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20k Mile Survivor: 1975 Opel Manta

Opel is a German company that was owned by General Motors until a few years ago. A few of their models would pop up in the U.S. from time to time, usually sold through Buick dealers. The Opel GT, something of a mini-Corvette, was one of them. The sporty Manta was another. The first generation of the Manta was built between 1970-75 and the seller’s car is from that last model year. It’s an original survivor with just 20,000 miles and has been in storage for a dozen or so years. Located in East Meadow, New York, this little machine is available here on craigslist for $11,500. Thanks, Pat L., for finding another great memory for us!

The Manta was a rear-wheel-drive sports coupé based on an Opel family car much like the Ford Mustang began as a Falcon. The car got its name (and some of its styling cues) from the Manta Ray concept car from the early 1960s, which also influence the C3 ‘Vette. U.S. versions of the car used a 1900 cc inline-4 with a 4-speed manual or TH-180 automatic transmission. Depending on model year, the U.S. car was badged as either the Manta or the 1900 Sport Coupe. The last year an Opel car was imported into the U.S. was 1979.

While not time-capsule quality, the seller’s ’75 Manta is quite well preserved and has only recently come out of hibernation. We’re told there is no rust anywhere and the original paint still has a shine to it, though there are a few little scrapes and scratches. The interior looks equally nice, though depending on which photo you look at, the upholstery looks yellow (like the car) or tan in color (that gets my vote).

This car is said to run well, thanks to some recent work that was done. The fuel system has been flushed out and a new fuel pump and battery have been installed. The car is fuel-injected, which makes that process a bit simpler than having to rebuild a carburetor, but instead just having to clean the injectors. It’s amazing that a car like this only saw 20,000 miles as they were not considered collectible in the day. We don’t know how many of them may have been imported, but when was the last time you saw an Opel Manta, and – if you did – was it anywhere this nice?

Comments

  1. Avatar photo Ramone Member

    Imagine this body without the federally mandated park benches/ bumpers? Sharp looking little car.

    Like 17
    • Avatar photo Mike

      Just looked it up. Seems you can get new small bumpers from Germany… at a price.

      Like 11
      • Avatar photo bill tebbutt

        Autobox kills it. Otherwise, an incredibly capable car!

        bt

        Like 16
  2. Avatar photo Mikefromthehammer
  3. Avatar photo Jim in FL

    I had one of these in the mid 80s. Orange with tan interior. Need to watch for floorboard rust. Otherwise, it was a really fun car. With the four speed manual, it had some pep, and handled well, despite the tires being pretty skinny. Amazing to think I bought mine for $75, shined the paint, bondoed the rust and fixed the floors and drove it for a year. Then I sold it for $700 and thought I did great.

    At the time, you could buy the European bumpers at the parts counter of the Buick dealer. I looked into it, But too much for me as a starving college kid. I suffered with the gigantic American spec bumpers.

    Like 7
  4. Avatar photo local_sheriff

    If its body is as sound as it looks it’s worth every penny IMO. Except for the sheetmetal quality (which Opel appearantly always struggled with) this is Opel at its best – just as the Kadett B, Rekord C/Commodore A and the mentioned GT, Opels from this era were designed as 3/4 versions of its American GM idols.

    Ditch the horrible US bumpers and its slush box and this will be a sweet little Manta

    Like 11
  5. Avatar photo sir_mike

    Very nice Opel…should sell well.

    Like 7
  6. Avatar photo jerry z

    Sweet looking car. My parents had a Kadett Wagon back in the 70’s and since then always had a thing for Opels.

    Like 6
  7. Avatar photo Ron H

    I wonder if this is the seller below or if this is a flipper that’s trying to make a few bucks on the car take a look

    https://jalopnik.com/at-16-500-will-this-1975-opel-manta-survivor-also-sur-1846729791

    Like 3
  8. Avatar photo hpage66

    I had a ’72 version (“1900”) – same color – awesome car until the engine blew up (piston self destructed) but found a replacement engine in a newspaper want ad, rented a garage space, swapped the engine and was all good. Drove it cross county a couple times. Great memories..

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo CCFisher

    Trivia time!

    The last German Opels sold under the Opel name in the US were imported in 1975.

    From 1976-1980, Buick marketed the “Buick/Opel by Isuzu,” imported from Japan.

    The last German Opel sold in the US was the 2020 Buick Regal, built by Opel in Germany alongside the nearly identical Opel Insignia.

    Who knows the other thinly disguised Opels sold in the US? There are at least four.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Derrick Stikeleather

      Wasn’t the Saturn Sky an Opel?

      Not using the google machine, I would guess that the Cadillac that zags (Catera) was one, but I’m only basing that on it’s European feel.

      Not sure one the other two..

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Phil D

        To the extent that the Kappa platform on which it was based was originally designed by Opel, yes, the Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice were Opels — but none of them (including the Opel-branded variants) were built by Opel. They were all built by GM Assembly in the US, and the Opel and Daewoo variants were exported from here to those brands’ home markets.

