Unsung Heroes : Opel Manta GT/E

Once again we fondly pay homage to the one time past masters of motoring in this popular section.

This one offered a more restrained image over its arch rival Ford Capri but also went on to make a huge impact in motor sport.

Words: Mike Humble Photography: Keith Adams

More Old Boy… Less Del Boy

If like me you’re a child of the 70s, you would unwittingly find yourself falling into one or the other camp. Whether it was Swap Shop or Tiswas, Blue Peter or Magpie on the telly or Spangles vs Texan Bars in the sweet shop – the same would apply with certain cars. One of my earliest motoring memories was the Capri GT my father had imported back into the UK after a lengthy Army posting in Germany back in the mid 1970s. For some reason the Capri never did it for me, maybe it was the blue oval badge that took the shine off the otherwise eye catching if not, iconic shape. Terry McCann drove one in Thames TV’s superb Minder and of course, who could forget Derek Trotter and his lime green ‘Capree’ Ghia in BBC’s Only Fools and Horses – was this the issue?

To be honest the Capri was not a bad car, it just seemed to attract either the wrong type of driver or portray an image of loutish or vulgar mannerisms. That said, the later 2.8i Special and the run out Capri 280 of 1987 looked every inch a showstopper either in the brochures, or out on the road. The Ford Capri had only one serious rival which came from the GM stable and that of course… was the Opel Manta. My first real encounter with the Manta came in 1985 after re-locating to Suffolk. Scanning the teacher’s car park on my first day at my new school, Initial impressions looked promising as I spotted an X- plate Beta HPE and a brand new B-reg Manta GT/E – teacher car credibility was always paramount in my eyes.

I had of course seen the Manta in the flesh before in a local Vauxhall-Opel showroom, but the owner of said teaching staff car was Mr Ridgewell who would occasionally ferry one or two overspill kids to the local swimming pool. Should you time it right, you would catch a lift if there was no room in the school minibus. Everything inside the Manta seemed just right, restrained sporting luxury with Recaro seats trimmed in two tone velour and a facia lifted straight from the early Ascona/Cavalier range. Gone was the long spindly Cavalier style gear lever replaced with a stubby short leather clad affair which was almost in line with your rib cage, such was the low slung & snug driving position.

The 110bhp 2.0 Bosch injected CIH (cam in head) engine was pure Germanic engineering of the time with both head and block cast in iron – none of this namby pamby alloy stuff. The engine was designed to last offering heaps of bottom end torque rather than balls out power, in all making the GT/E as effortless round town as it was on the open road. The plump looking body was offered in a brace of variants, a two door hatchback or two door sports coupe. Lesser models included the base GT/J and Berlinetta both featuring 1.8 versions of the GM Family two engine but towards the end of production, the base level GT/J was deleted in `87 with total production ceasing the following year.

Russell Brookes 1985 Group B Dealer Sport Manta 400

The Opel to really make your mouth water

The final run out model of the Manta was called the Exclusive, which started out as a model bedecked in a GM option pack produced by the in house styling company Irmscher who notably also kitted out the awesome Cavalier SRI 130 Caliber in 1988. To many, the GTE and GTE Exclusive were seen as the ultimate Manta models, but all models offered a more restrained touring image which was seen as a cut above the 1.6 or 2.0 Capri. But of course, who could forget the astounding Manta 400 rally car making household names of the likes of Russell Brookes and Jimmy McCrae – father of the much missed Colin. Making its world debut in the 1983 Corsica rally, the GM Manta team in Group B caused sales to soar in the showroom.

For those who lusted for extra power, a road legal version of the Manta 400 came with 144bhp – somewhat less than the 275bhp Cosworth engineered Group B rally special, and saw just 200 produced to satisfy the homologation rules for group B rallying – the long gone but show stopping group the likes of we will never see again. The Manta ‘B’ range, produced from 1981 to 1988 marked the end of the Opel brand in the UK and notched up impressive sales just short of 200.000 units. So to summarise, thanks Mr Ridgewell wherever you may be, for starting my never ending love affair with the thinking mans Ford Capri – the Opel Manta GT/E.


Mike Humble


  1. It’s worth mentioning that the Manta has been the subject of not one but two feature films – ‘Manta Manta’ and ‘Manta – Der Film’.

