Opel Kadett (1979 – 1984) Review

Opel Kadett (1979 – 1984) At A Glance


+Great to drive with both excellent performance and roadholding

-Rust was a big killer, as was camshaft failure in the Family II engines

The Opel Kadett D was the last all-new car by the German marque to be introduced in the UK. It marked the point where Vauxhall and Opel converged, selling what were effectively the same cars, without modifications for UK consumption. However, its true significance is in its packaging - it was the first front-wheel drive car built by GM Europe, and it ushered in a new range of overhead cam Family II engines, that really were a leap forward from what came before. In 1.3-litre form, this power unit developed 75bhp (same as the Ascona's 1.6-litre), and in 1.6-litre form (introduced in 1982), it packed 90bhp for near hot hatch levels of performance.

In marketing terms, it was a departure, too - being a two-box offering to directly rival the Volkswagen Golf Mk1. There were saloon versions for die-hard customers, but they had the same silhouette as the hatchbacks. Three- and five-door estates were also offered. The Kadett D stood apart from the opposition for being both roomy and practical and great to drive, with excellent performance and roadholding. The range was quietly dropped from the UK price lists in 1982, leaving the market sector open to Vauxhall.