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Garage Find: 1972 Opel Manta

UPDATE 12/28/2020 – We featured this Opel back when it was listed in Montana. Well, the current seller purchased it and trailered it to their friend’s house in California. They’ve washed it and taken more detailed photos showing it’s overall condition. If you’d love to take a closer look, you can find it here on eBay in El Cerrito, California with a BIN of $4,200 and the option to make an offer.

FROM 9/7/2020 – Opel liked to designate generations of their cars as A, B, C, etc. For example, there was the Kadett A followed by the Kadett B. The Manta A was the first-gen of the Opel Manta, which was produced between 1970 and 1975. The Manta was a German-built, four-seat sport coupe sold in the U.S. at Buick dealers (GM owned the company from 1929-2017). This 1972 Manta is a garage find, coming with the purchase of a piece of property in Deer Lodge, Montana (west of Helena). It comes with extra parts and is available here on craigslist for $2,500. Tip of the fedora to David Raezer for this tip!

In total, the Manta had an 18-year model year run at Opel, lasting through 1988 and resulting in more than a million units produced. It was launched to compete with the Ford Capri and shared some of the styling cues of the smaller Opel GT. The name was borrowed from the Manta Ray concept car which later influenced the styling of the ’68 Chevy Corvette. Like other Opel products, these were sold in the U.S. by Buick and were referred to as the 1900 Sport Coupé for 1971-72. All U.S Mantas came with a 1.9-liter inline-four banger, mostly with a 4-speed manual transmission. The Manta had some success on the racing circuit in Europe and the U.S. due to its astute handling characteristics. 1975 would mark the last year that Opels were imported into the U.S.

Imagine looking to a buy a house with a garage and finding an old car stored inside. That’s what happened to the seller and he apparently wants to use the garage for something else, so the 1972 Opel Manta inside is now for sale. From the looks of it, the car must have been there for many years. While the angles of the photos provided are limited, the body looks to be pretty straight and the seller says it’s rust-free. But there is no shortage of dust and dirt, both on and in the car.

The interior of the Manta appears to have held up well and maybe fine after a really good cleaning. We’re not privy to any views under the hood or inside the trunk, so we don’t know the condition there. The seller put the insides to the sniff test and came back with no unusual odors. There is no mention of any attempt to get the car running, so that task will be up to the buyer. Besides a whole car and a title, that individual will receive three engines and a plethora of spare parts.

If you can find one of these cars in splendid condition, Hagerty says you could expect to pay upwards of $25,000; $5,000 would get you one in fair condition. So, the seller’s asking price doesn’t seem out of line – as long as a good cleaning and some mechanical tweaking is all you need to do to have a decent runner. But a full-bore restoration could be expensive.


  1. Avatar photo angliagt Member

    I’ve always liked these,but in the Rallye model.
    BTW,when did they move Deer Lodge from Montana to Idaho?

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Russ Dixon Staff

      Fixed Montana!

      Like 0
  2. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    Ha! Careful what you wish for, huh,,that’s what’s fun about BF’s, the writers spend a little time with EVERYTHING,,,then move on. 2 Opels in a day is certainly unusual. Pretty much blabbed about Opels on the Kadett post ( which, if it wasn’t 2,000 miles away, I’d seriously consider it) the Manta was the classiest Opel we saw here. Opel, like most foreign( to us) car makers, made a bunch of cars we never knew about. As mentioned before, the 1.9 was a stout motor. It gave neither good mileage nor blistering performance, but in Europe, they and variants, powered a slew of vehicles. Biggest problem I had, was the Solex carb. They had a goofy vacuum secondary, that opened way too late, and I replaced it with a Pinto carb ( Autolite?) with mech. secondary, and improved drivability considerable. These unibodys have a nasty habit of the front stubs that the front suspension mounts to, rust, deeming the car “shot”, like my old man would’ve said. Again, sorry to babble, but the Opel Manta is worth babbling about. It, for the time, really was a nice, affordable car. Like someone said on the last one, the biggest downfall, like the Capri, was the lack of dealer support. They claimed, it took away sales from regular Buicks, and horror stories of cars sitting “out back” while they serviced grandpas “deuce and a quarter” first, were not uncommon. Like the Capri, I think it’s biggest competitor, many were sold, none were saved. Got to love Hagerty, $25g’s,,,,good heavens, maybe like the 4 Trax in a crate. Quite a find here.

