From time to time we like to have a drive down memory lane to have a look back at some significant cars that made us smile when they were released. The Opel Speedster, which was marketed as the Vauxhall VX220 in Britain and the Daewoo Speedster in Asia, is one of them. As every petrolhead knows, that it was based on the Lotus Elise Series 2. The link-up between the plucky British sports car maker and General Motors came about in 2000 when Lotus had to develop a new chassis to meet more stringent European crash safety laws. In order to fund the investment needed for a new bonded aluminium chassis, the partnership was forged. The Opel Speedster therefore relied on Lotus engineering for the handling and ride but the power was provided by a General Motors engine in place of the outgoing Rover K-Series motor.
The lightweight bonded aluminium chassis construction with glass reinforced plastic shell means that fuel economy is extremely good even by today’s standards, but the most important stats for a car like this are the performance figures. With the 197 hp 2.0 litre turbocharged Ecotec Z20LET engine behind the driver, the Speedster is capable of 150 mph and a 4.9 second time from 0-62mph.
Opel took advantage of the machine’s lightweight to produce the Opel ECO Speedster, a diesel powered example of their engineering power at the time. It uses a surprisingly small 1.3-litre ECOTECH CDTI engine but can top out at 155 mph and yet clocked fuel economy figures of 113 mpg over a 24-hour road test undertaken by the manufacturer.
If after reading this you’re thinking of picking one up second hand, the normally aspirated version is said to be the one to buy.