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Opel Manta V8 Rally Car


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I've recently bought an Opel Manta that has previously been fiited with a Rover V8 and prepared for tarmac rallying, which is what I want to do with the car. The original rally car build was some time ago now and since then a different owner has used it for some drifting.

I've done various forms of motorsport in the past, including AWD trials, sprints, hillclimbs and circuit racing, as well as navigating in rallies for a number of years. Now keen to do some single-venue rallies as a driver, hence the purchase of this car.

It definitely needs a bit of work to freshen it up again and to get it fully rally legal to the latest MSA regulations. First stage is to get the car MOT-legal as it has been off the road for a while now. One drawback is that the car doesn't have a speedo, so I've now ordered an electronic one to fit into the car as that is now a legal requirement to get an MOT. Very surprised to find that wasn't mandatory until very recently!

Then a few smaller bulbs and lighting electrics to resolve, a loose bracket for the cable setup on the hydraulic handbrake, a rear view mirror to be put in the car, two punctures to be fixed and a gearlever gaiter to avoid looking at the gearbox and the floor. Once those are done, it'll be time to book in for a test and see how it gets on under inspection. The welded/locked rear diff could be a nuisance - will state that it has a limited-slip diff so brake test won't be on the rollers. But being 100% locked may still be a problem. We shall see.

Will post up some photos of the car and hope to report on progress with it over the coming weeks and months.

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Made on start on it - cleaned off travel dirt, fixed first of the punctures (since found another tyre deflating) and removed some of the old stickers. Also removed temporary gauge panel from in front of dash panel, but you can't see that here!


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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Car now a bit closer to how I'd like it, given limited budget of time and money to improve the car.

Exterior de-stickered, cleaned, paint touched up (roughly), polished and waxed (one-off to make it look a bit more presentable)

Seats out, floor cleaned, tidied, grommets added to various holes, some paint applied to floor - including where brake fluid had worked as paint stripper (from hydraulic handbrake)

Additional harness eye bolts added (now have some new six-point harnesses to go in there)

Plumbed-in extinguisher bottle serviced/tested, cables oiled and runs simplified

Handheld extinguisher replaced with a newer one

Rally spec 4mm mud flaps fitted front and rear

Fuel hoses and filter replaced with newer items

Tank breather pipe re-routed and now includes a check-valve

Petrol filler overflow (Escort rally tank) drilled out from pathetic 2mm to 5mm, so it might actually do something!

Under-dash and under-bonnet wiring given a tidy-up to remove unused leftovers, twisted/taped joins

Charging problem resolved with poor connection for dash panel

Central (rally) panel fan/pump switches rewired

Safety foam added to roll cage, to avoid damaging head or crash helmet

Horn switches and relay rewired, with new air horn

Coil pack (Rover) moved and rev limiter wiring tidied

New, larger, air filter put on to replace crushed/cramped previous item

Loose exhaust clamps between manifold collectors and downpipe refitted/tightened on each side

A whole bunch of silly little jobs, partly to meet MSA Rally regulations but also some preventative maintenance in the hope that it doesn't cut out on the first bend of the rally stage :-o

Still have some mechanical and hydraulic servicing to do, plus some rally tyres required.

Looking to first event, following which I will decide what area of the car is (then) most in need of attention.

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  • 3 weeks later...

In the Jul '96 edition of Rally Sport magazine there is a write up on the PLAINS NATIONAL RALLY which mentions on p48 (verbatim quote):

Car 37 Sam Kidd/Bernard Parker, 3.5 Opel Manta Rover (Team Kidd). They were another crew who almost came to grief at the flying finish of SS8. Overall 40th; Class 6th

I wonder if this was your car?

Edited by JohnClayton
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In the Jul '96 edition of Rally Sport magazine there is a write up on the PLAINS NATIONAL RALLY which mentions on p48 (verbatim quote):

Car 37 Sam Kidd/Bernard Parker, 3.5 Opel Manta Rover (Team Kidd). They were another crew who almost came to grief at the flying finish of SS8. Overall 40th; Class 6th

I wonder if this was your car?

The name doesn't sound familiar from any of the paperwork I've seen. Also, think mine was only built and used for tarmac events.

Thanks for suggesting anyway ;)

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I did my first event last week, at Abingdon - a single venue tarmac event (with a bit of grass) and did get the car to the finish.

