Tiny Corvette: 1968 Opel GT V8

68 Opel gt v8 2

Okay so let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. How many of us have thought about how the Opel GT kind of looks like a tiny Corvette? This Opel is a little closer to that realization featuring a V8 with side pipes. Having been a V8 car for over 30 years, this Opel is in need of a little TLC, but the $2,700 asking price with a tow dolly is making it seem too sweet of a deal to pass up. Find it here on craigslist out of Appleton, Wisconsin.

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Currently sporting a 302 cubic inch Ford, this Opel has had a Ford heart for most of its life. Before the 302, it had a 289. The seller mentions that the 302 never ran and we suspect there may have been some wiring gremlins from looking at the interior. The 302 is backed up by a top loader 4 speed manual gear box, with a hydraulic clutch. Check out the interesting exhaust set up, the manifolds have been flipped to run the exhaust forward for clearance. This being a 1978 King Cobra engine, means this 302 likely wasn’t the most powerful being from the gas crisis era. But we are positive it was a great deal faster, and more fun than the original 1.9l 4 cylinder engine.

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The interior doesn’t look the worst, but it isn’t the most exciting to look at with some wires astray. The seats don’t look to bad and the dash doesn’t look hopeless, but it does appear to have a crack. Check out the big aluminum clutch pedal for the hydraulic clutch. We can only imagine how much fun this Opel must have been back in the day, looking out of the low windshield while hammering gears. The exterior of this Opel doesn’t look to shabby either. The seller claims there is some old front end damage that wasn’t repaired to the best of standards. The body doesn’t look rusty, and these GT’s love to rust in the fender seams. We love the side pipes! Again we can only imagine how much of a riot this little Opel was.

68 Opel gt v8 1

V8 GT’s aren’t all that uncommon, but this looks like it would be a nice little project to take on. Opel GT’s are a really great looking little car, and we just can’t shake how cool this car is. Would you take on this Opel GT? What would you do with this GT?


  1. sparkster

    I’m thinking an aluminum block LS engine would do the trick in this Opel. If I’m correct GM owned Opel back in the day.

    • HankScorpio

      Opel is still a GM division. They’ve been a subsidiary since 1931. Too bad they don’t make anything this cool anymore. It’s all just badge engineered stuff now, I think.

      I agree: an LS would be the way to go here. More power, more reliably with fewer hassles than trying to get the 302 working.

      • jetice91

        A lot of the current Buick portfolio are rebadged Opels, including the Regal GS. Opel even has their own performance division called OPC, which I would gladly purchase a number of those if they were sold here. Case in point, the Insignia OPC, which is a 320HP AWD version of the Regal GS.

    • Rustowner

      GM still owns Opel.

  2. Dan Skopp

    Yup!! The Sparkster is correct!!

  3. Don

    The exhaust is kind of like the old ford 272 292 and 312 v8s of the 1950s

    • brakeservo

      The 289 powered 1964 – 1965 TVR Griffith had a similar “reversed” forward exiting exhaust header system.

      • thomas schweikert

        tvr s were reasonably quick with the 2.5 liter inline 6

    • thomas schweikert

      yup except the y blocks had a weird upswept crossover pipe

  4. Fred W.

    Correct, Buick dealers sold them. I bought a two year old Opel Manta Luxus in 1975 and was introduced to the world of European cars. However, it was the last one I owned. This one looks inviting from the outside, nightmare on the inside.

  5. Dave

    I think this would be a fun, quick project !! My wife’s uncle ran one of these back in the day, tube chassis with a big block, wicked fast and squirrely. Hard to keep in a straight line !!!

    • thomas schweikert

      yup dave scads of these opel gt s went down the strip with v-8 power

  6. RayT Member

    I’d go SBC as well, though I recall the small Ford engine as being a bit narrower, and thus easier to cram in the engine bay. But if you’re going to do a hot rod, it should be kept “in the family.”

    The amount of work this would need to be a serviceable and even halfway safe driver would be pretty daunting. A new rear axle at least, bigger brakes, bigger radiator, suspension mods…that adds up to many happy hours cutting, welding, fabricating and — finally — bolting on. After that, there’s the wiring to sort out, and last but not least, the bodywork repairs. And then sorting out the aformentioned systems you’ve painstakingly reworked. Lots of time, and a fair chunk of money!

    After that, it could be a whole lot of fun, and a surprise for everyone else on the road. Would it be worth it? Not for resale, but it could be if you enjoy doing the work and want the hottest Opel GT in town (if not the country)!

