Our feet rested on the chequered pattern of the back seat, sandals brimming with sand lay in the footwell. And outside the side window, the waves of the Atlantic roared.” These are some of the carefree childhood memories that Opel manager Marc Fetzer has when reflecting on a road trip through Portugal in an Opel Corsa Gran Turismo. That was in the mid-1980s. Inevitably, a smile creeps onto his face: “The wheel arches in the style of a rally car,” says the 47-year-old, “they were especially appealing to me.”
It’s those memories he had in mind when he typed a message into his cell phone, “Just an idea. Let’s release a Corsa special edition ‘40 years‘ with colours/fabrics from the 80s.” Today, a good two years later, the message is a reality. It was just a few weeks ago when the special “Corsa 40” model was unveiled. The reactions to it – euphoric. Hundreds of articles, online news and photos were published. Even American and Japanese magazines celebrated the milestone birthday and the model with the “Rekord Red” paint job and the reinterpreted seats with a chequered pattern.
“The Corsa is a truly likable car.”
After four decades and six generations, the Opel Corsa is as popular as ever. So what is the true greatness of the smallest passenger car model in the current Opel portfolio? “The Corsa,” says Marc Fetzer, “is a truly likable car.” The economics engineer is not only the idea man behind the special model. Since joining Opel 14 years ago, he has been involved with the small car bestseller in various capacities, most recently as the responsible Program Execution Manager. Under his direction, the sixth generation grew into one of the most successful small cars in the B segment. After all, the special position of the Corsa can be demonstrated not only with pleasant memories, but also with immutable facts.
On the one hand, there is the model name “Corsa”: The Italian word for “race” is the name with the longest tradition in the current Opel portfolio. “Neither Astra nor Kadett can top the number of over 14.5 million units produced,” the manager says. No small car was bought more often in Germany in 2021; in the United Kingdom, the Vauxhall Corsa was even the best-selling car overall. And in the electrified version, the current Corsa takes the coveted “Golden Steering Wheel 2020.” “Today, the name ‚Corsa‘ is almost synonymous with a small car,” explains the manager, “and for six generations it has been linked with the attributes reliable and likeable.” Even as a zero-emission rally vehicle, the Corsa is successful in motorsport.
Success story in six chapters
1Corsa A (1982 – 1993)
“It is the model of one of my favourite childhood memories,” says Marc Fetzer. The one of a road trip through Portugal. The sandy feet on the chequered rear seat of a Corsa Gran Turismo, accompanied by the view of the Atlantic waves through the side window. The then primary school pupil’s favourite detail: “The wheel arches in the style of a rally car!”
2Corsa B (1993 – 2000) Headlights like googly eyes, the soft lines from the pen of designer Hideo Kodama: “The round shapes of the Corsa B,” says the native Parisian, “were everywhere on our roads from the mid-90s onwards.” No generation was more successful worldwide. More than four million units rolled off the assembly line in Zaragoza.
3Corsa C (2000 – 2006)
The car interior get larger and more modern. The first permanently installed navigation system and the first signs of infotainment in the Corsa C show where we are heading: “Namely, making innovations affordable for everyone,” says the Opel manager. Combined with low fuel consumption and the lowest possible exhaust emissions, the third generation also combines all the essential features for success.
4Corsa D (2006 – 2014)
While the fourth-generation Corsa has been rolling on the roads for two years equipped with a start/stop system and highly efficient engines, Marc Fetzer has his first day of work in Rüsselsheim in September 2008. One of his tasks as Accessory Product Manager is to develop a new accessory strategy for the small car – in order to be able to offer Corsa customers even more personalisation options.
5Corsa E (2014 – 2019)
Dynamic, practical and stylish – the Corsa E also becomes a bestseller. And Marc Fetzer, as Product Manager and later also as Pricing Manager, is fully committed to the fifth Corsa generation on the European market. He steers and is responsible for the marketing strategy throughout the entire life cycle.
6Corsa F (since 2019)
For the Corsa “number 6” Marc Fetzer, as head of the Programme Execution Team, is responsible for profitability, schedule and quality. He regularly meets his new French colleagues in Paris. Together they put one of the most successful B-segment vehicles on the road. As a purely electric vehicle, the Corsa-e wins the “Golden Steering Wheel 2020”.
The curriculum vitae of the native Parisian has two constants: It’s always the automotive industry and it’s always about Franco-German cooperation. The economics engineer studied in Paris and Pforzheim. His first job was at the French Information Centre for Industry and Technology in Frankfurt. Later, as manager of the French consulate, he continued to build networks between the automotive industries of the neighbouring countries. In 2008, Marc Fetzer started at Opel, where he worked as a product manager in various functions within the international marketing team. From 2016, he starts work on the sixth generation Corsa as the Programme Manager. In cooperation with the French colleagues in Velizy, one of the most successful B segment vehicles is created. For two years he was responsible for future models as Head of Future Products, and since 1 November he has been Head of Current Products. Marc Fetzer, born in 1975, is married, has two children and lives in Frankfurt.
Whether it was Tom the cat chasing after the agile Corsa with Jerry the mouse at the wheel, a Queen lookalike sitting on the roof proclaiming “Girls just wanna have fun!” or fashion star Karl Lagerfeld photographing his purring Birman cat Choupette on the hood – “the advertising campaigns have always creatively underpinned its status as a likeable vehicle.” In parallel, Opel engineers created a reliable car from generation to generation that carries the Opel DNA in its purest form: “The Corsa make innovations affordable for everyone,” emphasises the Opel manager, “a goal we are passionate about and for which we are willing to go the extra mile.”
Someone who loves cars
Marc Fetzer grew up in Paris. As an elementary school student, he took the Corsa A to his heart in Portugal. “Then in the mid-90s, the distinctive, round shape of its successor appeared everywhere on the roads,” he recalls. Whether it’s model years, engine capacity or equipment lines – Marc Fetzer knows every detail. Even from decades past. Because he is what you call a “Car Guy.” “In a very distinct form,” he adds with a wink, “cars are my passion.” Engines have always fascinated him. Especially when cylinders face each other slightly offset on either side of the crankshaft. As a proven connoisseur of air-cooled boxer engines, he has already restored several classics with his own hands.
His model car collection has also been growing for many decades, spread over various showcases and cupboards. “I had to store parts in boxes in the cellar,” says the father of two. And then there is another drawer in the Fetzer house dedicated to the automotive passion. And it played an important role during the genesis of the “Corsa 40”. It is filled with socks. Their look is inspired by well-known automobile designs. “And socks with the distinctive chequered pattern of the Corsa – that would be great!” Marc Fetzer can’t let go of this thought. At the latest since he and the interior designers examined the first fabric samples with the newly interpreted chequered pattern design for the “Corsa 40”.
An unexpected premiere
He asks the Portuguese sock producer, who is enthusiastic. It is the first request of this kind from a car manufacturer. And so the Corsa celebrates its 40th birthday with a special model – and a sock premiere. Each of the 1,982 models comes with an anniversary package of socks in vintage and original Corsa seat cover designs. Marc Fetzer lifts his jeans. Today he is wearing the vintage version. With that pattern from the 80s, which for him will always be linked to the pleasant childhood memories of the road trip along the Portuguese coast – stored from the perspective of the back seat of a Corsa.