Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD Recharges German Classic
We’ve seen our share of electric restomods by now, but Opel’s recreation of its 1970s classic offers something few others do: a four-speed manual transmission.
For this project the German automaker, now part of PSA, took its classic 1970s Manta coupe and dropped in a 31-kWh battery and an electric motor positioned up front but driving the rear wheels, giving the coupe a fairly modest 145 hp and 188 lb-ft of torque in the process. But it kept the original’s four-speed manual transmission, which was even sold stateside for a few years, as our visits to Carlisle almost every year remind us. Opel says one can either shift gears manually, or go straight into fourth gear and drive the car as an automatic. Needless to say, we’d like to try this in practice.
The Manta’s body also received quite a few tweaks in the process, with Opel ditching chrome bumpers in favor of a cleaner, monochrome look, offset by 17-inch Ronal wheels wearing very little rubber—they’re 195/40 tires up front and 205/40 in the rear. The four headlights of the original have been swapped out for L-shaped LED headlights, while a new front spoiler has been added to give the car an appropriately modern look.
“The Manta GSe impressively demonstrates the enthusiasm with which we build cars at Opel. It combines our great Opel tradition with today’s commitment to emissions-free mobility for a very desirable, sustainable future. Opel is already electric with many models – and now the legendary Manta is too,” said Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller.
On the inside, Opel has given the Manta GSe two screens, with a 12-inch instrument cluster and a 10-inch infotainment screen, with the seats appropriately updated as well, borrowed from Opel’s parts bin.
Speaking of Opel’s parts bin, the automaker gave the Manta GSe a regenerative braking system used in the Opel Mokka-e and Opel Corsa-e.
The electric model’s power output does not sound like much, but it’s still a gain over the original Manta GS/E model that served up 105 hp in 1974. The Manta was enough of a world car to be offered stateside, with Buick dealerships offering a number of Opel models through the late 1970s. The Manta was among the last Opels offered under their own brand stateside, but in reality we’ve seen quite a few Opel models in the U.S. under Saturn, Cadillac and other GM badges in the 1990s and the 2000s.
With a 124-mile range, the Manta GSe makes more sense in small German burgs than on the autobahn, but we suspect the small battery is all that’s needed for a concept demonstrating that the three-pedal setup does not necessarily have to go away in the EV age. Still, we’re in the early years of EV adoption, so it will be a while until automakers large and small will cater to the three-pedal audience with systems able to match some feel of rowing through the gears on a manual transmission car.
We expect such sports cars of the Gattaca-style future to offer drivers an automatic mode with two pedals, and also a manual one. So at some point in the future we’ll have the best of not two but perhaps three or four worlds that will include one-, two- and three-pedal driving as well as high levels of autonomy to choose from.
What American car of the 1970s (if any) deserves to be brought back as a retro-styled EV? Let us know in the comments below.
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