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Many words of praise along the way

Opel Manta was Opel's answer to the Ford Capri.

Based on the Opel Ascona, which it sharedwith almost everything other than the bodywork.

Both became known as one of the best drivers

cars in their class. Manta was launched in 1970 and

was in production until it was replaced in 1975 by

Manta B with a Vauxhall/Chevrolet

Monza-inspired look.

Tage Schmidt gave the model many praises

words along the way. He wrote in his

test drive report in December 1970.


Manta 1.6 S:

A family GT

Within the bodywork genre, there is objectively today no better family car-sports car compromise for the price than the Opel Manta 1.6 S. It is mainly a matter of taste whether you would prefer the approximately DKK 400 more expensive Ford Capri 1600 GT, with which it is most likely to be compared. The technical advantages and disadvantages that one has over the other largely outweigh each other. But the Manta has the most luggage space and its finish immediately seems the most convincing in terms of quality. We have chosen to test drive the 1.6 S version because it is the cheapest Manta with radial tires as standard equipment. Because of the price, it will probably become particularly popular, and the undercarriage construction only really comes into its own with radial tires. Incidentally, I think that the Manta 1.6 S is a better buy than the DKK 1,200 cheaper standard model, which not only lacks radial tyres, but also has less horsepower and a regular rear window without embedded electric heating wires.

Manta is very similar to the beautiful 2-seater Opel GT 1900

For twice as much money. It provides almost the same sports driving position behind an unusually small steering wheel, and the undercarriage construction follows the same principles. Pushed to the limits of the cars' capabilities, there's a lot more true sports car feel in the GT, and it's also faster than the fastest Manta, thanks to lower curb weight and less drag from the small bodywork. But on a day-to-day basis, they behave almost the same. The most important difference then is that the Manta is

silent, while the GT makes a lot of noise.

Considered as a sports car, the Manta 1.6 S makes cars like the Triumph Spitfire, GT Midget and Austin Healey Sprite look ridiculous.

Especially in relation to the prices. Considered as a family car, it is one of the easiest to drive and pleasantly quiet. Its suspension is among the most comfortable and effective in terms of road holding within the rigid rear axle group. It compares favorably with many cars with independent rear suspension.

But the back seat is only suitable for children. For adults, the space conditions are so bad in the back that it seems rather irrelevant to discuss whether there is better space in a Manta or a Capri. The luggage compartment, on the other hand, is very large, with a stowage size of 326 liters and a total capacity of 575 litres. Excellent steering characteristics.

Manta 1.6 S drives better and more comfortably than any Kadett or Rekord to date.

Its steering is among the most excellent available at any price. It seems exemplary light and precise with a practical gear ratio and ideal feel with the front wheels and the unevenness of the road. The car's steering tendencies live up to the steering with excellent directional stability - as far as it could be ascertained in a period without strong wind - and eminently good grip in the bends, where the Manta usually follows the steering wheel completely neutral and feels unusually sympathetically stable with minimal heeling.

You have to drive so hard in corners to reach the skid limit that only the very few will probably ever voluntarily venture near it. But if you want to go to extremes, you should know that the otherwise unusually fine balance in the turns can be replaced by a less unambiguous behavior on the skid line.

I experienced some slightly unpleasant rear wheel slips during experiments in dry conditions. However, it should be noted that the fact that I used the highest tire pressure prescribed by the owner's manual may have had an adverse effect. Other test drivers have experience that the rear wheel behaves better at critical cornering speeds with lower tire pressure, especially on rough roads.

The braking performance is, on the whole, very reassuring, with excellent stability against rear wheel skidding during emergency braking, both on straights and in turns. However, during some hard braking from high speed on dry roads, disturbing small rear wheel hops occurred, probably due to tension in the rear axle suspension.

The suspension is not very soft.

However, it seems unusually comfortable with firm damping, which helps to make it stable with a sports car feel.

The sample was fitted with Goodyear G 800 radial tyres.

Cultivated and fuel efficient.

An unusually cultivated low sound is one of the Manta 1.6 S's most distinguished features.

This is due in part to thorough sound insulation of the engine and undercarriage, and in part to careful elimination of wind noise.

