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Opel Manta A series Fact File by Stephen Godfrey & Mark Kinnon
Produced From: 1970 - 1975
Total Number Produced: 498 553
UK Specifications (1971)
Models types available in the UK
Model types available in Europe
1.6 & 1.9 litre engines and many variations of trim
Opel Manta A: Space with Style - By Stephen Godfrey
It is possible to draw many parallels between the Opel Manta and the Ford Capri. Yet Opel insisted that their car was not introduced as a Capri competitor. Opel pointed out that they were already producing four ranges of conventional saloons. They had already introduced one specialised vehicle, the Opel GT which was an attempt to cover one part of the market, that had been missed by other ranges, the Manta grew up along the same lines.
It is true to say, then, that the Manta is the result of the same market research findings as Fords: that there was a demand for more than a box on wheels, a really well styled car of compact size offering a high standard of comfort and equipment.
The Manta was styled under the direction of Chuck Jordan before he left Opel for America. It owes nothing to any previous model and there are no pressings in common with anything else in the range.
As far as the body is concerned, it was a new car from the ground up.
The wheelbase is only slightly bigger than the Kadett (five inches less than a Capris), yet the front and rear track is increased by nearly three inches, matching the Capri very closely. It is an inch longer, an inch narrower and two inches higher.
The Manta nose is styled around four small circular headlamps. The nose is relatively short and the bonnet front hinged. Side treatment is very restrained, only a minimum of trim to interrupt the smooth flow of the surface. The lower waistline and the extra overall height has resulted in a large window area. The front drip rails (though not the roofline gutters) have been eliminated to reduce wind noise. For the same reason there are no quarter lights in the doors.
The rear styling is a full fastback, finishing in a slightly upswept spoiler type tail. The object was to provide reasonable back seat space and the largest possible boot.
The Manta was given its preview at the Paris Show in September 1970, initially in three variations: the base model, Manta Deluxe (L) and Manta Rallye (SR). Only the last two sold in the UK. There are three engine options, two 1.6 litre units of 68 and 80 bhp (which was a new engine only offered in the Manta and Ascona) and a 1.9 litre engine with 90 bhp. The base car came with either 1.6 litre unit, the L can have either of the three and the SR can have either of the top two units. All had five bearing crankshafts, with overhead valves operated by a chain driven camshaft mounted in the cylinder head instead of the block.
Later, in Europe, the 1.2 litre OHV Kadett engine was also available but (thankfully) it wasnt sold in the UK. Most of the driveline components were derived from contemporary Opel units. For example, the gear ratios (manual) were the same as those on the Rekord Sprint at 3.67:1 final drive.
The brakes were also from the Rekord. Front suspension was new, using double wishbones and coil springs and they had rack and pinion steering. At the rear was a live axle, trailing arms and a panhard rod and progressive rate coil springs.
GM Strasbourg automatic transmission was available as an alternative to the standard four-speed manual, but only with the 1.9 and 1.6S units. The transmission choice is basically down to what you prefer as they are both good, the automatic being more lively than you would expect.
The SR package is a very desirable item as this includes a much higher spec: full instruments, sports wheels, 1.9 engine, etc. Early SRs, or Rallyes as they were called, very often had blacked out bonnets and Rallye stripes. Furthermore instead of Rostyle type wheels, Rallyes had hub type sports wheels very similar to that on the Opel GT.
Another additional Manta version introduced in October 1972 was the Berlinetta. It had the 1.9S engine with vinyl roof, sunroof (Webasto or steel), nylon cloth upholstery, sports wheels, headrests, drivers door mirror, rubber strips on the bumper, and a rev counter instead of a clock.
In March 1974, a model called the Luxus was introduced, featuring a vinyl roof, sliding sunroof, nylon cloth upholstery, sports wheels, headrests, drivers door mirror, the 1.9S engine and was finished in Signal Red. Four hundred were produced (along with 400 four door Asconas in Signal Blue).
The fuel injected GT/E A series was never produced in RHD form so was not sold in Britain.
Probably the most exciting model was the Turbo Manta, which appeared in October 1974. This was a Berlinetta model with the 1.9 carburettor engine with a Holset turbocharger and manual or automatic transmission. A limited slip differential was also an option.
The cars (28 were built) were modified by Broadspeed in conjunction with the Dealer Opel Team and built for the RHD UK market. The Turbo Manta was black with a large front air dam and silver coachlines and small "turbo" lettering on the rear quarters. They all had maroon cloth interiors and a turbo boost gauge replaced the clock.
The other Manta A 'special' was the TE2800 produced by Transeurop Engineering.
They dropped a tuned (142 bhp) 2.8 litre Opel six cylinder engine and gearbox into a Manta shell with appropriate modifications to the running gear. Performance was: 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds, 0-100 mph in 22 seconds, and a standing start kilometre in 29.2 seconds. Top speed was 130mph.
Bodywork was similar to an Irmscher body kit with a bonnet bulge. A rally version was also produced with an engine tuned to give 230 bhp.
Some other special parts fitted were Recaro rally seats, 7" alloys, vented discs, LSD, Nardi steering wheel and uprated suspension.
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