150 years for Opel
The following is a guest blog from a long-standing contributor to Cartell.ie: Daragh Ó Tuama
This week I had the pleasure of spending a night at the Ritz Carlton near Powerscourt in Wicklow. And if I was a hotel reviewer, instead of a motor hack, I’d certainly have to give it the full five stars. But I don’t review hotels. Instead I talk about cars, car issues and generally moan a lot. But cars, however, are the reason for me spending a night in the luxury of the Ritz Carlton.
We were at the Ritz to help celebrate 150 years of Opel as a manufacturer, to have a look at their new GTC Astra (also featured in eDrive), the 2012 Insignia and to have a sneak peak at the pre-production Opel Zafira.
Now today I’m not really reviewing these cars, that’s another week’s work. Today I’d like to talk about the image that is Opel. I mean they’re celebrating 150 years and they’ve had an incredible sales turnover since establishment. They also have a reliable name to match their sales over the years.
So lets look at points of their past. I’m not going to give any of you a history lesson – you can go to Wikipedia or the likes and check dates etc for yourselves. Nope, I want to bring you back to the 80’s and the 90’s in this wonderful island of ours. When by 1990 it was still common to see a yellow 1983 Opel Kadette humming around the roads and streets of Ireland (and if you had a Kadette E (1984-1991)…you were clearly loaded! Do you remember being a fan of Italia 90 and gladly sporting an Irish jersey on your person with a big OPEL logo across your chest? I remember thinking as a young fella that Opel was a uniquely Irish brand…and then these imported Vauxhalls started showing up and I was educated to the fact that there was indeed a world outside of Ireland.
I have to be honest; a lot of my memories of that time remind me of yellow, orange or green Opel Kadettes. It’s sad really, that there are very little to be seen nowadays (wow I’m starting to feel old!). I’m sure some of your memories include one of these driving by.
Then came the 90’s, and the Kadette transformed into the Astra and the Opel Vectra was becoming more popular – especially with An Garda Síochána. Opel was getting more and more curved and aerodynamic as the years went on – as was every brand I suppose. But despite high sales of the time I feel the 90’s right up to about 2008/2009 was when Opel were at their most boring. And in terms of style, they just weren’t at the races. True, they had a good reputation for safety and reliability, but they had a serious lack in the style and excitement department.
Now, however, it’s beginning to be a different story. I don’t always buy into TV and radio ads, but two car manufacturers really stand out for me. Skoda, because their ads make me feel like they’re being honest “Good made better” – it’s quiet modest when you think about their current range of cars. And for some reason “The Insignia is the best we’ve ever built” is one I’m beginning to believe. And I’m not just talking about its driving capabilities and its safety features, etc; I’m also talking about its style.
I mean from my experience the Insignia is wonderful. It’s stylish, powerful when it needs to be, jam-packed with safety equipment; it’s comfortable and has an interior as interesting as European cars should be. But, before I get too off-track here, this is not a review on the Insignia, that’ll come in a few weeks. What I am doing however is giving them a bualadh bos. I believe in giving credit where it’s due.
Anyway, 150 years of Opel, a nerve wrecking 2012 ahead for the whole motoring industry. How will things fair for Opel on this 150th year in existence? How will other manufacturers fair? The range Opel have in line for 2012 is very exciting, as are other ranges coming from their competitors, but will their prices entice Irish customers to start spending their money? Will banks start lending more to ensure this market becomes more buoyant? Will the government see some sense and realise that we need the scrappage scheme back as a long term incentive to buy? Watch this space and we will see. In the meantime I would like to wish Opel a happy birthday, and to all manufacturers out there and to the Irish motoring industry in general, Good luck and let’s hope for a great one.
Daragh Ó Tuama