The Poor Man’s Corvette: 1970 Opel GT

The Opel GT was, in its day, quite popular, particularly in Europe. Legendary 1982 world rally champion Walter Röhrl and Opel racing legend Volker Strycek love theirs, and you can have this one, if you place your bid here on eBay. It’s located in Taunton, Massachusetts, and the bid is at a very affordable $2,800 with two days remaining. Let’s check it out!

Opel traces its roots to a sewing machine company, founded in what is now Germany, by Adam Opel in 1862.  Fast-forward a hundred years, and the U.S. auto market was beginning to see the upstart overseas marques beginning to take some market-share. The infamous 1964 “Chicken Tax” on light-duty trucks kept those names in check for the time being, but the American makers finally saw real potential market for smaller, more economical vehicles. The captive-import idea began around that same time, and Opel was one of the European marques brought to American shores by General Motors, with its Kadett and GT being the better-known models. The GT was a front-mid-engine, rear-drive layout and, funny enough, designed and/or influenced by people indirectly connected with the Corvette, hence the similar styling cues. In the States, GTs were sold through Buick dealerships from 1968 to 1973, and there’s some ongoing disagreement as to why Opel went away from America after that. I could go into a lot more details, but that’s not why you’re reading this, now is it?

In the case of this car, we’re not given a whole lot to work with, as details go. We’re told that it’s the 1.9-liter-engine model, with automatic transmission, 60,000 miles showing, very little rust, and that it was a donated car, acquired at auction. We’re also told that it had been in storage since 1979, and that it runs with a squirt of go-juice in the carb, but no other mechanical evaluations have been performed. We can see that it wears orange-over-black and looks to be in very nice original shape, with a few blemishes and things which might need closer inspection. From the pictures, it looks like a solid candidate for an easy-fix driver or full-on restoration.

We here at Barn Finds have seen a few of these come up for sale in the last year or so, and they appear to go for reasonable prices. I myself was not very familiar with these cars until researching and writing about this one, and let me tell you, it sounds like a fun little car! People used to refer to them as “The poor man’s Corvette” and it might not be a “Corvette alternative” as one of my colleagues opined, but it could be a good investment, given the way the market is shifting these days. Hagerty gives them an overall average value of $10,000 with $25,000 value in #1, and under-$20,000 for #2 condition, so the next owner of this decently-preserved car might get a real bargain! What say you good people?

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    It looks like a nice example of a fun little car from the 70s. I bet it could be running over a weekend of tinkering and beer drinking, a project I’d love to take on (especially the beer drinking!).

    I could see this car going over 5K easily.

    9
    • Dave Mazz

      The eBay ad says it went for $4,649.00….good call.

      2
  2. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Very, very clean-I like it! While there’ll be the usual crowd of “SBC, Street slicks and slammed!!!!!” (??) this is an example of how a nice original can be a fun rolling example of those times, especially when it was viewed from another very different perspective with the same purpose..

    4
    • Mark

      Easy to get parts for and easy to work on. Fun to drive if std tranny. Price is very good if no major body rust and it runs decent. Sold mine on eBay for $5k a few years ago- had new paint, tires, and all re-chromed. Like to have another!

      1
  3. Rube Goldberg

    These, more than any other Opel, seems to surface now and again. I had several Opels, all good cars, these, however, were not good cars. The 1.9 was nothing to write home about, many 2 liter cars would eat it for lunch, needed a 5 speed,still used Kadetts brakes, so-so mileage, no trunk, and those awful headlights, where the cable broke, and many just left them open. Not to mention, they were expensive, you could get a nice used Corvette for the same price. It was unique, and why many probably saved them. My daughter had a Saturn SC1, that was everything the Opel GT wasn’t. Cool find, parts could be an issue. Not many places saved an Opel.

  4. Poppapork

    1. It used Kadetts most everything, including the 1.9l engine

    2. Why im the living heck would you compare a saturn SC from 2002 to an opel from 1968 where
    Wait for.it….
    Saturn Sky was a rebaged Opel GT!

    3.why would you assume parts would be a problem? Have you been to Germany and know some secret information? Or do you assume there might be a problem because you havent seen an opel driving thu the trailer park in a while?

    4. Let us all know what 1968 “2 liter cars could had it for lunch”… dont worry, we’ll wait!

    5. let us know how cable driven headlights are so inferior to.the typical 20 cubic feet of vacuum hoses

    Seriously your comment is so irrational it left my head spinning!

    9
  5. Redman

    Too bad it is Automatic… I would love one.

    2
  6. steve

    Little Bro had a few of these. I converted one from automatic to a stick. Much better car with a manual. The 1.9 engines are a version of the 1.5 and they went, in my opinion, a bit too far at 1.9. I remember several with the crankshafts twisted out of alignment (Bro was NOT easy on the loud pedal..ever..) Sporty looking but not so sporty handling/stopping etc. Also he often pointed out that this was not the car for someone with a yen for storing stuff. A hole behind the seats and the glove box..a SMALL glove box, was your total luggage space…

  7. Michelle H Rand

    It is an automatic. Yuk.

    1
  8. Tom

    Chicken Tax – huh, I shoulda, but I never knew – until now.
    So that’s why the Brat had seats in the back. I thought it was just a quirky thing.

    1
    • Brakeservo

      Automatic sports car? Gonna be a hard sell. Those of us who are old enough to like these also want a manual transmission. Youngsters who don’t know what a clutch pedal is don’t want old sports cars.

  9. Tim

    The Opel GT design was actually inked before the similar Corvette. Nice little car, I bought one for nothing in the late 70s, but no trunk or back seat so limited as a daily or student car.

  10. Jon G

    There’s an uncut fiberglass “funny car” body of one of these in a back yard down the street. Bigger than stock but smaller than a Corvette. Not sure what the deal is. Definitely an enlarged Opel as opposed to a shrunken Vette. Hmmm, maybe I oughta just knock on the door.

    2
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Michael Jordan had a saying about that, Jon-“I miss 100% of the shots I don’t take!”
      Pretty smart guy, he is.

      3
  11. Don P.

    Nice looking little car. I saw it’s an automatic? Good thing, a friend had one in college with a stick shift and after driving a Triumph TR with it’s “snick, snick, snick gear changes, the Opel GT felt like a broomstick in a bucket of oatmeal, trying to find a gear.

  12. Louis Q Chen

    I’d buy it if it was in Texas….I had one ’73 and love it….what a coincidence, mine was automatic as well but mine was red.

  13. Johnmloghry

    I always liked the looks of these little cars. I owned two Kadetts, one a 67 Coupe and one a 69 wagon, both with 1.1L engine. The red coupe with 4 speed the yellow wagon with automatic. Avereraged 40 mpg. Say what you will about the 1.1L but I felt they had plenty of power, but I liked the coupe best.
    God bless America

  14. JoeNYWF64

    I am surprised GM/Chevy allowed the Opel GT car to be sold here, but not the
    http://www.corvetteonline.com/news/the-pontiac-banshee-killed-by-americas-sports-car/

    1

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