Earlier this week I was visiting my specialty fastener supplier to acquire the necessary bolts and nuts to successfully complete another project. In the employee lot was a 1992 Ford Festiva in near mint condition. As that lot is usually filled with big domestic pickups, this was a surprising sight to this longrooffan. I spoke to the owner of that Festive little car about it and got the inside scoop as to why it was there.
As I was heading back to my jobsite I was contemplating whether a 1992 anything could be considered a Curbside Classic. Then out of nowhere in front of Billy’s Tap Room (established 1922) beachside Ormond, I spotted this Opel GT turn off John Anderson Parkway in front of me while I was stopped at the light at that intersection. Of course, I immediately grabbed my trusty elcheapo point and shoot camera I always try to have with me and gather the image you see above.
I mean, even if I can’t put together a Curbside Classic should it escape sight, at least I can get a CC Outtake to share with all ya’ll. But, my fellow Curb Dwellers, it was definitely much more than that.
I followed that beautiful fastback east on Granada Boulevard and then headed south on A1A in hot pursuit of it. That GT continued on down past the turn off to my condo, the Taj Mahal, and I watched as it passed several high rise beachfront hotels and condos my only thought was
Oh please, Oh please. Do not turn into one of those under the building gated parking garages thus shutting this longrooffan out of any further image taking opportunities.
Almost as if Jutta could hear me through some parallel wavelength, she pulled that sweet General Motors GT up onto an above ground parking lot adjacent to one of those beachfront condo buildings just south of the Aliki Atrium. Of course, I whipped in the parking lot just behind her, parked and strolled over to her 1968 Opel GT.
Its owner, Jutta, was just climbing out of the cockpit of this automatic transmission equipped sports car. We made eye contact and she started laughing. “I was wondering if you were following me.” I laughed along with her and complimented her on her ride.
“Thank you,” she replied with a slight German accent. She then proceeds to relate to this longrooffan that she has owned the car for twenty-five years and seven years ago she had it restored.
It certainly is in pristine condition. She also commented this has been her daily driver since she bought it. “Not bad for a 75 year old woman?” she queried me.
And, yes, this is the CC Clue that c5karl guessed a mere 1 hour and 56 minutes after I posted it yesterday. Although this one is the driver’s side.
I’m not really sure if it was intentional but the rear end of this Opel has some strong Corvette design cues.
All the way down to the twin exhausts. Those split bumpers remind me of the first gen Triumph Spitfire one of my older brothers owned back in the early 70’s.
Oh the stories about that British Racing Green sports car.
On each interior end of those bumpers on that GT is a light as shown above for illuminating the rear license plate.
I asked Jutta if she was German and she replied, “Yes but we have lived here in the states since 1965. As a matter of fact,” she continued, “I took my driver’s test in North Carolina on a scooter. That is the only driver’s test I have ever taken.”
I almost used the above image as the CC Clue and as quickly as that Clue was solved, maybe I should have. Next time it will be a lot tougher.
The interesting thing about these headlamps is they are not vacuum activated. There is a lever alongside the shift lever that is manually pulled rearward pushed forward [ed. thanks Corsa] to open these lights.
Yes it is a rare sight, at least in running condition, around these here parts.
This is definitely a fastback and the only way to access the rear of this car is, also very Corvette like, through the interior behind the seats.
As Jutta was showing me around the car she pointed out where she had backed into her sister’s car in their driveway. “Sometimes I feel like a dunce,” she commented.
She then asked me if I had seen the orange one that is also around town. I replied in the negative.
“Young man, just wait until you see it. It is absolutely gorgeous.”
So is yours Jutta, so is yours.
Simply drop-dead gorgeous!
The first time I saw one of these was when in the air force – a guy on base owned one around 1971 and I have dreamt of owning one ever since.
There is a worker at our local Wally-World who has an orange one that is in fair shape. I like that one, too!
LONGROOFFAN, Well done!
My dad’s was chartreuse (like this one: http://www.hemmings.com/classifieds/carsforsale/opel/gt/1182834.html), which was a great color for this car. Maybe because I got used to that, I always thought the GT looked odd in dark colors.
The car is tiny, especially by today’s standards: It has a shorter wheelbase than a modern Mini. A little Wikipedia research indicates it’s a little bigger — but about 250 lbs. lighter — than a 1st generation Miata. Somehow, we fit a family of five in ours for very short trips, with all three elementary-school-aged kids crammed onto the parcel shelf behind the front seats. It was a very tight fit, and would probably get you pulled over today. Were child car seats even sold in those days?
Dad really wanted a 240Z, but the Datsun dealers were getting above-sticker prices for the Z cars in 1970, and Buick dealers were willing to bargain on the little Opel. Even then there weren’t many on the road. Few enough that Dad used to give a quick flip of the headlights (and receive one in response) for other GT drivers on the road.
Ours had the 1900 cc engine and a standard transmission (a 4-speed, I think). Even then it was more of a drive-a-slow-car-fast sort of sports car. It definitely wasn’t about smoky burnouts. I’m guessing this example with an automatic is pretty terrifying to merge onto a busy 21st-century freeway.
Sadly my brother totaled ours when I was about 14, so I never got to drive our Opel. Worse, I had to learn to drive manual on my sister-in-law’s Pinto. I still would like to hop into one of these things for a spin to see what it’s like from the driver’s seat.
My very first car was a 1973 Opel GT. I loved my “mini-Corvette”!
