Home » When Opel Wanted To Be Sure You Knew What The Inside Of A Car Looked Like: Cold Start

When Opel Wanted To Be Sure You Knew What The Inside Of A Car Looked Like: Cold Start

Cs Kadettdaewoo

Let’s start today off with a nice helping of something not so great, like a bowl of very off-brand Cap’n Crunch that comes in a bag and is called something like Nautical Fruit Scrapies. In this case, it’s a 1994 Opel Kadett GL, which we essentially got here in America as the early ’90s Pontiac LeMans, which itself was a Daewoo Racer, a car I once noted for having the saddest badging in automotive history, because Daewoo’s badge was made the same external shape as the Pontiac badge they knew it would be re-badged to, and couldn’t be bothered making a new front fascia that fit their own badge. Its’s just kinda sad.

What I do like about this Opel brochure is that it’s really helpful when it comes to explaining what the viewer is looking at. Specifically, I mean this:

Cs Kadettinterior

So, this picture of those mouse-fur-colored seats surrounded by windows is the interior of the car? Shit, thanks for clearing that up, fellas! Another mystery solved!

Also, is that rear seat a 90/10 split? Is that what I’m seeing there?

UPDATE: Oops. I called the Pontiac version a Grand Am when I should have put LeMans. Forgive me. In case you don’t think an apology is penance enough, know I made some people quite cross about it online:

Shittalk Pontiac

I like the “never, EVER” part. This is the kind of passion we need! But I stand by the dunking, proofread or not, Jerry. Also, David, who sent me this screenshot, needs to charge his phone.


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39 Responses

  1. Say what you like but, in my opinion, the 80s and 90s were peak mousefur, velour-adjacent, and natural material upholstery. I still mourn their absence in lieu of modern poly-based “sport seat” trim.

    1. Blame PETA and their stinking “Mice Have Rights” campaign. Killed the mouse fur industry as well as the mouse-belt seat belts. Those fucking bleeding hearts and their “It’s cruel to tie mice up to seat belts and use electric shocks to get the to run back and forth” slogan! God, if I hear Sally Struthers utter those words once more, just strike me down where I stand!!!

    2. The interesting thing is while it was still reasonably fresh, that fabric gripped/held the driver in place pretty well (unless one wore leather pants I guess…and it was the 80s so maybe my point isn’t universal after all) esp. considering that side bolsters weren’t really a thing yet on everyday vehicles.

  2. My dad was an Opel man, and while we always had Asconas and Corsas, we would sometimes have Kadetts as loaners. Competent, competitive for the time, and as usual available with a range of engines and equipment. A 1.3 LS was bare boned, while the 2.0 GSi 16V was very very fast (and torque steery). Nothing wrong with them.
    When we moved to the US, we bought a used Pontiac Le Mans. It, by comparison, was a miserable heap. They kept the German design but the execution was as could be expected. And, for some reason, they kept the stratospheric autobahn gearing which made it miserable in American stop-and-go traffic. Champagne over light brown also did it no favors.

    1. Agree – the Vauxhall/Opels weren’t quite up to the Golf Mk 2 but were a pretty tight and fun drive, but the Daewoos (never tried the Pontiac equivalent) was a pile of runny poo. And for completeness, the Vauxhall brochure says it’s a 60:40 split rear seat back, whatever the photo suggests.

      1. “the Vauxhall brochure says it’s a 60:40 split rear seat back…”

        Vauxhall is British, so it is an Imperial English 60:40 split, not a metric 60:40 or SAE 60:40.

  3. Wasn’t this called the Pontiac Le Mans in the U.S.?

    I remember driving one, even though I’ve tried in the intervening years to forget. It was, well, pathetic. Made the Ford Festiva look rather sumptuous. Oddly enough, the Kadett version, while still tinny and noisy, seemed like a nicer car, if not by much.

    IIRC, Pontiac tried to see these for about 45 minutes. Don’t think I’ve seen one since.

    1. Yes! I had a friend who had one back in the day, and while I kinda liked the coupe look, talk about chintzy in every possible way.

      What I always remember is that while his had a manual, it didn’t have a tach. So in its place was a dead gauge….a round indentation on one side that simply had a Pontiac logo in the middle. Ah those days…

    2. Yep, and in Canada it was also briefly known as the Passport Optima (Passport was kind of a Canadian Geo that also sold Daewoos and Isuzus), then as the Asüna SE and GT (Asüna was a later Geo-type attempt)

      In ridiculous summary for Canada:
      1988-1991 Passport Optima
      1992 Pontiac LeMans
      1993 Asüna SE & GT

      They were all the Daewoo manufactured versions. Miserable heaps indeed.

    3. An ’89 Pontiac LeMans GSE was my first brand-new car. It so very much wanted to be a Kadett GSi: the 2.0L engine had decent pickup and the seats were nice, but every part of the ownership experience was just dreadful.

  4. This is a Brazilian model badged Chevrolet Kadett, and by ’94 it was one full design cycle behind the Opel Astra sold in Europe. The Pontiac-branded version sold in America was the LeMans, not the Grand Am. It was made in Korea by Daewoo. The Grand Am was a domestic N-body.

