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Opel Manta A. Still very popular after 50 years

The year 1970 produced a number of very beautiful cars. One of the notable newcomers of that year was the Opel Manta-A, which debuted in September 1970 in Northern Germany. The beautiful and strikingly styled coupé was an absolute enrichment of the vehicle fleet, and was recognizable from thousands for a lifetime. Opel built the first generation of the Manta for five years. The Germans hit the bull's eye with it.

According to good Opel usage, the Manta-A was available in numerous design variants during its career and in combination with various engines. Opel knew the art of customization in the field of equipment like no other. That was not the only reason the Opel Manta became so successful.

Beautiful and characteristic design


The beautiful and characteristic design with the large c-pillar, the frameless side windows, the wide front with double headlights and the rather slender and flowing stern with two round taillights per side gave the Opel Manta a unique look. Certainly by 1970 standards, the Manta was modern lined. In addition, the beautiful body was reinforced, and Opel spoke of a safety cage. To stay in safety terms, the Manta-A had a safety steering column.

Experienced coupe builder

Opel now again had an answer to the increasing demand for coupes, and the German GM subsidiary had proven that it knew what to do with that body variant. Models such as the Kadett, the Rekord, the Commodore and the Olympia were also ideal for a sporty body style, while the Opel GT was already a stand-alone model. The Opel Manta was also an independent model, although of course it did share a lot technically with the Opel Ascona presented later. In addition, the Manta A could also be considered a family coupé, because it was presented as a five-seater.

Diverse range of engines

Speaking of the technology: in the five years that the Manta A was available, the buyer had quite a few engines available. The Manta A debuted with the 1.6 CIH engines (68 and 80 DIN-PK). The 1.9 S engine (CIH, 90 DIN-PK)) also came directly on the delivery program. In 1972, Opel expanded the engine range with the 1.2 S (OHV, 60 DIN-PK) and the absolute hit in the Opel Manta-A range became the 1.9E (105 DIN-PK) engine, which was exclusively reserved for the GT / E. That engine was also used for a while in the Kadett GT / E. Basically, all engines were coupled to a fully synchronized four-speed gearbox. A machine was also available for the central engine range.

Environmental adaptations

At the end of the construction period of the Manta-A, Opel modified a number of engines due to legal environmental regulations (Benzinbleigesetz). In most cases this resulted in a decrease in power, while the 1.9 S compensated for the loss of power due to environmental changes through modified carburation.

Solid chassis

The undercarriage consisted of independently suspended front wheels with coil springs and different length wishbones. The rear suspension was a combination of coil springs, and a rigid rear axle, which Opel attached to a drawbar construction. A Zentralgelenk-Starrachse called Opel. Opel also mounted a Panhard rod and longitudinal arms to keep things nicely stable.

Multiple versions during term

In terms of equipment level, Opel also served the customer extensively - as mentioned. Over time, the buyer could choose from a standard Manta, a Manta L, the Manta SR (a sporty L variant), the GT / E and the luxury Berlinetta. Available engines were equipment dependent. In addition, Opel also launched promotional models of the Manta-A. The latter was also the most illustrious: that was the GT / E grafted Black Magic, which was given a black color scheme and had striking orange stripes on the sides.

Special versions

Special was the construction of the TE 2800, a Belgian variant of the Opel Manta with 2.8 Commodore engine. However, the TE 2800 was never sold as an Opel. The English Dealer Opel Team developed the Turbo Manta in 1974. The 1,9-liter engine was equipped with a turbo for extra torque. The project failed in the prototype phase, but one of the engineers at DOT did see some benefits in the Turbo Manta and had 28 more built at Broadspeed, an English racing and rally car manufacturer. They were all painted in a black color scheme.

American versions

The Manta was also available in America, just like the Ascona A. There the Opel Manta was called “1900 Sport Coupé. The name says it all: the American variant was only available with the 1.900 engine (modified technical specifications, low compression). For 1975 Opel replaced the carburetion with electronic injection for America.

Success number

The Opel Manta-A was succeeded in August 1975 by the Manta-B. The first Manta generation was built by Opel from September 1970 to July 1975. It was a hit. Although the Manta was not the first coupé to be presented as an independent model, it was an important player and pioneer in the segment of family coupes, who shared their technical basis with civil models. And that without showing much external resemblance.

Built nearly 500.000 times

That that concept was a bull's eye for Opel is evident from the number of times the Manta-A was built. He left the production line nearly 500.000 times. No wonder, because this combination of reliable technology and attractive design was exceptionally beautiful. And that composition is also one of the reasons that the Manta-A is still a very popular guest in classic country today. Beautiful!

2 Comments

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  1. Dear Olav.

    Thanks for the addition. That's right, the 1.9 was immediately available in the Manta. In our view, both 1600 engines were available in the Manta and the Ascona from the start, not the 1900. The 1900 H engine was (as you say) only available from spring 1971 for the Ascona A, which was indeed once referred to as Kadett. Incidentally, the 1900 H engine could also be ordered in combination with the “L” version. Both with the Manta-A (direct) and Ascona-A (from spring 1971). In any case, both models are highly regarded by us (at least by the undersigned).

  2. The Manta A and the Ascona A, were identical cars, both designed by Chuck Jordan as “project 1450”. So the Manta didn't share much, but all the technology and also the dashboard with Ascona-A. It is true that the Ascona was presented later, but less than two months passed and the 1900 engines were available in both cars from the start. The 1900H engine did make its debut in the Manta S / R and only later in the Asconas S / R. Indeed, much attention had been paid to safety, but crumple zones and safety steering columns already debuted in the 1965 Kadett-B and the 1966 Rekord-C, so it wasn't that new. What was new was the large number of tests involving corner, side and roll over collisions, which would eventually make the cars heavier than planned.

    The Ascona-A was originally intended as Kadett and you can still see that in the family resemblance to the Kadett-B and the rear axle construction, which is taken from the Kadett of 1968.

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