  2. Great car. almost forgotten today. Must admit though that I preferred the looks of less overt Cavalier Sports Hatch variant from the outside.

    The interior is still a thing of beauty and should be a lesson to modern manufacturers who have created ergonomic nightmares (I speak of, for example, the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i30 etc where you have to play hunt the button).

    Another old car I’d love to have in the garage.

  3. I’ve not seen one for a while, until the late 1990s they were fairly easy to spot around, almost as easy as a Capri was.

  4. Tiswas, Magpie, Spangles, since you’re asking. BTW, DelBoy’s Capp-ree Ghia was lime green, Bodie’s Capp-ree was gold…….

  5. Vivid memories of being a seven year old in ’76 going with uncle in his blue Manta 1.6 when he traded it for a 1.9SR in green!

    Both were two door versions the hatch wasn’t available then.

  6. Also being a child of the 70s, i can remember plenty of these, and always thought the hatch looked more balanced than the coupe. In saying that, at the time the Capri just had the “X-factor” that made it appear far more desireable than the Manta, which clearly resulted in far greater sales in the UK.
    Nevertheless, looking back now at this article, the nearly-forgotton Manta looks to possess far more thourough Germanic enginieering, than its rowdy yet successful competetor that even today can been seen as a triumph of marketing over product.

  7. The Manta was popular in Holland and -of course- Germany. But on it’s hometurf it was also the butt of a lot of jokes. Something with the relation between the car and the IQ of it’s driver…
    An example from Wikipedia: What does a Manta driver say to a tree after a crash? – “Why didn’t you get out of my way, I used the horn!”

    Wikipedia says further:
    Mantawitz (Manta joke): The male counterpart to the blonde is the Mantafahrer, the male driver of an Opel Manta, who is dull, lower class, macho, infatuated with his car and his blonde hairdresser girl friend, and often exceedingly proud and possessive about things that most people would consider embarrassing. Popular in the 1990s.

    On topic: still like the car…

  8. I ran a 1979 Manta ‘B’ SR (sports ratio) coupe in metalic bronze with 5 spoke ATS alloys.
    I ‘only’ had it for 20 years, which speaks volumes.
    Happily SGH 71V is still in the OMOC.

  9. Still plenty of Mantas on the Irish rallying circuit (along with Mk2 Escorts).

    This was a car that properly suited Wayne Cherrys shovelnose design. I don’t think it could have worked with an Opel-style bluff grille (that otherwise looked great on the Ascona).

    It sounds like the Capri back then was getting the sort of image that the E46 coupe has now.

  10. @9

    “An example from Wikipedia: What does a Manta driver say to a tree after a crash? – “Why didn’t you get out of my way, I used the horn!””

    I’m sorry but I just can’t get the image of ‘A-salted. Peanut.’ out of my head 🙂

  11. if you look real close at the side of the dash between the speedo and stuff and the centre vents you will see a little slider plus it’s blue at the bottom and red at the top … thats the heater controls

  12. @Alexander

    Interesting. In the UK definitely so. In Germany, probably not. When I drove that very GSI over there alongside the Cappy 280, it was the Opel that attracted all of the interest from passers-by while the Cappy was ignored.

    But in the UK, they’re still unappreciated and under-valued.

    So, yes – an unsung hero.

  13. The Manta always had a more cerebral appeal than the hairy-arsed Capri.
    The injection engine massively boosted torque and fuel economy compared to the carb’ engines, and they were smoother too. I once got 39mpg on a fast trip from South Wales to Crewe and back.
    The Getrag box had a brilliant shift quality, better than anything FWD and considerably better than the “propshaft” lever on the GM 4-speed. Journos laughed at the spoilers and skirts, but they really did work – they held the car straight and level even when high winds were trying to blow trucks onto their sides.
    I regularly pivoted my first Manta around a favourite roundabout in Rogerstone, when I changed the tyres they always had scrape marks across the tread! Oversteer heaven. The C’s (1.8 and GT/E) had smaller antiroll bars than the B’s (1.6, 1.9, 2.0), and were much less tail happy – controllable, rather than spinnable.
    The steel sunroofs were great, and they were surprisingly roomy for such low-slung cars.
    The hatch was shorter than the coupe, was slightly more aerodynamic, and had a better weight distribution – almost exactly 50:50.

