At $16,500, Will This 1975 Opel Manta Survivor Also Survive Our Scrutiny?

Nice Price or No Dice: 1975 Opel Manta
Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The ad for today’s Nice Price or No Dice Opel says that if you’ve ever wanted a Manta, this is it. With just 20,000 miles recorded, it is, admittedly, a very nice example. Is it nice enough, however, to command a premium price?

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“Our Day Will Come” by Ruby & the Romantics hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1962. I think that song could be totally apropos for yesterday’s 1991 Chevy Corvette C4. Here’s my reasoning: While the model has not gained the same following enjoyed by some other Corvettes, your comments, as well as the 76 percent Nice Price vote won by the car at its $9,500 price, certainly are evidence that the C4’s time has come.

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Photo: Craigslist

In contrast, the time for many cars like this 1975 Opel Manta came and went decades ago. The Manta was a sporty two-door coupe based on Opel’s Ascona series and was intended by the German marque to compete with the likes of the Ford Capri. At the time, GM owned Opel, and in the U.S. it sold both the Manta and the Ascona line through the Buick dealer network. This marque-muddying got a lot worse in 1976, when unfavorable exchange rates between the U.S. dollar and the deutschmark drove GM to end importation of all of German Opel models. They were replaced with a series of Japan-sourced “Opel by Isuzu” cars. The “Opel by Isuzu and unenthusiastically sold by Buick” cars were not comparable to the Manta/Ascona in size, having been based on the smaller T-platform shared with the German Kadett and American Chevette. They were also generally terrible to drive.

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Photo: Craigslist

Being a 1975 model makes this Manta noteworthy on a few fronts. This was the only year that the Manta was sold in the U.S. with fuel injection, an upgrade made necessary by the tightening emissions requirements in the States. The Bosch-sourced L-Jetronic fuel injection did make the 1.9-liter four emissions compliant. It also did so without sacrificing power, as was the case with most emissions-tackling updates at the time. In the Opel, the addition of injection actually raised the horsepower from the earlier carbureted cars’ 74 ponies to a modestly greater 81.

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Photo: Craigslist
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Those horses have seen little use over the years. According to the ad, this neon yellow Manta has only done 20,600 miles since leaving the factory. What sort of shenanigans do you think it was getting into all that time it wasn’t on the road? The car looks to be in fabulous shape for its age with bodywork that looks clean and unmarred and paint that pops like it was new. All the rubber trim and the Rallye wheels also look to be in amazing condition.

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Photo: Craigslist
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There’s more to like in the cabin, where beige textured vinyl upholstery adorns the simple space and is coordinated with a matte-black dash that features a splash of plastic woodgrain around the instruments. A bit of age does seem to have crept into the engine bay. There you’ll notice some peeling paint on the 1.9’s cam cover as well as some creative wiring that goes unexplained in the ad.

A TH180 three-speed automatic does transmission duties here, and the ad claims that the gearbox, as well as every other element of the car’s mechanical systems, works as it should. The car comes with a clean title and a slew of other paperwork, including the original build list and sales receipt.

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Photo: Craigslist

The seller avers in the ad that for anyone who has so far been denied the pleasure of Opel ownership, this is the Manta to change that destiny. All it would take is $16,500.

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Now, that asking price is almost four times what this Manta cost new. The thing of it is, this Manta looks almost new. Take a look around your house. Do you see any other Mantas that look as nice? I didn’t think you would. The question, of course, is whether that nice condition is enough. Does anyone really jones for an old Opel so strongly that they would shell out $16,500 for the experience? More important, do you think anyone should?

You decide!

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Long Island, New York, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to FauxShizzle for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.

DISCUSSION

This car is pointed squarely at me.

I (with my dad) disassembled the 1900 in my Mom’s GT. It has the Solex 2-bbl but that’s minutiae - we disassembled that, too.  We put it all back together with blueprinted clearances, replaced some parts, fresh bearings...it all worked.

Mom’s GT has the same transmission. We didn’t get into it much, it worked fine then and works fine now. I did learn about vacuum lines though.

I like the Kadett, enjoy the GT but am an unreasonable fan of the Manta...B. The A is okay but if I had a B I’d build a 400 clone. 400 and then some, if you get me.

Nothing about this car is in any way unfamiliar to me. The interior is like my childhood bedroom, the engine like my third bicycle. BTW a 1900 delivering only 80-odd horsepower is slumming, you can do a lot of stuff to wake these little rascals up; Mom’s GT had a little over 100hp from the factory.

Would I like to have it? Sure! It’d be huge fun, easy to work on and the enthusiast support system is small but vigorous. You can keep a Manta alive with little difficulty, and this one doesn’t need anything at this time.

But there’s no way in hell I’m dropping five figures on it. Not even with the ultra-low mileage. Forget it.

No Dice. Nine thousand bucks, tops.