    • Rustowner

      Ford small blocks are narrower and more importantly, the distributor is in the front, providing much needed clearance at the firewall.

  7. Blindmarc

    Don’t understand why they screwed with the wire harness. This wouldn’t be hard at all to electrify the engine.

    • Rustowner

      Some people only have a faint grasp at automotive wiring. While not total mind bending, I’m sure this wiring project may be a bit more than the shade tree mechanic could deal with. Ford wiring has been a bit different than it’s competitors since the early 70’s.

  8. Rustowner

    Interesting to see a Ford motor in a GM product for once!

    • thomas schweikert

      rustowner there r very good reasons to put chevy mills in fords try to find a ford powered mustang drag racer

  9. Fogline

    Seems like I remember a guy that was teaching at the BMW Car Club of America driving school at Sebring running an Opal with a 4 cylinder in it. While he was doing his laps the main instructor said, “watch that guy right there and how he goes around the track. He is one of the fastest guys out there and the only one running on 4 cylinders.” Weight versus HP might be a consideration in one of these, especially with all the options to get a lot of torque out of something small and light. Might be better than an 8 performance wise, wouldn’t it?

    • thomas schweikert

      weight distribution-wise for road racing maybe

  10. rotag999

    Stay with Buick 215 V-8 only 320 lbs

    • thomas schweikert

      or aluminum ls

  11. Blindmarc

    My preference would be a gnx donor. But the rear end would still be the weak link. It will still need to be caged? And front needs a lot bigger springs and shocks in it. This is like building a V8 corvair, allot of work, but allot of smiles.

    • thomas schweikert

      like a corvair….turbo it

  12. Robert W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Loved the car in the original form though the second engine was the larger one.

    The rear end will last for a little while but it wasn’t made to take that horsepower, I believe 90 was the original.

    Potent engine combo but wheelbase is pretty short.

  13. scott

    Tragic butchery. Should’ve kept it stock.

  14. Andrei

    From the side the front end looks like a Ferrari Daytona

  15. Howard A Member

    I agree, this looks like a weekend project with 2 cases of beer, that got shelved. Pure silliness. Like rotag sez, 215 V-8, or any number of V-6’s, but this wouldn’t last past the 1st holeshot. Opel GT’s weren’t bad cars, but not drag racers. Or just go with a Hemi, and this will probably result. http://tekenaar.opelgt.com/Misc/magazine/opelgtdragster.jpg

  16. Bob Hess

    If clearance is a problem putting an early small block Chevy in just put an after market crank fire ignition like Electromotive in it that doesn’t have a distributor requirement.

  17. Terry

    What’s up with the brake booster location?

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Terry, believe it or not, that’s the stock location for the brake master on GT’s.

  18. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    While your in Wisconsin, here are a couple of parts cars. http://madison.craigslist.org/cto/5731129059.html

  19. jeff

    most of them are awful rusty nowadays. mine is an oval track racer.

  20. Kurt

    I actually bought the Opel from its owner this past November. The car is very solid but was far from streetable. I will repost when I make some forward progress.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Terrific, Kurt! Update us with pictures when you can :-)

      • Kurt

        UPDATE: The Opel has been stripped down to its body. All of the drive train, suspension and interior has been removed and I am preparing to install a custom combination tube and square channel chassis/ rollcage assembly into the body. To the rear, the car will sit on a modified (prototype) ZL-1 IRS cradle with a 3.23 differential. To the front, the car will sit on modified corvette suspension components. Powering the Opel will be a destroked Chevy LS motor (6.0 L). The car’s original wheelbase will be modified, but not to a drastic degree. Because of space conservation issues, I am determining whether to use a T-56 Magnum 6 speed manual with a hydraulic slave or a Summit/ TCI 6x 6 speed automatic with paddle shifters.

        NOTE: This will not be a pro street Opel, it is being designed and reworked for maximum speed and cornering.

        Keep everyone posted

        Like 3
  21. Casey

    The backstory to this car is pretty sweet. the article says “V8 for over 30 years”; more accurately, it’s been over 40 years! My dad and uncle did the original 289 swap in the early 70’s. The 289 was a hopped up little motor that my uncle ran in his Mustang at WIR. Whomever they sold it to must’ve blown the 289, because putting in a late 70s 302 was a serious downgrade.

    Like 3
  22. Vann

    I’d go more Pontiac Banshee.. drop a Pontiac 400 at least. Go back to the cars true roots, it and the C3 Corvette.

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