  14. Heater blower controls were on the side of the instrument pod next to the lever – I think.
    The power figures were interesting, not really much better than an MGB BHP/litre and only 7BHP better than a 1.4 litre K series. The high power one at 144 bhp for 2litre is way worse per litre than my 143BHP 1.8VVC 200 Coupe – How times have changed.
    I owned a 1.6 Ascona – what a car – rice pudding skins were safe in their original location being immovable, never mind the car and the engine was heavily built to say the least. I never bought GM again, MG yes!

  15. @19 i had a 1.6S ascona (high comp) with a recon GMX engine i fitted 32/36 DGAV carbs from a cortina 2.0S and destroyed RS 2000’s etc and it did 120 up windy hill (M62)obviously in my yoof.I had many,many MK1 CAVS and ascona B’s some good some with shagged breathing engines that really didnt seem strong in the day possibly due to crap oil and patchy servicing i would have one tomorrow if it was mint.

  16. Jeroen: When I had my Manta and was a carefree student, I was belting up the A68 past St. Boswells and saw some hitchhikers. So naturally I spun the car around, and asked where they were going. There were a couple of girls and a guy from Holland. He had a guitar. They wanted to go to Newcastle for the train station.

    So I took them to Newcastle and hung out at the station with them for a while.

    They told me Manta-man jokes for most of the drive, set off by the fact that I really did have one tanned forearm. And probably the fact that I’d just randomly changed direction for the excuse to drive my Manta an extra 100 miles 😀

  17. Aside from that… it’s interesting how tastes change. My Manta was a C-reg, in 1995… so about 9 years old. There was rust coming through, just the very beginnings, near the sill on the jacking point. It ate front calipers and wheelbearings. The factory carb was ditched for a Weber, much better, though it was a 1.8S Berlinetta (with two black stripes on the passenger side and the E from a GT/E added, so it was badged 1.8SE – I’d intended to get the “MANTA” logo cut out of the vinyl so it was on the bonnet, but for some reason we didn’t do it.

    And I loved the Manta because it was like an even better Chevette, and the Chevette was my first road-legal car. However, I later went back to Mantas – I tried a GT/E and found it… lethargic. It lacked the revvy response of the Family II OHC. I reckon a Manta with the 2.0i from an SRi 130 would have been superior in almost every way. The gearbox was amazing. The six-dial dash sporty. The seats even on that basic one supportive and comfortable. That Manta wasn’t quite up to the handling of the X1/9 that preceded it, but it tried very hard.

    And then I got a Capri. Much later. A 1.6LS with a 2.0 in it. A89 KLS. It had those Brooklands-looking wheels, but 13″ rather than 15″, and I discovered something. Despite the cars reputation for being crude, it handled WELL. I had no issue with the driving position and bonnet length, it just worked, like an overgrown Mk 2 Escort.

    It lacked the power, the alacrity of the Manta, but if you held on, it would come out of a corner pointing the right way, and did a better job (as long as the TCAs were under 3 months old, or had been polybushed) of telling you what was going on too.

    So it was something of a surprise. And then I got a 5-speed one that had always been a 2.0, and man, that was good. That one was “windows down, sunroof open, little grey Mountney wheel, Sonic Boom Boy on the radio” blasting down twisting country lanes with a grin I don’t think any car has given me since. And it put up with abuse, lots of if, being asked to carry heavy things.

    Later I had a 3.0i transplanted Manta. That was terrifying.

    I guess the next rung up I had was the XR4i – again, a great car – and a Toyota Supra 3.0i Auto MA70 (which I’d really quite like another of, an Aerotop ideally) which was quick, but heavy.

    And now… I dunno. I look at the Manta and remember liking it, but I don’t feel any great desire to actually own one. There was an Exclusive hatch for sale a couple of months back, a grand and some pennies would probably have got it, and whilst I could see it was ‘good value’ – and maybe the last chance to get something like that – I couldn’t really get emotionally excited about it.

