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Posts filed under ‘Local Finds’

Local Finds: 1974 Opel Manta Rallye

October 7, 2016 by Matt

1974 Opel Manta Rallye

It’s always nice to see an example that’s obviously received some care and feeding during its lifetime. Most Spannerhead readers know I have a real soft spot for the Opel Manta, so I was pleased when this ad popped up.

1974 Opel Manta Rallye

The seller is asking $4,200, an entirely reasonable price for a Manta in the condition shown, especially since—by the seller’s description—there’s very little rust, and none of it structural. The color doesn’t really appeal, but the paint appears to be in good nick. If I bought it, I would consider painting the hood to match; the black hood was part of the “Rallye” trim package and doesn’t really jive with the brown.

1974 Opel Manta Rallye

The above really represents the Manta’s best view. The mini-pony car proportions are shown to good effect and the simple, cohesive lines draw together nicely at the rear. I don’t even mind the federally-mandated crash bumpers. Are they big? Sure. Would I prefer the thin chrome bumpers fitted to the 1970-1972 cars? Yes I would. But they’re not a dealbreaker.

1974 Opel Manta Rallye

I believe the seats are aftermarket pieces, or at least not original to the Manta, although they look period and quite comfortable to boot. The aformentioned Rallye trim package includes a tachometer and additional auxiliary gauges.

1974 Opel Manta Rallye

The car is equipped with a 1.9l CIH 4-cylinder engine and a 3-speed automatic transmission. As much a fan as I am of rowing my own gears, I’d gladly make an exception for the Manta, since the whole point of ownership isn’t about performance so much as style and presence. When it was first released, the Manta boasted very competent handling, but nowadays an average modern family sedan could wipe the asphalt with it in the corners. Owning and driving one, then, would be about cruising and enjoying the elemental feel of a little gem of a car from the 1970s.

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A Local Find: 1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

November 6, 2014 by Matt

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

This would test the dedication of even the most diehard Alfa Romeo enthusiast. It would be a labor of love, no doubt about it.

But really, what better car is there to fall in love with an than an Alfa GTV?

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

This 1972 model is obviously pretty far gone. The external rot is just the beginning; it’s a certainty the cancer extends far underneath the skin.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

Still, the GTV’s classic proportions shine through. Restored and sitting on some proper period wheels (maybe a set of Minilites/Panasports?), the little Alfa is a real head-turner.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

The large bumper overriders detract a bit from the purity of the car’s lines. I wonder how feasible an earlier bumper swap would be? At least hideous, blocky 5-mph impact bumpers hadn’t yet been mandated in 1972.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

The interior is, as expected, completely trashed. The dash is cracked, plastic instrument bezels are glazed and the seats are in a sorry state.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

The interior restoration might prove more time-consuming than the bodywork. A multitude of clips and trim pieces need to be refurbished or sourced and replaced. Attention to detail counts for a lot here.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

The GTV’s 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine was rated at 130 hp and was fuel-injected, all the way back in 1972, giving the 2,200-lb car sparkling performance for the day. It wasn’t quite as fast as a 240Z, but very competitive with a BMW 2002. Not only that, the Alfa had real handling chops and a competition pedigree; its beauty was more than skin-deep.

1972 Alfa Romeo GTV 2000

The seller is asking $4,450. It sounds high, given the car’s decrepit condition, but consider that a nicely restored example can command $15,000 or more…

What do you think?

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A Local Find: 1968 Opel Kadett

October 1, 2014 by Matt

Opel Kadett Green

Some long-time Spannerhead readers may be aware of my affection for the 1970-1975 Opel Manta. I featured an example of the spry little coupe in my first Ones That Got Away series post, and mused on it again more recently. I’d love to own one, and seeing as how one of my default downtime Internet activities is Craigslist tire-kicking, I type the term “Opel” quite often in the Craiglist search field.

But Mantas are rare beasts in the US, and what pops up most frequently are GTs, Opel’s more popular, plastic-bodied mini-Corvette. Last week, though, an ad for the 1968 Kadett shown in this post appeared.

Opel Kadett Green

Built from 1965 to 1973, the Kadett B, as it’s called, is mechanically similar to the Manta, but doesn’t quite match its stablemate’s delicate proportions and detailing. The Kadett is much more prosaic-looking, but it still has a great deal of charm. This particular car has been repainted, as evidenced by the color of the engine bay and door frames, among other bits, but at least the deep green is a lovely, classic choice of hue.

Opel Kadett Interior Inside Cockpit Console

The interior needs some help. The dash is cracked in multiple places, but the seats appear to be in good shape. It’s possible the owner added the aftermarket gauges because the originals were too difficult to repair or too rare to find working replacements for.

Opel Kadett Interior Inside Cockpit Console

Some rust is in evidence on the door sill, probably a sign of additional rot elsewhere.

Opel Kadett Back Rear Seat

As with the fronts, the back seats seem to be in very good shape.

Opel Kadett Engine Motor

As far as I can determine, the engine fitted to this Kadett is a 4-cylinder, 1.5l, 64-hp CIH unit. It’s certainly not going to win any races, but the appeal of the car isn’t the performance, but the style and the experience. It’s a fair bet the carb isn’t original, but overall, the engine bay is remarkably clean. A little elbow grease and it would be very presentable indeed.

Opel Kadett Literature

The seller also includes OEM literature, always a bonus. I wonder if the car was painted to match the covers?

I’ve tried to figure out what it is exactly that draws me to these little vintage coupes, and I’ve decided it’s what I’m going to call the European Mustang Effect. As Ate Up With Motor discusses in its excellent history of the contemporary Ford Capri, small coupes like the Kadett, Manta and contemporary Capri filled the niche in Europe the Mustang did in the US: Plucky, stylish personal statements that were thoroughly customizable to each buyer’s specific preferences. They had a dash of performance (the Capri and Manta more so than the Kadett coupe), but like the Mustang, above all, their most prominent attribute was that they were—and are—incredibly cool. Other cars were faster, and cheaper and handled better, but none cornered the market on cool quite as effectively as the Mustang in America, or the Capri and Manta in Europe.

Having spent 5 of my formative years in France, and that period being the real genesis of my automotive interest, it’s understandable my initial tastes would have been shaped by what was around me at that time. So as much as car buffs who grow up in the States have an ingrained affection for the apple-pie-American Mustang and its domestic flavor of cool, I think I was weaned on the European variation of that quality. As a result, I’ve always had a semi-conscious affection for sporty RWD coupes from that side of the pond. That’s the formula that holds the greatest appeal for me.

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