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Spotted: a 1987 Opel Kadett

June 2, 2023

The last generation of Opel Kadett is the Kadett E, which entered the market in 1984. You might not immediately expect that introduction year, because next to its contemporaries, the Kadett E had a very modern design. As sleek and square as the Kadett D was, the E was rounded and streamlined, actually foreshadowing the car design of the 1990s back in 1984.

Opel Kadett E was sales topper

In the Netherlands, the Opel Kadett E was very popular. At least 7,000 copies a year passed the proverbial counter. At its peak, in 1985 and 1986, it even sold more than 10,000 copies a year. Numbers that its predecessor never managed to reach and which were never matched after that. Still the Kadett is the fourth-selling Opel model line in the Netherlands. It caused the Kadett E to become something of a national car. The average Dutchman, they drove a Kadett.

Something for everyone

Consequently, there was an Opel Kadett E for everyone. Whether you were looking for a three- or five-door hatchback, a four-door sedan, a convertible or a five- or even three-door station wagon. The model range was also very diverse: from simple and economical models that offered only the essentials to well-dressed versions. In the form of the GSi, there was even a true hot hatchback.

International career

Looking beyond the borders of Europe, there is even more diversity. The Opel Kadett E was sold under a variety of brand and type names. Even in North America, where it went through life as a Pontiac LeMans. The Kadett E was also very popular in South America. Here in Europe, the Kadett E was succeeded by the Astra in 1991; in South America, the Kadett E was allowed to continue until 1995. Then Daewoo went ahead with the model and even supplied all kinds of (modernized) variants until 2016. One of which we are also familiar with: the Daewoo Nexia delivered from 1995 to 1997.

Appearance and disappearance

We said it in the intro: even the most popular cars disappear from the street scene at some point. It is no different for the Opel Kadett E. It even disappeared relatively quickly, as the rust devil regularly harassed the model. Too bad, because otherwise it was a solid car. In many South American countries, among others, where rust is much less of a problem thanks to the better climate, you can still even encounter the Kadett E in traffic with regularity.

The spotted specimen

It has been a while since we last encountered an Opel Kadett E in the Netherlands. So for this specimen, which we came across in Hilversum, we gladly made a photo stop. This Kadett E is original Dutch from 1987 and has kept the rust ghost well off all these years. The Kadett is just not quite in original condition anymore, which does raise the question of exactly which version we have in front of us.

The tailgate reads “1.3i,” while the side clearly shows the logo of the GT version. At the time, however, the 1.3i did not come as a GT. There was a 1.3 S GT, but so it did not have the “i” of “injection” in the name. According to the RDW, the Kadett spotted also has a 2.0-liter with 110 kW (150 hp) under the hood, or the engine from the GSi 16V version, the sporty top model. The 1.3i, of course, had a 1.3-liter, with an output of 44 kW (60 hp). The 1.3 S GT had a 1.3-liter with 55 kW (75 hp).

Visually, too, this Kadett is no longer original, including too-new rims and – above all – the fact that with this year of construction it should actually be from before the facelift. Most likely, this Kadett 1.3i just got the GSi 16V engine and sheet metal from the facelift model once. Anyway: both in terms of condition and execution it still looks very nice and a Kadett E is always nice to see again. The current owner has owned it again since 2009 and we hope he continues to drive the car for a long time.