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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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1985 Bitter SC 3.9

As an automotive blog, we receive our fair share of emails suggesting we feature specific cars. Often they’re popular versions of cars that everyone likes to see; M3s, S6s, M5s, 190E 2.3 16Vs – the usual suspects. But probably once every other week or so someone spots something legitimately rare to see; this past week, we were sent two such gems. One was a rare Mercedes-Benz L319 delivery van – it was in rough shape but all there, and they’re very cool to see, with perhaps only single digit numbers in the United States – thanks to our reader Kurt for sending that one through, it had us dreaming! The other was an equally rare sight these days, but this car represented the opposite end of the spectrum from the Mercedes. Clearly loved and well cared for by the seller, this 1985 Bitter SC features the later, 207 horsepower 3.9 inline-6 and is presented in pleasing Anthracite Grey:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Bitter SC 3.9 on eBay

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Heap of the Week Twofer: 1985 Bitter SC and 1989 Alpina B10 3.5/1

While we usually don’t like to show cars that are not at least good examples of the respective marques that they represent, occasionally some oddballs pop up that are just too good to pass up. Today is such a case, with two unique vehicles popping up on Ebay that rarely get seen at all. Unfortunately, both are in need of a fair amount of work, so depending on your comfort level I wouldn’t really consider either of these cars a turn key, collector vehicle as they stand. However, with the right about know-how, determination and a fair amount of work I think both of these cars could be resurrected to their former glory; certainly, both would bring smiles at shows wherever they went. Let’s look first at the rare duck of the two, the Bitter SC:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Bitter SC on eBay

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Party Like It’s 1989 Week: ’89 Opel Senator B CD 3.0i

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Want something plush for highway cruising but not a particular fan of any of the American modern classics? Well, why not try on what GM’s Europe arm had on for size at the end of the 1980s, the Opel Senator. The Senator B was a long-wheelbase version of the Opel Omega, a car that would later go on to form the basis for the Cadillac Catera. The Senator was laid to rest after the 1993 model year, as Opel decided the new Omega would give the company enough range in the luxury segment. This Senator for sale in Northwest Germany is a top level CD model with the 3.0 liter inline-6.

Click for more details: 1989 Opel Senator B CD 3.0i on Mobile.de

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4WD Week: 1993 Opel Calibra Turbo 16V 4×4

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The 1990s was not a bad time for car design. Crash bumpers and DOT approved headlights for US market cars made way for more flush fitting bumpers and aerodynamic lighting thanks to advances in technology. This was also before new pedestrian crash standards raised up the hood and cowl lines of new cars, so you still had some nice, sleek designs out there. One of my favorite designs from this period was a car that was never sold here stateside: the Opel Calibra. This coupe was based off of the Vectra platform and held the title of most aerodynamic vehicle for a time. Offered with a range of four cylinder engines and a 2.5 liter V6, the top model was this one, the turbocharged 16V 4×4. This Calibra 4×4 for sale in Bavaria was stored away for a while

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Year: 1993
Model: Calibra Turbo 16V 4×4
Engine: 2.0 liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 82,700 km (51,387 mi)
Price: €6,999 (~ $9,612 USD)

Click for more details: 1993 Opel Calibra Turbo 16V 4×4 on Mobile.de

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History:
In March 1992 the Calibra Turbo 4×4 hit the dealers as the new flagship model. In it, the 2.0-liter 16V engine (C20LET) was used, equipped with a KKK turbocharger (K16) and a charge air cooler making 150 kW (204 hp). The turbocharger was a new development, it was not flanged but integrated into the exhaust manifold. The turbo engine was combined with a standard six-speed gearbox and four-wheel drive, an automatic transmission did not come with the turbo. The maximum torque is 280 Nm, which is already at 2400 rpm. The Calibra Turbo was the fastest car of its kind: indicated top speed of 245 km/h and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds. It cost in 1992 DM 49,880.00

This splendid example was titled in December 1993 the first time. Logged in September 1994. And in the following spring once again logged. This went on for years until March 23, 2007. At this time, a man had decided to put the car in a barn and store it. In the spring of this year I then discovered this car. After being stored, of course, a lot had to be done. Belts, etc. replaced, then brakes, wishbones, accumulator, etc. Then I drove the car on nice weekends to Lake Constance. Most routes were so “long distance.”

Now I need to part, unfortunately, due to lack of space and money reasons. The TÜV was a lot (TÜV is new). The mileage is verified! The car is in complete original condition (the original radio is also available). More pics will be in Autoscout, or if you are interested, by email. Of course, I am also reachable by phone for you!
01578 9502543
So do not hesitate to call me!

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The first Calibras produced will soon be eligible for import to the US, but I doubt that many, if any, will show up here. Without a recent visible presence in the US market other than some recent Saturn and Buick offerings that were rebadged Opels, the following for these coupes is not that big. In addition, the transfer case on 4×4 models such as this one is known to be fragile and cause added maintenance expense and headaches. So while it’s 4WD Week here at GCFSB, if you really want a Calibra, it would probably be best to eye up a front-drive variant.

-Paul