Around the same time that the Manta B 400 was being finalized as the Group B replacement for the Ascona B 400, Opel Motorsport manager Tony Fall considered an alternative: use the proven chassis and mechanicals of the B 400 and throw them under a much more compact and lighter body – the Kadett 400 idea was born. The project is said to have been outsourced to German company Matter.
Starting life as a normal Kadett D in GTE trim, the car was then carved about considerably and was “grafted” onto a Manta B 400 floorpan. This effectively turned the little Kadett from an under-powered front wheel drive hatchback to a fierce rear wheel drive rally weapon. This “silhouette” procedure was completely allowed under the Group B regulations.
Compared with the Manta, the engine was able to be placed about 5 cms (2 inches) further to the rear of the front axle to slightly improve weight bias and rear traction. The normally aspirated 2.4L engine was upgraded to produce around 220 horsepower.
The exterior featured a wide arch kit made out of composite panels and polycarbonate windows. The car was said to weigh about a metric tonne, which was about the same as the Manta, but that most likely could have been improved with further development and replacement of steel parts. A total of three cars are rumored to have been built, all sporting slight differences in specifications and exterior panels (two had square arch extensions, one had round ones).
At the time, not many countries and events allowed for such prototypes to compete and roam around freely. As such, the cars were sent to South Africa for extensive testing (where the Kadett model was coincidentally very popular). One particular car was entered in the country’s 1984 Nissan Int’l Rally driven by Tony Pond. The car showed promise, running in second place with three best stage times out of nine, until Pond was forced to retire due to an oil pump failure.
Strong concerns about the Kadett 400 project were put forward since by this time the face of the WRC was quickly evolving with fiercer four wheel drive machinery and the Manta B 400 had already fallen short of its opposition. The conversion process for the car turned out to be very time consuming as well. Furthermore, a new generation of the Kadett was due to be launched in 1985. All of these concerns made Opel team manager Tony Fall cancel the Kadett 400 project in favor of one last push to the GM executives: the Kadett E 4S.
In 1986, a Kadett D 400 was subsequently bought by Malcolm Wilson to be entered in the British Rally Championship. However, the aluminum roll cage that the car was equipped with was no longer being accepted. Wilson had it changed to a steel one and sold the car off. The car would subsequently participate in many rallies both in Britain and Ireland with a few podium finishes. NOTE: The 1986 timing for the return of these cars to Europe sometimes makes them be incorrectly labelled as being Group S prototypes, of which they are clearly not.
Two of the three prototype cars are known to still exist today with a fourth recently built as a tribute replica. The latter was shown at the 2014 Eifel Rallye Festival in Germany.
|Group/Class||PROTOTYPE||# built: 3|
|Conception / Production||1983~1984|
|Type||4S unit with Cosworth “crossflow” cylinder head, I-4, DOHC 16v, gas||located front longitudinal|
|Displacement||2410 cc||WRC: 2410 cc|
|Compression ratio||11.2:1 (presumed)|
|Output power – torque||220 HP @ 7000 rpm||– lb-ft (- Nm) @ – rpm|
|Materials||block: cast iron||cylinder head: aluminium|
|Ignition||electronic, firing order 1-3-4-2|
|Lubrication system||dry sump with oil cooler|
|Type||rear wheel drive||Getrag 5 speed gearbox|
|Gearbox ratios (presumed)||constant input: 1.652
|constant input: 1.038
|Differential ratio||4.55||ZF hypoid bevel gears, 75% limited slip rear differential|
|Clutch||dry – double disc|
|Type||Kadett D steel monocoque chassis paired with Manta B floorpan. 3 door hatchback.|
|Front suspension (presumed)||McPherson type, independent, telescopic gas shock absorbers and anti-roll bar|
|Rear suspension (presumed)||live axle with 4 longitudinal links, panhard rod, coil springs and telescopic gas shock absorbers|
|Steering system||rack and pinion||N/A|
|Brakes||Front and Rear Discs||Dual circuit with servo, adjustable ratio split front to rear|
|length: 3898 mm (157.4 in)||width: – mm (- in)||height: 1380 mm (54.3 in)|
|wheelbase: 2520 mm (99.2 in)||front track: – mm (- in)||rear track: – mm (- in)|
|Rims – tires||N/A||N/A|
|Dry/Unladen Weight||1000 kg (2200 lb)* approx|
|Weight/power||4.5 kg/HP (10 lb/HP)|
(C) article by Jay Auger – website owner & author
- Images & videos are the property of their original owners
- Eifel Rallye Festival Pictures used under permission – McKlein Publishing
Do you want to contribute information or pictures to this page? Please feel free to do so by using this CONTACT form!