Two of a Kind: 1972 Opel 1900 Coupes

blue-1972-opel-1900

When we opened reader Mark H’s recent Opel barn find submission, we automatically assumed it would be a pair of Opel GT’s. What we found instead was two 1972 Opel 1900 Coupes, which aren’t very common here in the States. These two cars have been parked in this Winona, Washington barn for who knows how long. They are still in the barn and can be found here on Craigslist, with a $2,000 asking price for both.

orange-1972-opel-1900-barn-find

Both cars are covered in a thick layer of dirt and grime. It appears that both are complete, but the one above has been in a front end accident. The blue one’s body is in much better shape and hopefully between the two, one complete car can be put together.

orange-1972-opel-1900-rear-corner

The 1900 is powered by Opel’s 1.9 liter straight four, with power being sent to the back wheels. The orange car has a four speed manual, while the blue car has a slushbox. If the blue one’s engine runs, as the seller claims it does, we would want to pull the manual and install it in the place of the automatic. These aren’t the fastest car, but they are built proof and fun to drive.

blue-1972-opel-1900-rear-corner

There were about 10,000 of these sold here in the States and there aren’t many left. The styling isn’t as attractive as the Opel GT, but they are still good looking cars and should make for a fun project. We would want to clean and inspect both cars before putting out any cash, as parts can be hard to find for these. Special thanks to Mark for sharing his find with us!

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Comments

  1. Richard

    Way back when I was little, my former next-door neighbor had a later-version Opel Corsa with the federal 5mph bumpers on board. You’d definitely be the only one on the block with one of these if you found one and cleaned it up!

    • Richard

      I meant Opel MANTA, not Corsa. Oops!

  2. Graham Line

    These are excellent cars for racking up a lot of highway miles, and handle very well. Unless you like to stir gears, there really isn’t much between the auto and the 4-speed — tall gearing makes any acceleration leisurely. I put tall mileage on mine, then ‘sold’ it to my GF, who used it for another four or five years.

    Friend put a 215 cid aluminum V8 into one and had a very nice car. Said it was still a Buick Opel.

  3. twwok

    The local Buick- Cadillac dealer carried these back in the day. Most found their way into a Cadillac customers garage as either a second car to the Cad or for one of their kids. Been years since I have seen one.

  4. Blindmarc

    My dad worked for a buick dealership that also sold opels. I loved the manta body style.

  5. Dolphin Member

    Opels were pretty goods cars—they were German, after all—but just not as exciting as certain other German cars that instantly come to mind. Then the Japanese got into the business of exporting small, affordable cars all over the known universe, and times became tougher for Opel as a mostly entry-level carmaker. Sometime in the 1970s ‘German’ became less attractive than ‘very affordable’, ‘very reliable’, and ‘cheap to fix’.

    For someone who likes these attractive coupes this could be a good buy if they check out. Being in the high desert of Washington, there’s a good chance that the bodies and undersides will be OK. The obvious plan would be to transfer the 4-speed and the lowest-mileage engine into the blue car, which is the better colour anyway, and keep everything else as spares.

    The downside is the logistics. Even two small cars like these won’t fit on a single car carrier, so transport becomes a big issue. Maybe rent a 2-car hauler and get it done in one trip with your big pickup. Just be sure to keep to the Interstates as much as possible, and avoid in-town gas stations with tight turning radii.

  6. scot

    ~ @ Graham Line, always wanted to see/drive a Fireball Opel. one of my favorite engines. have any of you guys got any links to GM 215ci powered Kadetts, Mantas or the like. thanks in advance if there is help out there.

    BARN FINDS, BRITISH ?? should that say GERMAN ??

  7. Robert J

    I was looking for my first car when one of these came up for sale through word of mouth. The gas station owner wanted fifty bucks for it and it ran just fine. Being in high school and not being able to see the awesomeness before me, I passed in favor of a three hundred dollar Pontiac. I always think about that little car and what might have been…

  8. paul

    Look real barn dust not the fake stuff we have seen of late.

  9. Tom S.

    I like the shape of these cars, and the GT and Kadett, too. The front leaf spring suspension has always intrigued me.

  10. rancho bella

    Will they ever be worth alot?………not so much. But, the design of these is quite delightful and after all these years they are still nice looking. What a nice find.

  11. fred hughes

    I’m sure he’ll get his price. Believe me or not, I see a few of these tooling around as banger cars here in South Florida. They are always beat up looking, but still providing a use. I think a lot of Cubans own them. They have the ability to keep cars going for a million miles. I don’t know how but they are brilliant at it!

  12. Graham Line

    The GT and Kadett had the transverse leaf front suspension which was, uh, kind of interesting, especially for autocrosses. Camber change was odd. The Ascona/Manta/1900 had an A-arm and coil spring set up which made them handle much better.

  13. Chris H.

    Open the barn door, pour some water on the dang things so we can see em better. How about an interior shot? Under hood maybe? underneath?

