1991 Opel Lotus Omega

1991 Opel Lotus Omega

The first generation Omega was a mid-sized luxury car offered in Europe by Opel, the German subsidiary of GM, between 1986 and 1993. Sold in Britain under the Vauxhall marque and rebadged as the Carlton, my friend’s dad had a mid spec model when I was growing up. I always thought of it as a poor-man’s BMW 5-series. And I don’t mean that in a bad way: it was actually a pretty admirable car, offering luxury features to the masses like ABS, an on-board computer and a dazzling (at the time) LCD instrument display. I suspect most people by now have forgotten all about them. But there is one very special edition of the Omega/Carlton that enthusiasts of my age could never forget, the one breathed on by Lotus. The British sports car manufacturer took the hottest version of the car, the 3000 GSi, enlarged the 3.0 liter 24v motor to 3.6 liters, added two Garratt T25 turbo chargers, a six speed manual gearbox taken from a Corvette and an aggressive bodykit. The result was a menacing and breathtakingly quick uber sedan, with 377 hp on tap and a top speed of 177 MPH.

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1970 Opel GT

1970 Opel GT

Generally speaking, engine swaps are usually an improvement over the stock running gear even when they’re home brews. And if you’re really clever with your swap, you can end up making quite the sleeper; V8 powered Volvo wagons come to mind. But some people go over the top, and throw an absolutely crazy motor into a car which was never designed to have anywhere near the power levels capable of the new mill. Such is not the case here. That’s because the builder of this Opel GT designed that the popular adage “There’s no replacement for displacement” meant putting a V8 into the nose of the diminutive GM product. And by “a”, I actually mean two V8s. In an attempt to dispel the notorious “Mini-Corvette” moniker, this GT tops out at 11.4 liters of American muscle with just a bit of Opel sprinkled into the mix. Though far from our usual flavor, let’s take a look at this crazy creation:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 Opel GT on eBay

1988 Opel Manta B GSi

1988 Opel Manta B GSi

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It’s pretty rare that a car becomes the subject of a feature film, let alone the title, even if said film is a bit of a parody. Enter the Opel Manta. By the time the 1980s were coming to a close, so was the production cycle on this classic, rear drive coupe. This was a bit of a cult car amongst West German youth of the day, bucking the trend to go more towards the hot hatchback layout that was popular with boy racers. This 1988 Manta B GSi for sale in The Netherlands represents the last of the line for an eighties icon. With only 97 kilometers on the odometer (60 miles), this has to be one of the best preserved late model Mantas left in existence.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Opel Manta B GSi on Mobile.de

Barn Find: 1970 Opel Kadett

Barn Find: 1970 Opel Kadett

It’s not very often that we post supposed barn finds, but once in a while one turns up that is pretty interesting. Barn finds are all the rage right now – original, preserved vehicles as seen in shows like Chasing Classic Cars can often draw more money than perfectly restored examples even if they’re wrecks. Fairly recently, a 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB California Spyder emerged from a barn in France, covered in books and looking quite forlorn. The price it sold for was unimaginable to most mortals; $18,500,000 – the most paid for any 250 GT series Ferrari, despite the seeming poor condition. People are willing to pay for a story, it would seem, and the French Ferrari was a tome of history. But what if the barn find is something less exotic…say, an Opel? And not even a particularly desirable Opel (yes, that’s really a thing…)?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 Opel Kadett on eBay

1970 Opel Rekord C 1900 with 10,000 Miles

1970 Opel Rekord C 1900 with 10,000 Miles

I know what you’re saying. “Carter, that Opel from last week was boring”. Okay, how about two Opel Rekord C models in a week, then? That’s got to be worth something? As with the last example, this blandish late 1960s-early 1970s GM/Opel coupe has been presented in all the brown color spectrum – but in this case, it’s an all-gold affair, as the matching tan cloth interior provides continuity to the gold exterior. But with some shiny details and ridiculously low mileage, isn’t it worth a look?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 Opel Rekord C 1900 on eBay

1971 Opel Rekord C

1971 Opel Rekord C

One of the joys that continues to drive my automotive interest is seeing cars that aren’t often discussed day to day. They may not be the most attractive, best selling or performing cars ever made, but regardless it’s because of their infrequency that they’re neat to see. No one would claim any of the previous traits for basically any Opel model ever produced. But in what can become a sea of Porsche 911s and BMW E30s, strolling across a clean early 1970s Opel coupe can really be a breath of fresh air. Let’s stop for a moment with our usual programming and take a look at this 1971 Rekord C:

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Feature Listing: 1971 Opel GT

