MANTA GTE

Buy & mod­ify

Performance Vauxhall - - VAUX TECH -

The Manta B was con­ceived with one pur­pose in mind; to beat Ford at its own game and steal as many sales from the Capri as pos­si­ble. By the time the Manta B ar­rived in 1975 the Capri had firmly es­tab­lished its place in pop­u­lar Bri­tish cul­ture. Un­for­tu­nately, in the UK the dy­nam­i­cally su­pe­rior Manta never man­aged to cap­ture the pub­lic’s imag­i­na­tion in the way the Capri had but it still es­tab­lished a loyal fol­low­ing. The Manta B was kept fresh through­out its pro­duc­tion with a facelift dur­ing the 1980s and con­sid­er­able mo­tor­sport suc­cess to boot. The cars had a rep­u­ta­tion for strong per­for­mance in the early ‘90s and many have been tracked, thrashed, crashed or pinched over the

PER­FOR­MANCE VAUX­HALL years, though that does mean that the cars that have sur­vived tend to be well looked af­ter (un­less you’re look­ing at an ox­ide coloured project of course!). Prices have in­creased but the car’s in­her­ent char­ac­ter, keen han­dling and de­cent per­for­mance still re­mains.

The Manta came in two body styles, a coupe and a hatch­back. The coupes gen­er­ally fetch higher pre­mi­ums ow­ing to their ob­vi­ous link to the mighty rally cars. By the time the Manta ar­rived on the scene GM had de­cided to merge Vaux­hall and Opel in an at­tempt to save money and ra­tio­nalise the Euro­pean arm of their em­pire, hence the Manta, the Ascona B and Mk1 Cava­lier shared a chas­sis and many pan­els and trim pieces. Power was pro­vided by a range of trusty CIH en­gines in a va­ri­ety of states of tune and ca­pac­ity; buy­ers ini­tially had the choice of a 75bhp 1.6-litre or 90bhp 1.9litre, fol­lowed by a 2-litre ver­sion with 100bhp. Th­ese early cars are very rare, so our main area of in­ter­est is the facelifted 1981-on­ward range. The 1982 model year saw the launch of the facelifted Manta, the B2. The en­gine op­tions were either a 1.8-litre OHC unit (the trusty GM 8v found in pretty much ev­ery Vaux­hall from this pe­riod) pro­duc­ing 90bhp or a 110bhp 2-litre CIH, as fit­ted to the new GT/E model. The rub­ber bumpers were re­placed with body-coloured plas­tic, front and rear spoil­ers, sideskirts, a re-styled grill and a new bon­net. The GT/E also got Re­caro sports seats, low pro­file tyres and up­rated sports sus­pen­sion. A steel sun­roof ap­peared in 1985 and the range was facelifted again in 1986 with new in­te­rior trim. The fi­nal no­table re­vi­sion was the GT/E Ex­clu­sive model which had twin head­lights.

Pro­duc­tion of the Manta ceased in 1988 and the last cars are on F-plates. The fi­nal car to roll off the line was a white GT/E des­tined for Opel’s mu­seum. Dur­ing its thir­teen year his­tory 550,000 Manta Bs were sold, mak­ing it the mar­que’s longest run­ning pro­duc­tion car.

Since then the car has de­vel­oped a large fol­low­ing and its ex­ploits in group B ral­ly­ing have be­come stuff of leg­end, mean­ing that prices for all Manta Bs - from the scab­bi­est bare shell to the clean­est GT/E - have in­creased dra­mat­i­cally in the last ten years. As such you have to be pre­pared to either pay a premium for a good ex­am­ple or put the graft into restor­ing one that’s

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