40 Years In A Barn: 1973 Opel Manta Luxus

For two model years, US customers could get a slightly-upscale Opel Manta and this 1973 Opel Manta Luxus is one of those cars. While not a luxury car by any means, it would be mainly interior refinements that would set this model apart from the regular Manta. This one can be found here on eBay in South Hadley, Massachusetts with an unmet opening bid of $800.

This car looks solid in a few of the photos but in some others, it looks like there will be a decent amount of bodywork to do. I’m not sure what’s going with the front bumper, it almost looks homemade. The Luxus model was offered in 1973 and 1974 and one of the features would have been the nice, four-spoke wheels. What a great looking car!

This is one of the scary photos, rust-wise. There is no mention of rust but the seller says that it was in a barn for 40 years and they just pulled it out of said barn. Once again, the east coast (or, Midwest) isn’t kind to vehicles, even if they’ve been in storage inside a building. Maybe it was a damp, leaky barn but it sure looks like it might be more than surface rust in spots. Opel sold 17,636 Manta Luxus models in the US in 1973 at $2,800 a pop, yet they don’t seem to turn up that often.

The Opel Manta Luxus model wasn’t exactly a precursor to Toyota’s Lexus brand, but it had some upscale bits and pieces that the regular Mantas didn’t have. Such as woodgrain trim and corduroy seat fabric. The seats in this car look good – also good and dirty – but the headrests have given up the ship. The rest of the front seats look dirty but savable, and the back seat looks the same. I had this same fabric and color in a 1983 Datsun-Nissan Sentra that I recently owned and almost any upholstery shop should be able to match that fabric.

The engine should be GM’s Opel 1.9L cam-in-head inline-four which would have had 75 hp. This car is only 2,200 pounds but that still wasn’t a lot of power, and a 13-second 0-60 time was the result. I hope that this car can be saved. Have any of you owned an Opel Manta Luxus?

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Comments

  1. Jim in FL

    I had one of these that I bought for $75, put a clutch in and cleaned up. I hit a deep puddle and both jack pads tore off at the front mounts, making a scoop of water that flooded the interior. So, yes, I would anticipate heavy rust.

    On the plus side, I pulled out the interior and cleaned it up, welded in patches, made sure the frame was okay and I was back in business. But that was 1985, I was 18 and the Opel was 12. I can imagine this will be a slightly bigger project. Really enjoyed mine for the summer I owned it though.

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  2. OIL SLICK

    This one check’s all the right boxes but I have to think that rust is through in spots, and what about the bottom. Does anyone live near that can check it out?

    1
  3. Nsuracer

    That is not a bumper, it is a tow bar mount.

    3
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      I see the holes in the tabs now that you mention it, Nsuracer. Thanks for the info.

      1
  4. JC

    I – traded – a Renault Fuego Turbo for a 72? Opel manta -Its was “Grabber” lime “Green” and we were driving around Boston during the same time of and while the very last – last Greatful Dead concerts in 97-1998??? and everyone was yelling at us and thumbs up !! “hey cool car man! !! Cool color man! Lol. No we didn’t go to the concert but had a great time regardless driving around BeanTown and having a blast ! ;0)
    Ahhh yes young and foolish w 3 others and no sleep ! Not a great combo. We were beat we all had great jobs but 2nd And 3rd shift so we were wide awake at this point usually ! Lol lots of coffee. The streets and sidewalks were jam packed w people and the music was loud from the outside 🎶🎶🎶lol jc

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  5. Rube Goldberg

    Ha! I had a blue Dopel Mantra just like this. Just before the Asian wave of ( better) cars came ashore, the Opel was one of the few imports to choose from. They were good cars, not great, I think I had 4 Opels all told,( a ’67 kadett wagon, a ’68 Kadett Rallye, and 2 Mantra’s) and friends had several more, all good cars. The 1.9 was a stellar motor, not too fast or got the best mileage, but ran and ran. On my 1.9’s, I replaced the junk Solex with an Autolite Pinto carb with much better results. Biggest problem with these, is it’s a unibody, and the stubs that hold the front suspension rust, and it’s goodbye Opel. Yards were full of them. Fun to see one again, but that’s about it.

    4
  6. ccrvtt

    One of the best-looking small two-door sedans made. Imagine if the BMW 2002 looked this good.

