Forty years of Opel Corsa, the first “small” of the German brand

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Forty years ago, precisely in the autumn of 1982, the first Opel Corsa made its debut on the Italian market, covering the small car segment which the other major European manufacturers had already entered for some years: Volkswagen with the Polo (1975) and Ford with the Fiesta (1976). Until then, the small car segment had been, at least in Italy, a sort of fiefdom of Fiat and after all all the cars mentioned up to now resumed the pattern brought to this sector by the Fiat 127, born in 1972. Going back to Opel, until before the Corsa the German brand had only ventured into the higher categories, with the various Kadett, Rekord, Kapitan. The first Corsa was available in four versions, powered either by a weakened 45 bhp variant of the 993 cc engine (with cast iron cylinder head and pushrod and rocker arm distribution) from the Kadett, or by the 1.2 with 55 bhp.

Opel Automobile GmbH

To these was added the two-door Opel Corsa 1.2 TRS which rose with power up to 70 HP. The Corsa immediately established itself on all European markets and not only in Italy, where 20,953 units were registered in 1983. Thus Opel had to almost double the production at the Zaragoza plant, from 700 to 1,200 cars per day.

The Spanish factory was built specifically for the Corsa, taking advantage of the tax breaks that the Iberian government reserved in those years for those wishing to invest in the industry. Returning to the success of the Corsa, between the end of 1983 and the end of 1984, its arrival made the B segment of the European market grow from 7% to over 10%. Speaking of numbers, in Italy the Opel Corsa was the best-selling foreign car in the B segment between 1996 and 2005 (709,569 units delivered) and for three consecutive years from 1997 to 1999.

Opel Automobile GmbH

The first generation Corsa, however, was produced until the end of 1992 after 3,100,000 units built. Among its peculiar characteristics there were certainly the design and consumption.

The style respected the geometric and angular criteria of the time, but with refined details such as the protruding wheel arches. As for efficiency, the one-litre version of the small Opel was approved for 100 kilometers with 6.6 liters of petrol. As for safety, it was the first car in the segment with front seats equipped with anti-dive ramps which allowed the belts to work correctly in the event of an accident. In the following decade, the Opel Corsa underwent many updates and the range was enriched with new versions such as the sporty SR (1983), the 4 and 5-door bodies (1985), the first GSi (1987), the Diesel (1987) , the Turbodiesel (1988) and the GSi 16V (1991).

Opel Automobile GmbH

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