A video of a snarling, screaming and sliding classic Opel competing in the Portuguese Drift Championship went viral in the Grumblo Builds Series. It’s often the case that a driver and his classic car start out planning to do one thing and somehow end up doing something completely different. And this is true for Portuguese drifter Neslon Rocha and his drifting Opel Kadett. While watching the video and, if you’re like us, rewinding to watch it over and over again, we wondered how Nelson turned this Opel Kadett C Coupe from the 1970s into a drifting classic. So we reached out to Nelson to find out more and luckily he was willing to share his story with us!
Video: Nelson Rocha’s Opel Kadett at Portugal Campeonato Drift 5.
Nelson Rocha was born in Ponte de Lima in northern Portugal. He tells us that his love of cars developed at a young age influenced by his Father who was an autocross driver. When he was 15-years old Nelson began competing in kartcross which continued for around ten years until 2001. For the following years he stayed away from competitions and just did random tests. And then in 2008 he felt the urge to compete again, however with limited resources he could only drive his Opel Kadett in the evenings after work or on weekends. And over the next couple of years with the help of some friends he began to develop the car.
They started using a stock 150 Hp Opel C20XE engine from a GSi (Grand Sport Injection) Opel from the early 1990s with the intention of competing in some small special rally events. And then in 2009 Nelson went to Lousada to see a drift race and went home a drifting enthusiast full of dreams of converting his rallying Kadett into a turbo drifting Kadett. And that dream became a reality in 2010 when he actually began drifting.
In 2014 he decided to rebuild the car and evolve it into something new and in 2016 he returned with what he refers to as the new Kadett . The 2000 cm3 C20XE engine was fitted with a Garrett GTX30 Turbocharger with 1.6 bar of boost and the engine head was modified for racing by SBD Motorsport. Nelson installed a crankshaft and connecting rods by ZRP and performance pistons by Wössner along with a motorsport dry sump system also by SBD Motorsport.
This modified Opel C20XE fitted with a Quaife Motorsport 6-speed sequential transmission and a limited-slip differential (LSD) outputs 450 Hp with 550 Nm torque controlled by a Link ECU programmed by Wise Powertec. Fitted front and back are 17-inch rims with four-piston brakes by XYZ Auto Parts, KONI 2-way suspension by AutoDioniso and a roll cage by Kimso. Altogether the new Kadett weighs in at 940 kg.
When we asked Nelson what his favourite aspects of the evolution of the Opel Kadett are he tells us that firstly when he looks at the car he likes what he sees. The car is very fast creating a demanding challenge for the driver and he absolutely loves the battle the car gives him when he drives it. And we think that the video above is definitely evidence of this!
And as for any further evolutions of the awesome turbo Kadett. Nelson again tells us that he in fact has two challenges. In 2020 he would like to increase the power output of the turbo Kadett to 570 Hp and to complete a new project that he apparently has already started to build that should be appearing in seasons 2020/2021. Unfortunately he won’t yet share any details of the surprises he has in store, all he will say right now that it’s also a classic and stronger than the Kadett. We are excited to learn more when the time is right 😉
To stay updated with Nelson Rocha’s journey, make sure to follow him on:
Facebook – Nelson Rocha