For Wheels24 reader Steven Bloy, it was a case of the Opel Kadett 200tS bug biting many years ago. His mint model making 190kW is testament to that.
Steven shares his story with Wheels24:
Right up until the age of 20, cars were just a means of transport to me. My father has a passion for British cars, and we had two Jaguar XJ6s for a long time.
There was also various modest saloon cars and bakkies over the years, none of which would keep you awake at night in terms of performance. Listening to my classmates talk about cars also left me cold.
In the 90s, there was a huge drag racing culture in Witbank, and people from town and the surrounding mine villages would meet at the Pick n Pay Hyper on a Sunday night to take part and watch the ensuing traffic light 'grand prix'.
When the bug bit
I happened to get dragged along to one of these evenings by a life-long friend in 1999 to meet someone with a 'rapid car'. It took about 20 minutes for him to arrive, and finally, a red Kadett was pointed out to me, slowly working it's way through the parking lot traffic.
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Several people craned their necks to check the badging on the back of the car as it passed them, then confirmed to each other with nods and inaudible words. This played out one last time as the vehicle passed a few of us, with one of them confirming, 'Ja, dis 'n tS!'.
I've always been very fond of the Kadett F, but having no actual knowledge of cars, I couldn't imagine what the little 't' in the name meant. Well, ten minutes later, I was a changed man! I was offered the shotgun seat and advised to 'buckle up, Lance is in a hurry'.
My first experience with boost came as a massive shock to the system, resulting in my head snapping back and my body sucking deep into the seat. Stop street after stop street. The thrills kept on coming.
Whilst I wasn't a full-blown petrolhead at the time, I was undoubtedly an Opel Kadett 200tS man! Sadly, I never got to drive in that car again, but it was always a delight to see it in town from time to time. The tS often came up in conversation, with stories of highway runs against BMW M3s and M5s. I once got to see it give a Z3 a hiding in broad daylight. Good times.
A few years later, I picked up an issue of the Speed & Sound magazine and on the cover was a headline for a shoot-out between many high-end cars and a tS!
Over the next few months, I bought as many of the previous editions of SnS I could find, on the hunt for more articles related to the tS. Theo Knipe and Jerry Nadarajan were an inspiration. In 2003, I was in the market for one with many hours being spent on the Autotrader classifieds and paging through the Junkmail, looking for a good example.
Dream to reality
In October, I went to Alberton to meet Cyril Niemandt to look at his 1995 Kadett with 78 000km on the clock. It was well looked after, and I was in love from that moment.
In November, and R90 000 later, I was driving her home! Each car has a sticker at the top of the inside of the cubby hole showing the model's build details. The sticker indicates that my car is number 133, and the date is 29 January 1995, so I would assume this is the date of completion.
Even though the car was only eight years old at the time, the local General Motors dealership didn't have a lot of experience working on the 200tS. The first time I opened the bonnet in their workshop, one of the mechanics commented, "Sjoe, maar hy's vol nê!". It was a fast learning curve for me, and very quickly, I was in the market for a daily driver.
I probably spent the car's value in spares over the next five years, making good use of my company petrol card. I also had Allen Oberholzer help me numerous times, and his experience with the tS cars helped a great deal to get the car up to scratch. I also arranged a couple of 200tS dyno days in JHB in the late 2000s, and other 200tS owners supported these well.
Gerotek was also an annual highlight, often hosted by the Opel Owners Club of Gauteng. Over the years, I made friends with two other tS owners in Witbank. We regularly met up, travelling to various events or meeting up to help work on each other's cars. Mostly it was them doing the work!
It was competitive, and I ended up having some work done on the car to keep up with the other two cars. A new front-mounted intercooler was fitted, SAAB red injectors replaced the standard yellows, a Courtenay actuator was fitted to the turbo, a 76mm TNT exhaust helped the breathing.
In contrast, a Perfect Power SMT7 piggyback chip helped to boost the car to 1 bar. The result was 190kW on the wheels, and I was delighted with that. It's time to change to a more modern piggyback, so that's in the pipeline for this year. In terms of looks, I much prefer the factory look.
Over the years, I've owned a red 1994 Kadett 200tS as well as a blue 1995 Kadett 200tS, but the white car remained my favourite. On a personal note, the biggest attraction about the 200tS is the alloy wheels - I think they really compliment the car. The performance mated to the Getrag F28 6-speed gearbox is yet another standout feature.
Driving the car is always a delight, whether it's just cruising on the highway or more spirited driving when the opportunity presents itself. Having a functional air conditioner also makes a big difference in terms of driving enjoyment. Sadly I ran the car into the barrier at Gerotek in 2010 whilst doing a top-end run. For some years, the car was parked, and I eventually sold her in 2018 to my good friend Emile, one of the 200tS owners mentioned earlier. He fixed the car up and had her on the road again.
Last year I had the opportunity to repurchase the vehicle, so I jumped at the chance. Selling her once was hard enough, so I don't think I'll be making the same mistake again anytime soon. There are a surprising number of 200tS cars still on the road, whether in Kadett or Astra guise. Condition and modification levels vary greatly, but all of the owners are intensely proud to own their cars.
Not surprisingly, most owners are from Gauteng and the greater Durban and Cape Town areas. We have a WhatsApp support group with more than 70 members and a 200tS owners group on Facebook, managed by another 200tS fanatic, Roelof Louw.
Both platforms offer owners with issues to ask for guidance from more knowledgeable members and provide a marketplace for the sale of scarce spares. Interested persons can join the Facebook group and also look me up to join the WhatsApp group.
Compiled by Robin Classen