Over the weekend, 40 Opel Manta A cars were in their element. The classically beautiful sports coupés from Rüsselsheim came to the Baltic Sea to celebrate their birthday. 50 years of Manta. Exactly 50 years ago the devil ray was presented to the world press on Timmendorfer Strand. 400 journalists stepped up the gas on the “Maritim” and “Switzerland” test tracks. These routes, named after the event hotel and picturesque Holstein Switzerland, were again the focus of an event 50 years later. Because organizer Manfred Henning, himself owner of several Opel Manta A, had invited to the beach party on the Lübeck Bay. 38 Manta with their owners and two originals from Opel Classic rolled on the test tracks and to the original locations of the world premiere at the time. The guest of honor on the Baltic Sea beach was Manta A's father - George Gallion. The designer had a special surprise for every participant: a drawing from his own pen, which was given to the participants as a special print limited to 50 pieces.
Manta lovers and their very special models
Most of the 40 Manta on Timmendorfer Strand traveled on the road; However, one of the participants brought his oldie to the Baltic Sea by trailer - stylishly pulled by the current Opel flagship Insignia. The field ranged from motorsport conversions to models with unusual paintwork - four examples of a special kind:
- Organizer Manfred Henning: "I brought the black DOT Turbo from Broadspeed. This vehicle was only available in the UK market and only 28 were built. Six vehicles are still known worldwide; partly in desolate condition. Mine was only on the road and in rallying from 1975 to 1978. After that, the car was parked in a garage for decades. Since the completion of my restoration in 2015, the car has returned to its new condition."
- Jürgen Schwartz, Manta fan from the very beginning. "The car has an individual paintwork, with a stylized Manta on the otherwise black bonnet. I bought my first citrus yellow Manta in 1973. I painted this one in the same way in 1980 and have been driving the car for 40 years now."
- "Greenkeeper" Torsten Hack: "A few years ago I restored my Manta A GT / E very true to the original. The car is simply beautiful in signal green. No manufacturer would offer this color combination anymore."
- Sports driver Roland Barleben: "My Steinmetz-Manta has the typical extensions from the seventies and shows other classic tuning features. On my lavishly restored car you can clearly see that the Manta was also used for motorsport purposes. "
How the Opel Manta got its name
Flashback: On a Saturday morning in 1969, George Gallion boarded a plane destined for Paris. The American designer who worked for Opel had an appointment with the team of a French superstar, the team of marine researcher Jacques Cousteau. "We decided on the name Manta. Animal names matched the zeitgeist back then. In the USA the Ford Mustang and Corvette Stingray were very successful. The Manta was such a European-style pony car. We now had ten days to design an emblem for our car, but we couldn't find any suitable templates for it“, Says Gallion 51 years after his Paris mission. So he got on the plane and viewed Cousteau's images in the French capital. For hours. Until finally a shot could be seen in which a gigantic devil ray was filmed from below against the bright sky. Bingo. That was it. A huge catch. The Opel Manta had found its identity and from then on was given the finest chrome-plated emblem screwed onto the front fenders.
The Manta starts in Timmendorfer Strand
The sporty coupé with the devil ray emblem celebrated its premiere in September 1970. The presentation takes place in a species-appropriate manner on the Baltic Sea at Timmendorfer Strand. The Manta is new territory for Opel. "The car that we are presenting to you today does not mark any other model as a thing of the past, but rather joins our previous range as an effective addition and to cover a new requirement“, It says in the press release from back then. The Manta is new, chic, sporty and thus corresponds to the zeitgeist. Attractive, family-friendly coupés are all the rage. Individualism is in demand, the formally independent line of the Manta accommodates this desire. In its first full sales year, 1971, Opel sold 56.200 Manta units in Germany alone; a total of 498.553 copies are made. The Manta shares the floor pan, chassis and engines with its sister model Ascona. A new representative of the current generation of engines is the 1,6-liter four-cylinder with 68 hp - in the S version even with 80 hp. After all, the most powerful engine in the Manta is the 1,9-liter S four-cylinder with 90 hp, known from the Opel Rekord.
The entry into the Manta series was marked in 1972 by the 1,2-liter version with 60 hp. In November of the same year, a luxuriously equipped variant, the Manta Berlinetta, was added to the model range. Sports steering wheel, heated rear window, halogen headlights, electric windscreen washer and vinyl roof are standard features of the Berlinetta. Numerous special models complete the portfolio in the five-year construction period: "Holiday", "Plus", "Swinger" and "Sommer-Bazar" combine upscale equipment features with a low price. In 1974 the top model, the Manta GT / E, appeared, with a 1,9-liter injection engine with Bosch L-Jetronic producing 105 hp. In the style of the time, the Manta GT / E dispenses with any chrome jewelry and relies on matt black trim. In April 1975, shortly before the debut of the Manta B, the last special model appeared: The Manta "Black Magic" is based on the GT / E, is painted entirely in black and has red-orange decorative stripes on the flanks.
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The Opel Manta celebrates on Timmendorfer Strand
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