Mini-Vette Project: 1970 Opel GT

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Some craigslist ads are a joy to read. Yes, I’m serious! It does happen occasionally, where not only does a seller take clear pictures, but they actually clearly list both the good and the bad about a vehicle without the hyperbole some sellers resort to. This particular “all American” German Opel (note the decal on the lower front fender) is in Canby, Oregon and is priced at only $1,600. It’s available here on craigslist. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for this great find!

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The seller tells us that this is a partially completed project with the major remaining issues being rust in the lower front cowling that may be bad enough that it has to be replaced and a lack of brakes. There’s also some body filler from previous repairs and some rust in the fender wells. It’s also telling to me that whomever previously painted the car couldn’t be bothered to color match the headlight surrounds–or perhaps the rest of the body has faded that much?

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When I see a project like this, I always wonder what was the last straw was for the seller? What prompted the decision to sell rather than finishing the project? Is the garage space required for something else? Or was the search for a replacement front valence too difficult or expensive? I found this fiberglass replacement for $275, so I don’t think it’s cost–and the fiberglass won’t rust like the original.

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As you can see, one of the good things about this project is the solid floors. The seats look pretty decent as well, although it looks like one is red and the other black, and the seller says they have a new dash cap. I’m really not a fan of non-matching seats, and while the red one intrigues me as I’ve never seen a red interior in a GT, I think I’d dye both seats black to match.

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The engine is said to run well, and there’s even a spare carburetor to boot. I think this car could be put back on the road quite easily, but the rust repair might take a little longer. On the bright side, when you were done you’d have a mini C3 Corvette with the coolest pop up headlights ever (and yes, they work on this car)! Are you flipping your lights for this neat classic, or does it leave you snoozing?

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Comments

  1. Hoos Member

    In ’72, I started walking to the bus stop to get the bus for 1st grade. The folks that lived at the corner where we waited had one of these. It was the most unique car my 6 year old eyes had ever seen. I looked for it each day.( In retrospect, I don’t know what I expected to happen to it.) It was this color, and I always have had a desire to drive one.

  2. BQS4

    @BaT;
    There has been a couple of discussions on http://www.opelgt.com about the interior colors Opel used on the GT model specially. The interior colors were black, tan (or saddle), red, and white. Two of these colors were specific to an exterior color. Black was the most prominate color and used with most all exterior colors. Tan was kinda the next most used, but, was limited to three or 4 exterior colors, white was limited to the blue exterior cars, and red was limited to white and a silvery blue exterior cars. This was for those who wanted to keep their GT more or less original, of course, one can create any interior color, or colors as ones pocket book and imagination would allow.

  3. Rocko

    Snoozing.

  4. Adam Wright

    I always loved these and only the recently got to sit in one, all I can say is you better go with a good friend because you are practically sitting on each other.

    • Andrew

      Cessna’s will do that too unfortunately.

  5. Howard A Member

    The Opel GT was one of those cars that looked great, but really, did nothing right. They didn’t handle the best, was basically, a glorified Kadette, no trunk or hatchback, head lights were a constant source of trouble, and I remember many of these with the head lights “open” because the mechanism jammed ( or broke in the cold when the headlights froze) sorely needed a 5 speed, and they were pricey. I think you could buy a real Corvette for what these cost. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had several Opels and the GT’s are neat cars. The 1.9 wasn’t the fastest nor most economical engine, and a modern transplant would probably be in order. Be a lot more fun with a V-6. Be a great project here. Or you could go this route. Very popular for drag racers for years. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/vj7sygsZiwQ/maxresdefault.jpg

    • RayT Member

      Howard A, I spent a few minutes snooping around the “parts” link Jamie put in the article. In their “Gallery,” there’s a photo of a GT with a Buick/Rover aluminum 215 V8 stuffed into its engine bay.

      No more issues with the 1.9!

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Ray, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Truth be known, the 1.9, all the Opel engines really, were good motors. The problem I encountered was that Solex carb. I replaced mine with a Pinto 2 barrel, Autolite, I think. Bolted right on, and was much better.

