I don't know if manta rays prowl the Mediterranean Sea surrounding the Isle of Capri, but I do know that today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Opel Manta once vied with Ford's Capri for import coupe sales. This one's a rare survivor, but will its price survive your scrutiny?
It's hard to find a car or truck for under two grand that doesn't warm your cockles. And when you throw under the hood a V12 that purrs like a kitten, well then there's only one outcome, and that's a healthy Nice Price win, like the 78% one that yesterday's '87 XJ-S attained.
Now that we let that cat out of the bag, let's go fishing.
Here in the U.S. Opels had always been like GM's sexy foreign exchange student, bunking with Buick for the last few years before been summarily being expelled back to the home country for their expensive ways. By the time today's 1974 Manta made its way here, Opel was selling but a single platform, albeit in multiple flavors.
Originally called the 1900 Sport Coupe, the Manta was the tastiest of those flavors. The others - sedan (up to ‘72), two-door, and wagon - all shared a boxy BMW 2002-esque shape, while the Manta had curves like your best friend's mom. They all were built on the same platform, a unit-body with coil-sprung live axle in the back and a simple but effective control arm setup in front. This proved to be extremely well conceived as the 1900 garnered praise as one of the best handling small cars of the era.
This one being a ‘74, it rocks a carbureted edition of Opel's SOHC 1,898-cc four. The Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injected version appearing only for 1975, the marque's final U.S. model year. The carb'd engine pumped out a modest 90-bhp, making the 2,140 lb car capable of 13-second runs from zero to sixty. That of course was only when equipped with the 4-speed stick, which this car does carry.
Speaking of this car, it appears by the ad to have been a project of the current owner's own personal shop class as he says he bought it to practice bodywork and painting. I wonder if he made ninja stars in his spare time? The tiny Craigslist pics show what appears to be fresh albeit lusterless top coat, as well as a set of Rostyles shamed with a coat of glossy black hiding their detail. Other than that, the exterior looks straight and the front bumper-mounted driving lights promise a Hella good time.
On the inside, things are a little rougher, and the fissures in the dashboard are proof that Opel underestimated the power of the Sun on car interiors in the U.S.. That also resulted in another of the more common failures in the German Opels sold here, which was the deterioration of the upholstery - the fabric seemingly vampire-like in its reaction to the Sun. That may have been the case here as this Manta sports a pair of front buckets out of an Oldsmobile Alero. I don't know if that donor is appropriate because they are both brands removed from the U.S. market, or if not so because the seats rightfully should have been sourced from a Buick, or at the very least, an Opel by Isuzu. The seller claims that the brake master and rear drums have all been renewed and that the rust-free car runs and drives well.
He is also transparent in detailing the car's continuing foibles, which include leaking seals on the frameless door glass, a rusted out battery tray, and hard starting, which he attributes to an issue with the choke. Regarding that last one, a new Weber 32/36 DGEV can work wonders.
Another wonder is whether this Manta will glide into a Nice Price win for its $2,100 price. What do you think, is that a price that's Mantastic? Or, does that make you think there's something fishy going on here?
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