“When designers dream of their work, they dream of
the future of the automobile.” This quote from Opel
designer George Gallion is particularly apt for the Manta
A. Introduced in 1969, this sporty two-door model was
launched in 1970, two months before the four-door
Ascona A with which it shared a chassis and drivetrain.
Gallion, deputy chief of exterior design at Opel, had
little time to design the Manta, which was Opel’s
response to the Ford Capri. “My boss at the time, Chuck
Jordan, gave me the job of developing a competitor to
the Capri,” he says. “Chuck left for vacation with the
words ‘have it finished by the time I’m back, otherwise
I’ll show you how it’s done’”.
The Manta is defined by a clean, crisp design in the style
of highly desirable Italian sports coupés. Frameless
windows, a crisp rear and a clearly structured front end
quickly turned it into an affordable dream car for the
younger generation. Its reasonable price was also a
result of using the Ascona body platform and existing
parts. “For example, there was no time to develop our
own indicator units and headlamps, so we looked
around to see what would fit and simply took the
headlamps from the Olympia, which had just been
phased out,” says Gallion.
Today, the Manta has become a cult car, mainly due to
its clean shape. At classic car gatherings like the popular
vintage car weekend at the historic Opel Villas in
Rüsselsheim, the Manta is one of the most admired
exhibits, next to the GT. For Opel, the Manta model line
was one of the most successful product developments
in the company’s history. Over one million units were
sold from 1970 to 1988.