar in hand next to the car he’d just crashed.

    They are a bit dorky-looking, to me, as they seem to be a bit tall and narrow. Nevertheless, I quite like them for their straightforward nature (Dave’s post made me laugh, though). If I recall correctly, I think I saw a lot of these in Sweden, in the ‘70s.

    Like Daniel, I always considered Opel to be a bit exotic and a cut above Vauxhall. I think that was largely due to models like the Manta. I wasn’t keen on Vauxhall’s ‘droop-snoot’ styling at the time, preferring the more traditional approach which Opel took.

    Here’s a somewhat low-key report from the IAA in 1965.

    1. The best part is the interview with Opel’s number two development supremo .
      Q: “Why did the new Kadett have to become larger than the old one? Why do we make small cars larger? Shouldn’t we make large cars smaller?”
      A: “We are convinced that the new Kadett will be as successful as the old one. We hope whe have to expand production capacity one day.”
      This man should have become a politician…

  11. Isaac Asimov commented about the mathematical paradox of “the least interesting Number”.

    By fact of being something as unique as the least interesting number becames…interesting, so the second least interesting number is now the new least interesting, and therefore…interesting also.

    So there is not such a thing as the least interesting number. All numbers are interesting, and if you do not find so it is your problem.

    The same goes with cars: Uninteresting cars are interesting by the fact that they are uninteresting. Who designed and approved the production of uninteresting cars? Who bought them? Highly interesting questions…

    And the fascinating paradox that interesting cars (Citröen Traction Avant, the original Mini…) often help to go broke the companies that produce them, while (lets say) Ford England made healthy profits selling what the market demanded: Dull, boring, uninteresting cars. This is also very interesting.

    Is like bad cars. They are very interesting and “good” (in some sense) because they allow you to appreciate good cars.

    The mediocrity of this Kadett reminds me the much maligned Ford Scort Mk V (1990-97) a car so uninteresting that becames…interesting.

    1. I think you’re right and you’ve expressed one of the main reasons for my interest in the automotive sector. ‘Everyday’ cars like the Kadett are extremely important, both to the people who use them as part of their daily lives and to the people selling them and it’s one of the reasons I find them fascinating – more so than money-no-object, track-use supercars.

      Developing such vehicles is difficult and involves innumerable compromises – one can learn a lot (and get a lot of entertainment) from understanding how and why such choices are made. These sorts of vehicles are never easy to develop – if it’s a tremendous success, how does one replace it? Equally, if it’s a disaster, how does one start again?

    2. Very very well said Spanish reader.
      Loved the mathematical model of thinking.
      I realized that this is also my way of thinking, and I so much agree with Charles in finding common cars, successful or disastrous for their makers, so interesting.
      I drive such a car, a very very utilitarian and not so comfortable to ride Subaru Justy. I find myself always trying to find its merits and it is only after some time that someone really gets accustomed to the manufacturer’s real intentions.
      Note that this car sold like crazy where I live some 30 years ago or more. A friend of mine, whose aunt was the official importer of Subaru, said that it was this model that saved the local company from bankruptcy.
      I now know why!

    3. Spanish Reader and Charles: yes, agreed. To make a Ford Fiesta (uninteresting to some) involves intense amounts of intelligence and discernment so a safe, comfortable, reliable and nice looking device can be sold at an affordable price e.g the 2002 Fiesta. The pity is that such cars don´t get preserved because their competence and widespread availability means they are not deemed interesting. This is the likely end of the quite brilliant but superficially uninteresting 406 I own whereas the pretty but probably stupid XM I have will soldier on.
      So, a challenge to myself – why am I not able to focus my mind on today´s uninteresting cars? I can´t name one other than the Renault Kadjar or BMW 2-series hatchback. There are loads of others whose names elude me.

    4. Hello Richard – I think the sheer volume of models on the market and the rapidity with which they’re replaced makes it very hard to keep up.

      Also, and I’m probably being a bit unfair when I say this, but I don’t get the impression that it’s as hard to develop cars these days – manufacturers can just do it by numbers, partly due to platform sharing and partly due to advances in production technology. Funnily enough, the Kadett B might be an early example of this, with its numerous body styles – we can do them, so what the heck, let’s see what sells.

      I think cheap electronics play their part, too. Whereas once features in cars were hard won, now if one has a screen, one can dump all sorts of functionality there. Cars used to be mundane, and plain and were therefore ‘accessible’ if that’s the right word (even if some had virtues that took a while to shine through). Cars are less ‘transparent’, now, as there’s much more to them; they’re also more similar to each other, too.

      On a more positive note, I think we’ve reached ‘peak model saturation’ – the Volkswagen Group, for instance, has said that it’s going to trim its ranges quite substantially. For manufacturers to survive, they’re going to have to start differentiating themselves, again – there isn’t so much room in the market for ‘me too’ products, now.

    5. “On a more positive note, I think we’ve reached ‘peak model saturation’ – the Volkswagen Group, for instance, has said that it’s going to trim its ranges quite substantially.” Does this mean a return to the median ormat, which is something like a Golf or ID3? I had a look at VW UK and I imagined trying to pick things to remove. It seems like an abritary choice but I guess a big Excel spreadsheet would reveal the bald fact of biggest and smallest profits. I can´t tell visually what´s useless. I notice the Passat saloon is off the menu and there´s a thing called the Taigo which nobody told me about. In Germany they call the Golf the Golf. In the UK market it´s Golf 8 (as if Golf 9 is due in a year). It´s very pointy, isn´t it? Critics sneered at the Arteon -it´s spawned an estate which is an GBP8000 step up from the Passat estate.
      The Jetta is living a quiet retirement in China.

