Corvette Mini-Me? 1973 Opel GT

The GT was a front-engine, rear-drive, 2-seat sports car built by Opel in Germany. The first generation ran from 1968-73 and didn’t return for another 34 years. The resemblance between the GT and the C3 Corvette may not be coincidental since General Motors had an ownership position in Opel in those days. This ’73 edition is in running condition but needs some carburetor work. It also could use some bodywork and paint but also comes with a ton of extra parts and components. Located in a garage in Milwaukie, Oregon, the little car is available here on craigslist for $7,000 OBO. Thanks, Matt H, for sending this tip our way!

Opel borrowed from existing inventory to produce the GT, using mechanical pieces from the Kadett B to make it go. Later GTs used a 1.9-liter camshaft in-head 4-cylinder engine which produced 83 hp in U.S. specs due to tighter emissions controls. Most of the cars came with a 4-speed manual, although an automatic transmission was available. Unlike the Corvette that it resembled, the Opel GT used steel unibody construction with its engine mounted as far back in the chassis as possible to improve weight distribution. Production numbers differ slightly depending on the source, but about 103,000 GTs were built overall with more than 68,000 shipped to the U.S., indicating that the car was built largely for export.

This ‘73 Opel GT comes across as a project that’s close to running but still needs more attention. We’re told that the engine was rebuilt by its previous owner, but some more tinkering is needed with the carburetor. Electronic ignition was added to improve reliability and performance. Those pop-up headlights are manually operated with a large lever and are said to work properly. Like all Opel products, this car would have been purchased new at a Buick dealership because that’s how they were marketed and distributed in the U.S.

The red paint and decals on this GT are getting tired and there are a few dings and dents. So once the buyer gets it running, a trip to the body and paint shop may be in order. To help with the rest of the restoration process of this 85k-mile car, the seller is sending along almost an entire GT’s worth of extra stuff, including a motor, two transmissions, spare gas tank, and a new leather interior set. The Opel GT appears to be a $20-25,000 car in top shape according to the online price guides, so if you’ve been wanting one, this might be a good starting point.

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Comments

  1. Danger Dan

    Rising star in the collector car world, flares kill it for many restorers-

    Like 4
    • jwaltb

      Rising star? It was a joke when new.

      Like 1
      • Mark Member

        Disagree. I owned one and it was fun, reliable, and is still around with 165K on it. A buddy bought it for his wife.

        Like 4
    • jwaltb

      And an MB 190 was a secretary’s car, now it’s supposedly some sports machine to many.

      Like 2
  2. Brian A Davis

    Sadly I’ve never seen one in running condition. Always a project setting in garage or barn but never running…. hope to see one someday fully restored and enhanced. Cool looking cars!

    Like 5
    • Mark Tuovinen

      There is a running one in the street in front of my house. It was my father-in-laws and he gave it to my son. It is far from pristine but it does run.

      Like 8
  3. Steve Clinton

    Opel’s sad attempt at manufacturing their own Corvette. Cramped and underpowered.

    Like 1
  4. Gary Rhodes

    My neighbor has several of these, nice looking cars. I’ve driven Kadettes and Mantas and found them spunky enough but nowhere near overpowered. A matching set of front flares and paint would do wonders as would a turbo.

    Like 7
  5. Gary Rhodes

    My neighbor has several of these, nice looking cars. I’ve driven Kadettes and Mantas and found them spunky enough but nowhere near overpowered. Removing the flares and paint would do wonders as would a turbo, those Imsa flares are horrendous

    Like 3
  6. Genemak1

    So sorry but the C3 Vette is an Opel GT wannabe. The GT was designed prior to the C3.

    Like 8
  7. JMB#7

    For Heaven’s sake, please stop referring to the Opel GT as a “mini-vette”. Do you realize how annoying and inaccurate that is?

    Like 14
    • jwaltb

      Thank you. You are so right!

      Like 7
  8. Dave

    I always thought it strange that GM never considered doing the Sunbeam Alpine/Tiger deal. Today, you can fix all of its shortcomings with the exception of interior room. A Cosworth and transmission from a rotbox Vega would work well, but why stop there? I recall a local kid shoehorning a hot 350 in one of these but it didn’t turn or stop very well and one night a locust tree got it. He walked away without a scratch, they said.

  9. Jerry Sanders

    Had one from early 1980s to mid 1990s. For someone 6ft 2 inch, it was a car you wore more than drive. But for two leg room was good and it ran like a train. The carb looks like the common Weber 2 barrel downdraft conversions and sorting it out should not be a problem. Rust would be something to be concerned about. It was a fun but hot car in TX, no air conditioning. The mechanical head lights could be a problem. The flex steel shims that connected the head lights to the “mechanism” would break. Replace them with better metal AND hardened bolts and problem solved. Performance not bad the improved Weber Carb, headers and a free-flow Monza exhaust and you were above 100 horsepower range. In a car that light it could move relatively quick. The story goes that GM Opel had a new 140 mile per hour test track in Germany and wanted a vehicle to exploit it so the tuned and developed the GT. Notable result the engine sits rather far back for better balance unfortunately US emission regs precluded a dual carb setup. Some intakes were fabricated for side draft Webers and then it really would scream.

    Like 7
  10. MNGUY

    Ok. Not much of a car but I always thought a Buick 215″ aluminum engine would cure many ills. I really thought about doing one back in the day.

    Like 3
  11. bobk

    OK, since no one has mentioned this yet, those rear fender flares are most definitely NOT stock.

    Like 2
  12. Howard A Member

    I get such a kick out these when posted. It’s as if everyone dusts off their Opel comments, we hear of the poor GT’s shortcomings time and time again,,,of which there were many. Mechanically, couldn’t be beat. That 1.9 and larger 6 cylinder motors were used in a variety of applications. It wasn’t a particualy high performance, nor an overly economical motor, but the “cam-in-head” design was a stout unit, once the junk Solex carb was removed.
    Before the bashing continues, we must remember, when the GT came out, there wasn’t much to compare. And a new Datsun Z car, that blew these out of the water,, could be had for the same money. While it had some Corvette overtones, it was the only car we could relate it to. The headlights, a complicated lever to cable to linkage affair, that froze in cold climates, no trunk, or back seat, and sorely needed a 5 speed. At about the same cost as a 2 year old Corvette, not many were sold. Fast forward to the Saturn SC coupes. My daughter had one, great car, and I felt, it was everything the Opel GT wasn’t. I like Opels, had several, and always a great find.

    Like 3
  13. Kevin

    Neat little car,sounds like he’s open to offers and lots of parts come with it,hopefully someone will save it from languishing.

  14. Steven Dempsey

    I restored a 1970 GT about 15 years ago. It was easy to work on and was reliable too. Not very fast but fun to drive and looks great!

    Like 1
  15. John Bryans Fontaine

    At differant times, I owned a total of four. Also, as a buyer’s agent, I bought six in the Denver metro area, and had these shipped to Liverpool, UK, where the ultimate purchaser, restored them to showroom condition.

    Like 1

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