Wednesday 19 May 2021
Opel Manta GSe – electric reincarnation
Once again, Opel is thinking about its long history and thus building a bridge in the Electric Age. To do so, engineers implanted an electric motor and associated technology into the original Manta from 1973. If it were up to Opel, there would be a modern electronic version of the Manta.
A lonely void in the huge hall on the first floor of an abandoned automobile factory in Rüsselsheim. The scene, in which the Opel models rolled off the production line every minute, now looks more like the action-action Netflix series confrontation scene. If there is no quiet car parked in the middle of it, it is about 4.35 meters long and 1.36 meters flat. Middle-aged West Germans can instantly recognize the bright yellow coupe as the Opel Manta. East German citizens face even more difficult times, after all, production of the cult car was discontinued a year before the Berlin Wall fell.
Now the body of the movie star (“Manta, Manta”) has been exhumed and brought back to life. The electrified manta craving meets the emission-free present. A new member of the current Opel family or just a marketing gag? “No,” says Quentin Huber, responsible for Opel’s brand strategy. The “Manta GSe ElektroMOD” project is more than a new business idea. It is all about preserving the original charm while at the same time using the best innovations such as the latest in LED technology, an all-digital cockpit and an electric battery drive. “
Balance between times
A closer look at the all-new classic car reveals the balancing act. The original body remained almost intact. In 1973, 50-year-old Hertha M from Wiesbaden bought a Manta A and drove it for eleven years. Then she gave her good cut to the classic section of Opel, where she has not found her way into a museum since then, along with other museums, but has been preserved. Due to its good condition, the two-door vehicle was selected by the project team for a heart transplant to start its new life in the name of RestoMOD.
The term denotes “restoration” and “modification,” and it is a very popular trend. Because others already have this idea. An example is the electrified Jaguar E-Type, a Beetle convertible with an electric motor, whose production has been officially supported by Volkswagen manufacturer E-Classic. Trabant, Mini Moke and Citroën Duck have already been converted. Usually by small companies at the request of the classic car owner.
In the future an E instead of an H?
In a very professional way, Opel can now open up a new business area and delight countless Opelan Cars. There is a lot of potential. At the end of 2020, 1092 manta rays were still officially registered, with 20,000 cadets on the way. Ascona, Record or Omega also achieved similar numbers. Even large, aged ships such as Opel Kapitän, Admiral or Diplomat fill classic car meetings. The kit that turns Manta into Strömer can also replace the H license plate on other Opel models with one with an “E”.
Of course, the Manta masterpiece, which is now celebrating its premiere, shines above all with the electric motor from the engine rack of the new Stellantis Group, to which Opel also belongs. The original engine from Hertha M. still had a modest 1.6-liter petrol engine with 80 horsepower under the hood, and now it attracts 147 horsepower. This meant that Stroemer even outdid the classic sporty GT / E version, which in 1975 sent 105 hp controllable to the rear wheels. The drag force of 255 Nm from the new ancestors is unmatched to that of the forefathers. The lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 31 kWh is sufficient for a distance of 200 km. Like the modern Mokka-e, the recently introduced electric SUV, the Manta can of course also recover energy when braking, so it’s a very recent model.
Heart transplantation is just part of the wonderful work the design team did around Pierre Olivier Garcia. “We were also interested in the zeitgeist blend from then and now,” says Opel’s chief designer, and invites you for a tour. While the original twin headlights looked to date back to the 1970s, ElektroMOD bears the contemporary face of the Opel Mokka electric car, which combines LED daytime running lights, headlights and the Opel logo in one element. Small gap: Messages or greetings can be sent to the outside world in white numeric script on a black background, if TÜV permits. The hood is dark black.
Even the manta logo is there
Like the classic, the circular taillights are a true nostalgic look. If you look closely, you’ll spot the distinct Manta logo on the side in front of the crack in the door, which tracks the silhouette of a flat sea creature and also acts as a QR code. It contains a link through which parked Manta passers-by can call up all the information. Except for the driver’s cell phone number of course. With recycling, as it is called “making new from old,” the designers left the cockpit, which now looks very old. It was replaced by a combination of two wide screens (12 or 10 inches), which, in addition to the standard screens, also reveal the battery charge status and range.
Will the Elektro-Manta stay one-off or can the factory conversion kit at least have a chance to investigate? Michael Lüschiller, president of Opel, is happy about the many positive reactions after the first pictures of the electric birth of the icon were published, but he does not want to commit to its future. In-house Euro-Foxers of parent company PSA in Paris have to go to the resort first. Opel has not mentioned any possible prices for the electrification of well-preserved classic cars such as the Manta. Depending on the customer’s attention to detail, however, there should be at least an average five-digit amount on the invoice.