Monday, June 1, 2009

General Motors / A 1973 Opel GT

In a three earlier posts I mentioned that my dad spent his career at General Motors. ("My Dad, General Motors & Me" Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) When I wrote those posts back in December no one was sure what GM's future held. It appears now that GM will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

GM screwed up in many, many ways. There's no doubt about that. I have my theories as to what their biggest screw ups were, but really, what do I know? They'll be plenty of people, all with a lot more knowledge than me, writing about that for years to come.

The hope is that GM emerges from Chapter 11 a "leaner and meaner" company. Looking at some of their recent concept cars, I'm not so sure that will happen. "Leaner and lamer" seems to be a greater possibility.

I haven't desired a GM car in a very, very long time, but I am who I am in part because of my dad and his affiliation with GM. I won't repeat what I wrote in those early posts, I'll just end this part of this post by saying that it's sad and painful to see this once great American icon, a company that had so much influence on me and my family, reduced to this.

I guess I need to write about a GM car now, don't I? To me, one of the saddest parts of the whole GM debacle is that, as of now, it looks like Opel will no longer be a part of GM. My very first car was an Opel Kadett and my very first two-seater sports car was an Opel GT

The man I bought my Opel GT from (the original owner) was a chemistry professor at SUNY Stony Brook. He apparently liked to take his work home with him. My first memory of the car is of vacuuming a million pieces of broken test tubes out of every place imaginable. That's not exactly what you want to be doing on the first day you own a car, but it had to be done and things only got better from there.

I don't remember how many miles were on it when I bought it or how many were on it when I sold it, but during my 4 or 5 years of ownership it proved to be a fun, attention getting car that never really let me down. (In a way it's still a part of my life. I sold it in 1982 to raise some of the money I needed to start my business, a business I still own today.)

Opel GTs had one major flaw and a few small ones. Dashboards crack with age, the seats are flimsy and the body will rust. Those are the minor flaws. The big flaw was the carburetor, which is a complete piece of crap. Unaware at the time of the Weber carb available for the Opel GT, I spent a good portion of my time with this car rebuilding or replacing the carburetor. Replacing the original carb with the Weber cures all the problems and gives the car a bit more power, too. (If only I had known...)

The 1.9 liter engine (an unusual cam in head design) was durable and relatively powerful. 0 - 60 took just under 11 seconds, putting it in the same league as most 4 cylinder sports cars available in the US at the time. The suspension was pure Opel Kadette and handling could best be described as safe and adequate.

The Opel GT was not the sportiest of sports cars you could buy in the late sixties and early seventies, but it was an interesting alternative to an MGB GT or Fiat 124 Coupe. It remains that today.

The car being offered on eBay appears to be in very nice condition and has had a lot of work done to it, including the Weber carb replacement. The 15" chrome wheels look awful. If you buy this car please, please, please replace them with Panasports or some sort of period correct, non-chrome wheels. (I don't get the obsession with chrome wheels. They don't really look good on new cars and they look just plain hideous on older cars)

Located in Knoxville, TN, click here to see the eBay listing for this 1973 Opel GT.

The picture below is of my Opel GT and my friend Dave's Triumph GT6. The picture is circa 1981 and taken in Albany, NY. Dave and I lived in the same apartment complex and were the only two people there with sports cars. Being in our very early 20s and being very self-impressed by how cool we and our cars were, we used to park them next to each other, away from all the other "mundane" cars in the apartment parking lot. Unfortunately, we were too broke to own winter beaters, so we drove them year round. GT6s and Opel GTs are not the best winters cars. Having to get people to help you push the car out of any snow drift more than 5 inches tall took away a lot of our "coolness"...
(I have no idea why I took this picture)

1 comment:

otto said...

You're so right. Chrome wheels are a mess on ANY car. ANY CAR!