    Whereas if I saw a 2.8i Capri for the same sort of money (relatively, maybe, given Capri values now) I’d REALLY want it. I know I enjoyed the four-cylinder ones, I’d probably love a 2.8. They’re too expensive for the good ones, though that means the bad ones are worth fixing – and easier if you want to throw money at them.

    The GM beast I miss is the FE Ventora, and the GM beast I missed was the Monza – never had one – though I’ve had a Carlton GSi3000 and a Senator 3.0i, so doubt the Monza would have much new to show me.

  18. Briliant read. I have a Opel Manta GTE and a Cavalier Calibre which you also mention. Get a great buzz driving the Manta about and pulling up at junctions and people pointing and saying whats that. Shame they never put the Calibre’s engine in the Manta as it had the chassis to take 130bhp.

  19. You had choices what to watch in the UK in the 70’s? All we could see in Holland in the afternoon on the telly was “der sendung mit der maus” on German TV… (on the plus side, my generation can speak German where younger generations can’t even understand it…)

    Seriously though, I didn’t even know you could buy Opels in the UK, but it does make sense since we could buy Vauxhalls overhere also…

    I must add that overhere the Manta was bought by the same type of people that bought Capree’s in the UK… O well…

  20. Now, that’s a car I will so miss dearly. i had three of them. my first was a black Sports Hatch with Mk1/2 Astra GT/E engine in it (although a Varijet carb was installed) and that went like a whippet. It was my first foray into RWD cars and to be honest it never let me down. my second was a white GT/E and that was my pride and joy… Until I took it a doughnut too far and bent the rear panhard rod mount on the body.. i regret not getting it put on a jig to fix it but at the time finances were causing me a problem so I had to let the car go. My last one was a funny old thing.. Manta GTE engine, varijet carb, and a weird sort of Starsky and Hutch look because the last owner lowered the front. That gearchange was smoother than ANY Cortina/Capri/Sierra gearchange I had ever felt and it the whole car proved it’s worth after sustaining a continuous 125mph for a good hour or so.. Without missing a single beat I might add. It felt like such a lazy engine that it didn’t seem stressed at all. If I’d have had my way, I’d have fitted the engine from the 2.4 Frontera with a MK1/2 Carlton 2.2 gearbox.

    scariest aspect was the wet weather handling.. If you had the wrong tires on, even though the backend was well composed, the front end at least let you see the tree you selected to hit! Goodyear NCT2 were the wellies of choice but I did have a decent set of Uniroyals which managed to hold their own.

    If I won a shed load of money, I would by a fully restored one at the drop of a hat no question whatsoever. A tough, quick little car which was often over looked and in it’s purest form was actually beautifully styled.

    Interestingly I wonder if (ironically given that they are owned by Ford) Mazda’s MX6 (not 5) was a direct styling copy with a modern twist of the coupe… Look at it from ALL angles…

  21. I agree with Alexander.. what next.. the E-Type Jag???
    No way, could the Manta be called unsung..

  22. I was never much of a fan of these as I did just see them as a rebadged Mk1 Cavalier hatch/coupe (even though iy was the other way round). However, I did love its big brother; the Monza & Royale Coupe !

  23. I had 8 Mantas, the first one I got at the age of 18 (insurance was cheaper back then!) the last one I sold 4 years ago when I was 41 after just about getting them out of my system, in fact I had one identical to the grey GSi you show in the photos – it was imported from Germany by the previous owner.

    Back around 1989 I bought a red GTE coupe and took it to Bill Blydenstein to have is ‘B pack’ fitted which consisted of a big valve ported head, jetex exhaust and some alterations to the fuel injection system and that made a big difference to the performance.

  24. I should add that I had my final Manta for 8 years – a mint 30k black GTE coupe and loved it, that is until we bought an MGF VVC – really showed how things had moved on, the MGs handling was so much better than the Manta and the engine just loved to rev and was so much quicker, lost the love for the Manta after that!

  25. @Keith I’m not surprised by a few of the reactions – plenty of BMC fans out there, particularly those over 35 are highly vitriolic towards them… I remember pulling up in my sports hatch and seeing plenty of sneers.. A lot of general joe-public tended to be quite curious and interested.

