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1984 Opel Manta 400 Group B Rally Car

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1984 Opel Manta 400 Group B Rally Car 1984 Opel Manta 400 Group B Rally Car 1984 Opel Manta 400 Group B Rally Car High bid of €75,000 at 2012 RM Auctions at Monaco. (did not sell)
The Opel Manta 400 made its debut in the United Kingdom in 1981. Though driver Jimmy McRae was using the Opel Ascona 400 at the time, Tony Fall felt he could turn the Mantra into a competitive vehicle. Hoping to accomplish this task in just a few months, it took until 1983 before FISA gave the official stamp of approval. The completed car carrying the necessary approval made its world debut in Corsica, driven by Guy Frequelin.

The Mantra, unlike the Ascona 400, made full use of Kevlar body panels. The front panel, front wings, hood, doors, rear arches, boot lid, spoiler and headlight holders were all made from this lightweight material. The engine was moved back six cm in an effort to better distribute the vehicle's weight. Several other improvements were made to the vehicle, making the Mantra 400 more competitive than its predecessor. Powering the car was a Cosworth engine delivering 275 horsepower in phase 3, in Weber carbureted form.

Autotecnica Conrero (aka Studio Futuro) fully prepared this Opel Manta 400 for Group B rally racing. It was delivered new to Conrero in 1984 and was first registered on Turin number plates, TOW 90798. The competition history of the vehicle is not fully known, it is known that this car was driven by Salvador Servia and Jorge Sabater in the 1984 Monte Carlo Rally and to have won a round of the Spanish Rally Championship.

The car is finished in Conrero livery and comes complete with a competition fuel cell, spare wheel, rally light pod, as well as a tyre iron mounted by the co-driver's seat. There is a Getrag five-speed manual transmission and ventilated disc brakes in both the front and rear.

In 2012, this car was offered for sale at the RM Auctions Monaco sale where it was estimated to sell for €100.000-€120.000. Bidding reached €75.000, but was not enough to satisfy the vehicle's reserve. It would leave the auction unsold.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2012
A family of competing cyclists, the Opels had a history that was begun with the manufacturing of sewing machines from a factory in Germany near Frankfurt. Adam Opel and his five sons all worked at the factory before the sons encouraged their father to start making cycles. The Opel factory began producing bicycles by June 1886 and they were selling nicely, due to the sporting success of the 5 sons; Karl, Wilhelm, Heinrich, Friedrich and Ludwig.

In September of 1970, Opel started with the Manta A, a rear-wheel-drive sports coupe produced for 13 years until 1988 when the final model rolled off the production line in Antwerp, Belgium. Sharing many parts with the Cortina, the Manta was a direct competitor to the Ford Capri. A two-door 'three-box' coupe, the Manta had unique round taillights similar to the ones on the Opel GT. The Manta was dubbed 'Project 1450' by the Opel designers and became a stylish and safe alternative with a new rear axle and coil springs; innovations of the time. Manta was well received by the public.

Normally the Manta was equipped with a 1.6-1.9 liter CIH engines, though in Europe a small 1.2-liter motor was also available. All Opel Mantas sold in the U.S. had the 1.9L and larger heavy-duty radiator; which was an option on European models. The car came with either a four-speed manual or an optional three-speed TH-180 automatic. Going on to win a large number of rallies in Europe and the U.S., the Manta was known to be one of the best handling vehicles in its class.

A sport model in the U.S. Market known as the Rallye was introduced from 1971 until 1974. Overall an appearance and gauge package, the most obvious difference was the addition of a black hood and on 70-73 models and new fog lamps. The only difference mechanically was the gear ratio in the models with manual transmissions and the Rallye model came with tighter turning radius, standard stiffer suspension and agile front caster adjustments. Both featured dual rear sway bars, which provided the best in class handling.

The 'Luxus' model was introduced in 1973 and featured luxurious updates including corduroy seats, faux wood paneling and color-coded blue or burgundy interiors. The 'Blue Max' in 1973 was the only special edition Manta that was ever produced for the U.S. Market with a special dark blue vinyl rood, automatic transmission and mechanical sunroof.

All Manta and 1900 models in 1975 were outfitted with the Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection in the U.S. due to emission regulations. Though in Europe, this feature was only available on the high end GT/E Models which also featured a lower front spoiler and fog lamps which wasn't offered on any of the US Spec Manta models. '74-75 Manta models featured large aluminum 5 mph bumpers that complied with U.S. crash standards of the time. European Manta models didn't have the large bumpers.

