25 Years In A Montana Barn: 1972 Opel 1900

Customers looking for fun, vibrant, sporty cars in the early-1970s typically didn’t end up at their neighborhood Buick dealership but that’s where they would have found cars such as this 1972 Opel 1900. The seller has this one listed here on eBay in El Cerrito, California and there is a $4,200 buy-it-now price or you can make an offer.

I believe that this Opel 1900/”Manta A” – a first-generation car made from 1970 to 1975 – would have been originally Glacier Blue in color, a nice light blue color. That’s the color that shows up in the engine compartment and on the door sills. I like the current white paint scheme with the stripes but knowing that it isn’t original from the factory, I like it a little less, which makes absolutely no sense. Either you like something or you don’t, it doesn’t matter if it’s original or not.

The Opel Manta, or Opel 1900 as the early models were known in the US, was sold at Buick dealerships and they were generally good cars. They were fun to drive and so different from anything that Buick offered at the time, or really ever. In 1973 in the US market, they were known as the Opel Manta and GM stopped importing European-made Opels in 1975. Although, they would come back at Saturns and even Buicks in later decades. I love these early slim-bumper Opels, it wouldn’t be long before regulations would require hulking bumpers that ruined the tight design of these cars.

The seller says that this car was stored in a barn for 25 years, but their description is a little… different. I’ll let you all read it and let us know if you can decipher more info about this car or if I’ve gotten any of the details wrong. It’s a 4-speed car and the interior looks pretty good from the photos that they show in their eBay listing.

The underside looks solid and the seller says that the engine will need work but they don’t elaborate, so plan for the worst but hope for the best. It should be Opel’s Cam-In-Head (CIH) 1.9L inline-four with just under 80 horsepower. They say that it needs a rebuild but hopefully it can be brought back to life. Have any of you owned an Opel 1900 or Manta?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Once again, hats off to the author, seeing an Opel Manta is lie seeing an old friend. WHERE YOU BEEN??? Opels, I’d say, aside from VW, were the 2nd most popular foreign car, pre-Asian, that is. Everybody had, or knew someone that had an Opel. I had 3 myself, a ’67 Kadett wagon, a ’68 Mini Brute and a ’72 Manta, or 1900, I forget, and had friends that had them, all really good cars. The 1900 was a good , not great, engine. Ran forever, but not very peppy and so-so gas mileage. They sorely needed a 5 speed, and that junk Solex carb. I replaced several with a Pinto carb, with much better results. Worst part of these, and what doomed many an Opel, was the front stubs of the unibody that hold the front suspension, would rust, making the car un drivable. These look okay, and Cal. is about the only place you’ll find one. Great find, tho. Good parts car for someone if they drop a zero off the end of the price. Got to hand it to Californians, nice try.

    Like 7
    • Jim Sheen

      I had a Manta and 2 GTs, and I loved them. Good performance and pretty safe cars too, which I can attest to. I rolled the Manta after sliding sideways into a boulder (my big buddy ended up in the back seat), and my brother got T-boned after stealing my first GT for a little joyride. No major injuries. I’d love to have another one!

      Like 1
    • Mr.BZ

      Agreed, Howard A, but you have to remember that is a million dollar house this car is parked next to in the ad. It’s all relative.

      Like 2
  2. MitchRoss Member

    Pretty sure this one will be heading back to Europe. They are quite collectable there and few survived so a solid one like this will have interest.

    Like 5
  3. Dan

    I had an Opel Kadette Rallye, 1970 4 spd, gold with black stripes. That thing was so fun. Drove it to death. Unfortunately, that’s probably what happened to most of them.

    Like 3
  4. Steve R

    The Montana license plate sort of fit the sellers claim that his friend towed it 30 hours to California. Seems pricey for the US market, but if their goal was to sell it to someone who lives in Europe to get a higher price, it might pay off.

    Steve R

    Like 5
  5. Steve Clinton

    I may be nuts but it reminds me of a cross between the first-generation Camaro and a late model Corvair.

    Like 4
    • nlpnt

      The Ascona sedan it’s based on is even more interesting, the size of a BMW 2002 with a mix of Mercedes /8 and ’71 Chevy styling cues.

