19681974 Opel GT Hemmings Motor News

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1968-1974 Opel GT

Feature from Hemmings Sports Car

In the sports car world, the convertible or is king. Nothing brings to sporty fun like an open the wind blasting through hair as you make your way the mountains. But for the budget-minded driver in a nimble, spirited small but who also wants the comfort and of a closed top, plus a of luggage space, the choices are MGB-GT, Triumph GT6, 912, Jensen-Healey GT, Datsun Mazda RX-7.

Ah, but you’ve one of the most radically styled GT of the 1970s, and it didn’t come the usual suspects: the Opel GT. in the United States through agencies, the Opel GT was not just a good-looking body. The research went into styling its exterior and interior were in aerodynamics and ergonomics.

Opel was to create a completely new car, but existing mechanical components. It was an of international proportions, with from Germany, design from the United States, and craftsmen from France all in developing a completely new car for this brand.

Prior to the GT, Opel exactly what you’d a sporting brand. It had introduced the Kadett Rallye in 1966, went on to have considerable in rallying and the Tour d’Europe that year. With success in mind, and with the that a sports car built the ground up would be cost-prohibitive, the Rallye became the raw materials for a sports car.

The only was the location of the engine, which in the Rallye was mounted squarely the front suspension. The GT’s engineers argued that it be moved further back to for optimum weight distribution. Two were built and tested at Nürburgring, and the correct choice was

The engine was moved to the new location.

played a large part in the of the GT. The car was put through extensive wind-tunnel which brought the coefficient of down nearly to Porsche 911 The kamm-tail, the rear spoiler and the headlamps weren’t gimmicks; were all there to improve the aerodynamics.

Since Opel equipped to build cars on a scale (the plan was to 20,000 a year), the GT’s flowing monocoque body was by Brissonneau and Lotz in France. Up the independent suspension consisted of a set of wishbones, a transverse leaf and tubular shock absorbers. In a solid axle was located by arms and a panhard rod, and to coil springs and tubular

Considering all the thought that into the location of the engine, surprising to learn that the GT’s weight distribution is close to ideal. 54 percent of the weight is over the front with only 46 at the rear, in heavy understeer.

Production in 1968, and while only a of these very early were built, they are out From the start, the car was powered by a 1.9-liter inline four-cylinder, or for the budget-conscious, a 1.1-liter four. The end of the was officially 1973, though were still a few ’73s in the U.S. pipeline during the model year, so you may find one as a 1974 model, although a doesn’t really exist.

It bears mentioning the confusion the correct model year for an GT. These cars were through Buick dealers in the States. In those days, model year ran from to September, so a car sold in September of would have been as a 1971.

Germany’s model ran from January to January, that there was an awful lot of about what parts and were available on which

Year-to-year changes are relatively All of the car’s major components the same for the entire production The biggest production year was with a total of 34,997 GTs

Almost exactly a third of cars came to the United the bulk of which were cars, by a 3:1 ratio. These (along with the few 1968s in had the most differences with to the rest of the model years. In most of the unique features of cars are cosmetic, with the of the wiring harness, which get into in the Electrical section.

to a great year-by-year rundown of the GT by Charles Goin, which you can in its entirety on the Opel Association of Web site (listed in the Resources on page 93), 1970 was a year for the GT. Apparently, a lot of confusion between 1969 and 1970 emissions regulations, so quite a few were held at the factory, and later sold as 1970s. For reason, some 1970s have the A.I.R. system, but held-over 1969s sold as won’t.

Transmissions and rear were changed in 1970, and it was the final year for the slow-selling car.

For 1971, Opel some major changes, but a (like the transmission and rear change) were made in 1970 cars. The engine had a revision, which we’ll get in the Engine section. But the changes this year, especially in of the 240Z’s introduction, signaled the end for the even if the final cars two years off. There was a GT/J sold only in that was a stripper model, rubber floor mats, sales had come to an immediate

While 14,715 GTs were in total, just over of those cars were in the home market. The 1972 would be nearly identical to the with only a few badge to mark the differences.

In the final year, 1973, all seemed to want to do was clear out any GT stock. According to Charles Opel GT Identification Guide, the end of the 1972 model year, ran out of taillamp lenses for the GT. Instead of with Hella to make more, Opel simply on taillamps from the Manta.

In Opel sold exactly cars in the United States. By when Opel finally the plug on GT production, it had built 103,000 Opel GTs worldwide, more than 70,000 here to the United States. worth remembering that the 240Z stole its thunder, buyers were paying than sticker price for GTs.

