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Concept Car of the Week: Opel Junior (1983)

Fri, 15 Mar 2013 00:00:00 -0700

30 years ago, Opel was already thinking about a very compact vehicle that would fit in its range below the Corsa. The Junior Concept was a realistic study of a future-oriented A-segment car with an interior packed with innovations.

The three-door Opel Junior offers room for four passengers in a package of only 3,410mm in length. Compared to the Corsa, the concept was 210mm shorter, 40mm wider and 90mm taller.

Named after a puppy, the Junior certainly looks like one. With those cute droopy eyes it looks like it wants you to throw a stick. The overall design by Wayne Cherry is very round and clean, with only a horizontal split line between the yellow body and the raw plastic lower body.

At a time when straight lines were the trend, the soft look must have been quite a sensation. The slanted nose and flush details, such as the recessed screen wiper under an aerodynamic fairing, contribute to a great Cd of only 0.31. The rear is as simple as the rest with only four horizontal bars for the tail lamps.

Last but not least, countless man-hours have been dedicated to the creation of the four magnificent wheel covers decorated by a very complex and intricate triangular pattern.

Two thirds of the entire length have been reserved for the interior, which was designed by a young Chris Bangle. The seating position is a little higher than normal to optimize the use of space. The straight dashboard is topped with uniform square modules that can be plugged in and out to give layout flexibility and allow the driver to update or upgrade their equipment through time. The electronic contacts were integrated in the carrier bar, avoiding complex wiring. The vents were mounted on a rubber hose and could be swung around in any direction.

At the back, the seats could be completely folded to create a generous loading space, and the two-piece plastic roof could also be interchanged with either a panoramic sunroof or a foldable canvas allowing long objects to stick out.

If you decided to go camping, the Junior was the perfect car. You could remove the radio cassette player and speakers to use it as a portable set. You could also use the clock as a traveling alarm and the removable seat covers as sleeping bags.

The bulbous volumes of the Junior evolved into the mk2 Corsa, but none of the interior ideas remained. Opel had another go at a subcompact car with the 2004 Trixx concept which was even shorter, remaining below 3,000mm, before offering it a more grown up version to the masses in the shape of the recent Adam.

Length 3,410mm
Width 1,570mm
Height 1,450mm
Wheelbase 2,220mm
Weight 650kg
Engine 1,200cc
Power 55bhp, 40kW/DIN
Cd 0.31

Your author, Flavien Dachet, is a UK-based, French-born car designer. You may know him as the purveyor of KarzNshit, a photo blog that if isn't already in your bookmarks, certainly should be.

By Flavien Dachet