By Sivan Goren with images by Jan van der Walt
In their September 1989 issue, CAR magazine gushed excitedly about the latest Opel Kadett GSi 16V offering that had just been launched, saying: “In ride and finish, this latest most potent GSi is where the original one really should have been.” This new kid on the block was dubbed the ‘Big Boss’, but the world had not seen anything yet because a year later an even more exciting car came into being – one that would become a South African homologation legend.
When the original Opel Kadett GSi was launched, although it was considered the biggest challenger to other hot hatches like the Golf GTI as far as top speed, the 1.8-litre offering lacked low-rev pulling power and had a tendency to understeer when on the limit. Enter the 2-litre GSi around two years later. But despite an extra 200cc being added which resulted in the GSi competing admirably with the Golf GTi 16V as far as low-down and mid-range grunt, it still lacked grip, particularly as compared to Golf. But that all changed with the arrival of the 16V ‘Big Boss’. CAR magazine’s road test gave this glowing report: “Opel engineers have managed to build what is surely the world’s finest four-cylinder production engine to date, with this new 16-valver how they have managed to give the engine the bottom-end power of a conservatively-crammed eight-valve motor, the mid-range of a turbo and the top-end of a cammy multivalve, without resorting to any variable induction length or cam timing tricks, as other manufacturers have done in the recent past.”