Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Opel GT

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Opel (General Motors)

Sports car

1968–1973 2007–2009

Opel GT

The Opel GT is a front-engine, rear-drive two-seat sports car manufactured and marketed by Opel in two generations — separated by a 34-year hiatus.


The first generation Opel GT (1968-1973) debuted as a styling exercise in 1965 at the Paris and Frankfurt motor shows. The production vehicle used mechanical components from the contemporary Opel Kadett B and two-door hard top bodywork by French contractor Brissonneau & Lotz. The styling of the GT was often cited as similar to the 1968 Chevrolet Corvette which went on sale in September 1967.

Opel marketed a second generation GT (2007-2009) as a rebadged variant of the Saturn Sky/Pontiac Solstice two-seater convertible, manufactured in Wilmington, Delaware, USA.

In 2016, Opel introduced the GT Concept at the 2016 Geneva auto show as a lightweight, turbocharged, rear-wheel drive two-seater.

GT (1968–1973)

The Opel GT was equipped with a base 1.1 L OHV straight-4 engine, which produced 67 hp (SAE) at 6,000 rpm. However, most buyers chose an optional 1.9 L camshaft in head engine, which produced 102 hp (SAE) at 5200 to 5400 rpm. Some of the early 1968 models also came with a slightly higher compression "H" code cylinder head. In 1971, due to emissions regulations, Opel reduced the compression ratio of the 1.9 L engine used in the US and output fell to 83 hp (SAE). There was also a GT/J model, which was a less expensive version of the 1900-engined GT which was sold only in Europe. Standard transmission was a manual four-speed. A three-speed automatic was available with the 1.9 L engine. The model run of the Opel GT was from 1968 to 1973.

The Opel GT used a steel unibody and a conventional front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout. The engine was mounted far back in the chassis to improve weight distribution. Front suspension consisted of upper A-arms and a lower transverse leaf spring. A live axle and coil springs were used in the rear. The power-assisted braking system used discs in the front, drums in the rear. Steering was unassisted.

One unusual feature of the Opel GT was the operation of the pop-up headlights. They were manually operated, by way of a large lever along the center console next to the shifter. Unlike most pop-up headlights, they both rotated in the same direction (counterclockwise from inside the car) about a longitudinal axis. One standard joke about GT owners was that you can easily spot them due to the heavy muscles on their right arm built up by using the lever to pop up the headlights.

Designed by Opel Stylist Erhard Schnell, the Opel GT was a fastback, that had neither an externally accessible trunk nor a conventional hatchback. There was a parcel shelf behind the seats that could only be accessed through the main doors. Behind the parcel shelf was a fold-up panel that concealed a spare tire and jack.

The interior of the Opel GT was surprisingly large for a car of its size, owing to its original design process (exterior metal was sculpted around an interior model). Headroom and legroom were sufficient for those over 6 feet (1.83 m) tall.

During 1968 to 1973, a total of 103,463 cars were sold. The most collectable GTs are probably the first few hundred cars hand-assembled in 1968 and the 1968–1970 models with the 1.1 L engine, which totaled out at 3,573 cars. Of the later cars 10,760 were the cheaper model (GT/J), which lacked nearly all chrome parts and offered fewer standard features. In some markets, items like a limited slip differential, front and rear anti-sway bars, heated rear window and engine bay light were standard, although most cars were shipped without them.

In North America, the GT was sold at Buick dealerships. Reasons for ending production were the need to redesign the car to remain competitive with up-and-coming sports models, such as the Datsun 240Z, as well as the termination of Brissonneau and Lotz' bodybuilding contract.

Appearances in media

Automotive magazine Road & Track reviewed the GT in their June 1969 issue, recording 0–96 km/h in 10.8 seconds and a top speed of 182 km/h. Road & Track also found the car to have strong understeer, suggesting the 165x13 tires to be too small, although the ride was comfortable.

A gold 1969 Opel GT was Agent 86 Maxwell Smart's car in the last season of the comedy TV series Get Smart. Maxwell Smart drove a GT in several episodes, and the car features prominently in the opening credits. In the 2008 movie adaptation Get Smart, Bernie Kopell (who played Siegfried in the original Get Smart series) makes a cameo appearance in which he drives a GT. Maxwell Smart's cars in Season 1 and 2 (a Sunbeam Tiger) and in Seasons 3 and 4 (a VW Karmann Ghia) are also in the scene.

