Cohort Outtake: The Well-Faded Opel Kadett D

Opel Kadett C pink

How about a GM FWD car of a very different sort? As best as I can remember, this is the first Opel Kadett D posted at the Cohort, by Yahai Rodin. It deserves a full-on CC, as the Kadett D is the progenitor of a long line of cars, as well as engines. It was GM’s first mass-produced FWD small car, replacing the RWD Kadett A, B, and C, which included the Chevette.

Needless to say, the Kadett (once again) was not used as the basis for a technologically advance FWD small car for the US. It arrived in Europe in 1979, and was of course also built in the UK as the Vauxhall Astra. But the old RWD Chevette was kept in production in the US all the way through 1987, when the Corolla-based Nova finally replaced it.

Opel kadett d_1_h_sstimage: Wikipedia

The Kadett/Astra D were quite adequate in every parameter, and competed quite well against the VW Golf and Ford Escort. The Kadett D was able to maintain its number two sales spot in Germany, and undoubtedly, the Astra did well in the UK too. But it’s one of those cars that started to slide into the classic GM generic small-car mobile category, and clearly doesn’t have the cult following its RWD predecessors do.

The Kadett D’s new OHC “Family II” engine spawned an almost endless family tree of which some variants are still being built today, in Brazil and possibly elsewhere. It found its way into the Pontiac, Olds and Buick J-cars, as an optional engine, and eventually grew to 2.4 liters as well as a DOHC head.

CC 39 002 800

The Kadett D’s successor, the “E”, became a serious world car, produced in a number of countries and names. The Daewoo version did find its way to the US, under the Pontiac LeMans name, no less. My experience with one of them is here.