Just a few issues on the day, requiring some fettling. Will post up more info when I get time.

For now, some pics here


and snaps here


Cheers all

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, what injection have you got there, the injection of my 3.9 v8 out of h reg range rover wouldn't fit under the bonnet, i'v temporarily put su's on off my old 3.5. Would be best back on injection, it feels really strangled at high revs.

It's the Lucas injection setup, which has the 'flapper' air flow meter. Think it originates from the SD1 (have got a manual on that and it matches what I have anyway). I think that some other installations had 'hot wire' air mass meters. And later-still systems had a very different plenum/intake design (referred to as Thor, I believe).

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Fun and games with my car at the moment, as the exhaust manifold is blowing where one bolt has vanished and another is loose.

Think that getting to bolts on the underside of the tubular manifold is difficult enough, but the cramped engine bay makes it near impossible.

Wondering if it is even possible to get the bolts out and manifold off, to replace the gaskets, with the engine in the engine bay. There is maybe 10mm between the headers and the chassis rail either side, possibly a bit less than that.

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May only be possible if you drop the engine and front subframe as one, at least the chassis rails wont be in the way then :lol:

Hmm. had wondered about that. None of the options appeal. Can imagine access extremely limited with subframe even if chassis clearance improved. And also expect any and all bolts I need to work on will be seized or inaccessible. Or - like some on brake calipers and the exhaust - loose to begin with, when they should be tight!

Also scared to dismantle too many parts to solve this problem, as it is likely to uncover other things that need fixing :-o

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Because the access is so tight down the sides it is quite likely that the manifolds were installed before the engine was installed into the car. I understand your concerns about dropping the subframe but I still think its the best option. Once done and any problems overcome it will make future maintenance a lot easier.

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Thanks for opinion/confirmation on what approach you recommend. Guess much of the dismantling will be similar to removing the engine, plus steering and then gearbox mounts and then the cross member (and dampers, maybe brake lines). Well I'll just have to find out and get it done. :)

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  • 5 months later...

To recap, I did manage to get the manifold and downpipe/collector off the car without removing the subframe. Wire-brushed it and put some hi-temp paint on it. Not a very tidy manifold but it does the job. More surprisingly, I got the parts back in again. One of the original manifold bolts had a small-sized hex head for fit tight behind the pipe bend. I used a new set of manifold bolts (two were missing in any case) and for this awkward one, decided that slotting the manifold mounting plate was the best option. Started the bolt thread, put the manifold into place and then continued with the tightening. That was a slow old process - quarter-turn at a time for many of the bolts. Exhaust all back on the car now,

One of the other problems on the day was when a bonnet pin on one side broke/fell apart and soon enough the other one came undone. Not at any great speed, at least, entering a ninety left, so took that turn and then pulled over to the side of the road. Battled to get the bonnet down again, as both it and the hinges were bent. It stayed down to the end of the stage and tank tape ensured it remained there for the rest of the day. New bonnet pins now fitted, with some fettling to get the bonnet able to open and close well enough. Something else for future attention. This is a competition car though, so perfect panel alignment not a primary concern.

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Did some more minor pre-event prep work on the car this week, as rallying on sunday.

New plugs and coil, as there is a minor misfire I am trying to sort out. Spare coil not a bad thing to have for a rally car, seeing as that didn't fix it. New connectors on the coil too, just tidying it up in the hope of on-event reliability.

Fitted a temporary catch tank as previous item was knocked off on the last rally, Will have to get a proper one, plus breather, for next year,

Drilled front wing so that the bumper could be screwed in place, as previous owner had used a cable tie (which broke on last rally).

Tried the car with the servo hose blanked off, as servo is only on the front brakes (four pots) but found that pedal effort needed to be a bit too high to brake really hard, so reconnected it. For now.

Having recently added an extra degree of negative camber on the front wheels, I went to get the tracking done. My modification should've resulted in some toe-out being added, whereas I want to run with either zero toe or a small amount of toe-out, to help counteract the push from that locked rear diff. Really glad I did that, as the car was running with a total of over 6mm of toe-in. Standard settings for a Manta would be 1mm toe-in so it must've been really pigeon-toed before!

