1965 Opel Kadett Racer

993 Kadett
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1965 Opel Kadett Racer

Post by 993 Kadett » Tue 15 Feb 2011, 21:18

Been away for some time now but back in SA and would like to post some info on a project recently completed. Have attached pics of the original racer in PE from 1974 and the 'Replica' we have built in Germany. The new car has been built from a '64 body shell hence the different front end but otherwise practically identical. If anyone is interested will send more dope on how it all happened. P
Attachments
Replica Kadett '64.jpg
Replica built in Germany, shakedown complete first race Hockenheim April
Replica Kadett '64.jpg (33.98 KiB) Viewed 5779 times
'113' Aldo Scribante 1974.jpg
Original racer, run in E Cape in the early 70's 1150cc
'113' Aldo Scribante 1974.jpg (165.52 KiB) Viewed 5779 times

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zahistorics
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Re: 1965 Opel Kadett Racer

Post by zahistorics » Tue 15 Feb 2011, 22:38

Hi Paul!

Jeez you HAVE been away for just a bit. Don't they have internet in Germany :) Welcome back

Very nice car - tell us more please. Where do you run the car?

993 Kadett
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Re: 1965 Opel Kadett Racer

Post by 993 Kadett » Wed 16 Feb 2011, 12:53

Hey John OK OK !!! Your'e spot on.. but in my defense I have two reasons I have been off the radar, firstly, been in the middle east running a logistics operation 24/7 for six years and very little time to think of anything else and secondly I can only get into something like this if I give it full attention. I think some of what I have to pass on will be of interest but not too sure that it will support the established history... and the A Kadett is just the start... This is a car that would have changed the face of saloon car racing in the small classes in the 60's, had the General not fallen asleep..... And the following may be surprising to many:
In order to start the story we need to ask a question..... what car, in it's first year of manufacture worldwide, found it's way onto the grid in the 9 hour at Kyalami, ended up first & second home in it's engine capacity class two years in a row and finished 9th and 10th OVERALL both years...beating far more established racing cars in the process... plus ...with six entries over those two years had an 83% finishing record? To be precise, thats one clutch failure in 50 odd hours of collective racing...... the car then disappearing, never to be seen on national ractracks again.
The answer of course is the 63-65 'A' body Kadett. That stat is a formidable one and whilst there may be some other products out there with a similar profile (Gordinis come to mind), it will take quite a car to match that finishing record..that is if it is ever done at all. What happened that the Kadett disappeared, anyone hazard a guess? P

993 Kadett
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Re: 1965 Opel Kadett Racer

Post by 993 Kadett » Thu 17 Feb 2011, 15:35

Well here is some of the background. Firstly the reason I mentioned the Kadett in the 9 hour races (The two races were 1963 and 1964 respectively) is because there was a push in the mid 60’s from the Go Faster Brigade locally, to get the General more involved in motorsport. :D GM worldwide at the time was shackled by a “no Racing” policy but this was beginning to show some cracks and there was a glimmer of awakening…. George Armstrong, Tim Potgieter and others were banging hard on GM’s door. Things were beginning to look up around 1964 & it looked as though some purse strings were to be opened a bit more via the dealers. Levitts and Williams Hunt doing the business at the time. Bear in mind that our friends at Ford were in full flight with “Total Performance” which included everything from Saloon car racers on all continents to GT40’s and finally the ubiquitous DFV Formula 1 engine. :?
Then came the hammer blow in 1965 to anyone thinking of motorsport linked to a GM product.. The publishing of Ralph Nader’s.. Unsafe at Any Speed….. The contents of the book was, as history shows, to be a watershed in the times of Auto Design and General Vehicle Safety but the one section of the book which condemned the stability of the Chev Corvair, drove a spear through the heart of anything remotely associated with performance, high powered cars and racing at GM. The GM brass needed to save face and used social responsibility as the driver for their marketing. Part of this was to reinforce the ‘No Racing’ policy…. by the end of 1965 there was not a senior soul in the GM organization worldwide that did not understand “No Racing…., Gone were the Kadetts in SA. :cry:
The light that was beginning to glow was blown out and I guess as one GM engineer put it at the time...”as a career move it is better for an engineer to come up with a mod to the electrical motor windings on a Fridgidaire than bolt a new Holley to a Small Block.” :oops:
That then was the death knell of motorsport for GM for a long while….. and when one considers that Ford was running flat out, the disservice this policy did to the GM product was incalculable. Sadly, GMSA was to repeat this mistake in 1973. 8O More tomorrow…..

993 Kadett
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Re: 1965 Opel Kadett Racer

Post by 993 Kadett » Fri 18 Feb 2011, 12:42

Today I was going to get to grips with the Kadett story but thought, instead, to give just a little more background to the GM plot at the time. The reason for this is that there are those of you who would query the existence of the Sunoco Camaros in Trans Am racing during the period 67-69 in the face of a GM no racing policy, ie How could this have happened?? As a result, I do not want to shoot myself in the foot this early in my scribblings, so here’s how it happened, it’s a bit long but it does have relevance.

