Road Impressions

The Opel Kadett 1200S Coupe

The Opel Kadett has been known in this country since before the war. In those days it was cheap but not altogether nasty, having beneath its cardboard and pressed coconut construction a bog-simple engine that propelled it quite rapidly by the standards of the times, hydraulic anchors and i.f.s. I used to know John Eason-Gibson’s Kadett quite well around 1938. But when I encountered the breed again in 1970, in the guise of the postwar Kadett KE saloon, I was not impressed.

However, late in 1973 the model was very considerably revised and I must say the 1200S coupe that I drove recently is a vastly improved little car. I found it to possess notably comfortable seats, the front ones with head-restraints and reclining squabs, upholstered in what would pass for black embossed leather. It possessed such refinements as a heated back window, carpeting, cigarette lighter, roof grab, hinged rear 1/4-windows, etc., these being specialities of the two-door coupe model. There was also an electronic clock, which didn’t work.

The engine is a pretty agricultural-looking four-cylinder unit of 79 x 61 mm. (1,196 c.c.) which in the coupe pokes out 65 DIN horses at 5,600 r.p.m., and which has Opel’s high-set camshaft. It gave an unexpected surprise in the form of lively acceleration and was happy cruising at an indicated 70 m.p.h. It was rather noisy towards peak revs, and the back axle emitted an irritating hum at motorway speeds. There is a substantial stubby, gaitered gear lever, very baulky to get into first and second gear from rest and with a heavy lifting-movement required before reverse can be engaged, but otherwise pleasant to use. The 3-3/4 turns-lock-to-lock rack-and-pinion steering is moderately light but a bit sticky around the straight-ahead position and has good return action. The Opel was rather difficult to drive in cross winds yet through fast corners it performed well. It had 13 in. Michelin ZX tyres. The body interior is nicely done in black-matt finish with matching facia and the recessed door handles and other details are neat. There is no cubby, but an open tray ahead of the gear lever and a shelf before the passenger are provided. The latter was breaking away from its mounting and the o/s of the facia padding and trimming strip were also loose. A single l.h. stalk control flip-dips the headlamps and its extremity turns to work the wipers, while the rear-window heating is worked from the heater-fan control. There are powerful fresh-air orifices with closure flaps in the facia centre. This Opel coupe gets its extra performance from an increase in c.r. of 1.4 to 1, so at 9.2 to I good fuel is required. The filler cap for the 9-3/4 gallon tank is concealed behind the imitation o/s rear body-vent, which should deter casual milking thieves. The range was a useful 344 miles.

I got to quite like this smart two-door coil-sprung £1,484 coupe, which used no oil in 525 miles and gave me a remarkable 38.5 m.p.g.after the 50-limit had been rescinded! The rear-hinged bonnet reveals a narrow radiator, accessible dip-stick and Delco General battery.—W.B.