The Opel Manta kicked off a colorful decade, one filled with bell bottoms, cheese hedgehogs, Pink Floyd, and Roger Moore’s iteration of James Bond. Designed by George Gallion, the Opel Manta entered series production in September 1970 under the name of the exotic fish. The coupé is a symbol of record sales figures, immense rally success – and 2020 marks its half century.
And the cult classic nearly has as many fans as Pink Floyd. While it’s not exactly difficult to get hold of a vinyl pressing of “The Dark Side of the Moon” these days, can the same be said about a model of the Manta and other classics from the seventies? We asked Marc Schaefer, Opel’s contact at Classic Data GmbH, Germany’s leading company for valuing classic vehicles, if he could shed some light on the situation.
Marc Schaefer is a member of Alt-Opel IG and an expert at Classic Data, one of the leading companies for valuing historic vehicles.
Mr. Schaefer, the Manta is turning 50 years old in 2020. Does this type of anniversary have an impact on the vintage car market in your experience?
Certainly, in as much as there will be a couple of articles published in pertinent automotive magazines featuring some nice pictures. And they might stir the interest in one or two readers to get themselves a Manta of their own. That said, the Manta A has already been on the enthusiasts’ scene – which isn’t bound by the laws of the used-car market – for 20 or 30 years now. And it has since also found its price range – not much is going to change for the 50-year-old in that regard.
“The Manta A has already been on the enthusiasts’ scene for 20 or 30 years now.”
What does a new enthusiast have to fork out for a well-maintained Manta A then?
I would say €12,000 to €15,000 on average for a grade 2 Manta A in good aesthetic condition, an original, or one that has been expertly restored. A grade 3 model, in other words one that’s drivable but has some visual defects, could command a fee starting from €8,000. Of course, it totally depends on the type of engine. A 1.2-liter is always going to be cheaper than a 1900 SR. In any case, the sportier models are the ones that are getting more and more popular, which then also has an impact on the price.
Are there especially rare designs, which in turn are more valuable?
Of course, the Manta A GT/E is prime example. Only 5,000 models were ever produced. Anyone who actually wants to get hold of a model in good condition is looking at a price around the €20,000 mark. And then there are special editions such as the “Swinger” – white with red stripes – and the “Black Magic.” There are only a handful of those two around – and you can easily add another 20 percent onto the price for one of these models. That said, we’re talking about theoretical prices here since nobody is selling these cars at the moment.
What makes you so sure?
The people who are enthusiastic about vintage Opels are generally people who want to drive the cars from their childhood again – the car their dad used to drive. That means that fans of the Opel cars from the seventies are between 30 and 60 years old. At that age, you still really tend to indulge your enthusiasm for these types of vehicles. That’s why you can admire the cars at meetups but rarely buy them. They only get back onto the vintage car market if their owners are too old to use them – or die. That’s the way it is, unfortunately. We can see it right now by the fact that a relatively large number of pre-war models are back on the market.
„Opel-Klassikliebhaber sind in der Regel Menschen, die wieder die Autos ihrer Kindheit fahren wollen.“
If someone still wants to acquire an Opel from the seventies, where do you think they should start? Carefully study the relevant forums over a longer period of time?
Basically, a fair few Opels from that time have survived. The good ones that have a nice-looking paint job, attractive features, and a solid engine have generally long since been in the hands of a collector. If one actually appears on the Internet, it’s quickly snapped up…the ones that stay online for longer without being bought are often models that have small engines, unappealing colors, or less enticing features. Plus, online listings are rife with offers where the price doesn’t match the condition of the car. I recommend getting in touch with the Alt-Opel IG’s model advisor first if you’re interested in a vintage model. They might be able to tell you off the top of their head where you can get hold of a model that’s worth the price right now.
“If one actually appears on the Internet, it’s quickly snapped up.”
Which Opel models from the seventies can we still expect to increase in value?
As I said, the majority found their price range a long time ago. But there are a couple of sporty models where I can see there’s still room for the price to go up further, such as the C GT/E in yellow-black or yellow-white, for example. That model is now becoming more and more popular on the international market, or in other words, with collectors that are by no means Opel connoisseurs. Or the Ascona A “Voyage” or the Commodore A GS/E, simply because they’re so rare. Otherwise, I’d recommend Opel fans to look at more recent models if they’re out for something that still promises to increase in value.
And those would be?
The Calibra, of course. And various OPC models. The Astra G OPC, which has been available since 1998, for example. There are also still examples of that model around that have been perfectly maintained and not restored.
“The Omega 3000 could also increase in terms of price.”
What’s going on with the Omega? It has now built up quite the fan following?
The large-engine models are also interesting, for sure. The straight-six cylinder engine offered at the time has a good reputation outside the Opel community, too. The Omega 3000 could also increase in terms of price. Watching the development of the 24-V caravan promises to be exciting as well.
In your opinion, is there an Opel that’s on the cusp of ascending to the top level: vehicles that make the leap from cars for connoisseurs to sculptural masterpieces and become valuable as a result?
The Opel Diplomat A Coupé is the name that springs to mind right now. It has shot up in value massively over the last four or five years and, as I understand from talking to a few buyers and sellers, has kept itself in this echelon. A grade 2 vehicle currently trades hands for €150,000 to €160,000, and some experts are currently working around the clock to restore 1a models. Once they’re ready, they could fetch around €220,000.
Mr. Schaefer, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
“The Opel Diplomat A Coupé has shot up in value massively over the last four or five years.”