In the late 1990s, few people would have expected the conservative Opel to take an interest in producing a sleek, 2 seater sports car. Which is why when the Opel GT was previewed in 1996 as the XV/R concept car, the idea was not expected to go any further. Opel shocked the market when it unveiled the Kadett based GT in 1968, with shark nose lines that were very close to those of the show car. It was immediately dubbed the ‘baby Corvette’, and the GM American influence was certainly strong. The retractable headlamps and engine set well back in the engine bay allowed the GT a very low nose. At the back, the tail was abruptly sawn off know as a kamm tail, and fitted with four Ferrari look circular tail lights. All this work had serious aerodynamics intent behind it. The cleverest and most advanced part of the GT body was the window frames which were part of the door skin and wrapped smoothly into the curvaceous roof panel. Perhaps because of the Corvette connection, GT was often thought to be of fibreglass. In fact, it was built of very thin gauge steel by coachbuilder Chasusson in France. The underpinnings were as aged as the body was up-to date. The Kadett meant a narrow cabin, and crude front suspension based on a transverse leaf spring. Despite this, the GT was praised for its chassis performance, and Opel’s though 1.9 litre engine gave it respectable performance.
The majority of the 103,000 GTs made over five years went to the sports car hungry US market, but 1974 model year, demands for impact resistant bumpers and tighter exhaust emissions forced it out of production. Ironically, 16 years later Opel pulled exactly the same trick. It based the attractively curvaceous and aerodynamics Calibra on the Opel Ascona/ Vauxhall Cavalier family car model.