  14. CAJunker

    I bought a new 1900 Opel Manta Luxus 4 spd in 1973 and never regretted it. The detoxed engine had it’s work cut out for it as we lived in a hilly town. Even so, after having the car Ziebarted and made sure the drain holes were open, the car held up well. It needed a clutch replacement at 90+ thousand miles and broke a ball joint in a big pot hole and that was it other than the fabric seats rotted in the sun, warranty replacement, then covered. However the front brake calipers couldn’t tolerate salt, so they had to be replaced. Nice shifting car, good steering,balanced handling with slight understeer. The handling really inproved when I mounted good Michelin tires. With the spare mounted vertically inside you have a huge trunk. The car’s low belt line with large glass area gave great visibility in traffic. Not a cheap car and was quiet on expressways. A modified one with 100 hp and a 5 spd would have been a big winner despite the Buick dealers who didn’t understand why anyone would want one in the first place.

  15. FRED

    I REMEMBER A FRIEND HAVING ONE WHEN WE WERE IN SCHOOL.HE WAS ALWAYS THRIFTY WITH HIS MONEY SO I WAS NOT SURPRISED WHEN HE ASKED ME TO DO A BRAKE JOB ON IT WITHOUT GOING THROUGH FIRESTONE MY EMPLOYER.LONG STORY SHORT I CAN’T REMEMBER THE BRAKE JOBS, TUNE UPS AND GENERAL MAINTAINCE I DID OVER THE YEARS HE HAD IT AND THE AMOUNT OF MILES HE PUT ON IT.THAT CAR WAS DEFINITELY A STEP OR TWO UP FROM THE THROW AWAY YUGO HE HAD BEFORE IT.

  16. John

    I had one of these. I really wish I still had it. As has been said, it was bullet proof. I just wanted to add, that many parts of this car were interchangeable with the Chevy Chevette (I had one of those, too).

  17. Webby

    We got the Opel 1900 cam in head engine here in Aus. Not a popular motor, had its work cut out hauling the heavy ( for its size) Torana body around.

    I like the look of these- esp with out the ugly 1973 bumpers. I’d go the V8 or V6 route with a
    5 speed. Then again, theres plenty of 4 cyls making good power these days.

    Re the parts interchange with the Chevette, are you thing of the Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Chevette/ Holden Gemini?

  18. davew833

    My mother had a ’74 Opel 1900 wagon that she got for about $200 in 1987. It was the same color as the orange one in the photo above. She drove it for about 5 years and then sold it- probably for what she paid for it. It had tons of miles on it when she bought it and we still saw it around town for a few years after. The main problem was rusty floorboards- we started worrying about putting a foot through the floor when we were driving! I still have the Opel lightning bolt emblem that graced the nose.

  19. Horse Radish

    I think for $2000 for a pair that might run again , is not bad.
    As for Opel, it’s generally a GM product and …… in the hierarchy of German quality, equally good as VW, & German Ford, still better than Audi. At least back then…

  20. Emil

    Hi everyone.
    I have still such a car in France, a Manta 1600S with 3 automatic gears.
    The color must be the same as the blue one it’s called MONZA BLUE.
    This are very good cars, generally the motors restart after beeing stopped for many years.
    If you need spare parts for it I can give you adresses, of some of my friends in France and Germany.
    Have much fun with this car!
    Emil

  21. Chris

    With a cut down windshield, the 1900 would have made a cute convertible. I always thought the greenhouse was a bit too tall for the rest of the body. Still a clean body shape with an attractive front end so long as you had the pre-five mile per hour bumpers. Opels were the Buicks of Germany back then, both in build quality and image. That might explain why the US Buick dealers ended up with them.

  22. Alejandro

    This is a great deal, both looks in good shape and originals, we had many in my country Venezuela, fast little car, 1900cc, rear transmission, easy to repair, must mechanics parts and engine can be rebuild in case you dont find them, I think they use breaker points, but will be better adapt a bosch electronic ignition, and problem solved, you can make one good car out of these two, for sure, they look good, the shape and the chrome on the bumpers

  23. joe lonzello

    Bought a 72 Manta for $500 and drove it for 10 years while living in San Diego. Would love to own another : )

  24. Susie

    This was my very first new car–1972 Opel 1900S–the orange color with white interior….loved that car and drove me and my german shepherd around in it forever. I bought it at the Buick dealership from my uncle–never regretted it; it sat on the lot for a year! I am very tall and it worked out just right for me, too! I sure wish I had it back…was sad seeing my very first car drive down the driveway with someone else behind the wheel.

  25. Charles Goin

    Actually there were about 100,000 sold here, they were quite a common car in the 80s. THe issue is the battery box sits on the firewall, over the frame rail, and fuse panel. So that has been a real killer for these cars. Used to be at least 2 Mantas for every GT, now its 5-10 GTs for every surviving Manta.

  26. Ed parkinson

    I have 2 manta’s now very rare in rhd theres days in the uk they didn’t sell particully well. I restored mine to its former glory but the ones in there pictures are very good condition for their age! i paid a lot for mine and it was full of rats nests, had once been used as a chicken shed!

  27. Scot Carr

    ~ Interesting that this car comes back to the surface .
    My favorite ‘Opel’!

    http://assets.blog.hemmings.com/wp-content/uploads//2012/02/ChevroletFirenzaCanAm_700.jpg

  28. Scot Carr

    Mar 7, 2013 at 4:12pm
    ~ @ Graham Line, always wanted to see/drive a Fireball Opel. one of my favorite engines. have any of you guys got any links to GM 215ci powered Kadetts, Mantas or the like. thanks in advance if there is help out there.

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