Feature Listing: 1971 Opel GT

Down the road from me is a gentleman who daily drives a Porsche 914. Now, I’ve never been a big fan of the boxy flying pancake. In the right configuration they look pretty cool, but my eyes always gravitate towards the more classic grand touring look of the replacement 924. However, I certainly can understand the appeal of a cheap and simple classic Porsche. For some time about a decade ago I had this dream that some day when I was a little better off I’d pick up an early 911 – because, of course, a decade ago no one wanted them and they were still relatively cheap. Since having a classic car is by no means a necessity, for us with less well endowed bank accounts and no trust funds ownership of such cars remains a dream. In that light, the 914 makes more sense since compared to the rear-engine counterparts it’s relatively cheap – though find a good one and it’ll still be a pretty penny. But dipping in to the classic car market doesn’t have to break the bank, and there are still a few neat older German cars that would be great weekend warriors. Certainly, one of the most unsung heros and yet one of the more visually captivating is the Opel GT. The slinky 2-door had the looks of its parent company sibling Corvette, but motivation by the normal Opel inline-4 drivetrain meant it was much more affordable. These days they’re rarely seen but always a treat:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1971 Opel GT on Cleveland Craigslist

1971 Opel 1900 Wagon

1971 Opel 1900 Wagon

At least in the U.S., Opel is one of those names that never quite caught on. Perhaps that had something to do with the odd marketing and strange cross-branding GM has always undertaken. Opels have on again/off again been available as their own brand, then later as Saturn models and most recently Buicks. But let’s not forget that it’s Opel underpinnings that are at the heart of some SAAB models after their takeover by the General, too. Of course, the larger problem in the success of Opels – and indeed, many GM models – has been internal competition. At the same time that the Opel 1900 was launched, for example, GM also concurrently launched the similar but completely different Chevrolet Vega. And outside of the Cosworth model that upped the fun quotient of the Vega substantially, the model was pretty much completely crap. It was too small, unreliable and well, unsafe to really be a market hit. Which is why it’s particularly vexing that GM spent so much time trying to sell them when they had a perfectly good small car in the Opel Ascona. It was marketed here as both the 1900 sedan and the slinkier Manta coupe, and was also available as a 2-door wagon. Was it class leading? No. But it was a reasonable option that pretty well proven and if properly supported from GM probably wouldn’t have been so rare to see today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1971 Opel 1900 Wagon on eBay

1991 Opel Calibra 2.0i

1991 Opel Calibra 2.0i

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.

Click for details: 1991 Opel Calibra 2.0i on Mobile.de

Now Legal For Import: 1991 Opel Lotus Omega

Now Legal For Import: 1991 Opel Lotus Omega

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

1973 Opel Manta Blue Max

1973 Opel Manta Blue Max

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

1985 Bitter SC 3.9

1985 Bitter SC 3.9

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

1972 Opel Manta Rallye

1972 Opel Manta Rallye

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1972 Opel Manta Rallye on eBay

1970 Opel Kadett L Wagon

1970 Opel Kadett L Wagon

Do you ever see a car and think “Boy, there must be some interesting stories behind those miles”? I do, be they poorly modded 1980s Mercedes-Benz models, tired old Porsche race cars, rusty BMWs posing with canoes on the roof (yes, there’s one on eBay right now) or pretty much any Audi ever. But today, I stumbled across something that you just don’t see often. I’d say ever, but of course that would preclude today, and I try not to be overly prone to hyperbole – so let’s just say that were you to buy and drive this Opel Kadett L Wagon, you would be extremely unlikely to ever stumble across another in your commute. And it certainly must have some stories; the dent on the hood, the woodgrain paneling (that was factory, believe it or else!), the minilites, the….DVD player?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1970 Opel Kadett L Wagon on eBay

1982 Bitter SC

1982 Bitter SC

The Bitter SC is, to me, a very interesting car. Born from the relatively pedestrian Opel Senator platform, the slinky 2-door coupe seemed to borrow a fair amount of its character from the much more exclusive Ferrari lineup outside. Underneath, though, the looks were not backed up by a sonorous V12, but rather the 3 liter inline-6 (later bumped to 3.9 liters) from the Opel lineup. This was mated to a GM-derived 3-speed automatic. Though the power output was respectable for the day at 180 horsepower, the heavy automatic Bitter was much more a cruiser than a backroad bandit. That was reinforced by the interior, which has a definite bias towards luxury instead of sport. This was not a sports car but instead a grand tourer, and the appointments inside were made to the highest standards of the day. The competition was not the Porsche 911, but rather cars like the Maserati Kyalami and the Ferrari 400i. The SC was an exclusive car, with only around 400 examples produced; but today, they’re a great value in the classic car market.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Bitter SC on eBay