Opel Manta A Series: Space with Style
It is possible to draw many parallels between the Opel Manta and the Ford Capri. Yet Opel insisted that their car was not introduced as a Capri competitor. Opel pointed out that they were already producing four ranges of conventional saloons. They had already introduced one specialised vehicle, the Opel GT which was an attempt to cover one part of the market, that had been missed by other ranges, the Manta grew up along the same lines.
It is true to say, then, that the Manta is the result of the same market research findings as Ford’s: that there was a demand for more than a box on wheels, a really well-styled car of compact size offering a high standard of comfort and equipment.
The Manta was styled under the direction of Chuck Jordan before he left Opel for America. It owes nothing to any previous model and there are no pressings in common with anything else in the range.
As far as the body is concerned, it was a new car from the ground up.
The wheelbase is only slightly bigger than the Kadett (five inches less than a Capri’s), yet the front and rear track is increased by nearly three inches, matching the Capri very closely. It is an inch longer, an inch narrower and two inches higher.
The Manta nose is styled around four small circular headlamps. The nose is relatively short and the bonnet front hinged. Side treatment is very restrained, only a minimum of trim to interrupt the smooth flow of the surface. The lower waistline and the extra overall height has resulted in a large window area. The front drip rails (though not the roofline gutters) have been eliminated to reduce wind noise. For the same reason, there are no quarter lights in the doors.
The rear styling is a full fastback, finishing in a slightly upswept spoiler type tail. The object was to provide reasonable back seat space and the largest possible boot.
The Manta was given its preview at the Paris Show in September 1970, initially in two variations: the base model, Manta Deluxe and a sports model, Manta Rallye (SR). There are three engine options, two 1.6 litre units of 68bhp (1.6) and 80 bhp (1.6S, which was a new engine only offered in the Manta and Ascona) and a 1.9 litre (1.9S) engine with 90 bhp. The base car came with either 1.6 litre unit, and the SR can have either of the top two units. All had five bearing crankshafts, with overhead valves operated by a chain driven camshaft mounted in the cylinder head instead of the block.
|Model||Capacity (cc)||Compression ratio||BHP @ rpm||Torque (lb/ft)|
Later, in Europe, a 1.2 litre OHV Kadett engine was also available but (thankfully) it wasn’t sold in the UK. Most of the driveline components were derived from contemporary Opel units. For example, the gear ratios (manual) were the same as those on the Rekord Sprint at 3.67:1 final drive.
The brakes were also from the Rekord. Front suspension was new, using double wishbones and coil springs and they had rack and pinion steering. At the rear was a live axle, trailing arms and a panhard rod and progressive rate coil springs.
GM Strasbourg automatic transmission was available as an alternative to the standard four-speed manual, but only with the 1.9 and 1.6S units. The transmission choice is basically down to what you prefer as they are both good, the automatic being more lively than you would expect.
Produced From: 1970 - 1975
Total Number Produced: 498 553
Manta A models available in the UK.
This was the most basic model available and was equipped with a 1580cc engine and manual transmission.
The SR package is a very desirable item as this includes a much higher spec: full instruments, sports wheels, 1.9 engine, etc. Early SRs, or Rallyes as they were called, very often had blacked out bonnets and Rallye stripes. Furthermore instead of Rostyle type wheels, Rallyes had hub type sports wheels very similar to that on the Opel GT.
Another additional Manta version introduced in October 1972 was the Berlinetta. It had the 1.9S engine with vinyl roof, sunroof (Webasto or steel), nylon cloth upholstery, sports wheels, headrests, driver’s door mirror, rubber strips on the bumper, and a rev counter instead of a clock.
In March 1974, a model called the Luxus was introduced, featuring a vinyl roof, sliding sunroof, nylon cloth upholstery, sports wheels, headrests, driver’s door mirror, the 1.9S engine and was finished in Signal Red. Four hundred were produced (along with 400 four door Asconas in Signal Blue).
Probably the most exciting model was the Turbo Manta, which appeared in October 1974. This was a Berlinetta model with the 1.9 carburettor engine with a Holset turbocharger and manual or automatic transmission. A limited slip differential was also an option.
The cars (28 were built) were modified by Broadspeed in conjunction with the Dealer Opel Team and built for the RHD UK market. The Turbo Manta was black with a large front air dam and silver coachlines and small "turbo" lettering on the rear quarters. They all had maroon cloth interiors and a turbo boost gauge replaced the clock.
Manta A models available in Europe
The fuel injected 1.9 litre GT/E A series was never produced in RHD form .
Limited edition model, with distinctive paintwork and interior, based on a GT/E
Manta A 'special' was the TE2800 produced by Transeurop Engineering.
UK Specifications (1971)
|Length overall (in)||171|
|Width overall (in)||64.5|
|Height overall (in)||53|
|Track front (in)||52|
|Track rear (in)||52|
|Turning circle dia (ft)||31|
|Kerb weight (cwt)||18-19|
|Max allowable (cwt)||26|
|Trunk volume (cu ft)||11.5|
|Tyre sizes||165SR x 13 (Deluxe)||185/70SR x 13 (Rallye/SR)|
|Engine||1.6 litre S||1.9 litre S|
|Number of cylinders||4||4|
|Bore mm (in)||85 (3.35)||93 (3.66)|
|Stroke mm (in)||69.8 (2.75)||69.8 (2.75)|
|Piston displacement cc (cu in)||1774 (96.7)||1897 (115.8)|
|Carburettor||1 x Solex 2-choke||1 x Solex 2-choke|
|Max. output (SAE hp at rpm)||92/5800||102/5400|
|Max. torque (ft/lb. at rpm)||95/4200||115/2800-3400|
|Engine (refill) (imp pt)||5.7||5.3|
|Fuel Tank (imp gallon)||11.5||12.1|
4-speed all synchromesh floor change
3-speed automatic optional
|Body||All steel integral construction|
|Front suspension||Independent (coil springs)|
|Rear suspension||Live axle (coil springs)|
|Steering||Rack and pinion|
|Parking brake||Mechanical to rear wheels|
|Seat belt anchors||Front and rear|
|Steering column||Impact absorbing|
|Fascia||Padded, flush switches|
|Warning flashers||4-way emergency|
Speedo, clock, water temperature and fuel gauges.
Plus tachometer, oil pressure and ammeter on Rallye/SR
Heater and fresh air vents.
Stalk for flash, dip/main beam and indicators.
Toggle switches for head and side lamps, wipers, etc.
|Reclining seats||Partly reclining standard|
|Wipers||2-speed, self parking|
|Reverse lights||Automatic twin|
|Steering lock||Column mounted|
Edited by mantaray