    • Jasper

      Not nuts at all. Designed under Chuck Jordan of GM. I have a photo of my old Manta signed by him. He really lit up when I showed him the picture and asked for him to autograph it.

  6. Nick thielen

    Had one they are almost perfectly weighted 50/50 the turn really well for a good sized car. Engine was good not great but held its own. Was banned in racing in its class because it was too good. Look it up. I would love to have one but I think this would be more time and money than I currently have

  7. Cobrajetter

    What about that Cougar behind it?

    • Steve Clinton

      And the English taxi?

    • Danger Dan

      Sold it, thanks barnfinds, & the cougar too. eBay is still rockin’ Can’t let bring a trailer get all the glory
      DD

  8. davew833

    Yep. ’71 Opel Kadette wagon and a ’74 1900 wagon graced the family fleet at different times. My mom drove the 1900 wagon until the holes in the floor got so big you could see the ground. I was tasked with keeping it running which was a pain with that Solex carb. After that I talked her into a Honda Accord.

  9. Jcs

    When done well, great looking little cars IMO.

    Like 3
  10. Derek

    I had a Manta but it was a 1980 one with black painted, rather than chromed, bumpers. I didn’t really get on with it and sold it fairly quickly, but my default setting was Minis and bikes. One of my mates had a yellow one of these with a black bonnet which was a bit of a hybrid – it had a 5-speed box, for example.

  11. Frank B

    The Opel Ascona was also sold by Buick as the “1900”. The 1900 Sportwagon was the best of the line.

    Like 2
    • EDWARD THRON

      My mom bought a new 75 Sportwagon in late 74 . Orange with black interior , really sweet car but had reliability issues . Dads Manta never gave any issues . I think dealer didn’t know how to work on them .

  12. Goatsnvairs

    I had a dark blue Manta Rallye, believe it was a ’72. I loved that car, had a 4 speed, rallye wheels. Good looking design, was very reliable too. Ended up trading it in on a ’78 monza v6 4 speed (or was it 5?). Was making a lot of trips from Chicago to Florida so I wanted the extra 2 cylinders for long highway trips. I liked that Monza too!

    Like 2
    • Jcs

      Between what you said and your user name, I would say that you have had a pretty good run of cool cars.

      Like 1
  13. genemak1

    Sadly the snow belt salt ate up so many of these. The west coast is where to find them. Rust wise the front frame rails would get crispy, mainly on the drivers side. The rust issue was exacerbated by poorly designed battery tray placement right above the fuse box at the left rear corner engine bay near to the windshield. Once you’d get some rain, battery acid would eat it’s way downward along with moisture. Add to that some road salt, and you’ve got a crispy crunchy situation after several years, along with electrical issues. This one is not too bad rust wise, from what I can see, it will need a lot of mechanical issues attended to. She’s a major project. The new owner will have to spend accordingly.

    Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      Too bad they didn’t have today’s batteries back then. Even the base compact walmart battery that no longer has removable caps has totally eliminated top post corrosion! & is lighter & more powerful with 525-600 cca!

  14. Carlos J Guzman

    I love it. I would paint it back to its original color. Do a restoration on it. Drive it and enjoy it. I love these cars but so few of these left.

    Like 3
  15. rick

    Loved my 1972 Opel GT. Wish I still had it.

    • Jim Sheen

      Me too. Great little scooter (and I loved blowing off “wannabe Porche” 914s). Granted, not a major accomplishment, but still. :)

  16. Jim Sheen

    Occured to me from the front quarter view that you could do a cool mod to make it look like a Camaro RS. :)

  17. JolietJake Member

    I have owned 2 Buick Opels: a 1972 Opel 1900 (inherited from my Dad, a great, fun car) and a 2016 Buick Cascada (sold 2016-2019 in U.S., 2013- ? in Europe as an Opel Cascada). I remember the 1900 as a tinny econobox, the doors about 1 1/2 inches thick, dependable, a lot of fun, and sat pretty high for a compact. The Cascada has proven to be very reliable, handles great, and a potential collectable (IMHO) as there are very few out there…poor marketing by Buick as people are always commenting to me that they did not even know Buick was offering a convertible. Had front end problems with the 1900 when I traded it in for a 1980 Dodge van.

