1984 Opel Manta – Project Profile

7

By Dale Vinten

If you like gold and the 1980s (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then we might have just the project car for you. There’s something incredibly nostalgic for us about this Opel Manta Berlinetta and although it’s not the more desirable GT/E version it is still worthy of some love and respect. One of the most popular incarnations of Opel’s rear-drive coupe, from a sales perspective at least, the Manta B was the second variation of the model released in 1975, receiving a facelift in 1982 along with a revised choice of engines; the 1.2, 1.6 and 1.9-litre lumps were out in favour of 1.3, 1.8 and 2.0-litre versions.

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Much like the mullets and perms of those 80s pop icons that would have been blasting out of car stereos at the time surviving Mantas have substantially thinned out which is why we’ve highlighted this one as our Project Profile of the week. The Manta’s legacy is indestructible however and we have always believed that they were bound to return to the spotlight and despite many falling by the wayside luck appears to have left his one standing so tall.

What is it? 

This particular Opel Manta is a 1984 Berlinetta hatchback 1.8S which places it firmly in the ‘facelift’ category mentioned above with chunkier bumpers and front and rear spoilers. Built to rival the Capri and consistently pitched head-to-head in the motoring press the Manta, ironically, would forever live in the Ford’s shadow despite being better engineered. Based mechanically on Opel’s own Ascona and aesthetically on the Chevy Monza they looked good and were great to drive with the 1.8, four-cylinder engine producing around 90bhp to the rear wheels taking the car from a standstill to 60mph in under 11 seconds.

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We can just about discern form the photos that it has a manual gearbox but the advert doesn’t state whether it’s a four or five-speed – both were options from the factory. The car looks original and complete but the real feather in its cap is the incredibly low mileage. Having covered a mere 34,000 miles in its lifetime it deserves to be saved and driven. The advert states that the car is running and driving without any smoke, nasty noises or rattles but it has been lacking a valid MOT certificate since 2016 having failed due to excessive corrosion. It was subsequently given up on has been parked in storage ever since but it is now ready, with a little tender loving care, to rejoin the fold.

Why is it a project? 

In a word: Rust. It’s an 80s Vauxhall. Of course it’s going to rust. The particular problem areas in question (and what stopped it from attaining an MOT certificate five years ago) are the rear sills. The good news is that this was the only fail point and there were no other advisories at the time so with just a touch of welding here and there this 80s legend could potentially be back on the road quick smart. The bodywork looks presentable overall but is described as having ‘various age related scratches’. Nothing a bit of polish couldn’t correct and the rest of the underside of the car, including the jacking points, looks solid.

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As with any car that has been standing for a long period of time it’s important to check all perishable items and a full, thorough service is a must. The ad alludes to electrical issues too with the fuel pump, choke and hazard switch being highlighted as problem areas. Having said that there doesn’t appear to be a huge can of worms to contend with here, the major headache being the rust, obviously, but everything else could happily be categorised under ‘niggles’ rather than full-blown problems and they could be tackled at leisure after the bulk of the repair work has been carried out.

Five things to look for: 

1) Rust
As stated the rear sills need to be addressed first but a lot can happen in five years and that corrosion could have spread, depending on how the car has been stored, so get on your back and fully scrutinise the chassis and underside of the car in order to paint an accurate, up-to-date picture of the problem. Other susceptible areas to inspect include underneath the battery and washer bottle, behind the headlights and the floor pans so get those carpets up and check for any evidence of water ingress. Thankfully this particular car doesn’t have a sunroof which were notorious for directing water into the sills.

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2) Engine
34,000 miles is nothing for the Manta’s four-banger but a full service is imperative. The seller also mentions that the timing belt is due a replacement so factor this in to your budget/time-frame too. Limited use combined with a period of inactivity can be detrimental to certain components – rubber fuel and brake lines can deteriorate and gaskets can dry out causing leaks so be sure to check everything over thoroughly.

3) Electrics
We already know that the electric fuel pump has an issue and the hazard light switch is faulty but these may not be isolated incidents and could point to a larger overall problem. Check the earthing points to make sure they are clean and providing good contact. Volt meters within the dash can be susceptible to age-related problems and can cause the gauges to be unreliable so if the oil pressure looks suspect it could just be dodgy electrics rather than an actual mechanical issue.

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4) Interior
From the one photo attached to the advert the interior appears to be wearing well overall but then it is only the one photo and there is a known problem with the choke whereby the cable needs to be replaced. There shouldn’t be an excessive amount of wear and tear due to the car’s limited mileage but check the usual areas for deterioration, in particular the seat bolsters, door rubbers and driver’s side carpets. Opel Manta parts are becoming increasingly hard to come by so make sure everything is present, correct and damage-free.

5) Paint
We really do like the gold paint job and it suits the car down to the ground. It doesn’t appear to be suffering from any corrosion but have a good look round for any bubbling which may look superficial but could be hiding untold woes. A magnet to the body panels will uncover any bad filler repairs. A decent mop and polish would do wonders for the bodywork on this Opel Manta.

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What should you do with it? 

Weld it, service it, MOT it, drive it. With the price of Capris seemingly climbing on a daily basis we think it’s time to show the Mantas of the world some much deserved love and at just over four grand this particular Berlinetta is a bit of a bargain, it just needs someone to believe in its soul. Don’t be afraid of the melting pot – factor in a few thousand for repairs and a makeover and you’ll have a lovely, low-mileage Opel Manta to be proud of for well under £10,000.

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