    7
  7. JC

    Hands down better than a Reneault Fuego Turbo w burg leather interior and silver exterior w black accents !
    A cool unreliable French disaster tgat was comfotable and wonderful for the first 38k miles of its life ! And …. then it began …. worst reliability i have ever witnessed in automobile history except for the le car was worse ! Oh those were the days!
    No wonder japanese cars took over tge market … Honda. If you are listening. !!! Make a Real “ 3/4 ton full frame full size v8 4×4 and ill buy one ! ;0)
    JC

  8. JC

    Now that ill spend some cash on
    My 3/4 ton truck trials

    2003 2500hd 4×4 rust in peace
    2004 2500 hd same but worse and engine iwas junk also
    2006 2500hd 4×4 40,000 miles junk frame !
    1996 f250 junk period
    And
    1996 tacoma 4×4 junk frame also

    Honda????????
    2001 Pilot 4×4 👍😎
    Ps ill pay extra for that galvanized frame option !!
    JC

    collection

    1
  9. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    @JC…why all the trucks, you in the landscape business? Contractor? To me, a bunch of late 90s-early 2000s pickups do not make for a desirable “collection.” But I hear you regarding Asian full size pickups. As for this Opel, I loved the style over the Kadett, which my family owned three of. It was always great as a kid to go to Temple Buick in Alexandria, Virginia on a Sunday and see what new Opels and Buicks were being loaded into the showroom for Monday buyers. Temple also sold FIAT right up to the dying days of the Spider in the early 80s.

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  10. JC

    Answer it is a Working Relationship w me i have 1934 cars to new nissan suv and bmw twin Turbo
    But. The trucks got me to be able to afford these CARS !
    And a family !
    JC 👍😎
    Trucks built America !

    1
  11. Genemak

    I’ve owned many of these. To me it looks as though it’s an excellent candidate for a parts car because of the rust. The Luxus models all had vinyl roofs. Apparently this one, like most, had a leaky vinyl roof a long time ago, someone removed the vinyl top, saw the rust, then decided to store it the way it was. Looks like the roof rust spread during the duration. Too bad. I suspect the front frame rails are rusted through too, due to battery corrosion, (which struck almost all of them) then stripping of useful parts and getting rid of the hulk is the most humane treatment of what once was a great little car.

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    • james

      Parents had nearly matching Luxus models, one blue four speed like this, one maroon auto. Vinyl was definitely optional as my mom unfortunately checked that box (to the tune of a couple hundred bucks) and thankfully dad did not.

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      • ninja3000

        My ’74 Luxus didn’t have a vinyl roof either.

        Scotty: As for that “woodgrain trim,” there was indeed plastic trim along the door panels that resembled wood. After a few years, they started to crack, so I thought I’d remove them, thinking there was bare metal underneath. To my bemused surprise, there was real wood underneath!

  12. TimM

    Looks like it could be a fun little car if it was running and driving!! Can’t get to hurt for $800!! I’m sure there’s parts to sell on flea bay if it doesn’t work out or the rust is to severe!!!

    2
    • Jeremy

      I dig this car. I’m getting a 70s Capri vibe from it, or Vega, which makes me want to V8 swap it. And it’s already set up for a stick shift. Maybe swap in a Fox body Mustang running gear…

  13. local_sheriff

    Hands down the best-looking Rüsselsheimer ever! The Manta was another one of my teenage wet dreams and its design shows so clearly that Opel is(was) a GM brand. Any Opels of this vintage also easily become a rust bucket unless they’re taken care of from day one.
    My uncle owned one in the 70s and I know he liked it. A former collegue of mine(a long-time Opel affectionado) managed to capture a pristine red 1.6 stick Manta A at a steal 10 years ago. I’ll always envy him that…

    3
  14. Christopher A. Junker

    My blue 1973 Opel Manta Luxus 4 spd was the first new car I ever bought. Rochester NY was and is, notorious for their winter road salt use so I had the car “ziebarted” for rust protection. I only had three problem areas: the distributor had a black plastic cover under which held condensed moisture, the front disc brake caliper bores rusted so the brakes went bad, and the entire interior in back sun rotted and had to be replaced under warranty. The Buick dealer was hopeless, but the workshop manual was good and the Manta was easy to work on. I ended up with two sets of good calipers; a company in Buffalo would machine out the bores and fit stainless steel sleeves and pucks which cured the brake problem. Really a nice car but needed 20 more horses and a five speed for expressway driving. Quiet and good handling that worked better with upgraded quality tires.

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  15. Louis Q Chen

    My parents bought one of these in ’73. dark blue with auto, A/C. It ran great especially with “hi-test” gas. The 1.9L engine performed great and very reliable too. The only problem was the Solex carb, I replaed with a Weber and problem solved. Remember ’73 is when emission got stricter. Too the Manta rusted out in 1980 yet engine still ran fine. We owned several Opels-Kadette ( Chevy Nova wannabe) Opel GT then the Manta Luxus. Too bad most German cars during that period became rust buckets! Now the Germans don’t make cars like these anymore. “The Best or Nothing” = B.M.W. (Break My Wallet/Bank).

    1
  16. Ralph

    I think the reason so many people find these attractive is because they look like front engine fast back versions of a 1965-1969 Corvair.

    I think this was a Chuck Jordan design when he ran the Opel styling studio.

    1
  17. davew833

    No, but I had a ’74 Opel 1900 wagon. Same PITA carbureted engine, same rust problems. The front floorboards were well-ventilated.

  18. Michael

    I had a ‘74 Manta in Signal Blue with the sunroof and a 4 speed. It was my first new car, it had 136,000 miles on it when we met a drunk driver one night. When I moved from Virginia to Florida it pulled a small Jartran trailer with all my stuff in it with no problems.

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