Opel GT Returns! Coming To Geneva In March

Many people were not even born yet when the last Opel GT roamed the world’s roadways. Compared to today’s automobiles, the tiny little two seater was crude in a way that only those who had drivers licenses in the 60s can understand. But for the times, it stirred a lot of passion in the souls of auto enthusiasts. It was sometimes known as a “baby Corvette.”

1968 Opel GT

When I say crude, I mean stone age technology. The base car came with a wimpy 1.1 liter push rod engine which made 67 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Not surprisingly, most buyers went with the optional 1.9 liter overhead cam engine that produced 102 hp at 5400 rpm. When emissions regulations first went into effect in 1971, Opel reduced the compression ratio of the 1.9  liter engine used in the US, which knocked output back to a meager 83 horsepower.

The attractively styled coupe came with a 4 speed manual transmission as standard equipment. That was pretty hot stuff for its day. The car was in production from 1968 through 1973. A version of an updated car was introduced in 2007 and sold in America as the Pontiac Solstice and the Saturn Sky until 2010. If you can find a Sky with the turbo engine, grab it. They are much in demand by collectors.

Opel GT

Now Opel is back with an all new, thoroughly modern and highly innovative GT that will debut at the Geneva auto show in March. “Purebred, pared down, yet unashamedly avant garde, the GT Concept is even shorn of door handles and door mirrors, its breathtaking form clothing a classic front mid-engined, rear-wheel drive chassis that will appeal to driving enthusiasts,” reads the official Opel press release.

Mark Adams, GM’s vice president of design for Europe says, ”We created the GT Concept to capture the bold, emotional spirit of both the Vauxhall and Opel brands. It is dramatic, sculptural and full of innovations, which is our great tradition that we intend to continue…..[T]his GT Concept today [is] absolutely pure, minimalistic, yet bold and uncompromising. This coupe impressively demonstrates the continuous development of our design philosophy.”

The first thing you will notice about the new Opel GT is a prominent red stripe that begins behind the front wheels and flows up and over the doors to the rear of the car. Hidden within that stripe is a touchpad that operates the doors, which are hinged behind the front wheels rather than beneath the A pillars. It is unlikely the goofy red front tires will be included in the production car, assuming there is one.

The new concept will not be challenging many Teslas at the local drag strip. According to AutoBlog, it will come with a 1.0 liter turbocharged three cylinder engine in front driving the rear wheels through a 6 speed sequential gearbox. The triple makes 143 horsepower and 151 ft-lb of torquea, enough to propel the 2,200 lb car to 60 mph in under 8 seconds. It has a calculated top speed of 134 mph.

Not sure you can call such performance “exhilerating”, but its not far off the numbers for the latest generation Mazda Miata in terms of weight and power. Among enthusiasts, this would be known as a “momentum car,” meaning slowing for corners is something you must never do. It is meant to be driven flat out, foot to the floor at all times. Screaming up through the gears can be its own reward, even if overall forward progress is leisurely, relatively speaking.

No production plans have been released. No doubt the folks at Opel and its English cousin, Vauxhall, are anxious to see what sort of reception it gets from show goers in Geneva. If Gas 2 would like to send me to that event, I would be delighted to give you all my full written report.

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Photo credit: Opal via Autoblog.


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.