Motoring: The legendary Opel Manta marks a half century

A classic: Car is now a collectors item which is much-loved by motoring enthusiasts

Breda Corrigan

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Breda Corrigan

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bcorriganmotoring@gmail.com

Motoring: The legendary Opel Manta marks a half century

The Opel Manta

The legendary Opel Manta is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2020.

The famous coupé, conceived by American, George Gallion, Opel’s chief designer, made its much-applauded debut in September 1970, at Timmendorfer Strand on the German Baltic Sea coast.

In 1972, its first full year of sales, 56,200 happy customers snapped up their prized Manta and in total, more than one million examples of the Opel Manta rolled off the factory assembly line.

Today it is a sought-after collector’s classic, much-loved by motoring enthusiasts around the world. 

Smart and sporty

The Manta was new, smart and sporty, and perfectly timed. Attractive coupés that could accommodate four were highly popular and the Manta’s shape and lines were just what the market was looking for.

For Opel, the Manta was a step into new territory. “Instead of making an existing model obsolete, the car we are presenting today is an addition to our range and meets a new demand from the market,” said the press release at the time.

The Manta range began with a 1.2 60bhp engine in 1972, followed in November of the same year by the luxuriously equipped Manta Berlinetta.

Standard equipment included a sports steering wheel, heated rear window, halogen headlamps, electric windscreen washers and a vinyl roof.

The Manta GT/E, powered by a 105hp, 1.9-litre engine with Bosch L Jetronic fuel injection, appeared in 1974. The GT/E-based Black Magic special edition arrived in 1975, which was all black with orange stripes on its flanks.

In 1975, the Manta B made its debut. The German brand had two variants in the range: the coupé with notchback and the 1978 Combi-Coupé CC with hatchback and large tailgate.

The Manta B has a special role in the company's 120-year-plus automotive history; no other model remained unchanged on the market longer than the Manta B.

New models and engines constantly complemented and extended the Manta B series and kept it young. Well-known abbreviations and affixes including SR, Berlinetta, GT, GT/J and GT/E arrived.

In 1979, newly developed overhead camshaft engines replaced some of the older ones with side camshafts. The top GT/E 2.0 litre engine developed 110bhp and was renamed GSi in 1984.

Today, the Manta remains an inspiration to the 120-year old German automotive giant and its designers.

Its DNA is clearly present in Opel models of the past and the near future.