  6. Rock On

    Nice winter project for $1,200 bucks. You could probably get the seller to include the wheel skates for that price. Haven’t seen one of these on the roads of Southern Ontario for years. I have paid more than $1,200 bucks for parts cars!

  7. ed the welder

    As an Opel guy I would prefer a Manta or a wagon but there are certainly worse project GT’s than this one …I like it …

  8. S Ryan

    Last one I saw running was being driven on a trailer. Nice looking car, anyway oil ran back away from the sump and Bang. Not running after that. Blew up Hard, parts scattered everywhere.

  9. Cleric

    “What prompted the decision to sell rather than finishing the project?” Anyone who is married knows the answer to that question.

  10. tje

    I had an Opel Manta with the 1.9. It was fuel injected and the only problem I had was fuel leaks. I drove it for 9 years…

    I always thought the GT could be made in to something enviable, but I’ve yet to see it.

  11. Learjet

    I had one of these in the early ’70s. Cute design but gutless as hell. I’d be inclined to swap out for a modern 4 cylinder engine and trans.

  12. ccrvtt

    I drove one once when it was new (now that’s a LONG time ago) – girlfriend’s uncle let us take it on a date. Most fun driving it was flipping the lever for the headlights. Cute car but I agree that you’d have to modify it for performance.

    Now the Manta was a very elegant design.

  13. angliagt

    Anyone remember MORE OPEL ?

    • MSG Bob

      How about Car&Driver magazine’s J. Edgar Opel? I wonder what happened to that thing.

    • Britcarguy

      Yep – Tim Meehan’s outfit somewhere in Ohio. Bought a lot of stuff from him when I had mine. The rusted front valence problem is helped by being home to the battery. Mine actually fell out – right through the bottom and was suspended only by the cables. Relocated behind passenger in the spare tire hole in a marine battery case.

  14. Rolf Poncho 455

    I like a lot I have a opel in restoration at the moment
    cant take my eyes of it!!!

    • Andrew

      I can not remember a day someone said “that Manta looks really dated”. They have always looked sharp. All steel.

  15. Doug Towsley

    I am about 15 min from that location. We have a lot of cool projects in our area and I think its down to quirky owners are common around here. I am knee deep in projects and In downsize mode other wise I would be tempted myself. I always assumed I would end up with one of these but the timing was never right. This is a fair deal IMHO, and If it were me, theres a lot of cool powerplants that would easily fit in this.
    As a kid, growing up my Dad had for a while as a cheap commutter car a Opel Rally with similar body style as Rolf Poncho. I snuck it out on the road multiple times when my parents were not home (At 15) as we lived in the country side. Fun cars. Decent for their time. (German econo boxs) but plenty of potential. We finally gave up ours as too many oil leaks and my Dad wouldnt fix it him self and too cheap to pay to have all the seals and gaskets replaced. Sad,, It went to the junk yard. (I feel a bit of guilt even though it was not my call).
    I hope this one finds a happy new owner.

  16. MikeH

    Jamie–you seem overly happy about no rust in the floors. Of all the rust in a car, the floors are the easiest to repair–depending on the the car, you can sometimes buy pre made drop ins. Now, floor rust may be the symptom of more extensive rust underneath, but it may not. Just as non rusty floors don’t mean there is no rust elsewhere. When you’re looking at rust, look past the floors.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Mike, that comes from having worked on a friend’s Opel GT floor. Believe me…I look for rust everywhere as a British car fan…usually find it too :-(

  17. Steve

    My ’70 Opel GT was a blast. Wiring, headlight mechanism and carb (constant fouling) were a problem. I owned probably three years, with a body repair and repaint in there — once for looks, and a second time for vandalism. I only have one pic of her, sadly. To make one right means mods like the battery move, fuel injection package and completely sorting the body for the inevitable rust. Only a project that love can make happen. I have seen a few unmolested all original examples priced in the low teens to $20k. For that kind of money, you might was well go 240z or muscle car and dig a bit deeper into the piggy bank. There was a fellow in the thumb area of Michigan who had a whole parts yard devoted to these at one time.

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