So the good news for the Opel GT owner is that are a good number of cars In fact, if you crack open any publication in the country, you’re to find a GT. The bad news is that it that more Opel GTs suffered ignominious ends any other sports car save for the Fiero.

They’ve been to deteriorate under trees, been smashed to bits, had hillbillies try to stuff 350-cu.in. under their tiny It’s a shame that a smartly styled GT coupe have been treated so for all these years.

What’s the year to search for? as we’re often told, is in the eye of the A first year car in excellent would have had any early-production worked out in the first decade. also the most plentiful though there were sold in the U.S. in both and 1972.

The 1969 through cars offer higher than the 1972 and later though in almost 40 years of and tuning, a lot of those horsepower have been mitigated by the owners.

Charles Goin notes since Opel tended to mix and parts between years, a lot of went on between the years, so much safer to start the car’s vehicle identification as the baseline determining the model Then you can work backwards there to determine what is for that particular year.

of the year you choose, you’ll the Opel GT a pleasure to drive and thanks to rabid fan support and the that you’re swimming the mainstream.

Specifications

1,077cc: overhead-valve four-cylinder, cast-iron and cylinder head, dual carburetors

1,897cc: water overhead valve four cast-iron block and cylinder single Solex 32/32

Horsepower

1,077cc: 67hp @ rpm

1,897cc (1968 to 1970): @ 5,400 rpm

1,897cc (1971 to 90hp @ 5,200 rpm

Weights

Wheelbase: 95.7 inches

length: 161.9 inches

width: 62.2 inches

height: 48.2 inches

1,863 pounds

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The 1.1-liter was available from 1969 to The 1.9-liter engine was available year, but in 1971, it was significantly to comply with clean air A drop in compression resulted in a loss.

The cylinder head went from a 3-bearing to a design, and hydraulic lifters the solid units.

Flipping some old copies of the Opel of America’s archived newsletters, we ran this gem: Any Opel can Running well, and not leaking, is matter, especially if it still has a

Solex 32/32 carburetors are the first item to go, unless looking to maintain complete Don’t be surprised to find a 32/36 DGEV carburetor in of the original carburetor of a car you’re in. Properly tuned, a Weber will work fine, with a stock cam.

DRIVETRAIN

1.1-liter GTs were offered with a four-speed transmission, and a 4.11 rear The 1.9-liter engines were with both four-speed and GM’s TH-180 automatic both with a 3.44:1 differential ratio.

The biggest of problems with the four-speed is leaking, caused by the front between the bellhousing and the transmission. the transmission oil is allowed to get low, the gear synchro burns up. differential whine at 40 to 50 mph can be cured by the differential, and refilling with 140 lubricant.

A popular upgrade is to a Getrag Type 240 five-speed which is available with shifter linkage and driveshaft, in a true bolt-on installation.

Two potential problems exist the Opel GT’s wiring. The is due to the car’s odd headlamp arrangement twists the headlamps into position. Thirty-five years of and turning results in a frayed wiring harness, which to be replaced. The Opel Motorsport outstanding Web site offers instructions on how to accomplish this fix rendering your complete harness useless.

See: or contact the club directly at the number under Resources.


The electrical issue is the ignition A wise Opel GT owner install a relay between the and the switch, in order to isolate the from the 30 amps routed from the battery when the is engaged. A $6 three-prong relay Radio Shack will the problem.

Again, directions are at the Motorsport Club’s Web site.

No to current Opel GT owners, but rust repair, including rocker panels and suspension is not worth the trouble to fix. never going to get rich a GT. Better to be patient and bide time for an excellent, rust-free

Look under the battery as acid eats the paint and rust. Floors and rocker are also particularly susceptible, and not as repaired as some of the more rust locations. Suspension and shock towers are also issues in this car.

in the cowl below the windshield be a deal-breaker.

Also beware of damage, especially in the nose. On the day, the GT’s headlamp is problematic. When the car’s hit and poorly repaired, the headlamps may work properly.

SUSPENSION

The GT’s front suspension can be dangerous to work on. There is tension in the front, transverse, spring, and it could potentially bodily harm if you don’t it properly.

Modern performance to the suspension include polyurethane arm bushings, and installation of anti-roll and performance shock absorbers. also suggested that GTs get four to five degrees of caster, one to 1.25 degrees of camber and zero toe in, according to the Motorsports Club.

Original from Opel included a few handling options, including springs, anti-roll bars and a differential. However, none of parts was available through the counter, and had to be included in the car’s order.

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