The engine is a new 1.6 liter version of the well-known 1.7 and 1.9 liter Opel engines with an overhead camshaft and super short pushrods, and it seems much softer and smoother. It runs willingly up to 5800 rpm, where the valves say stop in a way that makes a tachometer redundant, because you quickly learn to change gear according to the speedometer.

If the speedometer is assumed to show correctly, 5800 rpm corresponds to 50 km/h in 1st gear, 79 in 2nd and 125 in 3rd. The sample had an error reading of 2-3 percent. The factory-specified top speed of 164 km/h is realistic and corresponds to 55-5600 rpm, with 1000 rpm in top gear giving 29.5 km/h.

The gear ratio is unusually high in relation to the engine and helps to provide remarkably good fuel economy. According to the DIN standard, the consumption is given as 8.6 liters per 100 km/h, corresponding to an average of 11.6 km per litres. This harmonizes well with the fact that the average for the test drive was 8.9 km per litres, including highway driving at top speed and city driving. As a rule, you can count on at least 10-11 km per liters during normal use of the car.

Petrol consumption is especially relatively low when driving fast due to the body's small frontal area and good aerodynamic shape, which also helps to provide unusually fast acceleration at high speeds.

The lower gear lever has practically direct engagement with the gearbox.

but is nonetheless fairly short and straight, without sitting uncomfortably far forward. The result is an unusually precise and well-functioning gear change. However, the movements could be a little shorter. Reverse gear is locked with a sliding sleeve on the gear lever as in expensive sports cars.

Criticizable (period-typical?) details

At the same time as you move the driver's seat back and forth, it changes height, and the 165 cm tall girl, who helps evaluate the cars, is excited about the forward visibility, the driving position and the easy control over the car. I myself (187 cm) would have liked to have been able to get the seat further away from the pedals. Incidentally, I found the side support to be poor.

The shape of the body at the front can be deceiving as to the actual length of the carriage.

So you have to be careful not to drive too close to parked cars and the like. You can't see the rear car, and the view obliquely to the rear is poor, as in most fast-back coupes. The very slanted rear window also easily becomes opaque from rain, dew and snow when parking, but on the other hand an efficient electric heating element is fitted as standard.

In addition, the interior is a strange mixture of extremely fine and incredibly poor details.

The instruments are made perfectly non-reflective with very few means, which the entire automotive industry should learn from. But the wiper switch is unfortunately hidden away on the instrument panel behind the steering wheel and is also narrow, so it is difficult to find it in the dark. The windscreen washer is activated with a foot pump.

The door and ignition key is a typical example of countless cases of silly car design, which makes one wonder if none of the thousands of engineers and designers of the major car factories bother to use their brains on small things. It can be inserted into the lock incorrectly, so it has to be taken out again and turned before it works, and it is not made clear how to turn it.


Seat belts are standard with are attached so low in the sides behind the doors that they tend to slide down over the shoulder and impede arm movement. It's little consolation that the Manta shares this drawback with many other coupes. On the other hand, it is still worth noting that Opel introduced many new interesting safety measures in the Manta.

Even though the Manta has effective ventilation valves at the back and good independent fresh air nozzles at the front, you will probably wish in the summer that Opel had not spared hinges in the rear side windows of the 1.6 S. In the more expensive versions, they can be opened.


Rear wheel drive. Front engine. Oversquare. 1584 cm. 80 DIN hp at 5200 rpm. Biggest 3 torque 12 DIN-kgm at 3800 rpm. Compression ratio 9.5:1. 98 octane petrol.

Coil springs front and rear. Front disc brakes, rear drum brakes. Rack and pinion steering, 5 inch wide rims. Tire dimension 165-13.

Length 434 cm. Width 163. Height 135.5. Curb weight 960 kg. Total weight according to the factory 1335 kg.





Top speed

0-400 meters

BMW 1600


18.5 sec.

160 km/h

Fiat 124 sport coupe 1400


18.1 sec.

170 km/h

Ford Capri 1600 GT


18.0 sec.

160 km/h

MG Midget/Austin-Healey-Sprite


19.0 sec.

153 km/h

Opel Manta 1.6 S


18.4 sec.

164 km/h

Opel Rekord 1900 L/2


18.8 sec.

​160 km/h​

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