The classic car style reminds many people of the third generation Corvette, that made its début in model year 1968. The Chevy connection wasn’t entirely coincidental. The Opel’s chief designer had Chevy roots. Prior to penning the GT, Clare MacKichan was part of GM’s styling team, and was influential in the design of such models as the perennially popular ’55 Chevys.
But the small size of the Opel GT and its modest performance (by American standards) resulted in the attractive sports activities coupe being tagged in the U.S. as an automobile better appropriate for females-something the Mazda Miata got to conquer in the early 1990s. In addition, GM foisted the captive transfer on Buick sellers, whose clients must possess been mystified.
The Opel GT’s small, swoopy form was first seen in the concept car of the same name, which appeared at the Frankfurt auto show in 1965. As frequently occurs in the translation from display car to display room, the GT dropped some of its focus. But, the last edition unquestionably strike the tag that Opel was capturing for - a sporty coupe to appeal young motorists.
But the Opel GT’s pedigree was genuine, and some heavy hitters from Detroit were involved from the beginning. They included Clare MacKichan, who designed the iconic ’55 Chevrolet and was Opel’s key of style from 1962-67, and Get rid of Jordan, who would become GM’s vice chief executive of style.
The GT’s interior also shared a similarity with the Corvette - the lack of an external trunk lid. Freight got to enter and departure behind the two chairs - an trouble that one wouldn’t think worthy of copying. Full instrumentation lent the GT dash a sporty feel, and the cabin’s passenger space was relatively roomy by two-seater standards.
The GT’s underpinnings came from the lowly Kadett, but the design was executed with finesse, and bodies were built by Brissonneau and Lotz in Paris. The GT was launched in 1968 with a 60-bhp, 1100cc, OHV four-cylinder engine, and the 1897cc “high-cam” engine, which developed 90 bhp and gave quite a bit more performance. In all, 103,373 GTs were built, with about 70,000 coming to the U.S. Only 3,573 were fitted with the 1100cc engine, but they were not sold in America.
The GT’s layout was conventional, with transverse-leaf independent front suspension and live rear axle located by coil springs, trailing arms, and Panhard rod. Brakes were disc/drum and steering rack-and-pinion. The engine was set far back for a 54/46 percent weight balance. Hidden headlights had been managed by hand with a console-mounted handle, and both turned over sideways. There had been four circular taillights at the back but no starting trunk, to maintain structural solidity. The wear out led back again to a laterally installed muffler with dual tailpipes, and while it appears clunky, the area allowed the wear out to become elevated and no one offers created a much better set up.
Beneath the curvy sheet metallic, the GT rode on a modified version of the Opel Kadett system, with a wheelbase of 95.7”. The bottom engine was Opel’s 1.1 litre four, but the engine of choice was the 1.9 litre overhead cam four. A four acceleration manual was the regular transmitting, with a three acceleration automated obtainable optionally.
Presence was great, in spite of the car getting low; the front chairs were comfy and there was a fair quantity of space in the end, where the free steering wheel and jack had been hidden behind a vinyl curtain. The dash resembled the C3 Corvette, but the Opel had a set of cool rocker switches, which the Corvette did not.
Though a 128-bhp engine was proposed at first, the eventual motor delivered 90 bhp. Road & Track reported 10.8 seconds for 0-96 kph (0-60 mph), but wind-tunnel research at the University of Stuttgart, coupled with a ram-air intake for the Solex 32/32 carburetor, produced a claimed 115-mph top speed (and I’ve seen 128 mph from a stock car). Handling is usually generally neutral, though larger tires can reduce understeer. However lateral G’s vary quite a bit from left to right with only the driver in place.
The bash-bumper laws of 1974 doomed the Opel GT, which was fragile at best. Coupled with the frightening propensity for rust in the bodies, and the frustration of difficult access to the trunk, the cars fell out of favor as practical transportation.
Though the chassis parts weren’t sophisticated, the car was low, light and nimble, which only made the sleek styled coupe seem faster. The GT’s lifespan stretched through model year 1973 in the states. The cars were famously susceptible to the tin worm, which makes an Opel GT sighting in rust belt states like ours rare indeed.
In addition, some drastic mechanised weaknesses became obvious: The 1.9-liters engine had a tiny three-quart sump, thus essential oil amounts had to end up being checked regularly. The “flip-over” concealed headlights required that the wiring use become remarkably versatile. Once engine temperature got solidified the plastic material padding, causing splits could result in fires. Electronic ignition can be a suggested update, as the 1.9-liters engine is hard about factors. Beware of a Weber carburetor update, which can be all-too common. While it boosts 0-60 mph efficiency, the ram-air consumption will not really match, with a related reduction of best acceleration.
Maybe mainly because part of the Buick marketing program, a quantity of Opel GTs were fitted with a pathetic three-speed automated transmission. Many of the best survivors are so equipped, and it’s worth retrofitting a manual four-speed, or even a ZF five-speed. All Opel GTs are left-hand drive and there was only one convertible Aero GT built as a show car in 1969. A few 1100cc models sneaked in from Canada, and the engine is usually reported to be unburstable, with gas mileage in the mid-40s attainable.
With such a large production physique, even though attrition has been severe, spares do exist. In a strange quirk, both wrecking yards and individual hoarders seem reluctant to grind parts vehicles. While audio vehicles may end up being significantly challenging to find-like Citroen DS 19s-donor vehicles perform can be found. Ultimately the mixture of realistic efficiency, apparent sophistication, and the sheer rarity of viewing a GT on the street is definitely guaranteed to pay out returns.
At present, Hagerty values a GT in #1 (concours) condition at a reassuring $26,300, although most cars are likely to rate between #3 (good) at $8,300 and #4 (fair) for $3,600, which offers a soothing upside for an keen restorer. A #2 (excellent) is usually reckoned at $16,400; best to start with a sound driver and avoid projects.
For increased performance, the later 2.5-liter Manta engine had Bosch fuel injection in 1975 and is an easy transplant. There was even a Turbo Manta sold in the UK. Stoking the fires further, check out Virgilio Conrero’s competition record with Opel GTs in the early 1970s. Conrero got been tuning Alfa Romeo 1300cc and 1600cc coupes and taking over his classes in Italia, therefore GM asked him to try his hands at the Opel GT. Conrero punched out the engine to 2.0 liters, increased compression to 11:1, and suited two Weber 45 DCOE carburetors.
With a race exhaust, power jumped to 190 bhp, 0-60 mph dropped to six seconds, and the quarter mile was cut to 15 seconds at 150 mph. Best swiftness was someplace north of 170 mph. By the period Conrero got completed with the suspension system and flares, his baby Corvette earned the GT 2.0-liters course in the 1970 Targa Florio and came in ninth general.