The real joy of this gig is the comments left by the readers, as any of the writers here will tell you. And when they leave a great old family photo along with the story behind it, it’s icing on the cake. That Opel Kadett B wagon and Bonneville make such a pair. Thomas left this photo at the Opel Kadett CC along with a comment which helps explain it, and one that is familiar to me.
My Family’s first car in the US was a used 1959 Opel Rekord – I don’t remember that one much but when I was four we got a powder blue Kadett Wagon. My mother – a Berliner – loved Opels, and in 1978-79 my Sister inherited the car as her first car and then I got it as a hand me down again in 1981 – when I first got it it had never been driven over 50 MPH so I was a bit of a shock to the poor car – but even back then it got amazing gas mileage.
That is until we took it to a mechanic for a tune up and he had apparently wasn’t good with European makes – he went to adjust the carburetor and some spring loaded valve shot out and we couldn’t find parts anywhere by that time. gas mileage dropped massively and running poorly the car died while crossing on the side of a field on a farm. The family there adopted it as a bit of a fort – clubhouse for a few years as we chose to buy another car when I graduated – I miss the simplicity of the car – of course I remember it fondly by I’m betting the reality of it would be a shock!
A great story of the trials and tribulations of owning an Opel or other European car back in the day. And although Tomas didn’t explain the Bonneville convertible sharing the driveway with the little Kadett, I will try. Germans may be known for their frugal ways, but like most folks, they too were utterly seduced by big American cars, especially convertibles. Germans have always had a soft spot for rag tops, and still do. Unless it’s changed, Germany has the highest percentage of convertible car sales of any major country.
I knew plenty of transplants in Iowa and Baltimore that had similar pairings of cars in the driveway, reflecting this dichotomy. And I don’t have to tell you who drove the big American car and who drove the Opel, VW, Studebaker Lark or Valiant.
Thanks, Thomas, for sharing your story, and hope you don’t mind me sharing it to an even larger audience. That’s what CC is all about.
Not really a GM guy, but a Bonnie convertible like that would make me quite content. Sadly, that ’68 model is the last that really makes my heart go pitter-patter.
I believe that Bonneville is actually a ’67 model. I see it has the somewhat rare cornering lamps, but does not appear to have a bucket seat interior, although it is hard to tell from the photo. It is a fine example of what is now a thing of the past.
I am a child of the sixties, but I don’t recall many of the Kadett’s in the area I lived. They were around, but apparently not all that popular. When I got in the used car business in the early seventies, I experienced some GT’s, and later some Manta’s, but no Kadett’s that I recall.
That is a great old photo.
It is a ’67. Seems to have the optional engine, too – I think that’s a “428” badge above the cornering light. The bench seat would likely be leather-and-Morrokide, as was standard on the ’66 convertible I haven’t owned in 20+ years; mine had optional 6-way power adjustment, and I didn’t miss bucket seats.
If I had a (sufficiently large) garage, a ’67 Bonneville with factory a/c is the convertible I’d want to put in it, although I wouldn’t turn down a Grand Prix. Anything before that model year would lack an energy-absorbing steering column and I’d avoid it on that basis alone; I don’t like the ’68’s differences from the ’67, and I find the 1969-70 cars rather undesirable except for the larger wheels. (When in the interest of “modernity” vent windows started to disappear, I never imagined that I’d eventually prefer cars that did have them.)
I guess my mother wasn’t seduced by the big cars. She was 100% German and her first car at the age of 55 was a Datsun 1200 with a 4 speed manual. Frugality definitely won that battle!
With rare exception, it was the men that were seduced by the big flashy American cars. And they usually were the ones to pick the cheap car for the wife.
In my high-school sweetie’s family, Dad the computer exec drove an aqua Karmann Ghia, which replaced a Renault Dauphine, while Mom the housewife was extremely proud of her gold ’66 Continental. It was a birthday surprise for her, ribbon and all, with her name on an engraved dash plate.
These were Germans??
Our house had 2 GM cars [parked at it in 69 a Holden Kingswood wagon and my Nanas HB Vauxhall Viva both the same colour, Ultima Aqua a kind of blue.
I understood that current figures show that the UK buys a larger proportion of convertibles (and coupe convertibles) than any where else in Europe. In our house, it’s 2 out if 3.
I don’t have figures to hand but will check if out when I get back from, er, Germany
I guess I’m not surprised. I’ haven’t been keeping up with news from Europe as much as I once did when I still had a subscription to auto motor und sport.
The Car and Driver Opel Kadett Assassination, in the flesh. Which looks very much exactly like the Opel Kadett Wagon that my Aunt and Uncle owned for many years until one day when a wire shorted out and the poor wagon burned to the ground. I liked that little car, refrigerator white with a red vinyl interior. 4 speed manual transmission and not much else. Not too long later, the new GT had my attention. A shame that Opel was soon afterwards diluted by the Buick Opel By Isuzu and then extinction in the US. A lot of GM’s Deadly Sins came afterward; we would have been spared much pain and GM much embarrassment had they kept the pipeline to Opel flowing into the US.
Nice picture! What a study in contrasts….
Man, do I miss the days when American cars looked like American cars…
When I was a school kid in the late 60’s-early 70’s in eastern Canada, lots of my teachers were from the UK, who had a really generous immigration assistance program from the Canadian government. They mostly seemed to buy British cars for their first one, only to watch it vapourize in the Canadian winter. They soon got into Wide Tracking. And why not? A big sled was probably cheaper in the long run than a Velox. A big sled is not a putrid, freezing, wheezy poop-box on wheels, either.
Larry! Your brothers here again and his huge car is blocking the driveway!
My friend’s parents were German, and this could have been their driveway in the ’90’s, let alone the ’60’s. My friend’s dad (Werner) loved his big old American boats. Buicks and Cadillacs were his favorites, and the last car he owned before he died in 2001 was an immaculate ’68 Buick LeSabre 4-door. His mom usually drove beaters, including a rusty old Plymouth Volare that she painted herself with a brush and roller. After Werner passed she sold the Buick (and a nice ’73 Mercedes 280 that was sitting in the garage) and bought herself a new Kia Rio.
She sold what and what and got a WHAT?!
It’s better than what my Dad did,sold a Dodge Dart 6 cylinder sedan to buy a new Austin Allegro,he’s still kicking himself 40 years later!
I know. I think the LeSabre was a little too big for her, but she could have done better than a Rio. Still, after 40 years of big Detroit boats and various beaters, she wanted something smaller and new, and the Rio likely fit into her price range. I had one as a rental about 10 years ago, and it was definitely not something I’d buy. If I had the space I might have snapped up the Mercedes, though. Heck, she would have probably given it to me. Oh well.