    Like 7
    • Avatar photo Ralph

      The parts prices were kinda nuts, I know someone that went to a Buick Opel dealer for a factory Opel flasher for a Kadette and it was like $8 in the 70’s when a flasher for a domestic GM cars was like .75…..

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Howard A Member

      Also, that hood curled up like that? Very common as the cable would break, requiring a crowbar for engine access.

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Cisco Oldani

    Call text me

    I’m near you

    cash buyer

    area code 307-690-9817

    Cisco Oldani

    Like 0
  4. Avatar photo chrlsful

    hun? wha? that’s WY…
    they bad mouthin this guy’s less handsome brother over on the other page (kadette-L?). Isn’t this the one they called “the baby vette”? 5 pic and U still can’t C da car. What is it w/the lousy pic? Give ME the camera!

    I think this car would be fun – restore, rest0mod, tune, upholster, drive (everything but body wrk, I hate that). Wonder if that tannus v4 (Cologne is right there, both CHerman) would go in w/o krazy towers/mounts. That would B fun to put in…

    Thanx Russ, good memories (@ 15 yrs old) for an ol car guy~

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo local_sheriff

      Don’t need to hassle with a Ford V4 for it to make it move – Opel’s CIH I-4 could be had with up to 2.4L displacement. Or how about a 400-inspired DOHC engine?

      If you really want to go the extra mile with a Manta A you should consider a TE2800 clone build 😁

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo AMCSTEVE

        Does one know where to buy these OPEL MANTA TE 2800 BODY KITS?

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo local_sheriff

        Steve; I don’t know how familiar you are with the TE2800, but while the body kit may be the most visually striking difference, the REAL differences between a regular Manta and a TE2800 are its Commodore driveline components. Extensive fabrication was involved to make room for the I-6 which is also why the TE2800 was NEVER officially an Opel. It was able to give both ’02 BMWs and 911s a real hard time out on the track.


        As for body kit – considering there were 79(!) TE2800 made you can forget about OE parts. You’ll be out on your own either fabricating it from scratch or from a generic kit:


        I have absolutely no idea just how different/ similar this product would be to the real deal – but on the other hand, how many true experts on the TE2800 are there…?

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo local_sheriff
      • Avatar photo Rick Rothermel

        I liked these when they were new but went to the German Capri v6 instead. Whoever buys this needs to spend some time with an eraser wheel to get rid of all that crappy Trimline striping tape. That alone would raise the value by a grand at least

        Like 0
  5. Avatar photo jerry z

    The “baby Vette” you mentioned is the Opel GT not the Manta. Always on the hunt for Many as but usually rusted out hulks. This is nice but 3000 miles away!

    Like 4
  6. Avatar photo CJinSD

    These can bring $25,000? I wish I’d known that when they were haunting backrows of the worst used car dealers. Mind you the Virginia climate would have caused them to dissolve by now if I had tried to hoard them.

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo That AMC guy

    GM should have imported and sold these as the Vega. Would have saved a lot of people a lot of aggravation.

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo local_sheriff

      True, or how about the Opala/ Rekord instead of the Vega? Never understood why the h… GM cared to develop that horrible Vega when GM Europe already had developed suitable vehicles that would fall into that category.

      BIG lover of Manta A for decades

      Like 4
  8. Avatar photo Rick Rothermel

    Looks as if someone spent a LOT on the old TRIMLINE striping tape! Red/Orange/Yellow never really looked good on ANYTHING, did it?
    And they never made the cuts with anything smaller than a Machette’…
    These were nice cars when new, but this one would need an exterior overhaul at least.

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo steve sammut

    A guy around the corner from me in SF has one of these in very nice condition. Always liked them. If we happen to cross paths, he in his Opel, me in my Ford Cortina, we always exchange a wave of the hand, a smile and the nod. Gotta have the nod.

    I agree with previous posters; why GM didn’t import these and promote heavily over the Vega is beyond me.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo MikeH

      Because GM had/has no idea how to run a company. GM lost money on Opel for the last twenty years. PSA bought it in 2017 and turned a profit two years later.

