The cars we loved.
The Opel GT was a small 2 seat sports car built in Germany and sold in the US for a brief time in, strangely enough, Buick dealerships. The Opel GTs overall shape was very similar to that of the Corvette while the rear end reminded one of Ferrarri’s Dino. The GT was often called a poor man’s Vette. despite having a similar shape, the Opel’s more graceful (if not somewhat awkward) lines were more appropriate for a car with its small displacement and mission as efficient sporty transportation. Like the Corvette, it was a front engine, rear wheel drive platform. But unlike the Vette, it used a steel unibody design that contributed to the cars rigidity. The swoopy fastback design was said to have been tested in a wind tunnel at the University of Stuttgart, showing that aerodynamics were as important as style to the Opel’s designers.
The GT was not typical of other fastbacks of the time. There was no opening in the back, so to use the small partical shelf behind the seats, owners would have to enter the car from the cabin to get to the back.
The base GT came with a 1.1 L OHV straight 4 engine which made 67 hp. An optional (and more common in America) engine option was the 1.9 L Cam-In-Head design that produced 83 hp due to emissions regulations. In Europe the 1.9 L engine made 102 hp, a very impressive figure for the time considering that it did not use any fancy variable valve timing, turbocharging or dual overhead cams (but what other car from the late 60-early 70’s did?). The standard transmission was a 4-speed manual with a 3-speed automatic being optional (and most popular in America).
The GT offered drivers a fun tossible car that was easy to drive hard. It’s engine was mounted as far back as possible to better balance its barely 2000lb. of weight distribution. All GT featured a rather conventional upper A-arm, lower transverse leaf spring suspension. There where power assisted disc brakes up front and drums in the rear. The steering was unassisted, so drivers were sure to get a good feel for the road in the small cabin. Opel kept it simple by even making the pop up lights manually operated. That attention to detail paid off in the car’s performance. The light weight and rigid unibody design made for great handling.
Owning a Opel GT was not all fun and games for some owners. Some cars had quality control issues and developed a suppressed reputation as unreliable or finicky. Inspite of some production glitches, the press and public loved the GT and could not get enough of them as they slowly poured into low-key and otherwise sleepy Buick dealerships.
Today the Opel GT is a sought after classic whose popularity continues to grow even as new Opel GT and Saturn Sky roam the streets.