News of more electric restomods. One very sensible, one sort of not.
A few weeks ago, we drove the unsensible one, the Opel Manta GSe Elektromod, Opel’s own battery-electric take on its 1970s coupé. How unsensible is it? Well, Opel has made the batteries small enough to leave enough boot space “for a fortnight’s holiday in Italy for four”, yet in doing so has made the batteries small enough that the Manta has a range of just 124 miles. Which isn’t ideal for a fortnight’s holiday in Italy for four, unless you start not too far away from Italy.
Anyway, that aside, it’s a very cool thing, and I love its steering wheel and seats, but there’s something about its looks – and I don’t think this is unusual for restomods – that jars. Somehow the juxtaposition of the modern bits of design and the old bits don’t quite meld together in my eyes. And I’m never sure quite why.
Take the Manta’s funky new flat strip LED-ish headlights and the translucent composite panel that houses them. Is it that I’ve never seen them alongside the narrow but pretty shape of the rest of the Manta before, or are they genuinely stylistically worse than round lamps within a lightly chromed grille?
Was this car’s shape fundamentally meant to have strips of chrome framing the glass and body areas, with the result that there’s less coloured body area overall, and where it is painted, the lines are broken up with brightwork slashes?
And what of the wheels? These new ones are so large and wear such low-profile tyres that it looks odd to my eyes, either because it’s unexpected or because it will never look right. Fundamentally, it affects the Manta’s stance. If the Opel designers of 1970 were planning those wheels, would they have designed the body shape differently in the first place?