Did you know that the Opel Automobile Company is over 120 years old? Starting in 1899, they produced 65 handmade wagons and have since released a wide range of cars and trucks. But do you know the history of one of their most iconic sports cars, the Opel GT?
This scaled-down sportscar actually enjoyed moderate success in the US as well as Europe. Read on as we discuss the history of the Opel GT.
Introduction to the Market
The Opel GT Coupe was first unveiled at the Paris and Frankfurt motor shows in 1965. It was a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-seater with elegant sport styling. As Opel was the European arm of General Motors, it inevitably earned the moniker of the ‘Baby Corvette’.
In the US, the car had a reputation for being smaller in stature and power than many of its muscle cars counterparts. As such, many viewed it as a sportscar for females. Distribution was given to dealers of Buick cars, who had a fanbase that was a world away from the demographic of this small, European sports model.
Despite this, the car would do very well on US soil. It is estimated to have sold over 70,000 models in its run. It would go through some development stages and get a short-lived hybrid model in the next decade.
Opel GT Specifications
The Opel GT took a lot of cues from cars of the era, including the Mako Shark and Corvette itself. At its core was the functional Kadett. However, a body designed by Lotz and Brissonneau in Paris meant that this was almost imperceptible to the consumer.
One of its most striking body features was the flip headlights, operated manually with an internal level. It had no rear trunk to maintain a sturdy structure. It did however have a fair amount of space in the rear, where a curtain could conceal luggage and maintenance items.
The four-cylinder sprint engine could produce 60 hp, a lot when in a vehicle this small and close to the ground. This could let you hit a top speed of around 98 mph, though this engine was later upgraded to a 90 hp version. It had rear-wheel drive and a four-speed manual gearbox.
End of the Line
In 1974 a safety ruling known as the bash bumper law was introduced. This required that any car must be able to take small collisions to the front or rear without damage to lighting or the fuselage. While many small sports cars would solve this with larger, somewhat ugly bumpers, it marked the end for the Opel GT.
From 2007 to 2009 the Opel GT would be resurrected for a short run. However, this version based on the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky bore little in common with its earlier version. You can read more on Opel GT history here.
In summary, if you see an Opel GT for sale, you have a rare car on your hands. However, they’re not recommended for novices. Multiple problems and a lack of parts can make it a worthwhile but tough restoration.
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