Junkyard Find: 1969 Opel GT

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Strangely, the Opel GT is one of the more common 1960s German Junkyard Finds. I find many more Type 1 Beetles, of course, and the Mercedes-Benz W110 shows up fairly regularly, but I’ll see several Crusher-bound GTs every year. Here’s a two-tone Brown GT I spotted in California a couple of weeks back.

The 1.9 liter SOHC four put out a pretty decent 102 horsepower in the 1969 GT.

It appears that some sort of Opel-eating monster took a big bite out of the trunk lid.

This car has been used up, though drivetrain and chassis parts may still have some life left in them. I’ve let Team Tinyvette know about this car, and they’ll be paying it a visit in order to harvest its very fragile transmission.

The GT was marketed as sort of a miniature Corvette, while the Manta was more of a German Camaro. Here we see a rotund Stalingrad vet trying and failing to squeeze into a GT.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Snakebit Snakebit on Sep 19, 2012

    Where do I start, again. You're comparing the '67 Rekord with the early '70s Manta and Opel GT. Apples and Oranges. "Vega... much better car than the Opel". You're kidding, right? The Vega was the BIC lighter of cars. When it ran out of fuel, it should have been parked at the curb and abandoned. Uncomfortable, the most wrong-headedly designed crappy motor, horrible seating position. Vega and most of the H-Specials synonomous with POS. The only H-Special I liked as a new car was the version of the Monza V8 sold in California: mandatory 350 V8 with TurboHydramatic. In a straight line, it was OK. Your sales experience and mine about the 1970's Opels could not be more different. In the L.A. area, the Manta (and the Mercury Capri)competed against each other, and both sold well. As I mentioned before, the Opel GT came out at the same time as the Datsun 240-Z and Porsche 914 1.7, and all three cars had waiting lists in order to meet demand. They stopped importing GT's because Opel wouldn;t redesign it to meet later bumper and emissions requirements, and Opel stopped building the GT in 1974. Manta imports stopped after 1975 for emissions reasons, and because of the exchange rate making them too expensive to sell.

  • Doctor olds Doctor olds on Sep 20, 2012

    My ideas about the Opel are those of a young enthusiast reading road tests when the cars were new. The styling criticsm is simply my own perspective. The things had tiny wheels, a narrow track, and much less power than the Vega. Experience with the Vega is the basis for my comments. In 1973, my wife to be bought a '74 Vega, against my advice. I bought a company used '73 Cutlass S around the same time. We both paid $3,000, give or take. The Vega was a good car until it rusted apart. My wife was happy with it. A red coupe with black interior and 4 speed. First the fenders rusted through. I replaced them with free fenders Chevrolet provided, found a rust free used hatch lid, and repainted the car. It looked almost brand new when I dumped it for $500. The exhaust attaching points rusted off and I could hardly find anything to even wire it back up! You are right that the engine was a poor design, iron head and aluminum block, but it performed better than the Opel, it did have a larger displacement, and had very much higher sales. Vega was the first corporate project center car in GM history, and it was a failure on many fronts. We in the divisions knew how to make cars and money, particularly at Oldsmobile. I put 40k on the Cutlass and sold it for $2,500!

    • Snakebit Snakebit on Sep 21, 2012

      As long as you've put up with my rant about your conclusions about the Opel Manta and GT, I should let you know that I hold the '73 Cutlass coupe in very high regard, compared to the versions from Chevrolet(including Monte Carlo), Pontiac, and Buick. I remember seeing all of them at the L.A. Auto Show for the first time, and thinking, 'boy, Olds is going to clean up this year in sales', and of course they cleaned up for several years hence selling the Cutlass. What could they have done differently instead of designing and building the Vega? If they knew then what they and Ford and Chrysler know now, they should have taken everything about the German Opel, and built it over here. Then, they'd still keep the same great quality, and not had the problem with the exchange rate and the killing of the profit margins that usually occur to US manufacturers that bring their European products to the States. Speaking of competitiveness and quality, I decided to go back to the period road tests for the Opel 1900 Rallye(Manta) and the Opel GT, in this case Road&Track in 1971. The Manta was compared to a Capri 2000 and the Celica. One didn't become a clear winner, R&T liked all three, this from the October issue. The Capri and Opel Manta were also evaluated separately in the February issue. The Chevrolet Vega 2300 (90hp) notchback was evaluated as one of five economy sedans(the others being the Toyota Corona Deluxe, the Datsun 510 two-door, the Ford Pinto 1600, and VW Super Beetle). Overall, the Vega came in third, behind Toyota and Datsun. R&T liked its looks and found it relatively quiet at interstate speed, but disliked the interior quality and seats. They summed it up as 'able, roadable, and crude'. This from the January issue. Road&Track also evaluated the Opel GT, as part of a comparison with the Datsun 240-Z, Fiat 124 Sports Coupe, MGB GT, and Triumph GT 6 Mk III. The Opel came in third, behind the first place 240-Z and the 124 Sports Coupe. They summed it up as, 'not a bad car at all, it's just that the Datsun and the Fiat are so good.'. This from the July issue, and of course these were new cars, so no evaluation of longevity and longterm quality came up.

  • Analoggrotto The ORDER BOOKS in Australia have netted 300% above projection. Australia is so awesome and they are embracing the Telluride DIesel to overtake the Prado. Pentagon data, and eATPs rule the discussion, bar none. Toyota fans can go home with their sorry little turbo 4 cylinder.
  • Analoggrotto Such a loving artful tribute to TTAC's greatest godfather is much welcomed. There's a new and better PORSCHE and they are from SOUTH KOREA baby! After years of Japanese oppression, SOUTH KOREA is the TIGER of the Far EAST. We just need a modern day James Dean and that would be Rhys Millen!
  • Groza George Our roads and bridges are crumbling and increasing vehicle weight will only make bridges crumble faster. We need more infrastructure work.
  • Wolfwagen Pennsylvania - Two long straights, 1 medium straight, 1 super short straight and a bunch of curves all on one end
  • Haze3 EV median weight is in the range of 4500-5500lbs, similar to the low end of full size pickup trucks and SUV's or typical mid-size PU's and SUV's. Obviously, EV Hummers and PU's are heavier but, on average, EV=PU or mid/full SUV is about right. EV's currently account for ~1% of the cars on the road. PU's account for 17% and SUV's count for over 40%. If we take out light SUV's, then call it 30% SUV or so. So, large-ish PU's and SUV's, together, account for ~50% of the US fleet vs 1% for EV's. As such, the fleet is ALREADY heavy. The problem is that EV's will be making the currently lighter 50% heavier, not that PU/SUV haven't already done most of the damage on avg mass.Sure, the issue is real but EV responsibility is not. If you want to get after heavies, that means getting after PU/SUV's (the current problem by 40-50x) first and foremost.