Thursday, January 16, 2014

1969 Opel Kadett Station Wagon - You Never Forget Your First Car... But Would You Want To Own It Again?

My first car was identical to this one... The only thing that might be missing is the super-hi-tech Kraco under dash 8-track player I installed in mine. (I chose a Kraco over the equally popular and cheap Sparkomatic brand because I didn't think it was great idea to install an aftermarket electrical component with the word "spark" in it... For those of you who are computer and stereo component geeks, Sparkomatic eventually bought Altec Lansing - the company who made the sound system for the original Woodstock Festival - and is still in business today, but not using the Sparkomatic name. I have a pair of Altec Lansing speakers hooked up to my home computer. They're very good. I have no idea what became of Kraco and it's not important enough for me to look it up. But, I digress...)

I wound up with an Opel because I wanted an import, but my dad, who was buying the car for me, was a General Motors executive who would not allow a non-GM car in the driveway. The Opel was sort of a compromise. (It could have been worse, my brother wound up with a Chevy Vega...)

The Opel Kadett is a pretty unremarkable car. In the US it was marketed as an alternative to the original VW Beetle. As that, it was very good. Sold through Buick dealers, it was, at one point, the second best selling import, behind VW.

As a first car, it was also pretty unremarkable. It was slow, but got very good gas mileage. Mine had a 4 speed manual transmission, and I learned all the nuances of using a manual transmission to achieve maximum power. (A skill I have used on all subsequent cars I have owned.) I remember it handling safely, but even at a young age I realized that pushing a car with 13" bias-ply tires to its handling limits was not a very good idea. The car's best feature was the folding rear seat and large cargo area. It was very useful on dates. ;-)

This car supposedly has 24,000 miles on it. (The odometer rolls over at 99,999.9) Not that it matters, as this car needs restoration. The seller says it runs well. It has quite a bit of rust.

This car is located somewhere in Suffolk County, Long Island. I grew up in Huntington, which is in Suffolk County. I'd like to think this is my old car, but mine was t-boned by a Lincoln and junked. I seriously doubt anyone repaired it.

I have great memories of my Opel, but very little desire to own one again. (Maybe it would be cool to show my son... He's 14 and will be looking for a first car in a few years. When he complains about whatever car I buy him, I could show him the Opel and say "Stop complaining! It could be this!" But, better yet, I'll just show him a picture of my brother's Vega...)

A note: I also owned an Opel GT. I would like to own one of those again. But that's for another post...

Click here to see the Craigslist ad for this Opel Kadett.

What was your first car? Would you want to own it again?


Anonymous said...

'77 Pontiac Sunbird fastback with the 4-lug snowflake alloys that looked like the ones the Trans-Am had. 231 V6 w/auto. Looked great, filled with bondo and newspaper courtesy of ghetto used car lot. I believe the radiator also had sawdust in it. As a car, horrible really. But I sometimes think longingly about a Chevy Monza Mirage with V8 and four speed!

Oddimotive Cason said...

I love the shooting brake body style! My first car was a 1970 Mustang Grande 302/C4. I'd love to own something similar, but would aim for a 351 and four speed. Unfortunately, four-speed Grandes were produced in tiny, tiny numbers, given it was he luxo-Stang. A Cougar could also do nicely. Hmm.

Unknown said...

I'm fortunate enough to still own my first car, although it's been repainted once, had the interior retrimmed, and replaced the engine and transmission twice... A 72 vw transporter. These days it only gets occasional use, but every time I get behind the wheel I fondly remember the first summer I owned it; loud rusted muffler, failed power brakes, loose steering, and blown shocks, and I would drive it everywhere I could regardless.

Dan DiBiase said...

Funny, there is a Vega in the background of the second photo.... My first was a '71 Toyota Corona, 4-door sedan, powder blue with dark blue interior, automatic with column shifter and bench front seat. Loved that car. Modified with 'TOYOTA' side stripes across the bottom of the doors, JC Whitney mini fog lights, trim rings on the wheels, chrome exhaust extension and blackout grill. I also modified the performance by flipping the air-cleaner lid upside down to allow for greater airflow, resulting in at least .5 hp increase.

Chris Keen said...

Still have it, 22 years on - it's the car shown here:

A wedding, a baby, girlfriends, two cosmetic restorations, two engine rebuilds, a couple of transmissions and fuel injection pumps, and more money than I care to count over those years, but it still makes me smile on the (unfortunately rare) occasions I get to drive it.

Max Power said...

My red 1987 Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo...god yes, I would love to own it again