Kadett - discontinued 1940 and re-introduced 1962

Opel Kadett A - 64

The Opel Kadett is a small family car produced by the

German automobile manufacturer Opel between 1937 and

1940, and then again from 1962 until 1991 (the Cabrio

continued until 1993), when it was replaced by the Opel



The   first   Opel   car   to   carry   the   Kadett   name   was   presented   to   the   public   in   December   1936   by Opel's   Commercial-Technical   director,   Heinrich   Nordhoff,   who   would   in   later   decades   become known for his leadership role in building up the Volkswagen company. The   new   Kadett   followed   the   innovative   Opel   Olympia   in   adopting   a   chassis-less   monocoque construction,   suggesting   that   like   the   Vauxhall   10   introduced   in   1937   by   Opel's   English   sister- company, the Opel Kadett was designed for high volume low cost production.

Kadett series 11 234 (1937)

For    1937    the    Kadett    was    offered    as    a    small    and    unpretentious    two    door    "Limousine" (sedan/saloon)   or,   at   the   same   list   price   of   2,100   Marks,   as   a   soft   top   "Cabrio-Limousine".   The body    resembled    that    of    the    existing    larger    Opel    Olympia    and    its    silhouette    reflected    the "streamlining"   tendencies   of   the   time.   The   1,074cc   side-valve   engine   came   from   the   1935   Opel P4 and came with the same listed maximum power output of 23 PS (17 kW; 23 hp) at 3,400 rpm. The    brakes    were    now    controlled    using    a    hydraulic    mechanism.    The    suspension    featured synchromous   springing,   a   suspension   configuration   already   seen   on   the   manufacturer's   larger models   and   based   on   the   Dubonnet   system   for   which   General   Motors   in   France   had   purchased the   license.   The   General   Motors   version,   which   had   been   further   developed   by   Opel’s   North American   parent,   was   intended   to   provide   a   soft   ride,   but   there   was   some   criticism   that handling   and   road-holding   were   compromised,   especially   when   the   system   was   applied   to   small light-weight   cars   such   as   the   Kadett.   By   the   end   of   1937   33,402   of   these   first   generation   Kadetts had been produced.

Kadett "KJ38" and "K38 Spezial" (1938-1940)

From   December   1937   a   modified   front   grill   signalled   an   upgrade.   However,   the   1,074cc   Opel   23 PS   (17   kW;   23   hp)   engine   and   the   2,337   mm   (92.0   in)   wheelbase   were   unchanged,   and   it   would have   taken   a   keen   eyed   observer   to   spot   the   difference   between   the   cars   for   1937   and   those   for 1938. The   manufacturer   now   offered   two   versions   of   the   Kadett,   designated   the   "Kadett   KJ38   and   the "Kadett   K38"   the   latter   also   being   sold   as   the   "Kadett   Spezial".   Mechanically   and   in   terms   of published   performance   there   was   little   to   differentiate   the   two,   but   the   "Spezial"   had   a   chrome stripe   below   the   window   line,   and   extra   external   body   trim   in   other   areas   such   as   on   the   front grill.   The   interior   of   the   "Spezial"   was   also   better   equipped.   To   the   extent   that   the   300   Mark saving   for   buyers   of   the   car   reflected   reduced   production   costs,   the   major   difference   was   that the   more   basic   "KJ38"   lost   the   synchromous   springing   with   which   the   car   had   been   launched,   and which   continued   to   be   fitted   on   the   "Spezial".   The   base   car   instead   reverted   to   traditional   rigid axle based suspension similar to that fitted on the old Opel P4. The   base   car   was   available   only   as   a   two   door   "Limousine"   (sedan/saloon).   Customers   looking   for a   soft-top   "Cabrio-limousine"   would   need   to   specify   a   "Kadett   Spezial".   For   the   first   time   Kadett buyers,   provided   they   were   prepared   to   choose   a   "Kadett   Spezial"   could   also   specify   a   four-door "Limousine"   (sedan/saloon)   bodied   car,   priced   at   2,350   Marks   as   against   2,150   Marks   for   a "Spezial Cabrio-Limousine" and 2,100 Marks for a two-door "Spezial Limousine" In   marketing   terms   the   "Kadett   KJ38"   was   intended   to   fill   the   niche   that   Opel   had   recently vacated   with   the   departure   of   the   Opel   P4,   but   the   KJ38,   priced   at   1,800   Marks,   was   more expensive   than   the   P4   and   its   reduced   specification   left   it   with   the   image   of   a   car   for   poor people   (..Image   des   Arme-Leute-Autos..)   at   a   time   when   economic   growth   in   Germany   was finally   fostering   a   less   minimalist   approach   to   car   buying.   The   "Kadett   K38   Spezial"   fared   better in   the   market   place:   in   1938   and   again   in   1939   it   was   Germany's   the   top   selling   small   car.   By   May 1941 the company had produced 17,871 "Kadett KJ38"s and 56,335 "Kadett K38 Spezial"s.


Competitive   pricing   led   to   commercial   success,   and   Kadetts   continued   to   be   produced   during the    early    months    of    the    war:    by    the    time    production    ended    in    May    1940,    following intensification   of   World   War   II,   106,608   of   these   Opel   Kadetts   had   come   off   the   assembly   line   at Opel's   Rüsselsheim   plant,   which   had   been   the   first   major   car   plant   in   Germany   to   apply   the assembly-line production techniques pioneered by Henry Ford.

Soviet afterlife

After   the   war,   Opel   production   facilities   from   Brandenburg   an   der   Havel   (trucks)   were   crated   up together   with   the   production   line   plant   and   tooling   from   the   Ruesslesheim   (cars)   plant   and transported   to   the   Soviet   Union,   along   with   the   drawings   and   plans   for   the   Kadett,   as   part   of   a larger   reparations   package   agreed   upon   by   the   victorious   powers.   From   1948,   the   prewar   Kadett was   manufactured   as   the   Moskvitch   400/420   and   continued   to   be   produced,   very   little   changed, on the edge of Moscow until 1956.


Engine 993 cc 4 cylinders Power 40 HP Top Speed 120 km/h Weight 700 kg The collections Kadett is restored to as new condition. During the time of restoration the importer Metro-Auto sold out last spares for this model. That made a full engine and technical restoration a breeze.
Photos mainly by Matti Kreivilä. Historical facts and technical details of the vehicles provided by Wikipedia. Movies YouTube.