The German version of the General Motors T-car was sold with engines from 1.0 to 2.0 liters. The car was rear-wheel drive, betraying its U.S. design ethos. The gentlemen traveled incognito. Absolute secrecy was needed when, on march 18, 1960, a delegation of Opel managers set out northbound for the ruhr area of Germany.
After prototypes covered more than 1.5 million test kilometers throughout the world, the first "Wirtschaftswunder"-Kadett drove off the production line in October 1962. The price started at a modest 2,590 euros in today's terms. The contours of the two-door notchback model were businesslike and modern. The beltline was low down, the panoramic windows made for good visibility and a decorative strip running along the side accentuated the stretched form. Front wings tapered off into the headlamps and the rear ends were shaped as fins.
The four-seater deeply impressed owners of conventional small cars not only in terms of space. The trunk? Areal baggage compartment. The bags do not have to be carefully stowed, they can be comfortably deposited. Another small but important point is that the fuel tank cap is outside so that you never have the smell of gasoline in the trunk, wrote Opel's advertising team, unable to resist a dig at their competitors in wolfsburg.
With its modern, water-cooled front engine, the Kadett had another major design advantage. The 993 cc four-cylinder unit developed 40 hp and, from March 1963, also powered the new Kadett Caravan. it was the first German station wagon in the compact class and Opel underscored its leadership in the wagon segment with it. Word spread about its roominess - by the mid-sixties, one in two station wagons was an opel. The pretty Kadett coupé, available from October 1963, was powered by a 48 hp 1.0 sunit that later became available in the two other body versions.