A minor correction: to open the headlights, you actually push the lever forward… pulling it back rotates them shut again. When I first got mine, the previous owner passed along the hand towel he had to stuff into one of the headlights to keep it open… I eventually figured out how to adjust the lights and rid myself of the towel. 🙂
The styling of the Opel GT (done by Chuck Jordan and his team) was heavily influenced by the 1963 Corvair Monza GT. The Opel GT “styling exercise” came out in 1965, as did the Mako Shark II which influenced the 1968 Corvette styling. There’s always been a debate between Opel GT fans and Corvette fans over which one influenced the other, but they both were definitely influenced by the Monza GT. 🙂
Wow, this one is gorgeous. I would love to own one, but it would have to look like this!
These cars had everything but an engine. I always wondered about a Buick V6 swap into one of these. Or possibly Family 2 or an ecotec. Or an LSX if you’re insane.
A good looking example of a good looking car. Although I was not a small sports car kind of guy, I always kind of liked the Opel GT. I am not sure that I would care for one with an automatic, however. What a shame that GM yanked the German Opels from us and replaced them with Isuzus.
And isn’t the Opel insignia with the lightning bolt through the circle the coolest ever?
They had little choice to source from Japan-The Mark-Dollar exchange rate had become quite unfavorable to the US by this time. This is also why Capris became overpriced and unsellable by the late 70s. Remember, this was the lower end of the rice range. BMW and MB could get away with charging more.
Great car and even better story to go with it.
That’s a great story and a nice car. It goes to show that there’s the right car for almost anyone, I guess. I bought a new 1971 Opel 1900 Sport Coupe and was so ticked off at it that I got rid of it after a little over a year. Therefore, although I did and do think the GT body is very stylish, I never considered buying one.
Neat car Why different plates front and rear?
Florida only requires a rear plate. That front plate is just a decorative plate the owner put on.
Corsa is correct. Florida does require only one plate. The one Jutta has on front is, according to her, an actual plate issued in Berlin. She said her brother sent it to her when she bought that car.
Also, down here, alot of people have their home state on the front of their ride. But according to my FHP buddies, it is illegal to have a valid FLA plate on the rear and an expired FLA plate on the front. I was informed of this while piloting a buddy’s 69 Bronco with 69-70 FLA plate on the front. No issues, they were just busting my chops about it and one said his boss would kick his butt if he issued a citation with that as the only violation. However, he added, if I caught you speeding I would include this! Yeah, cops have a sense of humor also.
Great story; great-looking car. There’s so much cool stuff rolling around the World Center of Speed.
In the mid-70s my dad painted one of these. It was silver, and he repainted it, IIRC, Volkswagen Ancona Blue metallic. It sticks in my mind because it was a beautiful color and looked really sharp with the contrast of the red and amber taillights.
The other thing I remember was that, after the owner had dropped it off, we could never get it to start, so we pushed it around the shop–not a big issue since it was so light, but you had to bend way down to get a grip on the fenders, especially when pushing it backwards. This was typical of early-’70s European iron consigned by Fate to spend their lives in rural SE Louisiana. Owners of such had better be handy with a wrench, because the average local mechanic was clueless.
Regarding the engine, a mechanic friend of mine owned a Opel Manta with the 1900 and raved about it. He had built up a hot version of the engine, but I don’t recall if he ever installed it.
A very nice article on a little gem I had forgotten about. I enjoyed looking at all the photos and reading about the owner. Nicely done Longrooffan, looking forward to more. I also enjoy a nice long roof from time to time. I like to cruise around in my 1968 Buick Sportwagon whenever I can.
It’s so nice to see an Opel GT in that condition.
Back in the summer of 1973, my girlfriend’s father was buying a new Buick and told her that she could get a new car to replace her ancient Beetle because he could get a great deal by buying 2 cars.
She picked the Opel GT. He said, “Not a snowball’s chance in Hell.”
She chose the Opel Manta. It was a sweet little coupe and she was in love with it. It had a very sad end that Winter. It refused to start and was being towed to the Buick dealer for warranty service. When the tow truck turned a corner on an icy street, the little Opel slid and swung out into the opposing lane, was hit by a truck, and totaled.
R.I.P little Opel.
In the fuel-crunched early 1980’s the hot tip among starving students was a car in this class, which meant Opel GT’s, Capris and early Z’s. Celicas were OK, too, and if you could find a Manta or a good-running Alfa, more power to you. 2002’s and 320i’s were for rich kids. Only problem among all of them, naturally was rust.
You also needed $1500-2000 to snag one in a time when half that got you a decent Nova or Duster. But which cars were cooler?
The final seasons of “Get Smart” had Max Smart driving an Opel GT in openig credits and location scenes. Buick provided cars for the show. The Chief got a ’69 Riviera.
But, there are TV trivia nuts who still swear that “it was a Corvette”.
My sister had one, with 1.1 liter engine, got 46 MPG consistently. Was quite comfortable even at 75 MPH. Engine caught fire, she replaced with a larger Opel GT engine, was never the same…. Great article!
Wow – I have so much admiration for people that are cool enough to drive such fantastic vintage cars in modern day traffic.
Just a couple of weeks ago I saw a GT and it seemed so tiny compared to modern cars.
I remember these cars. They seemed to almost always be yellow or white(sometimes red)…and I’m sure I remember people calling them “Buicks”. I remember people calling them “that little Buick Opel import”.
In 1974 when I was 8, my father told us we were going to the used car lot to buy a car. When I first saw the sparkling orange beauty which was to be ours, I said, “Wow, Dad’s buying us a RACE CAR!”