In the late 1950s Opel was instructed by GM to create something to compete with the dominant VW Beetle. The answer was the 1962 Opel Kadett A. It was a one liter sedan with more room and better performance than the Beetle, and about 650,000 units were sold. In 1966, Opel opened its’ new plant at Bochum, and the replacement Opel Kadett B was introduced. It was not the most stylish looking vehicle, but then again it was created to compete with the utilitarian VW. The variants included a Coupe, a fastback model, and an Estate (station wagon). A sporting version was introduced called the Kadett Rallye and sported a 1.9 liter engine producing 90 hp. As the name implied, Opel took the Rallye version racing with only limited success (Walter Rohl won the Group B Rally championship in a later generation in 1981).
A luxury version of the Kadett B was named the Olympia A, perhaps just to confuse things. Beginning in 1967, the Kadett B was sold in the US simply as the Opel, and was distributed through Buick dealers. The basic car had decent sales, but the press was not impressed. Car and Driver penned an unflattering article in 1968 picturing the Kadett in a junkyard to highlight poor corrosion protection among other things. GM pulled all ads from C&D for a while in protest. Despite this, the Kadett B went on to become the 2nd highest US import in 1969, and took part in the Trans-Am racing series. The Kadett B was also the basis for the more popular Opel GT. In all, Opel produced almost 2.7 million Kadett Bs, making it a record setting car for the company, and setting the stage for the Kadett C to follow.
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