Built for ’68 Season: Opel Kadett Gasser

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Who can solve the mystery of the King Kadett? Surely someone recognizes this wicked gasser that just popped up on craigslist in Chicago. Of course, much to my surprise, these were popular cars for drag conversions as there’s far from just one of them out there. The seller claims this 283-powered example still runs and drives, so check it out here on craigslist for $8,500. Be sure to go here if the ad disappears.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Brian C. for the find. Interestingly, in 2015 this article from BangShift seems to indicate a primered project gasser was also called the King Kadett. Will the real King Kadett please stand up? Of course, if it was a well known car around the Chicago area, I suppose clones are entirely possible. Or did the primer-gray car receive an artificially weathered paint job since it last appeared on eBay?

The interior is all business, with a custom dash sporting just the basics. If the seller has his facts straight, this Kadett was likely a new car that went straight into race-mode not long after it was sold. References to the Kadett being a popular gasser platform indicate General Motors’ foray into selling an attractive economy car had the unexpected consequence of becoming a favorite on the drag strip.

According to the seller: “Straight axle, was told car was built to race the 1968 drag race season. Car has a 283 and a 4 speed.” The original motor mounts and fender wall headers are also included with the car. Overall, this seems like a boatload of fun for the gasser enthusiast, but I’d want to know a bit more about how rusty it may be; Chicago winters aren’t kind, even to summer-only drag cars. Would you preserve or tear it down and rebuild?

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Comments

  1. Joe

    I bought a new ’66 Opel Kadett coupe exactly like that in Biloxi. Red/Red, 1100cc, 4 cyl., 4 spd. Great fun and light. I ran it fast everywhere.

    5
  2. Steve R

    This is something you preserve it the best you can by buffing out the paint, then throw some vintage speed equipment at. Don’t try and make it some “race car”, it’s a death trap and modifying it to try and make it pass today’s tech will remove much of its charm, however crude. This car should have a long life as a “show” car, where it will draw plenty of attention.

    I’m not sure about the price, if it was stored inside, there may not be many issues with rust.

    Steve R

    13
  3. Gasser Man

    I love it!
    A legal roll cage and updated sheet metal work and run it as it is. Short wheel base makes it a blast to drive.

    3
  4. grant

    If you look at the pics on the bangshift article this is the same car. Right down to the wear/rips on the driver’s seat and the ripples in the dash and trim. It’s still cool, but faked cars passed off as original are annoying.

    5
  5. MH

    Same car for sure. Fake old paint job. NEXT car please.

    4
    • Sickboy

      I’ve seen this car personally and the paint is not fake . It was found and that person thought it was a good idea to sand it’s or paint and primer it , then after hours and hours of wet sanding the primer was finally sanded off to reveal the original, yet crude, paint under and that is how it looks now .

  6. SC/RAMBLER

    I know im a bit crazy, but fix it as needed, make it a FUN street car.Even a 283 would have more than enough power to be lots of FUN in a lite weight car like a kadett

    5
  7. Chris

    As others have noted it’s the same car, which if the seller identified as a tribute car or recreation I’d be fine with. The fact that I see his ad and it just states that it’s a barn find (which it was I’m sure, sans the paint job) it rubs me the wrong way. Seems a little underhanded to me. At least he didn’t use the word “patina”. It is pretty cool car though.

    4
    • dgrass

      Guy states clearly that he bought it as a roller. Not sure what the issue is outside of that. Seller makes no mention of authenticity outside of it being a gasser from the late 60s.

      3
      • grant

        Because it was a shell. His ad is careful not to outright say it but it infers that the car is in as found condition. It was literally a body shell in primer with a seat two years ago.

  8. Coventrycat

    Damn, that’s cool.

    3
  9. jw454

    Trying to drive this thing would be a nightmare. The peddle positions are such a mess and the shifter is under your right knee. I’d pass at a tenth of the asking price.

    1
    • Gasser Man

      That’s what makes it fun and the driver a true racer to get it down the track.
      Anyone car drag race in a modern car. Roll in to the first bulb, stage and hold the trans brake button.
      Short wheelbase 4 speed straight axle cars separate the men from the boys.

      5
      • Steve R

        The people that work at my local track are scared to death on the rare occasion an old gassed like this shows up to make some runs. They don’t trust this style of car or their drivers judgement.

        Steve R

        5
  10. michael h streuly

    Be Afraid Be Very Afraid.

    4
  11. Howard A Member

    I think I know this car. In the early 80’s, my ex-wife had a friend who knew I had Opels, said her boyfriend had an Opel. She didn’t say anything else about it. When at her house, in S. Wis. ( which is kind of close to Chicago) he asked if I wanted to see it. You can imagine my surprise, when he opened the door, and this ( or a car very similar to it) was in the garage. He said, it was NOT for the street. And don’t worry about rust, this car only went 1/2 mile at a time( 1/4 mile down, 1/4 mile back) Pretty cool, gassers, aside from top fuel, are my favorite drag cars. Not, I repeat, not, for the faint of heart.

    5
  12. karguy James

    It was so much cooler before I read the comments and learned it was all recently added fake paint and lettering. What a shame.

    4
    • Owner of car

      The primer was sanded off. That’s what it looked like under the primer. Re letter the doors to what was on them .

      2
  13. scottymac

    Hey, the car can’t be all bad, it’s got Keystones (at least on the front). What I really want to know is what happened to the Colony Park tow car in the BangShift article?

  14. Tort

    Would be fun on the street but too short wheel based if you had a lot of motor. Came real close to buying a Anglia gasser years ago with a glass front end, lexan windows,etc to put on the street. The guy had just bought it with a 427 Chevy engine with Hilborne style injection. One or two passes he was so scared he put the motor in a 56 Chevy.

    1
  15. Troy s

    Crazy, odd looking cars they built for racing back then, anything more than a 283 in this would be trouble. Love the old gassers, A/FX, and Super Stocks from the golden era. Every bit as hairy as they looked.

  16. Wayne

    I spent a lot of time at US 30 Drag Strip in the late 60s and early 70s.
    I don’t ever remember seeing this car.

    1
  17. Ron

    I’m thinking that instead of a “fake” paint job, they just sanded the gray primer off, most of it anyway, there is still some along the lower part of the panels and on the rockers…

    2

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