When it came time to replace the Dodge, we opted not for another American sedan but for a small import. However, since this was to be the family car, we made it a small import wagon, a 1969 Opel Kadett B Caravan. The family had, in fact, grown and there were now two young boys to fill the back seat. I don’t recall the purchase price but do remember that we bought the car from a couple professing to be witch and warlock and that the sickly Suzuki motorcycle was part of the deal.
The engine was an inline four which online sources indicate would have displaced something between 1.0 and 1.9 liters. Since I believe the car had something like 60 horsepower, the most likely power plant seems to be the 1492 CC unit rated at 64 HP. The transmission was a four-speed manual. What set this car apart from other Kadetts was the after market air conditioner hanging under the dash.
As you’ve probably guessed, sixty-four (or possibly less) horsepower wasn’t really enough to run the AC compressor and move the car too. The AC was pretty much useless in city traffic, where it would have been appreciated, and even on the highway it demanded a certain amount of awareness. It was fitted with a thermostat controlled clutch so that the compressor was only driven as needed. If it happened to be “needed” when climbing a hill or passing another car (Oh yes I did.) the climbing or passing was severely attenuated. One soon learned to switch off the AC when starting a pass and keep a hand near the controls in any situation that taxed the engine. Even at a steady pace on level ground, the compressor kicking in was an event that couldn’t be ignored. We joked that we should probably be wearing helmets when running the AC because the abrupt jerk might slam our heads into the windshield.
Unlike most of the vehicles that preceded it, the Opel was undamaged and running when we parted. This time it wasn’t a wreck or blown engine that ended our time together. The motor didn’t fail. The marriage did. The Opel went with the wife.