Well its not often that I, as a GM enthusiast, will go on record to thank Ford for too much BUT we (and here I speak collectively of the GM clan) should, every night before we go to sleep thank Ford for one thing……….. and that is the production of the Mustang.
Can you imagine the state of the 14th floor of the GM building in Detroit in 1965 with two of the biggest events in American Automotive history having just hit the exec team right between the eyes:

ONE was Ralph Nader telling the Industry and particularly GM that they did not care a hoot about their customers on the issue of safety and air pollution. TWO was Ford having launched a car selling like no other before it… & worse, with the new product screaming: Young, Sporty, and…worst of all… FAST….. Ford’s message was new, fresh, young and clearly aimed at unlatching a dormant customer base, whilst GM was retreating into conservatism.

The hottest job on earth at that time must have been be the marketing boss of the General for sure. This was a dichotomy of epic proportions and GM were forced to respond. They did, and thankfully for all we got the Camaro. Now I shan’t go any deeper into the politics within GM at the time because there are some wonderful stories covering the battle that existed between the conservative clan and those that wanted the company to move into new territory…. but the following is an absolute fact… Everything to do with the Z28 version of the Camaro came from petrolhead enthusiasts within the company having to do battle with the establishment to get the job done. Very little cash was allocated to the project. Nothing better illustrates this than the engine being built from existing components, 283 steel crank, 327 block, 327 Fuel injection engine Cam and heads. The only major engine tooling required was for the pistons and the hi rise inlet manifold for the Holley. The story here is that existing suppliers coughed up for those anyway. (Only in 1968 did some $ get loosened up, with the ’69 Z’s getting the 350 four bolt block and dedicated big journal crank as well as some Heat treated pistons)….. Another fact, the ‘67-‘69 Z28 Camaros did not exist as production models… as with so many other GM muscle cars, the Z28 had to avoid the Racing Police and was built entirely as a Dealer Option. The racing programme operated similarly under the radar.

Remember that another absolute in the USA at the time, was simply the fact that GM had, without any intent at all at corporate level, created the most fabulous production based racing engine of all time in the small block Chevy and with it, a customer base they were largely ignoring. This put serious pressure on the Fuddy Duddies in the system and the need for them to turn a blind eye……
Heres the kicker: GM’s racing heritage from these early years can be placed fairly and squarly at the feet of all the enthusiasts both inside and outside the company and not as a result, like Ford, of a corporate strategy. We should build a monument to them from Zora through DeLorean (for the GTO – the start) and 100’s of others too many to mention …..On the other side of the Pond, the master, Bill Blydenstein …. One could say that GM’s competition Heritage happened in spite of the suites and not because of them.

Up to 1971 in SA, GMSA was a clone of Detroit in its Corporate Attitute to anything Fast…I know, I was there…. But in 1972 and to the end of 1973 there was an exception to the above story & we saw what was to be the biggest shift in strategy on motorsport by any GM operation anywhere on the world. This was attributable to a man I regard as the finest Automotive CEO to grace our SA industry, and there have been a lot of good ones…. Bob Price, the Father of the Firenza Can Am……
Basil had come up with the idea, but Bob made it happen. Therein lies an amazing story, but I will keep that for another time….enuff said for now, we’ll get onto the Kadett tomorrow

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Killarney Racer
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Re: 1965 Opel Kadett Racer

Post by Killarney Racer » Fri 18 Feb 2011, 12:54

What lovely cars - both of them!

I see in 1963 there were 4 Kadetts entered and in 1964 two, one of which was shared with Dave Charlton, non other.

Who ran the car in the 1970's.

993 Kadett
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Re: 1965 Opel Kadett Racer

Post by 993 Kadett » Sat 19 Feb 2011, 19:06

The 1970’s car was mine & ran during the period 1970 thru 1974. This period mostly coincided with the time PE did not have a racetrack, so most of our racing happened in EL and strangely enough Oudtshoorn. Plenty of ¼ miles and hillclimbs in PE during that period.
I was not a dedicated racer but more of a techno buff at the time so did not race at all meets. The car was extremely competitive even with my average driving but quite devastating in the hands of Lionel Rowe, my team mate and owner, at the time, of the ex Gordon Briggs Broadspeed Anglia. Sold the car in 1975, only for it to be burnt out by its new owners a few months later!

Must hasten to add that these writings are not intended to focus on the old car but to highlight the ‘A’ Kadett as a missed opportunity and I would think that with the new car having a strong SA heritage, quite legitimate to bring to this forum.

