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Opel Manta

Opel Manta Published: 23rd Nov 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Opel Manta
Opel Manta
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Why should I buy one?

Launched just after the Capri, Mantas were that bit more sophisticated and classier plus were better built (Opel was a viable BMW rival in its day) and had a more advanced chassis. They are also considerably cheaper to buy than the Ford.

 

What can I get?

There’s two generations of Opel’s Manta, the original (and best looking) ‘A’ giving way to the ‘B’ in 1975, with a Sportshatch arriving in 1978 before being given a facelift in the early 80s, which also saw the new Astra/Cavalier engines employed with five-speed transmissions. Manta with the most is the 2-litre GTE, where fuel injection and a major makeover really rejuvenated a tiring old design, as well as giving this Opel the Capri 3-litre chasing performance it always lacked; otherwise there’s a range of 1.6 and 1.9/2.0 power units. Trim levels are essentially S, SR, Berlinetta and GTE. You can’t ignore the rebranded Vauxhall Cavalier, which was essentially the same car but perhaps it’s the name, but the Opel seems so much classier. Prices are considerably lower than the Ford and apart from the motorsport biased GTE 400, it is very hard to spend over £6000 on anything.

 

What are they like to drive?

Manta – most of the time The late, great Hot Car magazine summed up the Opel best when it pitched a plain 1.6S against an all singing and dancing 1600GT XLR Capri and still reckoned that the more restrained German was “the more sporty, sporty car”. The main reason has to be the saloon derived Ascona superior chassis which made the Capri’s Cortina-derived platform seem steam age by comparison. And it showed in the ride and handling departments, where the Manta was regarded as one of the best driver’s car for several decades. What always let the Opel down was their agricultural engines which while performing pretty well for their size had zero character – the later Cavalier II did improve matters to be fair. Alas, there was never big-engined flagship like the Ford even though the straight six from Opel’s Commodore/Monza could fit. German tuning firm Steinmetz proved this to great effect while British Broadspeed marketed a Manta A Turbo, nicknamed Black Beauty. In complete contrast, if you want relaxing two-pedal motoring then the Manta’s transmission is far nicer and more responsive (quite sporty, in fact) than the Ford offerings but there’s no power steering although we never found the tiller that weighty plus it’s far more precise than the Ford’s helm.

 

What are they like to live with?

In general, reasonably okay, but will never match the ease of a Capri. That said, the Owners’ Club is very pro-active and most of what you need is around somewhere (try Germany?) and there’s good commonality with other models, such as the Carlton, Senator and our Cavalier. Indeed, Carltons (and the 4x4 Frontera) used a lustier 2.4-litre engine which bolts straight in and makes a good upgrade. Rust is equally as bad as the Ford and panels aren’t that plentiful. Like Vauxhalls, it’s those little bibs and bobs that make or break a concours car that are so much harder to track down than with any Ford.

 

We reckon

As anyone who owned one will tell you, the Manta was fine BMW substitute in its day and feels more modern to drive than the Capri. But the Ford will always be the easier to maintain



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