Not too long ago, I showed you the Opel Superboss, one of a few South Africa-only specials. The car I’m going to share with you today is even more epic. This is the Opel Kadett 200tS – 151kW (205hp) and 286Nm (211ft-lb) of Golf GTI-destroying performance.
The year was 1994, and Delta, the local arm of Opel in South Africa, decided that their 96kW (128hp) naturally aspirated Kadett 200iS hot hatch wasn’t quite hot enough. Well, either that or they were just bored and wanted to play around, who knows…
The 200tS really was really a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as apart from different wheels – silver 16-inch, 5-spoke numbers – and a single badge on the back, it looked no different than the 200iS it was based upon.
This specific 200tS is in 100% original and unrestored condition; I can’t actually believe how good it still looks for a 25-year-old car. It’s not the only example its owner has in his garage either, although the other one is highly modified.
The tS had a 0-100km/h time of 7.62 seconds, and was able to complete a standing kilometer run in 27.90 seconds at 193km/h. Anyone game enough to keep their foot up it could reach 253km/h in the right conditions.
At the heart of the 200tS’s performance credentials was its 2.0L DOHC 16V engine, which with the addition of a KKK turbocharger was able to achieve the previously mentioned maximum power and torque figures – big numbers for the day. The intercooler arrangement as well as the engine management system was researched, developed and manufactured locally in South Africa.
Early cars actually produced 160kW (214hp), but according to rumours they experienced overheating problems, so from the middle of 1994 cars were listed with a lower 151kW (202hp) output and came fitted with a larger aluminium radiator.
By comparison, the Kadett 200tS’s main rival, the Mk3 Volkswagen Golf GTI, produced a meagre 85kW (114hp) and 166Nm (122ft-lb), and even the VR6 with its large 2.8L V6 engine could only manage 128kW (171hp) and 235Nm (173ft-lb).
Internally, the four-cylinder resembled that of the engine in the 4WD Opel Calibra Turbo, but this one put its might down exclusively through the front wheels, so traction was always going to be an issue. The engine was paired with a 6-speed Getrag transmission – an advanced and quite uncommon thing for the time – fitted with a limited slip differential.
The LSD unit was developed by Gemini Transmissions in the UK, a company actually started by South African motorsports legend Andre Verwey, and was fitted to the transmissions in Germany before export. It’s rumored that part of the deal required all gearbox repairs to be done on an exchange basis with Getrag. Broken units had to be returned to Germany, with Getrag even refusing to supply Delta with the special tools required for stripping and rebuilding the gearboxes.
Handling wise, the 200tS featured independent front and semi-independent rear suspension, and ABS braking was standard fare too.
Supposedly, Delta offered a special advanced driving course to buyers of the car, in the hope it would provide them with the necessary skills to get to grips with this powerhouse machine. Either this didn’t work, or people were just too confident, because a lot of these cars were crashed, which makes find a good clean example today extremely hard.
South African automotive enthusiasts weren’t the only ones to take an interest in the Kadett 200tS either. The South African Police Service (SAPS) equipped their high-speed pursuit department, otherwise known as the Flying Squad, with the model, which made evading the law a lot harder for anyone hoping to make a quick getaway.Keep It Simple
The 200tS’s interior was a simple and straightforward affair. In fact, the only reminder a driver got that he was behind the wheel of something special was the 280km/h speedometer, and the ’16V TURBO’ insignia below it.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a cassette tape head deck and a security gear-lock in a car, but all ’round this car just screams the ’90s.
The Kadett 200tS was a real firecracker back in its day, and with only 500 cars ever rumored to have been built (the official number is unknown), 25 years on they’re now more sought after than ever. But with so many of them having been written off, banged up, and molested over the last quarter century, finding one, let alone in decent condition, is only becoming harder, hence why their value continues to rapidly increase.
Thankfully, there are still examples like this to remind us of an amazing era of performance motoring in South Africa.