Monday, March 27, 2017

GM's Similar 1964 Opel KADs and Oldsmobile F-85s

Ridding itself of a money-losing subsidiary, General Motors recently announced that it was selling Opel to the Peugeot firm.  There were times when Opel was profitable, but 50 years ago one Opel line that probably lost money was its KAD A-series trio of higher-priced cars marketed 1964-1968.

KAD refers to Opel models in ascending price: Kapitän, Admiral and Diplomat.  Less than 90,000 were built during their production run, which strikes me as being too few to be profitable, even if prices were high.  But perhaps I'm wrong: Opel management decided to continue the lines with a B series form 1969 to 1977 (though Kapitän production ended sooner).  Over this 8-year span, just under 62,000 KADs were built, continuing the pattern of low numbers on a model-year basis.  Some background on the A-series Admiral (55,876 built) is here.

What interests me about 1964-68 KADs is how similar their styling is to General Motors' new-for-1964 Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile F-85 and Pontiac Tempest models.  I'll focus on the Oldsmobile in this post (background information here).

I have no information at hand regarding who styled those Opels.  In those days GM sent some of its design personnel to Opel, including the man who would be in charge of Opel's styling group.  So one could argue that was how Detroit design concepts also appeared in Germany.  But there are details on 1964 Oldsmobile F-85s and KADs that are so similar that I wonder if parts or tooling or some of each crossed the Atlantic.  Knowledgeable reader comments are most welcome regarding this.

It also needs to be mentioned that these cars were fairly similar in size.  KAD cars had a wheelbase of 112 inches (2845 mm) and were 194.8 inches (4948 mm) long.  Oldsmobile F-85s had a 115 inch (2900 mm) wheelbase and their length was 203 inches (5200 mm).


A 1965 Diplomat four-door sedan.

For-sale photo of a 1964 Oldsmobile F-85 442.  Hoods and fender tops are similar, as are the grille outlines.

Side view of an Opel Admiral.

Side for-sale view of an Oldsmobile F-85 Deluxe.  The passenger compartment "greenhouses" are strikingly similar over their tops: note the windshields and the curve aft of the C-pillars.  B-pillars are very slightly different, as are door cut-lines.  Wheel openings are nearly identical aside from the aft slopes.

Opel Kapitän rear 3/4 view.

Same Olds F-85 rear 3/4.  Note the similarity of the backlights (back windows).  Also the similar character lines following the side windows that fade away after turning to the horizontal.  The Olds has greater rear overhang, and the Opel's side character crease is higher that the F-85s.

1 comment:

emjayay said...

I doubt that they shared much of anything beyond maybe some small bits. The Opel was no doubt narrower by several inches besides being significantly smaller in length and wheelbase. But similarities between European Fords and GM cars has been obvious at various times. I always wonder if a lot of designers were sent back and forth, and about today too when many vehicles are almost identical between continents. How much design and engineering is done here, and how much there? No magazine seems to have covered much of this topic ever.