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History Opel Kadett A

Opel Kadett 1,0 N / 1,0 S
EngineIn-line four-cylinder
Displacement986 cm³
Bore * stroke72 * 61 mm
Main bearings3
Compression7,8/8,8 : 1
Cylinder headCast iron
Engine controlOHV (chain)
Mixture preparationSingle carburetor, downdraft carburetor, accelerator pump
Cooling systemFluid
LubricationPump, main flow filter
Torque72/72 Nm at 2200-3000 / 2800-3600 rpm
Power29/35 kW (40/48 HP)
Nominal rotation speed5000/5400 rpm
Power drive designFront engine with rear-wheel drive
TransmissionFour-speed with floor-mounted shifter
Axle driveHypoid gearing
Wheelbase2325 mm
Suspension frontTransverse arms, transverse leaf spring, telescopic shock absorbers
Suspension rearRigidaxle, leaf springs, central joint, telescopic shock absorbers
SteeringRack and pinion
BrakesDrums, hydraulic
Tyres5.50/6.00 - 12 (4")
Length3923 mm
Width1470 mm
Height1410 mm
Fuel consumption6,5 - 7,5 l/100 km
Tank capacity33 liter
Kerb weight670 kg + driver
Max. speedApprox. 120/130 km/h
Construction period1962 - 1965
Purchase priceApprox. 5100 DM
ModelsEstate car , Coupe, caravan (1963) luxury
Electrics6 V, 66 Ah

Opel aims particularly at the successful VW Beetle, also in terms of its price. They decide not to take the Kadett of 1936 as a basis; instead they choose for a completely new design and perform thorough testing of all details not to be surprised by defects afterwards. When the car is finally launched, almost everything about it is superior to the Beetle, yet it is lacking an established name.

There is first of all an extremely clear car body with a large boot. In case you want even more boot capacity there is the estate car with additional loading capacities and simple loading. In spite of its angular shape, the Kadett is comparable in air resistance to the seemingly much more streamlined Beetle, because its higher maximum speed corresponds with its higher performance. It is definitely better in acceleration, because the complete vehicle is lighter due to its self-supporting car body and proves more fuel consumption favorable with its engine efficiency. Moreover, the engine is quieter and its heating performs better.

The new Kadett must still render its merits. It is quiet successful right away, but the real breakthrough only comes with the next model. Unfortunately, the car body is more susceptible to rust than that of the Beetle. This is by the way also evident by the numbers of cars still present today. On the one hand, its welded fenders make the car slightly more expensive in the event of an accident. On the other hand, the absence of any lubricating nipples lowers the servicing expenditure.

The Kadett tries to compete with the Beetle wherever it can. For example, by pointing out that for filling up the tank it is not necessary to open the boot, and that the smell of fuel may not penetrate through. Another example is the oil filter expressly mentioned as part of the main circuit, because the Beetle does not feature it this way. Of course, the Kadett is much easier to manoeuvre and its boot is substantially simpler to load. Opel advertises with a lot of glass, generating a bright interior and, of course again as compared to the Beetle, a heating free of smell. The "main thread speedometer" ought to make its advance position especially clear. It changes, just like with the Mercedes 190 of that time, its color in accordance with the driving speed.

Opel even goes as far as to try and advertise the rather simple chassis as an advantage. The Kadett has a rigid, leaf-spring rear axle whose cardan drive is not independent of its suspension. A pipe around the cardan shaft supports the rear axle on its center bearing. Therefore, acceleration or braking movements do not tense the springs as much. One-sided engaging of the springs does tension the springs, though. Opel idealizes this as a stabilizer effect. Of course, Opel does not mention the larger non-spring masses of the axis. Nevertheless, the inclination for trampling is small due to its relatively hard suspension.

Intricacies of the Kadett chassis technology

Maybe you would like to know how the engine of the S manages 35 kW (48 HP)? The engine features a higher compression for premium petrol. The engine speed is increased by changing the valve lift and the valve springs. On the road, the car seems more alive, but not more noisy. The maximum speed of 130 km/h is a very modest specification. Overall the S version receives good credits. This is even more remarkable considering its relatively low price.

The car becomes essential to the Ruhr area. This large industrial area is very dependent on coal. Because the production of coal is declining, the unemployment rate is rising massively. Opel's factory in Rüsselsheim is bursting at the seams. Thus, Bochum applies successfully as a location for the new factory. Opel invests approx. 1,3 billion DM. The inauguration coincides with the 100-year-celebration of Opel. For North Rhine-Westphalia this is a successful restructuring. And Opel becomes a car producer with a solid demand basis in the Ruhr area.

Already once earlier Opel has had the experience of establishing a new car together with a new factory: the Opel Laubfrosch. In general such a situation is uncommon in the automobile industry. Taking into consideration that Opel is able to fall back on the experience of the mother company GM, there is a lot of potential to be realized with the introduction of the new Kadett. Especially the low running costs of this vehicle are remarkable. 01/07               Top of page               Index
2001-2015 Copyright programs, texts, animations, pictures: H. Huppertz - E-Mail
Translator: Don Leslie - Email:

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