Featured: The Race to Own an Opel Kadett C, My First Classic Car

The Race to Own an Opel Kadett C, My First Classic Car

By Máté Boér
April 20, 2015
13 comments

Photography by: Máté Boér

Dear fellow Petrolisti, let me introduce you my first classic car, a 1979 Opel Kadett C two-door sedan. It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for.

Even as a writer, there are so many things that I love on this site, but reader submissions are my favorites. They’re honest, and, with only a few exceptions, feature everyday people sharing stories. No two are the same and all of the cars are very different, just like our readers! The common things are a love of cars and one approach: drive tastefully.

I grew up in a family what can be easily described by one word: rational.

Cars are only means of transportation under these circumstances, for example I can remember the night when my father decided not to buy an Alfa 156, because, “it is not rational”—and he bought a Toyota Corolla instead. I’ve been writing about classic cars for a while, but having one of my own is not something that I’d been able to do…until now.

Travelling a lot due for my job and having a company car it’s not rational to think about a weekend car—according to my parents—but they could not stop me. So I started looking around. After missing a ‘DogBone’ Ford Escort Mk 1, I fell in love with a first generation Fiat 127. Feelings were so strong that I even wrote an article about that car, meanwhile, I started to collect excuses on why not to buy it. Finally, I convinced myself that my classic must be rear-wheel drive.

After a few setbacks in finding a suitable car, I remembered how much I love 2-door Opels of the seventies, especially the Ascona B and the Kadett C. Because both have racing pedigrees, they are light, and they come from an era when Opel knew how to build interesting cars in good quality for a good price— a capability since forgotten. 

Then came a text message one morning from a friend: “I’ll sell you my Kadett, because I want to be the one who yanks you into this lunacy.” I replied without hesitation that I wanted the Kadett—the car I only saw once in a rainy night…and the car I hadn’t driven or heard running!

Sorry Dad, I know it is completely irrational, but I wanted it. It’s mostly in original condition and the chassis is rust free, so I don’t have to spend a huge amount of money on metal work right at the beginning.

From January, it took two and a half months to get all the required documents for the car, because it came from the first owner from Croatia at the end of last year and hadn’t been registered in Hungary yet. The bureaucracy made me crazy this time—I never thought that the correspondence could be so sluggish between two EU countries—but they tried everything to ruin my life.

Anyhow, for the beginning of April the Kadett and I were ready to begin our long journey together. My car is a facelifted, basic version of the Kadett C with the standard 1.2-litre engine, and it comes from the last year of a 6-year long production run. It has enough power to keep up with traffic, as the car only weighs 1675 lbs (760 kg).

Since taking delivery, there have been only two changes in addition to the mechanical inspections: I added black trim for the windows and the tail of the car, and changed the rims to original 13-inch sport rims with new tires. The car is otherwise original, I can describe its state as honest: the shift knob and the steering wheel became shiny in the past 36 years and there are some tears on the black and white fabric as well.

I know I’ll restore it someday, but now I enjoy it as-is and can’t wait for sunny afternoons to bring it out to cruise along the Danube river. The Kadett is fun to drive and easy to handle, this is my little time machine, and I try to drive it as much as I can, even on weekdays, after work.

This year, I entered it into the Hungaria Classic, inviting the friend who sold me the car to read the road book and handle the timers on the right seat! It’s Hungary’s oldest race, and runs from Budapest to Chateau Béla castle in Slovakia. We faced eleven measured sections along the 135 mile (220 km) trip, and despite the lack of preparation and training we collected only 744 points during the day—which means just 7.44 seconds of mistakes! My aim was to stay under 1000 points and to bring the Kadett home, so this was a successful day crowned by a second place in category.

Not bad for a car bought sight unseen!

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MartinPeter LukáčHSWAdamMáté Boér Recent comment authors
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Martin
Martin

Nice car, have one myself but -77 with 2,4L Engine
/Martin

Peter Lukáč
Peter Lukáč

Very nice story, great car. 😉

HSW
HSW

The car’s profile, color, & wheels – especially in the article’s title picture reminds me of the Nissan IDx Freeflow. If I did not know better, I would argue this inspired Nissan’s design more so than the 510.

I wish the IDx will become a reality!

HSW
HSW

…trying to post another pic

Joao Pedro Prezotti
Joao Pedro Prezotti

I come to my first comment here on this site to give my congratulations on car friend!
I’m from Brazil, and it’s kinda sad that in here, the Kadett C (know here as Chevrolet Chevette) is a extremely common car, one of the few affordable rear wheel drive cars we have, but still it’s rare to find one well preserved as yours.

But those who already drove this car knows how it could be extremely pleasant to drive.

Good luck with your “Chevette”, mate!

Joao Pedro Prezotti
Joao Pedro Prezotti

Sorry for any grammatical mistakes!

Adam
Adam

Not onlu in those countries. The kadett c// vauxhal chevette (in england) is the go to car for historic motorsport on a basic level. Kadetts and escorts are very light and nible. Put a 2.0 cih (original) or if you are not so masohistic ohc engine in it and it os a pocket rocket …. absolutely in love with the kadett hadd 3. Heres mine preped for amateur KJS (what you would call autocros in US) with 2,0 ohc – miss it so much

Li Wen
Li Wen

OMG. My father had an Opel Kadett (though I don’t believe it was this exact model) in the 70’s. It was beige with chrome trim, his favorite car and as an engineer, this car really appealed to him. Opels in those days were sold in the US through GM where my dad worked. I learned how to drive stick on it when I was a teenager. Good to see it again, and it is the most rational of cars. My father was thinking of getting an Opel GT at the time (wish he had as I loved these little gems)… Read more »

Chris Leighton
Chris Leighton

was it James may or Richard Hammond who had an African love affair with the same car?

JB21
JB21

“Oliver” is a 1963 Opel Kadett, not quite the same car.

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt

Thanks Máté for an interesting read. I’m sure it will be an inspiring article for some yet to put a foot on the rung of the classic car ladder! Stunning photographs too.