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2000 Opel Speedster
The Opel Speedster is a British-built mid engined, targa-topped, 2-seater sports car introduced in the summer of 2000. It was built in both right-hand drive and left-hand drive versions at the Lotus Cars plant in Hethel, Norfolk, England.
The low-slung Speedster features dramatic aerodynamic lines, side air intakes, and a sharp front end. The body is made of glass-reinforced plastic to keep it nimble, and the scissor doors add to the wow factor.
The car was sold as the Vauxhall VX220 in the UK, and as the Opel Speedster in the rest of Europe. It was branded the Daewoo Speedster in the Asian market, in both right and left hand drive. It was produced in normally aspirated and turbo versions until 2005.
The Speedster has a lot in common with the Lotus Elise, yet Opel/Vauxhall claims few parts are interchangeable. Both cars are characterized by strong performance and superb handling.
|click on any image to enlarge
The exterior design was by Niels Loeb and Martin Smith and Steven Crijns was responsible for the interior.
The already developed Lotus Elise Series 1 was unable to be produced beyond the 2000 model production year due to new European regulations around crash sustainability, and so Lotus needed a development partner to meet the investment requirement. The VX220 design was based on the Elise chassis, modified to accept a General Motors engine in preference to the Rover K-series engine used by the Elise.
The chassis utilizes an aluminium tub that weighs only 150 lb (68 kg) with glass-reinforced plastic bodywork. The entire car weighs in at only 2,050 lb (930 kg).
The normally aspirated version used a Opel Astra all aluminium alloy 2.2 L Z22SE engine giving 108 kW (147 PS; 145 bhp) in a car weighing 870 kg (1,918 lb)
|The Turbo model, introduced in 2003, used an Opel designed cast iron block 2.0 L Z20LET engine, producing 147 kW (200 PS; 197 bhp) but weighing 930 kg (2,050 lb).
The Elise S2 was designed by Lotus to have 16" front wheels and 17" rear wheels. Opel/Vauxhall decided to fit 17" wheels front and rear to the VX220/Speedster for aesthetic reasons, which reduced the handling performance of the car.
With its low weight, mid-mounted engine, high torsional rigidity, and ample horsepower, the car is extremely quick and agile. Thanks in part to the car's light weight, 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 4.9 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 Vauxhall car was better value for money than the Lotus.
A final version, the track-oriented VXR220, based on the turbo model, was tuned to give around 220 hp (160 kW; 220 PS) and used 16 in (406 mm) front wheels that allowed the fitting of smaller front tyres to give sharper handling.