  26. OK.. the Triumph 1300(take one for a spin, they are rather nice).. the Phase A senator(probably more so than the Phase B). The Daimler V8/250. In fact if you class unsung as ignored and underpriced in the current classic market you can add the P6 and SD1. But the Manta is well loved, prices are high, and no one does them down (quiet rightly) It’s a good car I love them but I can’t see how you could ever call the Manta an ‘Unsung Hero’

  27. I liked the look of the long lived Manta GTE, particularly in coupe form but preferred the Vauxhall Cavalier version (even if it was less powerful). A former colleague bought a GTE Sportshatch new, which was nice but he had oil leak problems which were sorted under warranty – but I think this took the “shine” off ownership.

  28. @33 If you look at the number of Manta’s sold in the UK compared to the Capri then you understand that the Manta was an unsung hero! Being a regular at classic car events across the south east, the Manta is about as rare as the dodo compared to its competitor the Capri. In fact I see more Celica’s and Supra’s than Manta’s!

    On another note, the Manta was the better car but in the looks department it did not have the beautiful crispness of the Ford – infact nowdays it would be called a boyracer special with all those spoilers!

  29. Forgot to say, I agree with Mike that the short stubby gear lever was an improvement on the earlier long stick on the Manta/Cavalier. The higher power engine would have been nice on the Cavalier Coupe too, but of course the MK1 Cav’s made way for the MK2 in 1981.

  30. I always preferred the Mk1 Cav styling to the Manta’s- even though the latter is the coupe version of the Cav. By the 1990s the Manta seemed like a dinosaur compared to more up-to-date cars of that era, and the loud ‘body kit’ didn’t help- fitting such ‘cod-piece’ extrusions to such an ancient design was a bit like Sir Jimmy Saville in his trademark string vest and tracksuit- not quite ‘cutting it’.

    Despite which, and whilst appearing to give away a sizable CC advantage to the equally antiquated Capri (who’s run out models were a lot more presentable to boot); the Manta could still boogie as a drivers car.

    A friend of mine had one. It went! They really ought to have done something about that nasty facia- it looked like the same kind of pressed fibreboard as that used on the rear panel on 1970’s CRT tellies- and about as pretty. Still, for those who understood the appeal of the Manta as a driver’s car, and could overlook the styling (well, you don’t look at the mantlepiece, etc)… it was a good car.

    And if you want to see some really exhillerating rallying- find some old footage of Russel Brookes and Jimmy McRae duking it out in the 1980’s- on the raw ragged edge of control. Magic!

  31. @35 Being outsold by the capri does not make the car an unsung hero in my book (and I am not conviced it was, once you count the Mk1 cavalier coupe and sportshatch).. they were all out sold by the VW beetle. And I belive the Manta outsold the MGBGT so does that mean we can expect to see that soon? And from my memory the Manta was not an uncommon car at all so it sold well enough it was certably not a rare site at the time unlike the Monza.

  32. By the time Del Boy got a Capri, the show was well past sell-by and at that point it was unbelievable that Del Boy would would still have his yellow van, but when he got that green Capri, it really jumped into a world of fantasy. He may as well have been driving a milk float or a Dan Dare Mekon flying tablet.

  33. Stewart… dear Stuart!

    MGB GT? no sonny! millions of the blasted things still everywhere

    E – Type? Ditto, and also held in ultra high regard then as they are now!

    In a nutshell Stuart – The unsung hero is a ONCE commonplace affordable car that had a certain something. As Keith says Ferme La Bouche and come up with your own!

  34. Coming from the continent the Manta is quite the opposite to an unsung hero, the Capri would be a better choice seen from here. But as a regular visitor to classic car shows in the UK I was a bit surprised to see the Manta featured under this title, as I was under the impression that the Manta is well represented at shows and equally as well respected. Travelling the UK in the 80’s I can’t remember seeing tat many of them anyway. Thinking about it most of the Rootes range would seem to be better placed as unsung heros.

  35. @38.

    I think u r on a different planet to everyone else on here!

    Mantas outselling MGB’s? The MGB is I think the third best selling sports car of all time behind the 260z and the leader, the MX5.

    An unsung hero is a car that could either be not seen as great or sold well when new or have a reputation now. A Nissan Primaera is a unsung hero becuase it is not only well built, but drives exceptionally well. And how many do you see on the roads now? not many as people think they are as dull as ditchwater.

