The One to Buy: 1973 Opel GT

1973-Opel-GT

If you’re going to buy a project car, there’s a school of thought that says you should buy the best one you can find and not spend years fixing it up. I rarely follow this advice, which is partially due to wanting to buy a car for less money (not that it matters once you total up the repair bills) and also to have a hand in its resurrection. Still, there are times when I cruise craigslist and see a car in the condition I eventually want my project to resemble and think about how much easier it would be to just buy a specimen that’s been maintained since it rolled off the showroom floor. That appears to be the case with this low-mileage Opel GT found here on Seattle’s craigslist for $10,000, which was recently purchased from an Opel specialist’s estate.

baby-vette-maybe

For a car I more often see languishing in driveways than driving down the road, it’s refreshing to see a GT pop up in stunning condition. It’s a reminder of just how good these cars can look when the paint is buffed and the interior isn’t a mess of torn leather and dirty carpets. I’ve often found it curious how some collector cars seem destined for greatness, like the Porsche 356, while others like the Opel GT are cast aside and not treated with nearly the same reverence. Obviously resale value has a lot to do with it, so while the GT may never be parked in a museum, it does mean buying the best one for sale today isn’t an unrealistic goal for the enthusiast (meanwhile, rusty Porsches remain out of reach for all but the most well-heeled among us).

gt-interior

The media often drew comparisons between the Opel and the iconic Corvette, but that’s where similarities ended. GTs like this one came with a 1.9 liter engine that pumped out just over 100 b.h.p. But like many smaller performance cars, much of the thrill lies in pushing it as hard as it can go without the risk of breaking any laws in the process. It would appear regardless of how aggressively a GT could be driven, the former owner of this orange ’73 spent most of his time cherishing it. The paint is stunning and the color-matched wheels are a nice touch, along with what appears to be a minty (and inviting) interior. The current seller indicates the carpets and seats are new, which is one less project for the next owner to tackle.

gt-tail

With only 48,000 miles, there’s lots of life left in this baby Vette. $10,000 is a lot of money for a car that trades for far less when sold as a project, but those extra dollars could buy more time spent driving the car than fixing it. Hagerty’s puts the average value for a GT at $8,560, so this may be a fair price for one in this condition. As a sporting car that actually delivered a pleasant driving experience with solid performance for the day, would you consider giving this GT a closer look for your next weekend toy? Or would you rather pay less and rebuild one your own way? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. z1rider

    One of these for sale in Iowa and re-posted on another site generated a lot of comments. When you boil them all down, the general consensus was that these used an out of date chassis, and the Opel Manta from the same year handled better, without all of the compromises this car required as far as creature comforts. They were only fast in a straight line and that was only IF you swapped in a bigger engine which many did and went drag racing.

    A friend of mine has one of these and on completion of a cosmetic resto he parked it side by side with his 2000 Ford Focus for some perspective. These are incredibly tiny and the frontal area is particularly small, and yet, according to the comments I referred to in the first paragraph they were surprisingly accommodating for tall people once you got past the door opening.

    When putting all that together (in my mind at least) that got me to thinking about other engine swaps. Put in a small diesel engine or the Ford 1.0 3 cylinder Ecoboost and you might wind up with an incredibly fuel thrifty ride. With today’s fuel prices it would be almost like driving for free.

  2. cory

    I prefer to live in denial and lie to myself that I can put a car back on the road for far less than a good one costs.

    Like 1
    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      You and me both, Cory, you and me both.

      Like 1
  3. Rick

    Neat enough car, and the price isn’t even that crazy given the condition. But if I had it first thing I’d do if it was mine is lose the tacky wheels. Makes me think of Get Smart!

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      I’m torn on the wheels. Period correct….but not sure that’s a good thing!

  4. boxdin

    To not mask off the radiator and just paint all inside shows a sloppy job at least. Those wheels are collectable period correct items. I like these cars, drove a few when new, but wouldn’t pay any more than 3000 or so for this one.

    Like 1
  5. Other Josh

    When this car was first listed to Craigslist several months back, the seller wanted $20,000 for it and was calling it a super car. I’m not sure how trusty his info is but the price seems okay for the car, it IS in good condition. You could probably find one for cheaper with a little patience though. But it’s nice, these are actually the cars that got me into cars!

  6. mikethetractorguy

    Looked this Opel GT at the Spokane Swap Meet in July 2014. It is nice, but not a #1 car. Present owner is delusional about the value.

    Like 1
  7. jim s

    this seller did a great job with the pictures. still needs a PI at that price, but if you want a gt this looks like a nice one. they do have the battery in the nose of car and spare tire is inside car behind the seats. nice find

  8. DT

    I had one once. not really into Opels.I thought it was very fast, myself

  9. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    We didn’t like’em when they were new.

  10. Ken Nelson

    Again, Opel swiped this body design from the early ’60s Rene Bonnet Djet, an all-fiberglass bodied birdcage frame mounting a Renault engine behind the seats, driving the fully IRS rear transaxle out of the 4 speed Renault Estafette van. Parallelogram swing arms in rear with dual shocks & springs on each rear wheel, 4 wheel discs all around from the Renault R8/R10/Caravelle cars. The faster cars got the Gordini hemi-head, special crank & oversize sump, giving 94 hp from an 1100 cc engine, at 10.4:1 compression ratio. The Djet is touted as the first true midengine sportscar. Only about 1500 were built. A fellow in Ca. told me he was running Laguna Seca once in his car on a slight downhill at 132 mph when his engine blew.