    Like 2
    • Carlos J Guzman

      Thank for you information about the Buick Cascada..I would love to own an old Opel.. The Buick Cascada..might be something more reasonable for my wife. I love old cars.. but my next car likely will be and Electric car. I’m torn between wanting a Ponitac Lemans or GTO 68-70 and a Chevy Vega 71 or Buick Opel.. I love small cars all my life. My 1st car was a 1991 Suzuki Swift 1.3 Liter. I have owned 36+ cars.

      Like 1
  18. Steve Wertman

    Love these cars! Had one when I graduated high school 1982. Bought it from my mom! My parents bought it brand new in 1974. Opel manta luxe’s. Burgundy paint with matching interior. Four speed manual transmission with that 1.9 liter engine! Quite potent for its size. I believe the manuals are quite rare anymore! Ran great. Never had any carburetor issues. Were these later units equipped with a 2barrel Weber carburetor? I can remember reading that somewhere. Otherwise I still wish I had that car! Wish I only knew then what I know now! Lol!

  19. Graham Line

    European Opels were imported through the 1975 model year. The ’75 has electronic fuel injection in place of the Solex carb.

    Like 1
  20. Edward t Thron

    My dad bought a new Manta in 73 , I learned to drive in that car then he sold it to my friend’s mom and her kids learned to drive in it . She then sold it to another teenage boy as his first car . Good looking ,fun to drive and tough as nails . The last owner wrecked it , it was 11 years old . My grandfather had a 72 Manta automatic he picked up at the factory in Germany ( slow ! ) and put over 200k on it . Worth a fortune back in Germany , it’s their 69 Camaro .

    Like 2
  21. Will Owen Member

    Re: original color – Yes, to the suggestion it used to be blue. The one our shop’s errand-runner had in the early ’70s was a lovely blue, and its upholstery was exactly the color and fabric shown in this one’s interior shot.

    I had a well-used one in the mid-’70s, a “Rallye” with the blacked-over hood and a screaming orange paint job. The downer was it was an automatic, whose tranny would stick in gear whenever I stopped after a few minutes of running, and stall the engine. Glad I never had anyone chasing me, since turning off the ignition then re-starting was a very clumsy operation. Aside from that, it was a pretty good road-runner, but Tennessee winters leave icy patches all over their country roads, and that thing was all but unmanageable on anything but dry pavement.

    Like 1
  22. Jcs

    Something about Opels, it seems that everybody who has owned them have succumbed to their charms, even with any problems that they have had with them.

    Like 4
    • Carlos J Guzman

      They are so charming.. I love them.. such cute cars..

  23. Dennis Froelich

    Owned many Mantas and 1900s. Quite a few Kadetts and GTs!

    Back when these came out my father was the go to guy to get these worked on. People came from the surrounding tri state area to get their Opel worked on. Yes he worked at a Buick/Olds dealership. Guess that is why I had quite a few of them years ago.

    Still searching for a Kadett Rallye…

  24. Rob

    Have a ‘74 Manta. I’m biased, but these are great little cars IMHO. The weak points is a slightly low rent interior for the times, but it makes up for it on the outside with its nice lines. The engine is an interesting point in the evolution to OHC and is pretty resilient to abuse for a German made car from the ‘70’s

    Been watching this car for a while; think the seller moved it from northwestern WY to CA. Would love to have another, but it really should go to a fellow Opeler. Hope to see it on the road soon.

    Like 2
  25. Rich Whiting

    Back in 1978, I purchased a blue 1972 Opel GT. 4 speed. It was my first sports car. Loved the way it handled and the looks I got. Never had a problem with it in 2 years. Sold it and my love for sports cars never waned. Fiat X1/9, Fiat Spyder, 240Z, 280Z, Triumph TR7, VW Scirocco, Dodge Colt 8 speed, Pininfarina Azzura, 1972 Corvette, Honda Del Sol, Honda S2000. 40 years worth of buying and selling. Still miss that little Opel GT the most. Smiles per miles!!!!

    Like 5
    • Rob

      Quite a collection, Rich! We all have favorites – mine is a unrequited Saab story

  26. Danger Dan

    Sold it, thanks for helping me out barnfinds- Are you ready for Dan’s discoveries part3? Happy new year and thanks for the positive comments
    DD

    Like 1
  27. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this Opel sold for $4,200.

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