    And I am not sure where you grew up, but in Essex the Manta was a rare site even when new (I know its is Dagenham Dustbin country), but I saw more Super Miafiori’s than Manta’s and they were known as rustbuckets (my Uncle had two that rotted away before his eyes).

  36. @42, different planet? No, just a different country. In the Netherlands and Germany the Capri and Manta were both considered german cars, and the Manta outsold the Capri by more then just a bit. Even today I still see a Manta every now and then, and I can’t remember when I last spotted a Capri. I guess the same goes for Germany… The Manta also has a HUGE cult following in Germany and Netherlands, and the Capri doesn’t… In short, the Capri is the unsung hero on this side of the canal instead of the Manta…

  37. @42 Daveh- Fiat 131 Mirafiore- now there’s an unsung hero.

    Wonder how many are left? It wasn’t a pretty car by any means but that peppery twin-cam engine more than made up for it.

    I could suggest an Alfa 33 as another unsung hero. I’ve driven a few in various states of decay, and they were always a real hoot- fabulous flat-four warble (and they shifted too!), awful driving position, gearbox, electrics, torque-steer, and just about everything else.

  38. Re above comment about the Fiat 131- remembered that there is a website called ‘How many left’ and apparently there is one 131 still registered… Which surprises me, since even though they decompose faster than a month old salad, I’d have thought there would be some sort of following, as is the case for the equally disolvable Alfas…

  39. @ Chris Baglin

    The 131 was a loverly car. The seats were the size of a large armchair and covered in deep velour (brown of course). He had two Gold ones with that delightful twin cam. It was a bit of an unganly design, along with the larger 132 compared to its beautiful cousin the 130 coupe.

    The 33 was a fab car. My other Uncle had a Red estate model in the early 00’s. Big Mistake as it replaced his Range Rover (he had a habit of buying cars) which head gasket had gone, but the Alfa stopped working about three months later when the electrics stopped working. As Jeremy Clarkson says you must be mad to buy an Alfa, and my uncle did the same and bought a late Spider with the awful back end!

    My Favourite unsung hero is pretty modern – a Citreon C6. It is just a beautiful car. That and the Lancia Thema – great car but not recognised in this country (Lancia’s rep in the UK) and built pretty solid. A friend of a friend use to run one in the 90’s and it did over 100,000 miles without a single prob.

  40. @Mike Humble- yay! Look forward to that!

    @daveh- C6 I agree with you about. Rarer than hen’s teeth though, but it was a real return to form from Citroen, after the fugly XM. Apart from a large Jag, I would imagine that nothing would match a C6 for long journeys.

    Its a shame that Lancia hasn’t re-established itself over here, after all, no cars these days suffer from serious corrosion issues. It could have acted as a ‘halo’ brand for Fiat- a bit like Lexus does for Toyota (alright I’m not suggesting that a Lancia could quite compete on quality grounds but you take my point).

  41. The Manta in the UK was an also ran, I believe for the simple reasons, it lacked a bent 6 under the bonnet (for the noise), and it looked exactly like a Cavalier mk1 in a boob tube. If GM hadn’t done the Cavalier mk1 in the 2 door coupe & 3 door hatch versions, it may have faired better. The Capri looked like no other Ford, which gave it that ‘halo effect’ that the Manta lacked. The Previous generation Manta was a much better styled car. GM dropped a bollock with the later Manta, big time, and it really should have died at the same time as the Capri, but it struggled on at least a year after, when coupes were no longer wanted, and the hot hatch was king.

  42. @50 that was until they scooped up the market with the Calibra – and yes I remember it’s early years… it sold. The Probe and Cougar just couldn’t keep up.

  43. @50- Marty B- ‘It looked like a Cavalier Mk1 in a boob tube’…lol (by which I mean I genuinely laughed out loud).

    I now have mental images of it in late middle age shuffling around Lidl in its carpet slippers…

  44. Agree with Keith – these two look good. I prefer the single oblong headlamps to the twin rounds.

  45. I revere the larger engined capris,3.0S and 2.8iS etc,but they did have a reputation reinforced by delboy and the like,but the manta was through and through the more solid and substantial of the cars,ok someone stated that the hot hatch was king-but when the calibra arrived this car was desired like no other and is still a great looking car today,and that you cant say about a probe-its MX6 sister looks much better.