  11. Barry

    I have a friend that had one of these back in 1973 and he liked it very much. I wanted one but had a two young children so I went with an Opel Manta GT. I loved that car and sure hated to part with it. sure was fun to drive.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Beautiful specimen, Barry! I’ve always wanted to drive one of these – they looked like great fun.

      • don

        I had the 1970 Opel GT as well as the 1970 Opel Rallye while stationed in England in 1979. The Rallye was a US spec the GT was not, it was an Adams Opel and was manufactured in Germany and it was really quick (I got the GT up to 255 KMPH which equates to right around 160 MPH), the Rallye was nowhere near as quick. I was told it was geared different to be able to keep up on the Autobahn, true or not I don’t really know. Biggest issue was the Solex carbs on those cars which really sucked. I Swapped the Solex carbs for downdraft Webers and they both became real runners without the runability issues (flooding out, rough idle, stumble on acceleration) that plagued them. The GT was a blast to drive and turned alot of heads but for comfort the Rallye was the runner. I’ve wanted another of either of these but availability is sparse and the ones I have seen were way overpriced for the condition.

  12. Rex Kahrs Member

    Has the car been repainted? It would appear that the underside has been treated with some POR, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      There have been some questions about a repaint, Rex. Although not specified in the ad, it’s a possibility – though the mileage is low enough that there’s a chance it may be original. A good question for the seller.

  13. DT

    Has a Weber, I guess the originality goes out the window

    Like 1
  14. Steve

    I had a ’70 back in the day and enjoyed it greatly. Sold it for a ’68 Mustang convertible. I’ve never been a fan of stripes on this car — worse — why is this stripe on roof and rear of car only? Did they forget to finish the job? Muffed up a sticker kit? Weird. Also, what mods short of an engine swap can up the horsepower on these? By today’s standards, it’s going to feel slow. Yes, these do feel roomier on the inside that they appear. The electrical, fuse panel and the headlight mechanisms can be real headaches. There was a fellow in Indiana with an all original one/one owner in yellow same or fewer miles that was asking ~$15k a few years ago via Craigslist.

    • OpelGT2000

      I ported my intake, swapped to a weber 32/36 downdraft carb, bored out the engine to 2.0L and installed 9:1 compression Pistons, custom headers, lightened my flywheel and installed the stock head. I have between 110 and 120HP, can do 0-60 in 8.5, I get scared about blowing my engine at 112MPH and she still wants to keep climbing a little (slowly haha).
      If you install a 1.5L head with 2.0liter valves and put dual side draft carbs on and maybe a getrag 5-speed, it would fly! (That’s my plan one day)
      I love my 1970 GT its my daily driver when I’m in my hometown. Best car ever made in my biased opinion.

  15. SundayDriver

    I have owned a 71 GT for the past three years. I personally feel these cars don’t get the proper attention. It’s like driving a legal go-kart on the highway, and the styling is sexy as hell. Always a thumbs up and lots of looks whenever I drive it.

    This example does not do it for me. Don’t know if I agree with the “period” correct wheels, looks like a replacement grill in the front, interior black or white please, would like to see what’s under the dash cover, both door cards need replacing.

    Nothing that can’t be fixed though. Engine bay and underside is nice and tidy. I like the solex carb on mine but I’m weird like that.

    Don’t see any rust in pictures provided. Had to replace whole battery tray in mine.

    Good examples of this car are asking higher lately. Don’t know if the sellers are getting their price.

    Although left to rot most of the time, I have seen original examples in good shape up for sale.
    Let’s hope more are still out there!

  16. SundayDriver

    Then one I drive.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      I can say without hesitation that THOSE are the wheels that belong on this car! Looks great and thanks for sharing. I personally like them with the headlights flipped up, but the whole car is gorgeous to me. Though there’s some tempting choices in the rest of your collection as well…

  17. Sid Member

    I am probably one of the few people that owned one of these and a C3 Corvette.
    Right out of college I wanted a Boss 302 or a big motor Chevelle but gas and insurance prices were crazy. I decided on a brand new Datsun 240Z but you had to put your name on a list and wait for 6-8 weeks with no choice of color and no dickering on price. A new silver/black Opel was sitting on the lot for about $200 less and no waiting. As a bonus, I received some type of government rebate check (thanks to president Nixon) for about $200. This was a LOT of money in those days. I loved that car but sold it two years later and bought a used 1969 Corvette Stingray 427/390 coupe. It was silver/black. I knew this was going to happen but many of my friends and relatives didn’t notice when I changed cars.

    Like 1
    • SundayDriver

      @Sid
      We share the same taste! Have all your post college desires in my garage right now.

      73 240Z
      68 C3
      71 Opel GT

      I plan on letting the public have at them sometime late this spring/early summer this year, with a day tour concept where you can drive all of my toys, but more on that as it develops.
      If your in the New York area possibly check us out.
      In addition to the cars in the photo there is also a
      73 Triumph Stag
      60 Sunbeam Alpine

      Come on out and drive your/our youth!

  18. Mike

    I looked at this Opel GT in July 2014 when the price was double. It has been repainted and it looks good. The owner did not have it running at that time and the new add doesn’t state whether it is running now. Still think it is overpriced.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Mike, thanks for letting us know about the paint job. Too bad – I hoped with such low mileage that it was original.

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