In the United Kingdom market, the original Manta was sold only as an Opel, with no Vauxhall-branded Manta or Ascona until following the launch in 1975 of the Manta B1 and Ascona B. The Manta A was one of only a small few Opel models sold in the U.S. Market. In 1975 US imports of Opels ended as costs rose. The Isuzu Gemini version of the T-car was imported from Japan and sold by Buick dealers as the 'Opel by Isuzu', and later 'Buick Opel'.

Two different special models were made of the Manta A with the primary objective of the versions being to up the power. Both projects began around the same time in 1972. The Turbomanta; which was the rarer of the two models, and the TE2800.

A total of 33 models of the Turbomanta were produced, with only five of them prototypes that were used for public relations. A 1973 SR with a 1.9-liter 'S' spec engine, the Turbomanta originally produced 90 bhp. 'Broadspeed' a British company was picked to build the turbo cars, and eventually began building five left hand drive cars for the German Opel AG. These models were only meant to be prototypes from the beginning. The British company came up with a unique solution and used a combination of a Holset 3LDG turbocharger, and carburetor mounted inside a big plenum chamber.

The engine of the Turbomanta was fitted with a thicker copper head gasket and the because of this the compression ratio was lowered to 7.6:1. The end result with a 1.9 liter engine which produced an impressive 156 bhp and even more impressive acceleration of 0-60mph in just 7.6 seconds. The acceleration was faster than most 'supercars' of the time like the Porsche 911. All five cars were in GM sunflower yellow and featured a large black stripe on the side where a sign read 'TURBOMANTA'. Unfortunately the fuel consumption was an issue. Building the car was the expensive part and the turbocharger had halved the economy of the vehicle. Opel closed the project leaving the five cars the total production number. A British engineer at the Dealer Opel Team (or D.O.T.) was so enthusiastic about the vehicles that he had D.O.T. construct an additional 28 cars. The cars were all based on the '74 Berlinetta model, which was a luxury model, with a full gauge pack, alloy wheels and automatic transmission. All 28 models were black with vinyl roofing with the only identifying feature that the car was indeed a Turbo Manta was a small sign at the rear quarter of the rear wings saying 'Turbo'. The car featured great handling, but unfortunately very few of these cars still remain today.

A completely different project, the TE2800 wasn't really an Opel since Opel didn't have anything to do with the project. Transeurop Engineering; a Belgian company wanted to increase the engine power of the Manta A, a project the Opel had previously tried on a 6-cylinder engine with no success. The vehicle was considered to expensive to construct, and at the time the market was inundated with big engine cars, but Transeurop Engineering didn't agree. They took a 2.8-liter CIH type engine from the Opel Commodore 2.8GS model and mated it to the engine bay of the Manta 1.9SR.

Unfortunately a host of problems occurred including the radiator, the hood, the entire front end of the car, the transmission and the rear axle all needed to be updated. Transeurop Engineering tried to get Opel to be part of the project but they declined and even worse, they didn't want the Opel brand on the vehicle. The Engineering company turned instead to Opel's number one tuner of the time; Steinmetz.

To make dramatic changes to the vehicles front end construction they provided a new fiberglass hood with a large bulge on it to make room for the engine, along with a set of widened arches and a special front bumper integrated with the lower front spoiler. To make room for the radiator most of the front of the car was cut out and replaced with other parts being mounted further to the ground. A closed radiator system was installed so that the radiator had a water tank in the engine bay. The engine remained the 2.8-liter unit from the Commodore GS, which was originally fitted with 2 Zenith carburetors. The output was 142 bhp and could reach 0-60 mph in just 7.5 seconds. 79 cars in total were built and sold through Steinmetz in Germany. They weren't branded as an Opel though, but as a TE2800 and all Opel badging was removed and replaced with the 'TE' logo.

For motorsport and rally use Steinmetz offered a tune-up; which consisted of porting and flowing the head, higher compression ratio, a race spec camshaft, and triple carburetors that gave the car a total of 230 bhp.

Though it wasn't officially an Opel, the TE2800 is the speediest Manta A ever. It had the ability to outrun cars like the 911 Carrera of 1973 and the BMW2002 turbo from the same year, even though these cars had more engine power. The lightweight nature of the Manta body shell and the mixture of the right gear ratios all worked together to make the car a success. Unfortunately though, the cars were too expensive and ended up costing almost twice as much as a 105 bhp GT/E in 1975. A very limited number of these models exist today and most were used in motorsport and rally events.

In the summer of 1975 the Opel Manta B and Opel Ascona B were debuted. The Opel Manta B was the second car to use the Manta name and was introduced in August of 1975. A two-door 'three-box' car, the B was based directly on the then newly redesigned Opel Ascona. The design though was influenced by the 1975 Chevrolet Monza. The Manta featured more sporty styling and a included a droop-snoot nose that wasn't found on the Ascona but it was similar to the UK version of the Ascona; the Cavalier Mk1. The Cavalier Mk1 Sportshatch and Cavalier Mk1 Coupe were the Vauxhall equivalent of the Manta.