  46. The opron designed fuego was intended to be a large engined luxury coupe and it ended up based on the 18 (a car i quite like)only the turbo gave any thrills.the 1.4 pointless.

  47. I quite like the Fuego and the 18- ok, the latter was not the last word in automotive high fashion, but it was nicely styled nonetheless, and it was plush and comfortable- had I been a rep in the early 80’s I’d certainly have opted for the 18 over a Tina, given the choice. Both cars had a certain amount of character, from the whine of the wet-liner engines to what must have been the world’s noisiest windscreen wipers!

    The Fuego, despite its conspicuous use of external plastic trim, was very well styled and still looks good today (although I can’t remember when I last saw one on the road). Turbo versions were a hoot, if unsubtle!

  48. My Dad had a Renault 18 about the same time. He found it OK if a little tinny feeling.

    Most of the Fuegos I used to see around were painted the same dark blue as my Dad’s R18, I guess the nearest shade to “French Racing Blue”.

  49. Not seen one of these for years! I remember the Exclusive model really well , I always think the GTE looked better in white (also remember some of them had white wheels as well?) I still preferred the Capri though , so much so I had 4 of them , including a 280 that I traded in for £1500 in 2001 – when I see how much they go for now I want to cry! 🙁

  50. A pity there was no “Vauxhall” Manta version of the Manta B2 (82-88 model) and forgeting about the Opel Monza a second, it is amazing that no 6-cylinder versions were offically sold.

  51. @64 sump mods and altering the rad mounts,obviously brake and suspension mods and knowing a good bespoke exhaust manufactorer!plus an understanding girlfriend as well!

  52. @daveh
    read what I said, the manta outsold the MGB GT.. (which in not thes same as MGB it total) MGB production on total is just over half a million (all varaints) as I recall. The Manta A acheived 498 553 units and over 550,000 for the Manta B

  53. Of which 181,000 were RHD UK market Mantas, and over 2/3rds of MGBs were US market cars so yes, it did sell better than the MGB. However it and the capri would not be classed as sports cars as they are not open 2 seaters

  54. Does anyone have any infomation or figures for the aftermarket Courtney Turbo Mantas (particularly the Manta 1.8 GT turbo)?

  55. Looks good!

    Sadly all Irmscher seem to do these days is black grilles which makes it look like someone’s stolen the badge off the car!

  56. Some great pics, brought back the memories of the gold 2.0 gte that I had at the age of 21. I remember the clean 6 clock dashbord and the checked recaro seats, It was a beast of a car and quite a step up from the astra 1.3 I had passed my test in! Mine was the 3 speed auto variety, lol this made for some fun on the traffic light grand prix!

    Sadly it ended its days when someone drove into the side of it while parking and gouged a huge dent along the whole length of the car 🙁

    Here’s a link to the full specs of the GT/E

    It seemed to have a thirst, but in them days it only cost £20 to fill her up…

  57. Was advised in the ’80’s to get a Manta – so the 1.8 was procured. I only managed to get it to break away one – on ice on an uphill wrong cambered right angle bend.
    Subsequently got the 2.0 GTE once back ib Scotland on the snow and Ice. The best car I have ever owned in 5o years motoring. BUT There are NONE to be had in Australia.
    The only thing which can be done now is to build the little Westfield which might just equal the Manta in handling

  58. i have recently ended up with an 83 hatch gt/e in a deal from a 295 gti. I must admit I had never looked much into mantas although I can remember loads whilst growing up, especially through the 90’s.

    Since owning it though I have fallen in love. much more confortable than my brothers rover spirit but maybe because of the quality of the recaro interior. It’s much easier to drive than a capri even without pas, and when it does break away it is very easy to get straight again.

    For a car of the same age as myself (1983) I am very impressed with it. Fuel consumption isn’t too bad from the 2.0litre engine but i don’t think its returning the manuals 47mpg rating.

    I just want to agree it is an unsung hero and a very worthy competitor to the ford capri. definately handles better in my opinion. 🙂

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