    6. Hello all. I think that there’s a world of difference between uninteresting and bad. This is something with which I grapple when choosing subjects to write about for DTW.

      The 1990 Escort Mk5 was deeply interesting because of the cynicism of its engineering. That made it enjoyable to research and write about. Conversely, the Toyota Corolla (pretty much every one of them) is deeply uninteresting because it is so consistently and conservatively well engineered, so is entirely predictable and unsurprising. That doesn’t mean it’s not entirely fit for purpose, if purpose is solely to provide reliable, comfortable and economical transport. As a subject for DTW, however, not so much.

  12. The Kadett B does look pretty dull compared to the Viva HB, would it have been better for both Opel and Vauxhall not to have drifted away from each other after the Kadett A and Viva HA before coming together with the T-Car?

    Based on what Holden achieved with the Viva HB-based Torana particularly the LC, some form of early Viva HB-based model with a 100-inch wheelbase would have probably been a better starting point for the Opel Olympia than the Kadett B.

  13. Mervyn is correct that it was Bob Lutz who rolled the Kadett, demonstrating it would do so in a forward J-turn test at 50 mph at the Opel proving ground in Dudenhofen in front of all the engineers and managers.

    I’ve had a think and the most number of body styles on an Australian car would be 8 for the VY & VZ Commodore ranges; long and short wheelbase sedans, wagon, 2 coupes (the AWD HSV Coupe4 had off-line alterations to the bodyshell), traditional coupe utility, single and double cab pick-ups (One Tonne & Crewman). In addition there were raised AWD versions of three of them (wagon & pick-ups) that likely had tweaks to the underbody, if that counts?

    Behind that would be the XA and XB mid-70s Falcon on 7; 3 different wheelbase sedans, wagon, 2 coupes, ute and panel van.

    1. Had Iacocca done it it would’ve been to prove the opposite point – the superiority of Ford’s then-new RWD Escort, rather than the fact Opel needed to step up their suspension game. But Lutz is a car guy and has shown appreciation of all types of car throughout his career while Iacocca’s true love was the fluffy Brougham type; he was a salesman first and foremost and, however many engineering words were put in his mouth in the early K-Car ads, his favorite automotive features were always the ones that were cheap to build in but could be charged handsomely for as options.

  14. “The longer nose on the six cylinder versions left enough room for a 300+ bhp, 3.3 litre, 202 c.i., triple Webered motor which beat all the Falcon V8s to win the great Bathurst race.”

    True. That was the LJ Torana GTR XU-1. It occurred once only. It was in 1972. The rest of the decade was dominated by V-8 power. The Ford Falcons powered by the mighty 351 Cleveland won in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974 & 1977. The 1975, 1976, 1978 & 1979 races were won by Holden Toranas but these were a much different car from the earlier LJ. These newer Toranas were larger and all of the race cars were fitted with the Holden 308cid V-8. The six was still available to the public but not deployed in front-line racing with the new body.

    There was a plan to fit the Holden 308 into the small LJ body. There was sufficient room for it. This car was known as XU-2. Some were built and tested. There is debate about how many existed and how many of the original factory build XU-2s survive. There are plenty of aftermarket clones around though.

    A corruption scandal in the Oz government resulted in senior political figures seeking a distraction to focus public opinion on something, anything, other than what those senior figures in the government had been up to. Fast cars were just the ticket. A media uproar was generated regarding car manufacturers building shockingly dangerous fast cars and selling them to a naïve public- a public destined to be killed in their droves by such murderous devices… It was all BS. Nevertheless, the opprobrium and threats heaped on the manufactures meant that XU-2 was cancelled. Several other models met the same fate. The effect on the Oz car industry was significant and permanent. The Great Race at Bathurst was also altered. Nothing in the Ozzie automotive realm was ever the same again. Funny how such a crude and obvious strategy of diversion and deflection works so well, even in the present time (look around you).

    The modest Opel is interesting and historically important. Who’d have thought it?

    1. It’s worth noting that the ‘Supercar Scare’ was in June, before the Bathurst 500 where Brock was helped by rain plus some errors by the Ford team. I’m too young to remember what the whole issue was a distraction from & can’t remember if I’ve read it before.

    1. I wonder if that was to be NZ market only, like the VC Commodore Four, or the 2.0 l six in the VL, or, for other markets like the efi 2.0 litre four in the VN?
      In it’s favour, the VC Four was the first Commodore fitted with a five speed gearbox, but the cut down 2/3s red six was a 58 kw slug in the Commodore body- worse still in the following VK where power was reduced to 54 kw and the extra gear was no help at all.( Although working on those engines was a breeze with all that room and the availability of cheap,super long radiator hoses was a big help for my Lancia Gamma.) A friend of mine said with the addition of the four, Holden had made the car ‘just another Torana’ and ‘not a real Holden’. He drove an HQ V8 at the time.

      To see just how much room in the engine bay…

  15. In terms of car models with a large amount of different bodystyles, some more digging provided a match for the Kadett B’s eight guises, namely the 1979-87 Toyota Corolla E70: 2d sedan, 4d sedan, 3d wagon, 5d wagon, 3d coupe, 3d Liftback coupe, 2d hardtop coupe (JDM only), and 3d Van.
    Another that matches the Kadett B’s score depending on how you look at it is the Fiat 128: 2d sedan, 4d sedan, 3d Familiare, 5d Rural (Argentina only), 2d coupe, 3d coupe, “Bakkie” Pick Up (South Africa only), and a contestable candidate in the Zastava 101 5d sedan.
    But, the absolute winner must be the 1929 Ford Model A with no less than fifteen different bodies:

    Granted, it is from a very different era when ordering your own coachwork was done quite often, but this chart shows variants that could be ordered directly from Ford Motor Company.

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