    Interestingly, Brazil got this car as a 3-door hatchback and a 3- and later 5-door wagon. For some reason Brazilians had a thing for 2-door cars in the ’70s and ’80s and by this time four doors was a new and trendy innovation.

    1. Well spotted. My Dad had the 5-door wagon (badged Vauxhall Astra) in about 1984 in the UK. Even as a small child I could tell this thing was nasty, especially in “s’not green” with brown mouse-fur interior. Loaded up with boxes of secondhand books, the 1.5l was pathetically slow too.

      It replaced a Morris Marina.

      My Dad was a brilliant secondhand book seller but a terrible secondhand car buyer.

      1. Compared to its contemporary Escort the exterior was passable, but the interior was awful, especially the peanut butter brown version that I saw (mis)matched to a dark green exterior.

  5. I remember these dreadful little shit boxes being sold in Australia as a Daewoo… fuck, what was it? A Cielo? Anyway, I remember reading a review of it when it was new, which started off like this:
    PROS: Low, low price.
    CONS: Low, low quality.

    1. They were initially just called the 1.5, it was the facelift where they became known as the Cielo. I bought one very cheap in the ’00s as a runaround and it was quite forgettable – although smelly.

    2. We got them in New Zealand as Pontiac Le Mans’s then as Daewoo Cielo’s when they replaced the Le Mans with the Opel Astra, instead of the rebadged Corolla/Nova. I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw one on the road, they were so so so bad.

  6. Noteworthy item,
    The 16 Valve 2 liter is a marvel of engineering. Fritz Indra at his best, at the time time the highest efficiency for a gasoline engine (Watthours caloriewise).
    Also: former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt got himself the sedan version and nothing else for the rest of his many years.

  7. 1994 Kadett, Jason? Really? By 1994 the Kadett had long been superseded by the Astra in Europe (even if it would soldier on for much, much, MUCH longer in Pontiac and Daewoo guises). Also, the “potato cutter” grille on the pictured Kadett was already replaced in a 1989 restyling. So, unless this brochure is from a really exotic market where Opel’s product line was over 5 years behind (South Africa, perhaps?), I think your finger slipped and this is a 1984 Kadett.

      1. Yes, I’ve seen now the Chevrolet badge. Also, the grille is not *quite* the Opel’s pre-facelift “potato-cutter” grille, but a sort of hybrid between that and the post-facelift one, and actually more elegant than either.

  8. I had a White 1990 Le Mans GSE Aerocoupe with a 5 speed and I put some 3 spoke wheels on with Opel valve stem covers.
    Quite a confusing parts bin of fun! I used my Pink Floyd pulse CD case with pulsing red light as my pho security system.
    I joked at the time:
    It was German engineered, Korean built and named after a French race track, from a Native American car company!
    I remember that there was a hotted up concept car version, complete with aggressive fender flares and bigger rear wing, but I haven’t been able to find any pictures online!?

  9. I doubt at all that David Tracy’s phone spends a lot of it’s life below 20% battery, when he has to chose between charging the phone or having headlights.

    1. I had a 3 speed Encore bought out of desperation from a family friend who had bought it from my uncle. White with power blue interior. The driver seat had to be welded and I was revising out of a parking spot when the front passenger side wheel (drive shaft I think) snapped off. But other than that the little french fry was just fine for the short time I had it.

  10. Talk about stretching the truth in advertising for Le Mans. Given the French track’s racing legacy, this could not have been further away for this American piece of crap.

    Akin to McDonald’s making a new small 99 cent cheeseburger called the Filet McMignon.

  11. I had one of these, sort of. It was a 1984 Vauxhall Astra GTE. 2.0 8 valve engine, big spoiler and a digital dash.

    Cool for 1984, terrible and sad when I bought it in 1997.

  12. I actually owned a late 80s convertible version of one of these, a fun, is basic, car
    As a heavily revised 70s design though it’s looking quite sad by 1994, as pointed out above this is a Brazilian Chevrolet as the Opel/Vauxhall had morphed into the curvy 90s Astra by then.
    I remember a magazine describing the chunky dash of the replacement model as “my first car interior”.

    1. I agree with all of that, except the design was extremely 1980s and very very modern when introduced; a late-comer to the first class of truly aerodynamic mass market cars started with the Audi 100 and Ford Sierra.

  13. Hey now, some of the Malt-O-Meal cereals taste kinda sorta like the real thing, if you haven’t had the real thing in a while and have forgotten exactly what it tastes like.

      1. “I like how they come in bags. Which is completely rational and money-saving, yet still somehow makes them feel even more cheap.”

        It’s toddler food; as long as it’s healthy why does packaging matter? Kids are probably going to throw it on the floor anyway.

        It’s like those people who buy expensive “premium” gourmet food for their dog who’s been gobbling up horse poop.

  14. The early ’80’s iteration of the “Pontiac Le Mans” was the first car with a plastic brake cylinder that my dad, a long time Poncho enthusiast, ever saw. He was, uh, vocally unimpressed.

  15. I just learned that the 5-door Racer used different rear doors than the Kadett/Astra. The former appears to share its doors with the sedan, which makes some sense for cost savings. The Racer added a quarter light window for a six-window design, while the Kadett/Astra had a trim piece like the 3-door.

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