Wednesday, December 30, 2009

1974 Opel Manta Luxus - An eBay Find

As I've written before, I have a soft spot for Opels. I learned to drive on an Opel Kadette Rallye. My first car was an Opel Kadett station wagon. My first "sports car" was an Opel GT.

I never owned a Manta. My dad had one once. A bronze colored Manta Rallye. He didn't have it for long (he worked for GM and got a new company car every few months or so), but I remember it being a very cool car.

This is a 1974 Opel Manta Luxus. The Luxus edition was a bit plusher than the standard Manta. It came with corduroy seats (corduroy being more luxurious than vinyl, I guess) and some fake wood trim. The rest of the car was standard issue Manta, which is not a bad thing at all.

The Manta came with Opel's unusual cam-in-head 1.9 liter 4 cylinder engine. With the standard Solex carburetor, it was able to take the car to 60 MPH in 13 seconds. Replacing the Solex with a Weber (a mandatory modification on an Opel) shaves a second or so off the 0 - 60 time. (1975 Mantas came with Bosch FI and were able to hit 60 in less than 11 seconds.)

There aren't a whole lot of things that go wrong with Opel Mantas (or Opels in general). The above mentioned Solex carb is a piece of junk. When it starts to act up (and it will start to act up) it should be tossed out and replaced with a Weber. If maintained, the engine is good for well over 100K miles. I never owned an automatic Opel, but I can't find any horror stories on the net about the automatic transmissions, so I assume that they are at least as good as any 1970s automatic transmission.

The car being offered on eBay appears to be a very nice, original survivor. Manta interiors were not the most durable interiors around, but this one appears to be in very nice condition. Rust is the biggest enemy of an old Opel and this car appears to be relatively rust free (there is some surface rust below the taillights). The car has a few flaws... There's a dent in the right rear quarter panel and what appears to be some peeling clear coat on the nose. There is also a hole where the battery leaked at one time. All-in-all though, this is a really nice 35 year old car.

I've always liked the Manta. If I had unlimited storage space and unlimited "car funds", an Opel Manta would be in my collection. They were well built, nice looking cars. I've often wondered if GM would be in the situation it is in today if they had continued to develop Opels for the US market. A true German coupe and sedan may have done a lot for their image and maybe even cut into the sales of VW, Audi and BMW.

Located in Orange, CA, click here to see the eBay listing for this car.

2 comments:

Chris Keen said...

Nice car, although in Germany these were the cultural equivalent of a Camaro when I lived there... subject to bad mods, cheap spoilers, etc. Neighbor had one when I was a kid, so someday I'd like a pre-74 Rallye.

Weird that it has all that surface rust though, and why are none of the nice Mantas manual shift cars?

Anonymous said...

I had several Opels too. 3 Mantas, as I recall. A GT and an Ascona Sedan. They did have very few vices, but there were some. The 1.9 engines were very durable but every once in a while you would encounter one with a bent crankshaft. (Like my 1st one!) I am also not sure how well these motors do on unleaded gas. They may need hardened valve seats installed in the head. The automatic was a 3-speed T-3 GM unit made in France or Belgium and was sturdy as well, but the torque-tube rear ends could get noisy & also fail. Not super on gas, I got around 20-22mpg with most of mine. Good brakes, deep trunk. The radiators had a mounting bolt on the very bottom center. If that fell off or came undone, the radiator would swing like a pendulum on the 2 upper mounts just far enough to contact the fan. Look for a strange arc-shape in the cooling fins before the plastic blades carve a new drain in your cooling system.
Alden