$400 Flip: 1974 Opel Manta

Usually, when you see a car listed like this you think, “Here’s yet another flipper who can’t bother to wash the car or even take it off the trailer.” Of course, he wants big money for it. But wait, what? Only $400? What can you get for $400? Apparently, you get a complete car, with no rust, but with no title either. There’s not much of a description, but the seller doesn’t seem to know anything beyond what he can see. He says it has a five-speed, but these had 4-speed transmissions, right? It’s listed on Craigslist and is near Knoxville, Tennesse. If the ad has ended, you’ll find it on the Craigslist ad finder.

The interior looks like it might be usable with a good cleaning. The vinyl might still be black under the dirt. I wonder what it smells like. Hopefully, there haven’t been too many creatures making their home in there.

Here’s the 1.9L engine. The carburetor is gone, but at least someone put a plate over the manifold. There’s an odd wire connected where a plug wire should be. It would seem someone was troubleshooting a problem and they either gave up or the necessary repair was too expensive.

This Opel will surely take more than one bucket of water to get it clean.

If you could get a title, and there really is no rust, it would seem worth the trouble to at least see what problems this car might have and what it would take to get it running. Low book on these is about $4,000. Perhaps the buyer could at least recover their investment by selling parts. These were great handling cars for their time and they did very well as rally cars. The paint might even buff out some, most of the trim is there and those look like original wheels. So, is this a parts car or is there hope for it?

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  1. Rube Goldberg Member

    Here is something you don’t see, EVER. The “Dopel Mantra”. Not even driving on the roads. I doubt the ad will go away any time soon. Opel never made a 5 speed in these, one of it’s downfall’s, I might add. These were very popular for a while. I had one, a friend had 2, ex-BIL had one, father’s secretary had one, very popular, except with the Buick dealers, who, I heard, hated them. Luckily, someone took the junk Solex off, a Pinto carb fit right on, (did that swap several times) and was better. They didn’t get the best mileage, and there were quicker 1.9 cars, but it was quiet, and smooth, handled pretty good, it was a nice car. Trouble with these, I’ve seen, were the front stubs from the unibody to hold the front suspension on, would rust, deeming the car, undriveable. Might want to check those on this car. I’d have to think parts are impossible to find, and this will probably be just that for someone, but not something to restore.

    • Poppapork

      Parts cant be that hard, they share parts with other opels (kadett b or c?) And all opels this vintage have a cult following in Europe….

    • Poppapork

      Ok, just googled it “opel GT source” is a service specializing in vintage opels (not only gts) 5 speed swaps, all kinds of hot tod parts for yhe 1.9 etc. Pretty much if you have a bare shell you can buy everything else brand new, inclhding interior pieces….Makes me want to snatch this, too bad its this far away, Relieve my childhood when i used to push my dads 1989 Opel kaddett E out of its parking spot at night (so nobody can hear it start) and put some vw golf 2 owners back in their place. (In my rear view mirror)

  2. Fred W.

    Had a ’73 Luxus like this one in my youth, much better looking due to thin bumpers, 4 speed, great car but only had two years so don’t know beyond that. This one looks restorable, but no title is a killer.

    • Poppapork

      Why is no title such a killer on a vintage car? I would be all over this if it was within 10h drive of me!

      The stock engine (CIH – cam in head, not OHC!) has forged crank and rods, stock red line is 6000, with a swap of pistons and springs it will spin close to 8000, Responds very well to valves from the 2L model, all kinds of different camshafts are available…
      Wide body racecar anyone?

  3. Steve

    Cool looking car, big bumpers kill it thou.

  4. txchief

    “Buff out” Har har!

  5. Suttree

    Tennessee is unyielding about getting a title for any vehicle of any age. Seller likely didn’t know his ad would go coast to coast or even worldwide.
    It’s possible to get a title in Tennessee but it involves much subterfuge. Almost no way for an ordinary owner to get a title.

    • mike D

      I wonder if a bill of sale would work outside of TN ? How far back does proof of ownership go in TN? ( title) might be a fun car, if not highly unusual!

