Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. Most of the time, the manner in which I locate and photograph these cars follows the same pattern: I grab my camera and walk to a neighborhood I haven't checked out in a while and shoot anything interesting I find along the way. Other times I spot a car while I'm driving somewhere, and I pull over and shoot it. Easy enough. Then we've got the cars I stalk; I see one driving or someone tells me about another, and I spend weeks trying to catch them parked in a spot suitable for photography. This Manta is such a car. At least three readers have emailed me its usual parking location (on a crazy side street barely wide enough for one car to drive), but I could never catch the Opel when it wasn't absent or sandwiched by other cars blocking the front and rear views.
Finally, when heading over to San Francisco one day, I found the Manta in the parking lot of the Alameda ferry terminal. Normally I don't like parking-lot shots for DOTS, but I'd had enough frustration trying to catch this Manta.
But then Akier took the initiative, tracking down the car's owner and convincing him to bring the car out to the former Alameda Naval Air Station for a photo session. I'm going to put my photos and the much more picturesque Akier shots in separate galleries. Hooray for our first DOTS Opel!
Here's what Akier has to say about this car: I first spotted this Manta near Mosswood Park in Oakland. I was driving by and did a cartoon double-take. Is that really an Opel ... ? After capturing the Opel Blitz firetruck a few weeks back, I suppose the ghost of Adam Opel must guide my hand. Evan rescued this from his friend's mom, who had bought it new and put only around 70,000 miles on it. It looked a little rough, and Evan's put some work into it to get it back up to a reasonable state of repair. A nice respray, yellow-coated inner headlights, a Weber instead of the fussy SU carb, and a lot of elbow grease and the old girl looks pretty nice. No tin worm, and despite admittedly needing a tune-up, the 1.9 growled nicely as we took a spin 'round Alameda Point. Designed to fight the Ford Capri and Vega Cosworth, the Manta shares much (i.e., all) of its running gear with its stablemates, the GT and 1900. There is the umbiquitous all-iron 4, with the semi-OHC setup - cams horizontal to the valves up in the heads, rather than on top of the valves - to make the engine surprisingly compact. Front discs and a well-designed live rear axle located by Panhard rods mean this light (<2200lbs) car handled pretty well back in the day. In Euro trim, the Manta made 90bhp, but the US versions made 75. With the Weber upgrade and a tune, Evan's is probably splitting the difference. Fittingly, this Manta lives in Alameda full-time, with a Corvair and a Valiant.