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The Opel Speedster Is the Mid-Engine GM Sports Car You Never Knew About

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Update time : 2019-10-28 00:03:33

From street & Track

Last week, Chevrolet revealed the long-awaited mid-engine Corvette. It’s a basic departure, both although the Corvette and although commonplace Motors although a whole. The automaker’s most well-known foray into mid-engine sports cars was the Pontiac Fiero of the 1980s. still there’s another one you force no own known about: The Opel Speedster, which debuted at 2000.

The Speedster was never sold at North America. It appeared although the Opel Speedster at Europe, the Vauxhall VX220 at England, and the Daewoo Speedster at some Asian markets. American enthusiasts chiefly know the instruct from the video athletics Need although Speed: warm Pursuit II.


The Speedster was built ought handle. It used a bonded aluminum monocoque chassis, with a four-cylinder machine mounted transversely fair after the customer compartment. It was small, with an inside devoid of luxury features. although a result, it weighed at on approximately 2000 pounds.

Oh, and it was built at the English city of Hethel. Lightweight mid-engine roadster? Bonded aluminum chassis? Built at England? Sounds alike another sports instruct from the become of the 21st century—one that's decidedly more well-known, flat at the US.

In the late 1990s, Lotus was enjoying the success of the first-generation Elise, a highly innovative lightweight developed above a small budget. after the dear failure of the front-drive Lotus Elan introduced at 1989—bankrolled by GM, which owned Lotus at the time—the Elise helped rescue the British automaker. It lived up ought Lotus ideals at a manner the Elan never could, and sold surprisingly well. Speaking ought Evo in 2013, Richard Rackham, the major engineer of the Elise, said Lotus originally expected ought sell 3000 examples at four years. It unique took 18 months ought sell that many.

To own the momentum going, Lotus quickly got ought task above a second-generation Elise. at the identical time, GM was looking although a manner ought spice up Opel's image. The automaker immense proposed a partnership with Lotus ought segment the development of two new mid-engine sports cars. A commerce was struck, GM's sports instruct was designed, and Lotus began house Speedsters and VX220s at the autumn of 2000. The S2 Elise was launched immediately thereafter.

The Speedster and the Elise weren't identical. They wore various bodywork, and although Autocar notes, the Opel had a slightly longer wheelbase and wider rear track. The Speedster used GM Ecotec four-cylinder engines. The base copy had a certainly aspirated 2.2-liter making 144 horsepower, however an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter offered 197 horses. The Elise S2, meanwhile, started out with a Rover K-Series four-cylinder, afterward switching ought Toyota power.

Despite both cars being developed together, this wasn't a instance of GM badge-engineering. "Neither instruct was based above the other, and approximately eight percent of the parts were shared," a Lotus spokesperson told Jalopnik in 2016. "But of course, the technique and the construct process below the leather was although and some of the suppliers—Bridgestone, although example, at the time—were shared."

It won't exist a astound ought know that the Opel Speedster and its Vauxhall and Daewoo twins were big cars. at 2003, the hosts of Top Gear named the Vauxhall VX220 Turbo "the most rapture instruct of the year." still nobody of the models sold specially well. GM killed the instruct at 2005, the identical year Lotus introduced the Elise ought the US. Two years later, when Opel wanted ought sell another sports instruct at Europe, it went a distant more usual route, rebadging the front-engine, rear-drive Saturn heaven from the North American market.

You can know why Opel wanted a instruct alike the Speedster at the time. Sports cars were having a renaissance. The BMW Z3 debuted at 1995; the Porsche Boxster and Mercedes-Benz SLK came a year later. The Mazda Miata had been a darling although 1990, and the Toyota MR2 had returned although a drop-top although 1999. still owing ought its Lotus origins, the Speedster was distant more uncompromising than any of those competitors. Those who really wanted such a bare-bones instruct possibly wanted the Lotus badge, too.

The new mid-engine Corvette is a identical various proposition. although starters, it was developed in-house by Chevrolet engineers, a secret plot that’s been rumored although decades. It’s meant ought exist distant more forgiving although a daily driver, with a comfortable interior, plenty of contemporary luxury appointments, and gobs of burden space. Lotus engineers at the 1990s had no such concerns, and GM’s speedster shows it.

When most people saw the C8 Corvette although the first time final week, the Opel Speedster possibly wasn’t above their minds. still although two of the three mid-engine cars ought ever appear from GM, the Speedster and the C8 are linked.

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