1972 Opel GL
Assembly: Bochum, Germany
Class: sports car
Body style: 2-door coupe
Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Transmission: 4-speed manual, 3-speed automatic
When the Opel GT prototype was first shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1965, the story was that a well-known designer immediately went over to the Porsche stand and told them they’d better have a look at the new Opel sports car. Nobody from Porsche bothered to get up, they flat out didn’t believe that Opel could produce a sports car.
Built on the Kadett chassis, the GT sported mini C3 Corvette styling courtesy of Chevy stylist Clare MacKichan. Even the instrument panels look similar. Power came predominantly from Opel’s optional 1.9-liter “high-cam” four-cylinder engine, with the smaller 1.1-liter standard but rarely seen in the U.S. Opel farmed out the production of the body to the French firm of Brissonneau et Lotz and they did generally high quality work.
Performance with the 1.9-liter was quite decent, with the car solidly outperforming cars like the MGB GT and the carbureted BMW 2002. Buick dealers were happy to have the car in the U.S., as it gave them a sportier product with which to lure young buyers into the showroom. It was the Datsun 240Z, however, that spelled the end of the Opel GT, along with the Triumph GT6, MGB GT and Fiat 124 coupe. None could compete with the Z on price or performance.
The GT is not quite as rust-prone as its contemporaries and a decent number seem to have survived. That said, minor parts are nearly impossible to sort new, so badly deteriorated or incomplete cars should be avoided for anything but parts. The Opel GT is an interesting and affordable small sports car, that is sure to draw a ton of attention at a Corvette show.
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