  6. Sparkster

    Perfect candidate for the Wheeler Dealer show, Love these cars hate the bumpers. I’ve heard from other blogs that the four speed could be retrofitted with a five speed ? Anybody heard of this ?

    • Poppapork

      Been done a milion times, any parts u need for opel just google “opel source” one option is a getrag 240, another is a borg wagner t5 with a bellhousing from a chevette

  7. ccrvtt

    One of the nicest designs for a small 2-door sedan ever. Wouldn’t be on anyone’s 10 Ugliest Cars list…

    Will probably take a lot to bring this one back.

  8. ccrvtt

    On second thought, for $400 it would be worth it to take this orphan and spend a weekend cleaning it up and trying to get it running. The entertainment value is enormous.

  9. jw454


    That is not a “odd wire” at the distributor. The number 3 spark plug wire is missing completely. What your looking at is a stem from a leaf lying on the inner fender. It just happened to line up in the picture.

  10. Maestro1

    On the subject of Titles and illiterate States like Tennessee, if you live in a Bill of Sale State, where that document is sufficient for transfer of ownership, you’re fine. As far as the car is concerned, join the club that represents this marque and you’ll be fine. These cars had a racing history. And they are attractive. Upside so far is limited no matter what the value books say. If I had the room I would buy it ,restore it and have a hell of a nice driver.

    • hugh crawford

      It would be easy to register this in New York.
      Bill of sale on a cocktail napkin, and the car never even needs to actually be in New York.

  11. steve

    You do realize that this was a screamin green car? It doesn’t look like the “Jade Metallic” but rather the “Signal Green” which is hardly subtle. You’d HAVE to bring it back in the original color. My brother had these (and the The GT models too) He ended up twisting the cranks out of index on two of them. Don’t know if that’s a problem with the car or the (at the time) dumb kid. Didn’t get a ticket as the cop was a friend of mine who said he was out over 125 mph to catch him. I don’t need this car but it’s tempting…

    • Poppapork

      All crankshafts in the opel CIH engines are forged, con rods are forged as well, stock redline is 6000
      But will spin a lot faster with a new set of pistons, springs, valves from.the 2liter. Also these engines were made all.the way to very late 90ties, up to 2.4 liter 4cyl and i belive 3.6l 6 cyl

  12. Adam Clarke Adam T45 Staff

    Here’s a left-field idea for someone who wants to buy this and extract some performance on a budget. At the same time that these were in production, Isuzu in Japan released the Gemini, which was based on the GM T-car platform. They were available with a 1.8 litre twin-cam screamer with a 5-speed bolted on the back. These were a seriously potent little engine. I suspect that this combination would bolt into this car fairly easily. I’m not sure about the US, but if you are anything like we are Down Under, you should be able to source this combo direct from any good Japanese parts importer for under $1000. She’d then have the “go” to match her good looks.

  13. Karguy James

    This guy is a scrap yard and the car was likely scrapped with him. Nice of him to offer it to the car World instead of just sending it to the crusher. I hope someone saves it. Had one as a kid and LOVED it. One of the best shaped cars ever made.

  14. Bruce Fischer

    Its about 45 minutes from me! The least they could do is take it to a car wash even if its on a trailer.Bruce.

  15. mike dehoogh

    Oh yeah: 74 Manta! Favorite car I ever owned. Stock suspension and gearing and she still was a screamer. Krauts knew how to make a handling car all right.

  16. Jim Britbits

    I went through a pair of 74 Mantas in the mid-late 80s. Great cars and at the time were cheap and a local parts yard usually had 2 – 3 in stock for bits and pieces. I drove 30 miles one night when it tossed a hydraulic lifter up into the head, got a ride back home and popped in a spare that’d come with the car and a clean rocker arm and everything was fine.

    Replace the stock Solex with a Weber 32/36 DGV (direct bolt on) and it makes the car a lot more fun. A dream at the time was to find a Cosworth Vega, the 5 speed from that car was supposed bolt in… Vegas used some Opel drivetrain bits, with minor changes.

    Personally I think the aluminum bumpers with rubber “inserts” give the car a bit more menacing look. That’s my own opinion.

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