Following on from the Opel Lotus Omega we featured on Tuesday, here’s another Opel that is now legal to import stateside. It’s hard to believe from it’s sleek design that it is now 25 years old, but the Opel Calibra was introduced in the late 1980s as a successor to the wildly popular Opel Manta. This coupe, however, switched to a front-drive platform based off of the Vectra A. A number of drivetrain options were available, from turbo four-cylinders to a V6 and there was even a four-wheel drive option available. This Calibra for sale near Hamburg, Germany is equipped with the 2.0 liter four-cylinder, 8 valve powerplant, producing a modest 115 horsepower. This car might not get you there swiftly but at least you’ll look good doing so.
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As I was jogging around the neighborhood yesterday, I happened to run across a Chevrolet SS parked on the street. For those not familiar with this car, it’s a version of the Australian market Holden Commodore, packing a 6.2 liter V8 under the hood with 415 horsepower. Amazingly, this sedan is available with a 6-speed manual and the car parked on the street was one so equipped. Quite a rare sight. If I told you GM had a similar car in their arsenal 25 years ago, you probably wouldn’t believe me. But such a car existed in the form of the Opel Lotus Omega. This car would hold the title as world’s fastest four-door sedan for a number of years and represents a neat retrospective for Tuner Tuesday.
Under the hood of the Opel Lotus Omega was a 3.6 liter inline-6 with twin Garrett turbocharges and 24 valves, capable of producing 377 horsepower and launching the car to 60 mph in a hair over five seconds. Hooked up to this engine was a 6-speed manual gearbox from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1. Unlike other German manufacturers at the time, Opel did not limit this car’s top speed to 155 mph. Instead, this car’s top speed edged 180 mph. Quite the feat for a car based off an ordinary executive class sedan. Along with its stablemate, the UK market Lotus Carlton, this Lotus Omega for sale near Stuttgart, Germany is one of 950 examples ever produced.
Click for details: 1991 Opel Lotus Omega on Mobile.de
As with every automotive enthusiasts, I’d like to believe, I have some amnesia about some periods of automobile history. Show me a 1985 and 1986 Audi 4000 side by side, and I can rattle off the subtle changes between model years; but show me some 1950s American iron and outside of the real standouts, they’re all a bit vanilla to me. I can’t tell you the difference between, for example, a 1955 Pontiac and a 1955 Mercury – I guess, if I go and look at pictures, the Mercury had slightly pointier headlight surrounds, but generally the way that I tell the difference between those cars is to walk up to them and say “Oh, this is the one that says ‘Mercury’ on it”. I’m sure it’s one of my many shortcomings as a person, though just as I can identify that NASCAR and NHRA racing takes a fair amount of talent, it’s not the talent I’d prefer to explore. People who can identify those cars and all of the specific model year changes are, to me, semi-Rainman-esque in their ability to memorize and quickly recount every single 1950s cars. Of course, to them I bet every single car from the 1980s looks exactly the same. Line up a Fiat Dino, an Audi 100 Coupe S and an Opel Manta (along with a handful of other cars that share the same basic silhouette) and I bet they’d be doing the same thing as me – walking up to this “blue one” and proclaiming “Oh, this is the one that says ‘Opel’ on it”:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1973 Opel Manta Blue Max on eBay
If you drew an imaginary line between the family trees of the C107 Mercedes-Benz SLC and the E31 BMW 8 Series, therein would lie the somewhat odd but quite interesting Bitter SC. Open the door, and it’s obvious that the Bitter was also the envy of the 1980s Maserati interiors which resulted in the perhaps even more ill-conceived TC by Maserati. But the level of luxury found in the Bitter speaks to a period when personal luxury coupes were all the rage, and most of them were equipped like the SC – full of wood trim, luxurious leather and electronic features, motivated just enough to pass the plebeian Golfs and Mercedes diesels that litter the Autobahn. Of course, in such a luxurious coupe you wouldn’t want to do anything as pedestrian as change your own gear – you’d have people who would do that for you, and Bitter was happy to oblige with it’s Opel (nee GM) derived drivetrain. History has treated these personal luxury coupes fairly poorly; the L6, the SLC and the Bitter SC all have languished in value while their higher-performance or topless cousins have accelerated away into the auction blocks. Perhaps that’s an unfitting tribute for what was a top-flight luxury coupe from the 1980s, one man’s attempt to match the mystique of legendary brands like Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz. It was a noble attempt, but as they say, it’s often lonely at the top:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Bitter SC 3.9 on eBay
I have a secret automotive fetish. I’d day fetish is a really strong word, but I’m not sure how else to describe it, because admitting it makes me feel a bit dirty. I actually like the third generation early 1970s Chevrolet Nova. Now, I realize that admitting the problem is the first step towards rectifying the issue, but there’s this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that it won’t go away. I’m not even sure why, but some of those late 60s/early 70s GM muscle cars just look…well, cool to me. The GTO Judge, the Chevelle SS, the Nova SS – they just look right in a weird and slightly disturbing way. So to redeem myself, instead of owning one of them, I’d probably sport for a much more rare scaled down model from their European cousin, Opel. Just as the Opel GT was a 3/4 scale Corvette, Opel had a mini muscle car too in the Manta, and U.S. customers had the option of the Manta Rallye that kicked thing up a notch: