Opel’s electric restoration of the original Manta coupe by Opel is a unique one-off. It’s also the paper for a battery-powered Manta Return
Opel and Vauxhall want to bring the Manta name back in the minds of car-buyers.
In 2025, a brand new car with the Manta name, which will be battery-powered and likely to sport SUV-esque styling, will arrive. Opel has electrified an old Manta coupe from its back catalog to recall a time when Opel’s lightning bolt and Vauxhall Griffin could be applied to other cars than family hatchbacks or SUVs.
Opel has retained the original coupe’s elegant, simple lines for its vivified Manta, but has completely replaced this 1974 car’s wheezy 75bhp, 1.6-litre petrol motor with a custom-made, 145bhp electrical motor. The motor is mounted at the front and drives the rear wheels via an unusual four-speed manual gearbox with a longer propshaft.
The 31kWh lithium ion battery is located in the boot. It is mounted as far forward and as low as possible to balance the weight distribution. Opel claims that the remaining boot space will be enough to provide a holiday for four in Italy for two weeks. Opel quotes a range of 124 miles for a single charge, which feels plausible after driving around the country outside Frankfurt.
The Manta GSe is a lightweight electric car that weighs in at 1137kg. This electric car is about 177 kg heavier than the original petrol car, but it’s still one of the most lightweight ever built. To help with this extra weight, however, the front brakes were upgraded and the rear drums were replaced with new discs.
The original dashboard and dials are gone. A twin-screen Mokka instrument panel has been installed. There’s also a beautiful set of Recaro seats that were salvaged from an Adam Grand Slam hatchback.
Opel’s new corporate color is the body colour. It is a dark shade of highlighter-marker Yellow. Opel’s new front-end styling, the ‘Visor’ (inspired by the Manta’s quad-headlight fascia) has replaced the original Manta’s quad-headlight fascia. The ultra-thin LED highlights are separated from the black-panel screen by which a 2D Opel logo or any other slogan can be seen. Opel employees responded politely to a question about whether it could be set up so that it reads ‘Get out my way’ in mirror writing.
This car is unlikely to require such a message. The car’s 8.9 sec 0-62 mph time is relatively slow by modern electric cars, but fast by Manta standards. The Manta GSe’s mechanical condition is quite impressive.
I was expecting something like a show pony. However, the unassisted steering works well – a little sloppy in the straight-ahead, but very responsive when you get lock-on. Other than the feeling that the brakes could use more power, the electric Manta drives smoothly and with good manners. It does make a lot of wind noise, and the body rattles on sharp bumps (there is no extra bracing and strengthening panels), but it feels great at 60 mph.
It is a strange four-speed manual. The four-speed manual is almost like a preselector gearbox. You select a gear and let the clutch go. Nothing happens until you press the accelerator. It does affect power delivery. While it is quieter when you cruise in fourth gear, it can still be used as a single-speed auto. It’s still more tactile than the single-speed, leave-it in-D drive found in electric cars.
This is just a fun project for now. Opel is in discussions with suppliers about making a limited number of electrified Manta GSe models. The response to this showcar has been overwhelming.
This would be enough to make the public want the new 2025 Manta even more. Would it disappoint us all that the new Manta will not be a sleek, slim-pillared throwback coupe from the 1970s like this? We hope it happens, in any case.