Growing up as a teenager in South Africa in the mid 1980s,one of my highlights was to purchase the latest issue of CAR magazine at the end of each month.


I eagerly anticipated each new month and I would wonder which new models and road tests would be featured.


The July 1985 issue was no exception.


In the June issue the new Opel Kadett "T-Car" range had been featured.


The "T-Car" had replaced the previous "D-Car" Opel Kadett.The new car was radically different in appearance to the old one.

The "T-Car" shape was close to the aerodynamically ideal "tear drop", and presented a pronounced wedge in profile.

Opel claimed a Cd factor of 0,30 for the three-door GSi,which was unheard of in small cars at that time.

The GSi had featured a new Liquid Crystal Display panel which showed road speed in a digital format.

It had color-coded bar charts with the rev counter shaped like a power curve peaking at the actual power peak of the engine.

It had the shape of a hockey-stick.


When the new Kadett was released in mid 1985 it certainly attracted much attention.


It stood out in the sea of cars such as the Mazda 323,Nissan Pulsar,Ford Escort and Daihatsu Charades of the time.


Its appearance was simply way ahead.


Powered by the familiar 1796cc  4 cylinder fuel injected engine delivering 85 KW at 5800 rpm,Opel had claimed a top speed of 203 km/h for the GSi.

If this was obtainable,it would have been the first time that a light car had cracked the 200 km/h barrier.

The Volkswagen Golf 2,released at the beginning of 1985,had achieved 191 Km/h for the April 1985 edition of CAR.


Would the Opel be the first to get to 200 ?


When I did get my hands on my copy of the July 1985 issue,I hurried to page 85 and I was dismayed to see that the test car had only managed 199 km/h.


However all was not lost.A glance at the performance page revealed a 0-100 Km/h acceleration time of 9,3 seconds.

Not as rapid as the 8,7 seconds achieved by the Golf 2 GTi,but still very respectable.

Equally impressive was the fuel consumption of 7,0 litres/100 km at a steady 100 Km/h.

This figure was better than many smaller and much slower cars had obtained.


Yet the GSi was not perfect.


The testers said that the hockey-stick rev counter was difficult to work with and that they would have much preferred the conventional analog dial.

They also said the fuel read out was inaccurate.


The testers remarked that on less than perfect roads,there was some body flex and the facia would flap perceptibly,suggesting that a more rigid trim location be necessary.The list price of the Opel GSi was R 14 990.


Another road test of great interest was the E-28  BMW 528 i manual.


The previous generation E-12  5 series had done duty in South Africa since 1974.

The E-12 had been replaced in Europe in 1982,but it took until 1985 for the updated model to appear in South Africa.

The updates were much needed as the old model was looking a little antiquated.

The E-28 was sporting a revised front end treatment with a new air dam and bumpers,a redimensioned grille,as well as a lighter and more conventional bonnet.

The car also had a restyled rear end with wrap around tail-light clusters.

The 2788cc  6 cylinder engine with 135 KW of power and 240 N.m of torque was delivered with "turbine smoothness".

The 0-100 km/h sprint was dealt with in 8,9 seconds,and a genuine 218 Km/h was realized.

The test car was fitted with ABS brakes,which were an optional extra at that time.

In the braking test from 100 Km/h to standstill,the 528 i took 3,3 seconds.

Most new cars in 1985 took over 4 seconds,as a matter of interest.

Test summary for the 528 i : "Sports car performance combined with quiet comfort.But first you need a bank balance which can take a R 36 000 plus dent....."


A special feature in the July 1985 issue of CAR was a report on the new Toyota Corolla hatchbacks and 16-valve engines.


A new bodyshell called "Conquest"would join the existing and very successful Sprinter and Avante.

Three valves per cylinder was now implemented in the 1295cc  4 cylinder engine code named "2-E".

Four valves per cylinder was being introduced in the 1587cc  4 cylinder engine code named "4A-GE".

The four valve per cylinder units,now delivering 86 KW at 6600 rpm, were fitted to the top of the range GLi Sprinter Twincam 16 and the GLi Avante Twincam 16 models.


I no longer live in South Africa,but I made sure to take some old South African CAR magazines with me to my new home.


They represent a time which was special to many people.


1980s motoring in South Africa.



Written by Kenneth Neuse, your All things Motoring International correspondent in Charlotte,North Carolina,U.S.A