That's what you get for not checking things beforehand and assuming the previous owner of the car had a clue, I should really have known better, considering other aspects of this car I haven't been happy with,

Anyway, the extra camber made the car feel a bit better and this was improved that bit more on the way back - damp roundabouts being a handy testing ground, in brief moments.

If I get time tomorrow, will be putting new pads and shoes to try and get some better rear braking effort. Then off to co-drivers place where we will try and fit the sump guard. Failing that, at least try to shift the exhaust brackets around so they might not get knocked off by the speed bumps on the event,

Suspicion now is that the misfire might be fuel pump related, as it runs much better with a full tank of fuel in it, so will keep it topped up between stages, If I can pick up a spare pump tomorrow, will take that. or even fit it beforehand if possible.

Only other tasks today have been replacing the rear boot hooks as the old rubber ones had perished, fitting a digital clock on the dash panel and then adding the co-driver's name to each wing.

Looking forward to it - it should be a blast even if none of those other jobs get done tomorrow.

btw, the event is the Longmoor Loco, near Bordon, Hants, and is a tight tarmac event through and around the old barracks and urban warfare housing estate!

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Lovely car, look forward to hearing it! I shall be running start control on the loco, so I'll say hi if I can. :)

Nice to meet you there Jason.

For the rest of you, there were two Mantas in this event, mine and a much quicker 2-litre car, which was on its first time out looking lovely in its bright red 240-arched bodykit.

Pictures of that car and mine on the Longmoor Loco here http://www.rallygallery.com/2013_LOCO.aspx?Page=39

Also photos from when I did the Abingdon Rally in June here http://www.rallygallery.com/2013_ABR.aspx?Page=89

and two more of my car here http://www.abingdoncarnival.com/AbingdonCARnival/Photos.html#18 (oops)

Edited by rutthenut
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Hi Jason,

Somewhat in line with my post on the 'Manta Xmas Pressie' forum topic, that locked diff has to be about the first thing to go.

Not sure yet whether to put in an open diff first, as easily available, or wait until I can afford either a Gripper diff, or maybe a Salisbury axle conversion.

Besides the diff, some springs of known rates would be good too. The 'lowering springs' in the car achieve that, and little else. They aren't exactly stiff. I might even be finding that the front hits the bump stops, which would really contri bute to that major understeer issue. And being low, the downpipes catch on speed bumps, so are at risk of getting knocked off (which happened on the grassy bumps at Abingdon). Taller springs with a decent rate should improve the handling a lot - being low isn't the best/only answer - and also bring a bit more ground clearance for those low-slung exhausts. Money permitting, a set of Billies will definitely follow to keep the whole thing under control much better.

I do have to get a new pair of competition seats this year, before my next rally, as those have now passed their 'FIA homologation' date period. Legal for all other forms of motorsport, but not in rallying.

Beyond that, various 'tidying' type of jobs to complete:

  • Fix magnet for speedo pickup so it doesn't fly off again in future (speedo is handy on the road, oops)
  • Add an oil pressure warning switch and lamp, as it only has a gauge at the moment
  • Add a water temp thermostat switch to control the fan, not just the on/off switch as at present
  • Change the metal framework in the boot that holds the Escort rally fuel tank and spare wheel, to lower the tank and reposition the pump, plus filter to be in the boot not the engine bay, and to allow better wheel/jack/brace placement
  • Move the battery from the boot to the rear seat area, which will need either a full battery box or a dry type of race battery
  • Move the plumbed-in extinguisher from front footwell to behind the seats, allowing the footrest and handheld extinguisher to be better positioned in the cockpit
  • Get a proper oil breather catch tank, rather than the plastic bottle currently in place!
  • Replace the fuel pump as not sure it is holding pressure under full throttle / higher loads
  • Sump guard still needs to be fitted under the engine bay. Might add some extra skids to help protect the V8 downpipes too
  • Wheel well in boot floor to be cut out and replaced with a flat panel
  • Rusty doors and wheel arches need attention (no surprise there then)
  • Perspex windows need to be realigned so that they close into the door rubbers rather than waving in the wind
  • Panhard rod to either be shortened or, more likely, replaced with an adjustable item (one from this forum seems a great choice)

See, just a small list of things that I *should* do to improve this car for competition use ...

Some of those things, I *have* to do in any case - diff and springs first, plus seats.

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