"Born on the racetrack" is an often-used term when it comes to high-performance cars, but few road machines can rightfully lay claim to that description. The Opel Kadett GSi 16V S, better known as the "Superboss" is just such a machine. Developed with the single purpose of annihilating the iconic BMW 325iS in local Group N racing, it has become an enduring South African legend.
For the 5fth episode of SentiMETAL, we travelled to Roodepoort to meet Werner Meyer, an ex-Porsche technician who now specialises in restoring Superbosses. In recent years interest in the Superboss has exploded, in line with increasing values for all South African specials.
"I searched for this car for 11 years," says Werner, "because I wanted this specific colour, the rare Estoril blue." When he discovered his Superboss in Kimberley it was in bad shape, but his expertise in restorations paid off, as years of hard work has resulted in this, quite possibly the cleanest Superboss in the country.
"A lot of people think the Superboss was just a small upgrade from the Big Boss," says Werner, "but I don't think so. Of course, the Superboss had a magnificent engine underneath the bonnet as a solid starting point - the famed "red-top" Opel 2.0L 16V engine was highly tuneable. In the Superboss the compression ratio was upped and 276-degree Schrick cams were added, among other additions and tweaks (including a Promotech control box).
Still, 125 kW may not raise an eyebrow these days, but the Superboss made the most of what it had, because Opel also stripped out a lot of luxuries, and then added a rarity for those days, a limited-slip differential developed by South African specialist Andre Verwey. The resultant power-to-weight ratio was excellent, and it put the power down very well, too.
Consequently, the Superboss was near-unbeatable on the track, particularly in the hands of the famed Mike Briggs. Although BMW introduced the 325iS to combat of the might of the Big Boss in 1991, Opel rolled out the black Alluette-wheeled Superboss to improve the odds in the yellow racing cars' favour and it duly won Class A of the South African Group N championship in the hands of Briggs in 1991 and 1992.
For Werner, his Superboss has become part of the family. "Even my family-in-law assisted with this car... friends too. It will stay part of the family."
Sit back, turn up the sound, and imagine the glory days of Superboss vs Gusheshe (325iS)!