We go back to the days when Calibras were in the showroom. The 10 coolest Opels from the 90s in a row!
We recently discussed the April 2023 sales figures. We came to the conclusion that everyone wants a Kia these days. But not so long ago, every brand had no chance. In the 1990s there was only one brand that mattered: Opel. The brand was extremely popular in the Netherlands. It actually still is, because the Opel Corsa is the third best-selling car in our country.
But there have been times when Opel completely dominated the market in our country. And then not by putting hundreds of cars on license plates on 31 December. No, Opel had such a huge lead that it was not necessary. Last year, more than 13,000 Opels were sold. In the 1990s, there were regularly more than 60,000!
Many of those cars were relatively simple Corsas, Astras and Vectras. Fortunately, Opel also had plenty of fun and sporty cars on offer. Those, plus a number of very special ones, let’s review the 10 coolest Opels from the 90s today.
Opel Senator Irmscher (C)
1990 – 1993
We know the Omega, but there was also a larger sedan above it, the Senator. It’s not like the Senator is an S-Class competitor. The Senator was on the Omega platform, but had a longer wheelbase. In most cases, the Senator is quite a luxury car.
For sportier versions you could go to Irmscher and Lexmaul, often just at (selected) dealers. The Irmscher Senator 4.0i had a six-in-line enlarged to 4 liters. If this car had a BMW logo on it, it was definitely a classic by now. The C40SE engine was good for 272 hp and 395 Nm, with which you could reach a top speed of 256 km/h. Into 1990! In an Opel!
Opel Omega 3000 Evo 500 (A)
1991 – 1992
An atmospheric six-in-line of 3 liters, rear-wheel drive and a homologation special. That just sounds like a BMW, doesn’t it? No, it’s the Omega 3000 Evolution. At Opel they were not at all happy that General Motors Lotus also had an Omega made.
That car was more legendary because of the insane power of 382 horsepower. But this Evolution 3000 looks much thicker. The body kit corresponds to the DTM racers. As the name suggests, 500 units were built. Rightfully one of the coolest Opels ever made.
Opel Kadett 200i Superboss (E)
At Volkswagen, the Rallye G60 Synchro is very happy. Such a rare model with all the bells and whistles on it. Opel also had such a car and the motorsport division was also responsible for it. Not the German one, but the one in South Africa. The Opel Kadett Superboss was nothing more or less than a homologation special, born to answer the BMW 325iS. The BMW was a great race car, so they had to give it their best.
They did that with the Boss, Superboss and Big Boss. The first two are still ’80s cars, the Big Boss was there in the ’90s and was officially called the 200i CD 16v. These had over 170 horsepower and all are naturally aspirated. The engine received Andre camshafts and some modifications, such as a Cosworth head, larger valves, forged pistons and an adjusted compression ratio.
Opel Vectra 2000 (A)
1989 – 1992
Yes, there was also a Vectra Turbo 4×4 after the facelift. But the pre-lift models were like ‘2000’. These got the 2.0 liter sixteen valve under the hood. You could choose from front-wheel drive or 4×4. In fact, the Vectra 2000 was a Calibra 16v. Even the wheels came from that coupe.
Not every Vectra with a 2-liter engine is a 2000. In addition to the rims, you could recognize the 2000 by the sports fairings on the inside and the thick body kit with rear spoiler on the outside. Although it looked thicker than what it was, you could still keep up with a little 320i on the Autobahn.
Opel Corsa GSI 16v (B)
1993 – 1994
Opel was one of the first brands to make a clearer distinction between three-door and five-door versions. The five-doors have the elongated taillights, the three-doors are slightly wider. You could only get the sporty GSI as a three-door, of course. The 1.6 double cam with sixteen valve was a typical Opel sewing machine. A tad restless idle, but the block turned with pleasure. Unlike many cars, the early GSIs are the most fun.
