Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD: The Dream, the Team, the Technology
Rüsselsheim. In the beginning there was the car. More precisely, an orange-red Opel Manta with a black vinyl roof in the Opel Classic collection. A typical representative of the colourful wild seventies! A style icon. An original, generally in good shape, but a bit worn out. Still unrestored, perhaps more of a parts carrier. At the same time, Opel's E offensive was in full swing with new models like the Opel Mokka-e. And so one thing led to another. There is, after all, a trend in the scene towards 'restomods', classic vehicles with modern drives. So why not give the Manta a new lease of life electrically? With plenty of torque at the rear axle for fast sprints without a lot of noise. Just a dream? No way. The idea was born and shared – between passionate designers, 3D modellers, engineers, technicians, mechanics, product and brand experts. A group of Opel fans simply in love with cars.
The idea quickly took shape. The 50-year-old Manta became a child of our time – electric, emissions-free and as emotional as a true legend should be. The Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD was born, at first, only in the minds of its creators. “The GSe is a homage to the Manta of yesteryear and at the same time a brand statement for the present. Opel is bold and pure – excitingly different. Perhaps different from what you would expect from us,” says Quentin Huber, Head of Brand Strategy and Social Media at Opel.
So much enthusiasm immediately inspired the “Car Guys” in the Opel management. There was a spontaneous green light from the very top for this unusual, cheeky, dazzling project and the idea of an extra-cool ElektroMOD became reality within a few months. It had happened before in a similar way at Opel, when a group of enthusiasts around chief designer Erhard Schnell designed an exciting sports coupé on their own initiative. This project started in 1963, gave the car world the Experimental GT study barely two years later and finally the Opel GT from 1968 to 1973. But that is another story.
In the case of the Manta GSe ElektroMOD, the development team has preserved the car's original fascination and at the same time brought top innovations into play. The expressive Pixel-Vizor with the latest LED technology, the fully digital cockpit and, of course, the battery-electric drive.
“The Manta GSe stands for pure love of the automobile. With the ElektroMOD, we are building a bridge from the great Opel tradition to a sustainable future. This mixture of zeitgeist and today is absolutely fascinating,” explains Pierre-Olivier Garcia, Opel Global Brand Design Manager, on behalf of the Manta GSe team.
Step by step: From original oldie to fascinating ElektroMOD
The journey to the dreamcar began in the sacred halls of Opel Classic, in the area of unrestored items. There stood a Manta A in orange with a black vinyl roof and an automatic transmission. Opel Classic had already been given the car in 1988 with almost rust-free bodywork from the original owner, a lady in Wiesbaden. She had bought the Manta new in 1974 and driven it for 14 years. The car got its new neon-yellow paint at the Opel Service Workshop after it had been electrified and passed the TÜV test.
Having no head restraints, the original Manta A seats have no place in a modern car. So the Manta GSe ElektroMOD got new Recaro seats, similar to those of the sporty Opel ADAM S. However, it was not a straightforward swap and, like many of the new components, they had to be almost tailor-made in the Opel Concept Workshop so that they would fit in the Manta.
The original owner of the Manta A had chosen an automatic transmission, which was still in good condition. Nevertheless, it was a rarity for a 1970s Manta and the team wanted the classic four-speed manual gearbox that had been installed in the millions at the time. So they designed an adapter that enabled the Opel gearbox to be coupled to a larger clutch. Then they needed a longer propeller shaft, which they found in the Opel Classic parts warehouse. The brake system was adapted to the increased vehicle performance. Larger stoppers were fitted to the front axle and the rear axle was converted from drum to disc brakes.
While the suspension is firm at the front, it is softer at the rear, so that the Manta always has plenty of traction in reserve. After all, it is the most powerful Manta A of all time, apart from a few tune-ups and racing versions. The power of the 108 kW (147 hp) synchronous motor is put down on the road via classic rear-wheel drive. The 31 kWh lithium ion battery was installed as far forward as possible in the boot, for good traction and a low centre of gravity. Even so, the Manta GSe still offers enough space for a fortnight’s holiday in Italy for four.
After the ElektroMOD conversion the Manta weighs about 1,137 kilogrammes – 175 kg more than the original but still much less than many modern cars with a conventional combustion engine. When driven normally, the GSe can achieve a range of 200 kilometres and with a light-footed driver even more. And, of course, the e-Manta can recuperate like any other Opel electric car. In order to activate the energy regeneration, all the driver has to do is operate a switch mounted in the glove compartment.
Getting behind the wheel of the Manta GSe ElektroMOD is fascinating. Not only the visual sensation of tradition meets modern, but also the driving experience. Turn the ignition key and the motor starts – silently, of course. The driver can then select fourth gear and simply drive off – no problem for the torquey electric motor. On the other hand, the driver can shift manually through the four-speed Opel gearbox, just as it was designed for. The Manta GSe accelerates at a lively pace. The maximum speed is electronically limited to 150 km/h.