Opel Speedster

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Opel Speedster
Speedster Turbo 1.JPG
Overview
Manufacturer Opel
Also called Vauxhall VX220
Daewoo Speedster
Production 2000–2005
Assembly Hethel, Norfolk, England (Lotus)
Designer Niels Loeb and Martin Smith (Exterior)
Steven Crijns (Interior)[1]
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 2-door roadster
Layout Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Platform Lotus Elise series 2 platform
Related Lotus Elise
Lynx GT[2]
Tesla Roadster
Powertrain
Engine 2.2 L Ecotec Z22SE
2.0 L turbo Z20LET
1.3 L CDTI[3] (ECO Speedster)
Transmission Getrag F23 5-speed manual
5-speed Easytronic (ECO Speedster)
Dimensions
Kerb weight Speedster 870 kg (1,918 lb)
Speedster Turbo 930 kg (2,050 lb)
Chronology
Predecessor None
Successor Opel GT

The Opel Speedster is a United Kingdom-built mid-engined, targa-topped, 2-seater sports car from the German automaker Opel, introduced in July 2000.[4]

It was built in both RHD & LHD versions, at the Lotus Cars plant in Hethel, Norfolk, England. It was sold as the Vauxhall VX220 in the United Kingdom, as the Opel Speedster in the rest of Europe & Daewoo Speedster in the Asian market.

The car shared much in common with the Lotus Elise, yet Opel claimed few parts were interchangeable. Both cars are characterised by strong performance, and sharp handling.

Design and development[edit]

Due to the changes in European crash safety regulations for the 2000 model year, Lotus needed to replace the original Elise, and they struck a deal with General Motors in order to have sufficient investment for a new car.[5] As part of the deal, Lotus agreed to develop and produce the Opel Speedster and Vauxhall VX220 on the new Series 2 Elise chassis.[5] The first Speedster concept car was shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999.[5] Whilst the new Elise would use a 1.8-litre Toyota engine, similar to that found in the Toyota Celica, the Speedster was designed to use a 2.2-litre GM Ecotec engine from the Opel Astra.[6] Neither engine had been used in the original Elise, which was fitted with a 1.8-litre Rover K-Series engine.[6] In order to accommodate the production of the new cars, Lotus expanded its Hethel factory to a capacity of 10,000 cars, with around 3,500 slots allocated to Speedster production.[7] Production of the Speedster commenced in 2000.[5]

The Speedster utilizes an aluminium chassis tub that weighs only 72 kg (159 lb).[7] The car also features bodywork made entirely of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP). The entire car weighs only 875 kg (1,929 lb), which made it 100 kg (220 lb) lighter than the similarly-sized Toyota MR2.[7] At launch, the Speedster's all aluminium alloy 2.2 L Z22SE engine produced 147 hp (149 PS; 110 kW), making the Speedster considerably more powerful than the Elise was at launch.[7] As an answer to calls for a more powerful version of the Speedster, Opel introduced a new 2-litre turbocharged version of the Ecotec engine, which produced 200 hp (203 PS; 149 kW), but also weighed slightly more, at 930 kg (2,050 lb).[7]

Production[edit]

The turbo version was able to reach a top speed of 242 km/h (150 mph) and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.7 seconds.

The car was hailed by the motoring press as a great drivers' car and won several accolades, including Top Gear's Car of the Year in 2003. The 2.2 NA (naturally aspirated) version was considered the easier drive of the two standard variants, and some journalists recommended that the Opel/Vauxhall car was better value for money than the Lotus (such as Jeremy Clarkson in his 2003 DVD Shoot Out).

Speedsters were displayed with the Daewoo badge, although only one was built to be used for marketing purposes. A final version, the track-oriented Speedster, based on the turbo model, was tuned to give around 220 hp (164 kW; 223 PS) and used 16 in (406 mm) front wheels that allowed the fitting of smaller front tyres to give sharper handling.

Production ended in July 2005, with no direct successor. It was not until February 2007, when GM Europe adopted the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky into the Opel GT, that GM Europe had a replacement sector product, with no RHD version for the United Kingdom.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lotus Press Release, Vauxhall Announce Production VX220". Sandsmuseum.com. 19 May 1999. 
  2. ^ "Official Website of ''Lynx electric''". Lynxcars.webtemplet.dk. Retrieved 2 October 2010. 
  3. ^ "Opel Eco Speedster". Car Design News. Car Design News Inc. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Opel Speedster – The Essence of Dynamic Driving". GM Media Online. 12 February 2001. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Lotus to build the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220". The Auto Channel. 18 October 1999. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "From The Classifieds: 2001 Vauxhall VX220". motoring.com.au. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Wan, Mark (5 April 2003). "Opel Speedster". AutoZine. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 

External links[edit]