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