      Like 0
  10. Avatar photo angliagt Member

    Anyone remember MORE OPEL,in the Seattle area?
    Long gone,but they sold some cool Opel stuff back in the
    ’70’s.I saw their shop (after they’d closed),while stopping
    by one of Bayside Racing’s shops in the early ’80’s.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo RoadDawg831

      Yes! I bought a couple of items from More Opel for my ’73 Manta Rallye. I think I still have one of their catalogs stashed away even though the car is long gone. :-(

      Like 2
  11. Avatar photo Tom

    Hey Russ,
    “Tip of the fedora” – inspired by Chris Economaki ????? The one and only person I know of to use this phrase. And he used it well.

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo Marko

    My father worked as a dedicated Opel/Fiat mechanic at a Waukesha, WI Buick dealer. He rarely worked on the the domestic Buicks or other detroit iron. The boss actually imported some young italian brothers to help in the foreign car department, so waiting on repairs was not an issue as much as waiting for parts. My dad bought one used Opel, but never a Fiat. GM man mainly, with the odd Ford. Really liked his Pontiacs though, sharp and fast! I’d love to have an Opel Ralleye Kadett or Manta. Have not seen one since early 80’s.

    Like 1
  13. Avatar photo Keith Mountain

    Why can’t I ever find something like this? Been wanting a Manta for years, but time, distance and funds keep this one out of reach!

    Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Mike Hawke

    The very last Opel passenger cars ever to be sold at a Buick dealer are currently on offer and have been heavily discounted: The TourX and Regal Sportback. They’ve been discontinued, and since Opel is no longer part of GM, they won’t be trotting out any more of these imports in the future. Even with big discounts, these German-built Opels (with a Buick badge) have proven to be a very hard sell.

    Like 0
  15. Avatar photo Mike

    Only in the US, in German the Opel is a big seller. In fact when we visited the Opel factory we saw lots of Buicks being built. All I know is that I purchased the Red Opel Kadett that was on this site and I am looking forward to fixing it up.

    Like 1
  16. Avatar photo James Miller

    Loved the Manta. Mine was a ’73, one year prior to fuel injection. Last year for pre-fed bumpers. Opels were tearing up the tracks in showroom stock racing over several years in the early ’70’s.
    These cars were sold to the U.S. market like, mentioned earlier, the Capri. An attempt to have a cheap little car in the back corner of the showroom for the poor schmuck that didn’t have the cash for a ‘real’ American sled. Never mind that this car was a very advanced little car; perhaps just a tick short of BMW status in the European market. Buick dealers had no idea what they were selling, it was marketed as an alternative to a Pinto or Vega.

    Like 1
  17. Avatar photo CJinSD

    I just read Car and Driver’s 1969 review of the Opel GT with the 1.9 liter engine, and I was struck by how scathing their comments were about the engine’s drivability and crudeness. It seems like by 1972 they’d become Opel’s biggest cheerleaders. They took swipes at British sports cars in the same article, but couldn’t get over how miserable the engine’s characteristics made driving the Opel.

    Like 0
  18. Avatar photo Whynot Member

    My mother bought one used around 1980 for a commuter car. My brother and I were in high school. We loved to drive it when we had a chance. Blow the doors off our Maverick and and slant six dodge . I know that’s not saying much. Man that Opel carved the corners of Highway 101 on the coast. Could get rubber through 3rd gear. Was Orange with black interior sharp looking car. Loved that car didn’t know what we had at the time. Don’t remember every having to take it to the shop. Would make a cool car for a kid today.

    Like 0
  19. Avatar photo RichardinMaine

    I had a 72. They were called 1900 Coupes at first.
    After college, had the engine stroked to 2 liters, changed cam and hung a pair of 40 DCOE Webber’s on it. Some suspension mods, full Steinmetz boy racer box flairs and spoilers, and an outrageous green metal flake paint job. Got into Autocross. Last time out, posted a 1st in C/mod, and FTD.
    Had various misadventures in that car. Have tried to search for it but don’t have a VIN.

    Like 0
  20. Avatar photo JudoJohn

    This car was originally listed on CL for around $4K several months ago. Then the current owner bought it and it has been on the Bay area CL and ebay since then. He’s trying to flip and make a ton of money.
    I hope it goes to a good home and gets restored. There are not very many Manta A cars around.

    BTW- if you are an Opel enthusiast, check out the forums at http://www.opelgt.com

    Like 0

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