THE ADS LIED

There’s that black lever. It looms out from the center console in front of the gearshift like a second brake lever built in the wrong way around. It only grabs your attention due to its size. Tilting the lever forwards triggers two rotational motions at the front the fenders. Quickly, simultaneously, and with a short ‘clack,’ the GT opens its eyes. They bulge out to the left and right of the car’s flat snout like two guide marks to navigate the roads. They take us around Lautertal, through quaint villages, and through the early summer shades of green of the Odenwald forest. Here, the harsh sunshine pierces the dark pine and fir trees and the leafy canopy created by the oaks and beeches

 

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Olaf Moldzen: “It’s hard to describe that feeling you get from the GT. It’s something really special.”

 

 

IF ONLY IT COULD GO ON LIKE THIS FOREVER The light runs over the cars in front for a moment before scurrying between the extended headlights and over the long hood of Olaf Moldzen’s Opel GT, briefly hitting the curved windshield and then disappearing over the arc of the roof and the fender, and finally touching the street behind the cut-off rear section with its four round taillights. Cool air wafts in through the open window on this warm Sunday morning. Together with the typical Opel gray-cast iron grumbling, in the narrow interior of the GT, this causes a growing desire: If only it could go on like this forever.

 

MORE THAN JUST A CAR
Olaf gently shifts down a gear before the next bend, steers towards the apex, and smiles from ear to ear. He’s in the zone. “It’s hard to describe that feeling you get from the GT. It’s something really special.” That it is. Opel advertising texts once summed up the GT driving experience with the words: ‘It’s the next best thing to flying,’ which soon became common parlance. But the ads back then were lying. Or then again, maybe they weren’t. The saying was coined by advertising legend Carolus Horn, and while it did get to the heart of the matter, flying wasn’t actually any better or more exciting than driving a GT. The GT represents a feeling, and it’s much more than just a car. If you view it as a car alone, you’d say it was cramped and impractical, as it only has two seats and no hatch.

 

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Opel advertising texts once summed up the GT driving experience with the words: ‘It’s the next best thing to flying,’ which soon became common parlance.

 

THIS CAR CAPTURED THE SPIRIT OF THE TIME AND GAVE IT A FACE
Anyone who has driven the GT for just a single kilometer knows that it’s more than just a car. They know that driving a GT really is superior to flying. This fact is clear to everyone at the 22nd European GT Meet. Some came from northern German towns like Stade or Heide, while others traveled from the depths of Bavaria or the Black Forest. Some of the guests at the Kuralpe lodge in Lautertal are locals, others came from as far afield as the Netherlands, Switzerland, or Austria. “We’ve got about 200 GTs here,” says HG from the GT Bergstrasse club. He doesn’t like his name, “which is why he always introduces himself as HG,” says fellow club member Martin Wiesenfahrt. Wiesenfahrt estimates that around 400 people have come together for this year’s European GT Meet. “That’s not including day visitors, but it’s impossible to keep track of those.” It’s easy to count the new GTs, which are allowed at the GT Meet for the first time this year. There are just four of them, and they quickly get lost among the many older GTs. With these cars, Opel not only captured the spirit of the late 1960s, it also helped shape the times through the face of the GT. The GT contours have inspired car makers for decades, and the charismatic GT remains irresistible to this day.

 

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IS IT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL? THE MOST GLAMOROUS? THE MOST EXTRAVAGANT AND THE BOLDEST?
It goes without saying that it’s unique. The GT didn’t have a predecessor or a direct successor. It quickly acquired a cult following. And it’s still the best proof that Opel never matched the image that Spiegel magazine tried to pigeon-hole it with in the 1970s. At the time, the magazine wrote that typical Opel drivers were “plump and without ambition, prone to sitting behind the wheel wearing a hat and work clothes while sucking on a cheap cigar.” Looking at the individual groups gathering and taking up positions behind the lead vehicles for the drive through the Odenwald forest, there were no drivers wearing work pants or smoking cigars in sight. Those wearing hats did so for protection from the blazing sunshine. Many visitors took it easy in the shaded beer garden of the lodge, or they hid from the sun under the marquees to chat about fuel and all sorts of things. The party went late into the night, and today, everyone is taking a while to get going again.

 

THEY’VE ALREADY STARTED UP THE BARBECUE NEXT DOOR
Markus and Holger from opel-models.de dust off the display case containing their remote-controlled Opel model cars. A boy has fun putting one of the specially-designed GT toy cars through its paces along an obstacle course. There’s already smells wafting over from the barbecue next door. The only way to keep a stump-tailed Labrador away from the sausages and meat loaf is through stern words and frantic tugging on its leash. There’s something for everyone at the GT Meet, be it from the grill or from Opel. The Jumpstart initiative, for example, made it its mission to bring both existing Aero GTs to Lautertal. Charles M. Jordan’s design team created a Targa version of the GT with a roof bar and a steeply positioned retractable rear window for the 1969 Frankfurt Motor Show. A second model in metallic blue was built by Michelotti in the spring of 1970. Sadly, these two specimens were the only ones ever made. Still, the GT was a much more successful model than initially expected.

German automobile magazine Auto Motor Und Sport described the GT as “the sportiest car you could ever imagine” when it debuted in 1968. Yet hardly anyone had thought serial production was on the cards after the ‘Experimental GT’ study presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show three years prior. It was a well-liked prototype, but would it ever make it? Well, it did make it. Opel built 103,463 GTs between October 1968 and June 1973. Because Opel was not in a position to expand its own capacities quickly enough, the chassis were manufactured by Chausson in Gennevilliers and painted by Brissonneau et Lotz, also in France. Engineering work on the GT was then carried out in Bochum. The floor assembly, undercarriage, and 1.1-liter engine, which was available in the GT until 1970, were all sourced from the Kadett B; the 90-hp 1.9-litre four-cylinder engine comes from the Rekord C. Over 90 percent of GTs ended up being fitted with the 1.9-liter engine.

Opel GT Treffen 2014

The Jumpstart initiative managed to bring both Aero GTs to Lautertal.

 

11,880 GERMAN MARKS BACK THEN, UP TO €20,000 NOW
Opel sold over three quarters of its GTs outside of Germany. More than half went to the U.S., often equipped with a three-gear automatic transmission. When production first started, you could buy a GT for 11,880 German marks. Today, you might pay up to €20,000 for a GT 1900 in good condition. True fans of the Opel GT would never part ways with their car for money, though. It’s their dream, a purpose in life and often considered a member of the family. It’s their quirk, the embodiment of their inner daredevil. If you’re not careful, you too will soon be infected by the Opel GT virus. All it takes is a few kilometers before you want to reach for that lever in the center console.