        You are correct that the Catera was also built on an Opel platform. If I’m not mistaken, at times it was imported from Opel and at other times built in the US. Fact is that the vast majority of GM’s automobile models built in this millennium are based on what were originally Opel platforms (every GM platform with a Greek name), trucks and SUVs excepted, but most of them were built here, not imported from Opel plants.

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo Roger Avis

        The Saturn Skye/Pontiac Solstice were built in Wilmington, DE. Also from the same factory was the latter day “Opel GT”, which were for export only. So it would be a reach to call the Skye an “badge-engineered” Opel ; more the other way around.

        Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Derrick Stikeleather

    There is a guy local to me that runs one of these in SCCA events. I love the look of it, lowered down with fat wheels and tires. From the first time I saw it run, I wanted one.

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo James

    Anyone remember the German cartoon “Manta Manta!” LOL.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo James

      Boy it’s been a few years, it’s not a cartoon but a Movie. LOL I may have to find it and watch it, hopefully has subtitles, German isn’t as good as it used to be.

      Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Pleease

    The Opel GTs naturally got a lot of attention back then, but the Manta is a pretty cool model, and actually room for a few humans in it, lol.

    As someone said, a manual shift would be much more desirable, but a super nice looking specimen right there!

    Like 1
  13. Avatar photo JerryS

    The wagon version’s the gem. One in the Mid-Ohio area in the mid-70’s uesed to give my X1/9 fits. Of course they were racing a GT, so the wagon had been breathed on

    Like 1
  14. Avatar photo Gerard Frederick

    Apropos trivia: Opel is one of the world´s oldest industrial enterprises, having been a powerhouse of innovation before the economic Weimar disaster forced its partial sale to GM. The new bosses in Detroit prompltly scrapped technical gems like the truly marvelous 750cc (500cc´s?) motorcycle with the Neander frame, the rocket propelled (!!) airplane flown in 1928 at Frankfurt by one of the Opel brothers, the 24 hours race track which Opel pioneered to test the reliability of their products and the rocked powered world record setting motorcycle. During the 1930´s they built everyday cars which were noted for the heavy american influence such as the Capitän and the Admiral, grand cars which turned out to be quasi bullett proof in WW2 in Russia where the Admiral was one of the favorite staff cars. The Opel Record engine powered the half track military motorcycle and the Opel Blitz was the by far most ubiquitous military truck, albeit the same as the civilian version only with a different paint job. It was this truck which earned Opel the nick name in Germany ¨Opel the reliable¨. The pre-war large Opels were serious competition for Mercedes and Horch with those customers who wanted something different, especially the Opel 6, which interestingly was based on the Blitz heavy duty truck.

    Like 4
  15. Avatar photo Paul T Root

    My second car was a Manta. It was a lot of fun. It was a carbureted version, I think it must have been a ’74.
    I had some overheating problems driving home one weekend from college, and decided to flush the radiator. The hose disintegrated pulling it off. No problem, off to the autoparts store. The hose had the heater core return in the middle. Still no problem, that could be by-passed to get back to school if needed. Err, the hose has a different diameter at each end! The Buick dealer was already closed for the day that Saturday. Fortunately, I brought a friend home for the weekend for him to pick up his Firebird, so I got a ride back up, and my Dad got to the dealer and got the hose during the week.
    Other than that, it was a fun reliable car.

    Like 0
  16. Avatar photo Gary Rhodes

    My buddy had one, bronze with black hood? Tan interior. Great, fun car. We were going to look at a Ford coupe and a woman crossed three land of traffic and totalled it. Lucky we weren’t killed. Another buddy had a Kadette wagon and coupe. We drove them around the farm, I thought they were great little cars. Haven’t seen another one in thirty years

    Like 0
  17. Avatar photo Uncle Leo

    Bought a ’73 Manta from my friend’s future father in law for $50. Car was white with black interior and in immaculate shape. Mechanically it had a bad cam. Replaced cam and lifters and got it running beautiful. Another friend fell in love with it,and wanted to buy it for his sister’s birthday,but he wanted it in red. I trimmed and resprayed the whole car in ’81 Camaro red. On the final coat,a giant male mosquito hit an overhead light and landed perfectly centered on the hood,wings and legs out. As it was Centari paint with hardener,there was not much I could do until the paint cured. When they saw what happened,they thought it looked cool and told me to leave it. She drove that car for ten years before selling it still in beautiful condition.

    Like 2
  18. Avatar photo 200mph

    IIRC, Car & Driver magazine built and raced one of these.

    Swap in a 4speed and 1972 bumpers and have a really nice piece for your local Cars & Coffee.

    Like 0
  19. Avatar photo Jwaltb

    Opel GT was no “mini-Corvette”. An underpowered econobox with a different body.

    Like 0
  20. Avatar photo Jeff

    These were excellent cars but the engine a 1.9ltr is prone to cylinder head cracking between the valves. Doesn’t show up unless you drive her hard then she’ll start to overheat. She also has very old fashioned ceramic fuses with steel strips. Corrosion on these is the biggest issue to electrical items failing. Replace with similar but copper instead of steel strips. Other than those items , rock solid fun motor.

    Like 0

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