Curbside Outtake: 1983-6 Opel Manta GT/J Coupe – Germany’s Better Capri

You may recall reading about the Vauxhall Cavalier Sportshatch on CC earlier this year. This was the Vauxhall version of General Motors Europe’s competitor to the Ford Capri II, Renault Scirocco, Renault 15, 17 and Fuego, Toyota Celics and many others. Back then, we had a wide range of saloon derived coupes to choose from. Now we have, for less than a  BMW 2 series, the choice…oh, never mind for now, just pick an SUV with sports trim. The Manta was one of the last European example of this, and GME’s last attempt at a sports coupe, and was available as a coupe or as a sportshatch.

This a Manta B, based on floorpan of the Ascona B, was also sold as the first Vauxhall Cavalier, and on the GM U car platform. So, a four cylinder front engine, rear drive through a four speed gearbox, unequal length wishbone front suspension, coils and trailing arms at the back, and a range of engines from 1.2 to 2.0 litre (ultimately). There was a measurable if mostly cosmetic facelift in 1982, alongside the introduction of the new front wheel Ascona and Cavalier, the J cars. The Cavalier coupe was discontinued point, and all production ended in 1988.

Despite the uncomplicated nature of these, they normally got a fairly positive press, and were customarily considered as better than the Ford Capri for example. The GT/J trim level was really an entry level model and most, as far I can tell, were sold with 1.8 litre GM Europe overhead cam engine. Spotting one now is rare anywhere in Europe – this is my first on the road for several years. The UK car is a 1985 car, and the four handlamp front was by no means an unusual swap and indeed was standard on the last cars.

Fun fact – these cars very rarely had passenger side door mirrors, as the location and pillar profile made it almost totally unless for the driver.