Engines were available that ranged from the miniscule 1.2-liter OHV engine, the 1.6-liter CIH and the 1.9-liter CIH. The GT/E engine from the Manta A series was fitted in 1976 from the Manta B program which spawned the GT/E Manta B series. The GT/E engine was replaced with the new 2.0 liter CIH in 1979 with a newly designed Bosch L injection system. The power output was now 110 bhp. The 1.9 liter engine was replaced with the 2.0 liter S engine which was aspirated by a Varajet II carburetor. This was the most popular engine used by Opel at the time and was also found in several Opel Rekord cars.

A three-door hatchback model was introduced in 1977 alongside the existing two-door booted car. This shape was familiar and found on the Vauxhall Cavalier Sports Hatch variant.

In 1982 both Manta versions underwent a facelift that included the addition of a plastic front spoiler, side skirts for the GSi and GT/E models, quadruple air intakes on the grille and a small wing at the rear of the car. In mid 1979 the chrome was replaced with black chrome and plastic. The colorful blue and red interiors were replaced with gray and black colors by 1980. The nosecone doubled the number of vents in 1982, and the following year the GTJ had a lighter 1.8S engine and became the Manta GT. The 1.3 liter OHC engine, the 1.8-liter OHC and the 2.0-liter S and E CIH engines replaced the newly discontinued 1.2-, 1.6- and 1.9-liter engines. From 1983 the GT/E was renamed and called the GSi.

The chassis was now 40% stiffer than the previous Manta and a few centimeters longer along with an integral roll bar introduced into the B pillars. The new B body was another classic design while the 1.6 and 1.9 CiH engines were used from its predecessor. The Manta C and Manta CC were derived being the Coupe and the Combination Coupe or hatchback. The B version wasn't exported to the U.S. unlike the A series.

The Opel Manta B2 was introduced in 1982 and continued on until 1988. While the equivalent Ascona and Cavalier were replaced with a front-wheel drive model 'Ascona C' the production of the Manta continued until well after. The Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1 Sportshatch and Coupe though didn't continue past 1981. The following year the 1.8-liter OHC engine from the Ascona was fitted in the Manta B which made it a much more economical car. The B2 could run 14 km per liter and use unleaded fuel. The 1.8 liter OHC was a very popular engine and continued in production for five years from 1982 until 1987. In 1984 the 2.0S models were discontinued and only the GSi was available with the large engine.

The Manta B model the Exclusive was debuted in 1986 by Opel and it featured all of the best in equipment. If featured Recaro seats with red cloth, a sleek gray leather-like interior and the full bodypack from the i200 models. This bodypack consisted of twin round headlights in a plastic cover, sideskirts, the known 3 split rear spoiler of the Manta 400 and front spoiler and real lower spoiler from Irmscher. In the United Kingdom the Exclusive GT/E models were popular in colors like Dolphin Grey with corresponding dark grey cloth seats with red piping. These models also had the quad headlights, front spoiler, a rear bumper with the number plate and a black plastic strip between the rear light clusters. The rear spoiler was very similar to the standard GT/E. In 1988 Opel ended production of the Manta B and only produced the GSi exclusive for the final 2 years. In the UK it was the GT/E.

Following the success of the Manta 40 the rare i200 and i240 were produced in 1983. Both of these models had more power and torque than the standard 2.0E variants; which produced 125HP and 136HP respectively and were available in white or silver in Opel Team colors. The Opel Manta GTE was introduced in 1984 and was available with the 2.0E 110HP engine as standard and the Ronal 5 spoke alloy wheels.

From 1978 until 1979 Vauxhall offered the Cavalier Coupe in convertible form dubbed the Centuar. Only 118 of these models were construction and today, less than 30 units are believed to still be existence. About 25% of these conversion were constructed used a Manta rather than Vauxhall basis. The convertible versions were developed by Magraw Engineering and sold through Vauxhall dealerships on Crayfords behalf.

In 1988 the production of the Opel Manta ended, and the final vehicle, a white GSi rolled off the production line destined for the Opel works museum. The Manta B was Opel's longest running production after 13 years with more than 550,000 cars produced. Over the entire history of the Manta, 18 years in total, more than a million were made. They were replaced with the Opel Calibra; also known as the Vauxhall Calibra in the UK. Today these vehicles are considered to be quite a collector piece and its difficult to find one in original and good condition.


By Jessica Donaldson

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