Opel, and by extension Vauxhall, wants to put the Manta name back into the minds of the car-buying public.
An all-new car, battery powered and likely to have SUV-esque styling, is due to arrive in 2025 wearing the Manta name. In the meantime, Opel has dipped into its back catalogue and electrified an original Manta coupé to remind us of a time when the Opel lightning bolt and Vauxhall griffin were applied to cars other than humble family hatchbacks and SUVs.
Opel has preserved the original coupé’s delicate, simple lines for its vivified Manta but has, of course, entirely binned this 1974 car’s rather wheezy, 75bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine in favour of a custom-made 145bhp electric motor. Unusually, the front-mounted motor drives the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox and a longer-than-standard propshaft.
Meanwhile, the lithium ion battery, with a mere 31kWh of usable capacity, is sited in the boot, albeit mounted as far forward as possible to help balance the weight distribution. What’s left of the boot space is said by Opel still to be sufficient “for a fortnight’s holiday in Italy for four”. The company quotes a single-charge range of 124 miles, which, after a day of driving around the countryside outside Frankfurt, feels entirely plausible.
All up, the Manta GSe weighs a relatively trim 1137kg. That’s about 177kg heavier than the original petrol car but is still surely one of the lightest electric cars that’s ever been built. To cope with the extra weight, though, the front brakes have been upgraded and the rear drums have been replaced with new discs.
Inside, the original dashboard and dials have been replaced by the twin-screen instrument panel from the current Mokka and there’s a set of gorgeous Recaro seats, which have been pinched from an unloved Adam Grand Slam hatchback that someone found lying around.