Opel Kadett Roadster (1938)
Opel Kadett Roadster
With an automotive history spanning 110 years, Opel is one of the most tradition-rich brands in the industry. Over so many years, some developments are forgotten along the way and reappear again much later down the road. As the company prepares the start of the 10th compact class generation with the new Opel Astra, pictures of an unfamiliar Opel roadster were discovered in an old data base. Opel classic car experts' research shows that Opel engineers built the prototype of a two-seat convertible in 1938, evidently based on the first Opel compact class generation, the Opel Kadett from the 1930's. The name of the car is noted on the pictures that were found: Opel Kadett Two-Seat "Strolch", which means vagabond.
The chic, charming roadster never made it to series production. The old minutes from a management meeting indicate that this project wasn't pursued due to a scarcity of steel before WWII and to relatively low numbers of units in this segment. But evidently Opel was already well prepared for the market launch, as evidenced by a brochure found in old archive records. Ready for printing, the brochure proudly presented the technical details of the Strolch powertrain: 1.1 liter displacement, 23 hp, three-speed transmission, maximum speed 98 km/h. But prototypes of the roadster were not included.
The Opel classic experts were so fascinated by the 3.62-meter long study that they came up with the idea of producing the Strolch 70 years after its was initially developed. In this way they could also demonstrate that even back during the first compact class generation, Opel engineers put a tremendous amount of imagination and passion into their work on new models.
A normal Opel Kadett from 1938 in the classic car collection that has served as a source for spare parts is to be used as the basis. The technology specialists in the classic team immediately started in on their new project. Particularly challenging were the design of the aerodynamic rear and work on other body parts that were not part of the Opel Kadett series. Building the folding fabric top without detailed plans required a lot of imagination and technical skills, especially because the only reference materials were the old pictures.
But the engineers managed to elicit even some of the old pictures' secrets. In order to determine the color of the old prototype, the historical black-white pictures were put through a precise greyscale analysis. This showed that the original Strolch was a bright red.