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High Society: 1973 Opel Manta 1900

Brooke Astor once said “money is like manure, it should be spread around.” If the name Brooke Astor doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry I had to google it myself. It turns out she was a wealthy philanthropist and wrote a couple of books; one being her personal memoir. Apparently, the late Mrs. Astor also owned a 1973 Opel Manta 1900. No word on whether she mentioned the car in her published account. What’s more interesting is that the very car she once purchased is now for sale in Maine. Find it here on Craigslist for the modest sum of $42,500. Yes you read that correctly…$42,500. Let’s see what you get for this princely sum.

This un-restored 1973 Opel Manta 1900 comes with a 3-speed auto transmission, moonroof, and AC. It is also claimed to have only 32k on the odometer. Which comes out to just about 711 miles a year since new. The seller states the stock copper paint has never been re-touched since rolling out of the factory. Based on the photos, this car is pretty promising. The body looks straight, with no obvious dents or rust, and the paint still retains a shine. The glass appears clear and the panel fit looks good as well. The only piece of trim that seems to be missing is the front left marker light. I would say it could be cleaned up with a good detail and driven as is.

Only two shots of the interior are provided and the rear seats look great. No shots of the front seats are shown so whether they are in the same condition as the back half remains a mystery. It certainly looks as though this car has been carefully stored, and cared for.

The seller provides one shot of the 1.9-liter workhorse, which unfortunately doesn’t shine quite like one would expect an original 32k mile car to have. The engine looks rather untidy and neglected. Though the seller claims it to run good, a thorough tune up and fluid change is needed. On the positive side, these 1.9 engines are pretty robust and known to survive long after the rest of the car has rusted away. It is a shame that this is the 3 speed automatic, but I doubt that a socialite such as Mrs. Astor was one to grind through the gears at breakneck speeds.

The seller is in possession of all the original paperwork, which includes every glove box manual, the original window sticker, and the title in Mrs. Astor’s name. These Opel Manta’s handle extremely well, and they were even one of the best selling imports in the U.S. during the early 1970’s. This one seems like a nice restoration candidate, or keep it as is. An interesting history of any car is always an added bonus, however, the $42,500 asking price is, to say the least, ambitious. So in honor of the late Mrs. Astor, would you rather spread your money around buying multiple classic cars, or throw your entire pension lump toward this one?


  1. Nathan Avots-Smith Member

    I, too, had to look up Mrs. Astor, although I knew her name—interesting lady, and it’s fun to picture a very wealthy woman then in her 70s bombing around NYC in this cute little Opel. Still, celebrity owner or no, even the nicest Manta doesn’t usually go for much more than $4,250, much less $42,500!

    Like 3
  2. Miguel

    I don’t have much to say about the price as I am picking my jaw up off the floor.

    Like 3
  3. Beatnik Bedouin

    Me, too, Miguel. Well, dreams are free…

    These were nice to drive when equipped with a four-speed.

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      I remember then as loud and rattley, if that is a word.

      Vibration was standard equipment.

      Like 1
  4. Steve R

    For the asking price of $42,000 I would expect the seller to change the fluids and tune it up, maybe even replace the market lens.

    It’s more than a little naive to think the Astor name will add much, if any, value to the car.

    Steve R

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      If you have to look up who the person is, you can bet most people wouldn’t pay a premium for it.

      I don’t think even if it was her personally Cadillac limo, would anybody get close to that price.

      Like 0
  5. jw454

    Maybe Barn Finds could link this post to the one from a couple of weeks ago for the same car.

    Like 10
  6. Vegaman_Dan

    It takes a special person to buy a disposable European econo car for $42K. I hope they find that person.

    Otherwise offer it for $3K and you might get an offer.

    Like 1
  7. grant

    42k because a wealthy east coast philanthropist owned it? If the seller pledges to give the money to one of Ms. Astor’s favorite causes it MIGHT bring this kind of money, at the right auction. And yeah, what’s up with all the reruns lately?

    Like 0
  8. David Frank D Frank Member
  9. Rick A.Loera Member

    For someone as wealthy as her, you would have thought that she would have at least popped for the Manta Luxus.

    Like 0
  10. Joe Backer

    How about $900? Why? The fact that I can not get parts for anymore. Oh never mind its been taken off craigs weirdo list.
    I’m happy that I don’t subscribe. This listing of kit cars and Unheard of Old Ladies is getting really sad.

    Like 0
  11. tompepper

    Your buying a name.

    Like 0
  12. Scott Tait

    This IMO was the nicest looking of the opel manta series … 42 grand… what’s that for the seller to buy more of what they’ve been smoking!

    Like 0

    Deleted already. Maybe the decimal point was misplaced in the price in the original listing.

    Did anyone save the original listing?

    All that said, this was a pretty good-looking car from the era that I started driving. I would have liked to own one back then, and even now.

    Like 2
    • bobk

      If I recall correctly, the original listing was for a very similar, if not the exact same price.

      As for me, I really don’t care who previously owned a car. It’s about the CAR.

      Like 0
  14. exartist

    $42K? Maybe if it was John Voight’s Chrylser LeBaron

    Like 2
  15. Michael

    I don’t care who it belonged to. 42K is absurd. Nice car but still an Opel.

    Like 1
  16. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    If the marker light is missing, could the front fender have been repainted and the housing lost. Seems like an odd thing to be missing and…of course…if that price was corrected and this car gets relisted could the seller not find one and through it on? Simple fix could make all the difference in the sale. I agree about the comments about Astor. In 2018, my guess is nobody but close relatives and aging high society folks in her geographic area place any relevance to her legacy. Forgive me if I’m not jumping through hoops to scoop up this automatic Opel for five figures!

    Like 0
  17. sluggo

    You guys ran the same car and write a few weeks ago, the day you featured 2 Opels, the rally GT Opel and this one. Heat stroke or brain fade?
    made me wonder if I was losing my own marbles

    Like 0
  18. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    The tip of the front fender looks reworked in both photos. Different fade characteristics and, of course, the missing side marker!

    Like 0
  19. bog

    The Astor family was quite rich and famous. Famous enough that in the “Gold Coast” neighborhood here in Chcago, they have a street named after them. And you have to be pretty darn wealthy yourself to live on it. One block closer to Lake than Hugh Hefner’s old mansion on North State Parkway. (for frame of reference). Anyway, I used to see the Manta’s race, and when prepped they went quite well.

    Like 1

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