The new car happened as a result of a young German mailing me along with the pic of old 113 above, saying he wanted to build one and could I help him. One thing lead to another and I opened up the spec sheet and sent it to him. He then made the commitment to build a replica & sent the critical engine bits to SA, so the head, cam and manifolding were all done here. I have been to Germany to work with the lads there and they are a really professional group, having faithfully reproduced the old car.
We had to make some changes to the original in the area of wheels. Old 113 ran 12” Dunlop CR84 treaded racing tyres (The factory tyre for works Minis) and as there are no 12” racing tyres available anymore, we were forced to switch to 13” . The only major problem we ever had with the old car was getting the right gearing, this because the car has a unique long pinion rear axle (bolted to the floor pan) with alternative ratios almost impossible to get at the time, hence the use of the Mini Tyres (Std final drive was 3.89:1!!!!). Today the low profile rubber available is wonderful and the 13” tyre we will be using for this car gives us an even smaller tyre OD than the old Dunlops. (pics show the new car with proto rubber & high profile) We have also since located two alternative high ratio F/D gear sets so we can finally use that rpm in 4th gear.
The old engine produced 110BHP @ 7500 ( that’s real Horsepower validated on an engine Dyno, not BS stuff) with the most amazingly wide power band. It had grunt from 5800 and would literally rev until you stopped it. Power at 8500 was still around 104.
The std ratio box forced us to rev the engine to 9000 in battle and amazingly in 4½ years of running the car never had an engine failure. The Kadett stopped twice during races in that time, that includes enduros…once for a throttle link that broke and once for a loose battery cable. No gearbox, clutch or mechanical failures of any sort.
The new car has dedicated 4speed close ratio gears with a rolling start 1st gear (in the old casing) and thankfully we only have to use 8500 max with a 1500rpm drop between gears.

The new car is also right on the money power wise and thankfully we have just been given the OK to run the car at 1286cc (from 1150), the engine rebuild in progress now.
The first race for the car will be at Hockenheim in April & will run the full season in Europe including the ‘Ring enduro. The car will also be coming to SA for the classic series of races later this year and early 2012.

Some random pics attached of the new car build as well as old 113 doing the business. Hope you found this diversion at least interesting, I just got a little weary of seeing the same cars over and over again while this gem was hiding in the closet!! Let me know if you want any detail, have records of some of the old cars performance figures, ¼ mile times and race results. P
Attachments
1974 Keeping the Renaults honest.jpg
The Heat of battle 1974
1974 Keeping the Renaults honest.jpg (25.49 KiB) Viewed 5676 times
Ready to Roll.jpg
Car ready for Dyno runs late 2010
Ready to Roll.jpg (138.25 KiB) Viewed 5676 times
06122010068 c.jpg
Twin Split 44 IDF's
06122010068 c.jpg (169.66 KiB) Viewed 5676 times
4. Fresh Paint.jpg
Out of the Paintshop
4. Fresh Paint.jpg (29.62 KiB) Viewed 5676 times
3. Suspension Trial build - Axle square check.jpg
Trial build - correcting axle positions and centres.
3. Suspension Trial build - Axle square check.jpg (149.17 KiB) Viewed 5676 times
1. Left Side Panel prep.jpg
Very little sheetmetal work required on old shell.
1. Left Side Panel prep.jpg (101.39 KiB) Viewed 5676 times

VMX
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Re: 1965 Opel Kadett Racer

Post by VMX » Sat 19 Feb 2011, 20:41

That's a serious piece of information good to see something like this kept alive. The problem here is I think there is a lack of depth we have such a diverse lot of cars that were sold and raced here it's beyond me why people stick to stuff that has become so boringly common. The V8's are one thing Ford and Chev but the real hero's were these little cars. A pal of mine has one of these 2 door Kadett's parked for must be 30 years.

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zahistorics
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Re: 1965 Opel Kadett Racer

Post by zahistorics » Mon 21 Feb 2011, 22:10

Geat stuff Paul!

Keep it coming. I agree with Lino - there is a whole 4 cyl history waiting to be discovered, but with the restoration of Y151, and Nikkies Celica replica, to name but two, hopefully we will see more and more of this type of thing.

993 Kadett
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Joined: Sun 16 Dec 2007, 13:33

Re: 1965 Opel Kadett Racer

Post by 993 Kadett » Tue 22 Feb 2011, 12:21

Positive comments guys and I think we should push for even more diversity in the mix. How about the Ford lads coming up with a replica Zephaxie - Guscotts machine of the 60's, now that was one beautifully made car! You mention 4 cyls hiding away ...... the cage has been rattled so I’ve got another one for you. Take a peek at this ….any ideas on the car, the racing that particular day and the background to this very unusual machine. Be warned I did say that I may have a view of history a little different to the established norm we have been fed & I will probably get some good natured flak from both Ford and GM Firenza 2.5 fans of the time…. but unfortunately I can’t change the facts. If you want to know, this is a real good one……….P
Attachments
RANGER 2.5 Aldo Scribante 1974 - B.gif
RANGER 2.5 Aldo Scribante 1974 - B.gif (147.64 KiB) Viewed 5626 times

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