Shed Find: 1971 Opel Kadett Caravan

When was the last time you saw an Open Kadett Caravan? Or for that matter, when was the last time you saw any Opel Kadett? I remember them back in the ‘70s, but not so much since then. The Kadett was redesigned in 1965 and with that came a three-door station wagon called the Caravan (also known as the Car-A-Van and Kombi in its native Germany). This 1971 edition has been sitting under a shed for about 20 years, available in Branchville, South Carolina (between I-95 and Orangeburg) and offered here on Facebook Marketplace for $2,500.

The seller’s car is actually a Kadett B, a larger successor to the…..wait for it….Kadett A. It was in production in Germany from 1965-73 and sold in the U.S. at your friendly Buick dealer. There were as many as six engines available in the Kadett, one of them being a 1.9-liter CIH four-cylinder engine whose output would max out at about 90 hp. We’re told that this is the engine in the seller’s car. We don’t know how many Caravans were built or how many made it to the States, but Opel made 2.6 million Kadett B’s over its nine-year life. General Motors owned Opel for an incredible 88 years (1929-2017). Click here for more details on the whole Opel series of Kadett cars.

The sequence of the photos we’re given for this 1971 Caravan starts with it being dirty under a shed, followed by it being shiny clean under the shed, and then dull and clean on the back of a truck. So we believe the owner of the car gave it a wash before sending it on its way, pics were taken while it was wet and it dried off before it got loaded on the tow truck trailer employed by the seller. There is some rust in a number of places on the wagon, so if the goal is to restore the wagon, you’re likely going have to go on a search for some sheet metal. Also, there must have been some bodywork done back in the day as the rear quarter on the driver’s side doesn’t match with the rest of the vehicle.

What see of the interior doesn’t look bad, with the driver’s seat waiting on the upholsterer. There is a sheet of plywood in the cargo area, so we don’t what might need attention under it. The purpose of the plywood is to hold the spare engine and transmission that come with the deal. The seller says the floors are solid, which gets us back to the exterior panels that the tin worms have nibbled on. There is no mention of whether the car runs, so we will assume it does not.

If you found another of these cars in really good condition, $5,000 is the most that you’d likely have to pay for it (thanks, NADA). But just try to find one of these cars now that are well-preserved. Most have already passed on to the many junkyards in America. However, if you have your heart set on an Opel Kadett Caravan, this may be about your only opportunity. And the seller is willing to trade!

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Okay, somehow we got past that 4Trax foolishness and back to reality with the “Dopel” Kadett. While I had several Opels, all good, not great cars, before the “Asian Invasion”, you didn’t have much choice in small cars. Oh sure, if you had the guts, you could go with an Italian job, or the Renault, but if the VW taught us anything, German small cars were clearly superior, if your old man let them in the driveway, that is. I had a ’67 Kadett wagon, like this, only the 1.1 motor, some had 2 carbs, mine did not. Did the best holeshots, but that was about it. Then a ’68 Kadett Rallye, this motor, 4 speed, was a fun car, but it did neither get good mileage or good performance, but ran like a clock. And then a couple “Mantras” too. This is a great find, parts could be iffy and it won’t have chilled cup holders, but in ’71, we didn’t need that. Just a little putt-putt to get to work or the store, the Opel Kadett was tops. As it turns out, while the OPel brand faded in the US, many Opel parts wound up in US cars anyway. The Chevette( like Kadett) was almost all Opel.

    Like 14
    • 370zpp

      I’m not sure I would want to admit to having owned several Opels . .

      Like 6
      • Howard A Member

        Why? I’ve owned hundreds of cars, and if I thought a certain car was bad, I’d never buy another. I think I had 4, a friend had 3, my old mans secretary had the cushiest Manta I’d ever seen. In 1971, as I said, you didn’t have much choice. A Vega? A Capri? A Fiat? Good heavens. The Opel, I thought, was a well made car, Germans don’t make crummy cars. While the Kadetts were a bit crude, the Mantas, sold incredibly well, and were nice cars. I don’t mean to jump on you, but I was there in the 70’s and Opels were good cars. Properly maintained, they served Europeans well, it was Americans that were used to their 429 LTD’s that burned them out.

        Like 13
      • Miguel

        Howard, my neighbor had this exact car but in an off white color.

        The only descriptive words that come to mind are rattle trap.

        Like 4
  2. local_sheriff

    Last time I saw a Caravan…? Today actually – I’m passing a ’70 Caravan almost daily, owned and driven regularly by an old Opel guy/hoarder. With that said that’s also the only Kadett Caravan I’ve seen in years.

    These are actually cute little cars and somehow remind me of a 3/4 size Chevy Nova but of course immensely underpowered in stock form.

    Like 5
  3. Country Joe

    My family owned one of those in the early 70s. I have many stories and memories of that car. None of them could be called fond memories, I’d say amusing memories would be the best thing I could call them. The absolute worst car I’ve ever been associated with.

    Like 3
  4. jerry z

    My parents bought a 1973 Opel Kadett in 1974. Unfortunately didn’t own it long, blew a head gasket 6 months after.

