Here’s another car from Opel’s Golden Age - the 1970s, when their cars were good looking, extremely popular and sold by the boat load. The Opel Manta.

The Manta A was released in September 1970, two months ahead of the then new Opel Ascona on which it was based. A competitor to the Ford Capri, it was a two-door “three-box” coupé, and featured distinctive round tail lights, quite similar to those on the Opel GT and which in fact were used on the GT in 1973, its final model year. It took its name, and a few minor styling cues, from the Manta Ray concept car (1961), which also famously influenced the 1968 Chevrolet Corvette C3 (both Chevrolet and Opel have General Motors as their parent company).

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The Manta was normally equipped with 1.6–1.9-litre CIH engines, although in Europe a small 1.2-litre motor was also offered. All Mantas sold in the U.S. had the 1.9 L and larger heavy duty radiator (an option on European models). It came with either a four-speed manual or an optional three-speed TH-180 automatic. The Manta was known to be one of the best handling cars in its class and went on to win a large number of rallies in Europe and the United States.

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The Manta was sold in Europe in “L”, “SR” and “GT/E” trim levels, with the GT/E receiving bright paint jobs with black hoods - “to minimize reflections”. Towards the end of the production run, there were also a couple of special editions like the (ah) “Swinger” and “Black Magic” models.

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Opel managed to sell nearly 500,000 of the first generation Mantas from 1970 to 1975, of which about 80,000 went to the US alone. But there was also a small number of very special Mantas: Opel commissioned Broadspeed to make 33 “Turbo Manta” prototypes - but proper production never happened:

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And a company in Belgium ripped out the four cylinder units and installed the Commodore sixes instead to make the “TE2800" - something that Opel frowed upon.

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And while the “A” Manta remained generally well liked, the later “B” Manta gained a special reputation that, really, needs a post of its own here one day.

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The two models you see here are both contemporary castings. The blue one is a Pilen, Made in Spain. Curiously, the Manta was never sold there. The silver one is another Märklin, and another one of the 1990s re-issues that were all in silver. A proper yellow and black GT/E Manta is high on my wanted list (though I have a 1/66 Schuco model of one). And while we’re at it, a model of the Irmscher Spa-Francorchamps Manta would be awesome too!