They got a thicker body kit and fun wheels. Man you even had a GSI 16v badge on the front bumper! How cool is that? Then you can inform the people in front of you that you are coming with a quick model. Unfortunately, the logo was not mirrored, as on the BMW 2002 Turbo. In 1994, the GSI was unfortunately stripped of its body kit. Strangely enough, it appeared again with the Corsa Eco Concept in 1995.
Opel Kadett 200ts (F)
But this is an Astra, right? Yes, that’s right, but in South Africa this car was still called Kadett. There were special versions especially for the South African market. You can already see the Big Boss (still the E model) above. But there was also a superlative in the form of the Kadett 200ts. This got the engine from the Vectra Turbo 4×4. In this case, the front wheels had to solve it. You did get the Getrag six-speed gearbox. 500 of them were built. Again one of the coolest Opels ever.
Opel Calibra DTM Edition
1995 – 1996
When we talk about the coolest Opels, the Calibra should not be missing. Of course the name ‘DTM’ is very misplaced. The Calibra did participate in the DTM, but that was the V6 that ran at 11,000 rpm. It was a way to sell the Calibra. In this case we cover the Turbo, because we are Autoblog and the Turbo was the fastest. Thanks to the 4×4 system, both to 100 km/h and top speed.
The Turbo went to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds and could reach a top speed of 245 km/h. That was seriously fast in that period! The DTM version of the Turbo was not delivered in the Netherlands. It meant getting DTM badges. And DTM logos on the floor mats. And those cool wheels. The Calibra has been a ‘wrong’ car for too long. Fortunately, it now gets a little more credit than before.
Opel Vectra i500 (B)
1997 – 1998
The Ford Mondeo ST200 simply had a counterpart. In fact, the Opel Vectra i500 was actually there before. More than 100 were delivered in the Netherlands, but that is the post-facelift model. In Germany, more than 1,200 units of the pre-facelift model have been delivered. The basis was the already not sick Vectra 2.5 V6, which already delivered 170 hp (a more expensive 318i did not even have 120 hp).
Thanks to Irmscher, that power increased to 193 hp. Not thanks to chip tuning, but due to mechanical adjustments such as wilder camshafts and other air intake. The appearance of the car had to resemble the touring cars that Opel and Irmscher drove in the STW. You could choose from a sedan or station wagon.
Opel Tigra Sports
This was the concept version
Opel wanted to repeat the success of the Calibra with a smaller model. Various – especially Japanese – brands had a small and affordable coupe on offer. Opel itself came up with the Tigra. The basis was the Corsa B. The concept was very promising and the production version was hardly different. It just stood higher on its feet and the wheels were smaller. Fortunately, you could find enough stuff in the Rieger catalog to still get that concept look.
In the end, it was a bit too much of a Corsa in terms of driving experience. You could get a 1.4 (with 75 hp) or 1.6 (with 100 hp). So not really super fast. In terms of handling, the Ford Puma was a considerably nicer car. But the Tigra had a USP, those special taillights. They were so cool that Callaway used them for the C12 sports car. The Tigra Sports was a slightly sportier model, specifically intended for the German market.
Opel Astra OPC (G)
The first time Opel used the OPC badge was in 1999. The Astra G was the great rival for the Volkswagen Golf 4. There were various sporty models, such as a VR5 and GTI, both with 150 hp. Opel took a different approach with a high-revving atmospheric 2.0 engine that delivered 160 hp. It was a typical rear-mounted car with BBS wheels, Recaro seats and all kinds of other parts from renowned brands. It is one of the last really old school Opels.
The facelift model received a 2.0 turbo engine with a lot of torque. With this early OPC you really had to wring the engine out for fun performance. That is why it is one of the coolest Opels from the 1990s. Oh, a special mention for the blue paint (Arden Blue) and of course that huge rear spoiler. You could only get the OPC as a three-door hatchback. This Opel was the beginning of a completely new era of sporty Opels.
Read more? Check out all electric Opels over the years here!
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