In the 1971 movie Omega Man, in one of the beginning scenes, when Charlton Heston enters a used car dealer to find a new car, there is a gold Opel GT along the wall behind him while he looks at a Mustang.

In the 2016 episode of Criminal Minds seen on CBS called "Drive", Dr. Tara Lewis, (played by Aisha Tyler) is seen pulling up in a vintage White Opel GT. When asked by the character Special Agent David Rossi, (played Joe Mantegna) who was her restoration guy? She commented "you are looking at him". In real life, the 1970 Opel GT belongs to the actor Joe Mantegna

Classic GTs today

The Opel GT shared many parts with other Opel models, mostly the Kadett B. Opel also used variants of the CIH engine from 1966 to 1995, so most parts are somewhat available. Also, in the USA and Europe, there are companies which specialize in Opel GT parts and services; including some new body parts. Some of the rarest and most costly parts are the ignition switches, rear trim strips, and 1968–1970 rear axle bearings.

One can fairly easily adapt larger engines, transmissions and brakes from newer Opels. For example, a fuel-injected 2.0 L engine (110 hp DIN) and a five-speed Getrag manual transmission from an Rekord E or Manta B may be used to improve both fuel economy and performance.

GT (roadster) (2007–2010)

On February 1, 2006, Opel issued a press release announcing the upcoming production of a new Opel GT, as a likely 2007 model.

The car shared the GM Kappa platform with the Pontiac Solstice and the Saturn Sky. Unlike its platform mates, the 2.0 L, 260 hp (194 kW; 264 PS) direct injection turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder engine was the only engine offered.

The Opel GT replaced the Opel Speedster in the European lineup; however, it was not manufactured in RHD, and thus there was no replacement for the Vauxhall VX220 in the United Kingdom meaning a Vauxhall badged version was never offered.

It also featured 18-inch alloy wheels and a folding cloth top similar to those found on the Solstice and the Sky. Since GM's Saturn division already shared models with Opel, the GT is in fact Opel's version of the Saturn Sky.

The Opel GT roadster differs from the Saturn Sky in very few, but subtle areas. It features a cigarette lighter on the driver's side door, two ashtrays (one on each door), a passenger-side storage cubby (instead of a speaker grate, behind the passenger seat), and a rear fog light. Opel made these changes to appeal to the European market, and because in Europe the Opel GT was considerably more expensive than the Saturn Sky, due to its captive-import status.

Additionally, Opel GT models did not include OnStar, as OnStar had not yet launched in Europe. Because of this, while 2009 MY Saturn Sky models had optional built-in Bluetooth, this option was not available on the Opel GT. At the time, all GM cars routed Bluetooth through the OnStar module, making it not viable to offer Bluetooth on the Opel GT.

Like the Saturn Sky, 2009 model year GTs do not have rear cupholders below the waterfall, leaving the car with a single cup holder that is prone to breaking on the passenger side of the drivetrain tunnel. The two deleted cupholders can be easily re-added. Unlike American Kappa-platform cars, the waterfall does not feature the emblem of the brand.

In terms of styling, the Opel GT features unique tail lights, and a unique front grille. Both of these changes were made from the original Opel GT roadster concept, which used Sky parts at the time. The rear bumper also has a wider license plate area, to accommodate European license plates.

Only two 2010 model year, VIN-coded cars were built under regular production, which were validation completed during the plant closure. While little known, it makes the 2010 MY Opel GT the rarest GM car in regular production, ever.

2016 concept

The 2016 Opel GT concept debuted on January 27, 2016. Built on an all-new compact rear-wheel-drive platform, the GT has a lightweight construction and stripped down interior. Power comes from a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine producing 145 hp with a 6-speed semi-automatic gearbox.

The concept features historic design cues associated with Opel's past products; the twin tailpipes with the GT wordmark in the middle are reminiscent of those on the original 1965 GT prototype.

The car made its first public debut on March 1 at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. A production version has been conjectured to follow in 2018, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the original Opel GT's unveiling in 1968, and Opel hasn't ruled out the possibility.


Opel GT Wikipedia

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