Garaged Since ’86: 1973 Opel GT

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Last summer, I had the chance to check out an Opel GT in person. After years of hearing about them and their resemblence to a Baby Corvette, I was surprised by how attractive I found it. Perhaps I was expecting odd proportions or a car that was otherwise ungainly, but the package worked quite well. Perhaps this dusty and dirty example here on eBay would come back to form with a quick cleaning, but I’m guessing it needs a little more help than some Armor All and a shop vac can provide. 

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You can see signs of a good car underneath the muck, from the original steering wheel to the uncracked dash. It looks like the seating surfaces are starting to give out on the driver’s side. and the carpets will need a thorough bath. The gear shift leather boot is intact but faded, and here’s hoping that container of coolant hasn’t been leaking. There’s lots of dust and cobwebs to contend with, but they don’t take away from the cockpit’s overall airy feeling – in fact, the interior was said to be comfortable for even taller drivers, despite the appearance of being quite cramped.

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As you can see from this photo, storage for this Opel GT hasn’t been kind. The owner fell ill and it was parked in the barn in 1986, so its slumber has been a long one. Although these Vettes-in-miniature can rust, this example is said to be solid but will need a full mechanical restoration, in addition to the aforementioned cleaning. Despite its sporting looks, this 1973 model came after power was bumped down due to changing emissions requirements; however, it will still be rewarding to hear that little 1.9L motor fire back up again. Bidding is already approaching the Buy-It-Now of $2,500, so somebody wants this thing!

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    These were really cool cars. The biggest problem, they were too expensive. If I remember, you could almost get a real Corvette for the price of these. 2nd biggest problem, was no trunk opening ( sorely could have used a hatch) Other than that, I had a few “Dopel’s” and a close friend had several more, and they were very good cars. The 1.9 “cam-in-head” motor ran great, but not the best mileage, or performance. I had a ’68 Opel Kadette Rallye, and it was a fun, dependable car. The front suspension “stubs” had a habit of rusting out on these. I took the pesky Solex 2 barrel off and put an Autolite(?) from a Pinto on it, bolted right on and it was much better. Wouldn’t take much to get this going. Great find, Opel GT was a really neat car.

  2. Chebby

    There must be a good Toyota engine swap for these, or maybe something odd from the General: Quad 4, Cobalt SS motor?

    • RayT Member

      Why a swap? I can remember that one of the Italian tuners — Conrero, I think — pulled a LOT of power from an Opel engine for his wicked-looking Opel GT racer. Some good internal work, a cam, exhaust system and a pair of Webers would make this little beast a real flier!

      Yeah, I’m a traditionalist. ANY European engine runs better when you hang Webers on it. Looks better, too!

      (Unless it’s British. Then it’s a question of how many SUs you can fit on it!)

  3. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    Thumbs up to that, RayT. I remember seeing a Rover V8 (or was is a Jag?) crammed into an MG Midget engine bay with, if I recall correctly, 6 SU carbs hanging on the manifold. Not sure if half of those were secondaries or not! lol

  4. Robert White

    Looks like racoons like sitting on the roof to get perspective on that messed up barn. Frankly, I can’t figure out why God gave people barns, and garages, to let go to pot. I know this owner got ill so he gets a pass, but holy moly, man. What a pig sty.

    Bob

  5. Dolphin Member

    These Opel GTs might be great cars—I don’t know because I haven’t worked on or driven one, but….

    The body design really doesn’t appeal. The head-on shot of the car above captures it: the proportions are odd, and exaggerated, with a front end shape and a headlight treatment that looks a bit corny.

    But I have had my mind about a car changed to the upside once I got a chance to drive one.

  6. Ken Nelson

    Google Matra Bonnet Djet 5S, and you’ll see how GM ripped off the first ever midengined sportscar designed by Rene Bonnet of France. Bonnet and his partner Charles Deutsch produced the Panhard DB cars that always took the index of performance at Lemans in their class. When Bonnet split from Deutsch, it was to develop the midengined Djet. Tube frame, fiberglass body by Matra, 1100 cc Gordini hemihead on basic Renault R8/10 sedan block. HP bumped to 94 with 10.4: 1 compression, two Weber 2bbl sidedraft carbs & tubular header made these cars pretty fast, and with near perfect balance front/rear, full IRS dual spring/shocks on ea. rear wheel and 4 wheel disc brakes, it’s way beyond any Opel GT. And it has storage both under the rear hatch & hood. The fiberglass body means they never rusted like the Opel, and their headlights were under plex – didn’t have to roll over & looked far better.

  7. Fred

    I had a ’73 Opel Manta “Luxus”, probably the first subcompact with a plush interior. Only had it a year or two but it was a great car.

  8. Doug Towsley

    Probably clean up just fine, Cool cars and I liked them back then and still do. I would personally add a few period European race car and rally car styling bits, Maybe upgrade the interior with Modern BMW or other Euro car bits. Retro styling with a few modern touches. Here on the west coast the vintage Euro car scene is pretty active. Bay area-Portland-Seattle and a bit of Vancouver BC.
    Nothing attracts Hipsters in their Skinny jeans, flannel, facial hair and oversized glasses like a vintage Volvo, Puegot, or Saab. If you had a nice one of these, the crowds outside coffee stands would line up 3 deep all taking selfies and updating their Tinder or instagram page.

  9. Chris A.

    Per Fred, I had a ’73 Lexus in dark blue with dark blue interior and it went over 100K miles before I sold it due to a growing family. The only problems were salt got into the front disc calipers, a pothole hit cracked a ball joint mount and sun rotted the back seat corduroy fabric which GM replaced under warranty. It held up well over the 12 years I owned it. I liked it a lot better than my Mom’s Mercury Capri with the Pinto engine. The Lexus was quieter, better quality interior and a huge trunk. I had it Ziebarted when new and it never rusted. Only big improvement would have been a 5 speed. The Opel GT’s of the same period didn’t seem to hold up as well as the Opel Manta Rallye or Luxus cars.

  10. Eric Dashman

    The buy-it-now has expired. If this wasn’t in PA and so far away, I’d hop on it in a minute at that price, that is, if it turns out to be rust-free. I always loved the way they looked. That 1.9 engine was pretty bullet-proof and can be turned into a screamer pretty easily. There’s a really good Opel GT club and I’ve seen some of their cars at the Charlotte spring shows in the past. In both stock and modified form the club folks have done some great work. I think they’re cool cars, although I’ve heard that the cabin could get very hot with limited ventilation. Nothing could be hotter than my Austin Healey 3000 in the summer though.

    • Doug Towsley

      The Buy it now didnt expire, Someone bought it. If it was truly NOT rusted out, (i guess we will never know unless someone comes on here and tells us they were the buyers) then I suspect $2500 was a good deal.

      The people selling it (Administrators) sure didnt do the owner any favors, could have at least dragged it out of the garage a few feet and spent a few minutes with a leaf blower and a some soap and water. crappy photos, few details and taking pictures in a trash strewn setting sure sets a negative tone. Apparently they never heard of something called “Fiduciary duty” or common sense

  11. TIM O'DONNELL

    definitely! just do it!

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