    Like 2
  5. Michael Vickery

    This is the car that Car & Driver famously wrote a hit piece on in 1968. I think it was mainly to get attention for the magazine, but it was hardly a lovable car.
    https://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/the-opel-kadett-asassination-by-car-and-driver/

    Like 1
  6. Kenneth Carney

    Good luck finding parts here in Florida.
    A friend of mine was storing one for a
    fellow he knew a few years back. When
    I saw the car, I asked if it was for sale.
    My friend said no and that the owner
    had been looking for a mechanic to
    service it for two years! And all that time, the car sat rusting away in the hot
    Florida sun. If it doesn’t say Ford, GM,
    or Chrysler on it, you can’t get service
    work of any kind done to it. That’s why
    you see so many import cars in scrap
    yards here in the South. Southern mechanics simply won’t touch them.
    And parts, almost impossible to get.
    I’ll bet that’s the reason why this one was parked in the first place.

  7. Wade Anderson

    My step dad owned a red Opel wagon like that when he passed away about thirty years ago my sister had all his cars but be hauled away the one she kept was a Kadette that she hated to me

  8. JudoJohn

    We owned a Kadett wagon, a 1969. It was a good car. The biggest problem Opel had in the US, was that they were sold in Buick dealers, and they didn’t like them. They were a much better quality car than the VW of the same era. However, VW, had a GREAT dealer network, and a fantastic marketing dept.
    I am restoring a Kadett right now, and I saw this one for sale on my Opel group’s FB page. He did get it running, but he wants too much for it in its present condition. I love the Kadett caravan, but this one is over priced.

    Like 3
  9. Kralik

    I owned a near-twin in Germany in the late 1970s, and thought it was a fun, reliable car. Of course, it replaced a Mini Cooper, so…. Mine had started as a 1.1, if memory serves, but someone had replaced it with a Kadett Rallye 1.9.

    Like 1
  10. Dog father

    I remember in the late 70s our Buick dealer sold Opels. They were bright colored and I believe they were about $3000. new. I thought they were neat looking,but I never got around to driving one

    Like 1
  11. Dennis Froelich

    The 1.9 CIH engines produced 102 HP. Owned many Opels!!

    Like 1
  12. 370zpp

    Howard, Sounds like you had good experiences with Opels back when and that’s ok, too. By the way, I was also there in the seventies and had a fantastic 74 Capri V-6 that was trouble free, well made and a pleasure to drive. My best friend’s grandmother had a pea green Opel, and that was in fact the only one I even saw in my small town in upstate New York.

    Like 2
  13. LMK Member

    I had a 64 Opel Kadett two door coupe in the same red as this wagon. I bought it in Long Island with a slipping clutch which didn’t deter me one bit in those days & I then drove it all the way up to Brewster NY. Wish there were videos of some of the things I did back then. I ordered new clutch parts from JC Whitney and installed them . It ran like a top after that. I eventually sold it to a guy who cherished it for quite a few years.

    Like 2
  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I owned a 69 wagon. It was appropriately painted yellow as it was a lemon. The engine was trouble free but at 1.1 liter and automatic trans was underpowered. My then wife drove me to work one morning and as she was leaving the driveshaft fell out in the ground. I put it back in without much effort and sent her on her way.
    I also owned a red 67 Kadett coupe 1.1 liter but with 4 speed trans, it was a very good car and got 40 mpg. Life’s funny that way. You can’t judge a book by its caver, or a car by its name.
    God bless America

    Like 3
  15. Ray Vigeant

    Owned 3 Opels – A 68 Sedan, and a ‘70 and ‘72 Wagon. They never let me down and used them as daily drivers.

    Like 4
  16. Tony

    I’ve owned three Opel GT’s. Loved them all.

    Like 3
  17. Cole Borman

    Hey this is my car and yes it does run well. The plywood is for the engine. Floors are rock solid.

    Like 4
    • John

      Guess it sold. Congratulations looked like a decent little car

      Like 2
      • Cole

        No I still have it for sale.

  18. Philip Lepel

    My first ever car was a ,64 opel wagon this same color. I also had a 67 white two door coupe. I loved them both. The firsts passenger side door hinges rusted off. The second lost 4th gear. But when they ran, they were a ball to drive.

    Like 2
  19. hatofpork

    Had a ’66 Kadett 1.1 coupe. 70 flat out and a gear-rowing blast getting there! 40mpg and slow-car-fast fun. Reliable when sorted.

    Like 2
  20. chrlsful

    these were all over the place in the late ’60s early ’70s in the NE usa. Right nxt to the Impallas and country squires. Nutting wrong wid em~

    Like 1
  21. Johnny

    I remeber dad got one. Had second gear tore out. I was about 14. Its was a –59 station wagon. I tore into the motor. Taking the valve cover and other small pieces off and painting the motor silver and black. He didn,t have itlong enough to find a gear or another transmission. I remeber the signal lights were kinda big. It was a pink and off white . Later on their was a guy in town had one and it was blue and slow.

  22. John

    I thought this would get very few comments. Boy was I wrong!

    Like 1
  23. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    My sister owned this wagon in white, traded in a nice 64 Corvair Monza convertible for it. I owned a white Kadett coupe in this year and a yellow Rallye. I currently own a Buick Regal TourX as many of you know. Made by Opel. Very buttoned down luxury touring wagon.

    Like 1

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