Sublime Opel Manta 400 for sale

The story of the Opel Manta 400 is a familiar one from the years of Group B; it was one of the cars that carried on with how rally specials used to be (and how its Ascona predecessor was), with lots of power, not much weight and a propensity to attack stages sideways. However, by the time it was ready to rally, the game had moved on, the Audi Quattro showing the rest of the field that four-wheel drive was going to be a requirement in the WRC. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop the Manta from achieving cult hero success on the British and European stage(s), with its rorty sound, frisky handling and iconic liveries – Andrews Heat for Hire with Russell Brookes at the wheel a particular favourite – winning over a lot of fans. Even those not able to watch in period have come to love the old Opel thanks to YouTube. This ‘Manta Magic’ retrospective is fantastic.

Anyway, to the car in question. The homologation Manta was called ‘400’ because that was how many of the old Ascona had to be made; by the time its successor came to compete, only 200 were needed, with 245 produced in total for road and rally. Even 40 years ago, then, it was a very rare car. The notable mechanical upgrade was a Cosworth head for the 2.4-litre engine (originally meant to be 2.0, but that wasn’t powerful enough), although it was the looks that really made the Manta stand out as a road car. The white-on-white colour scheme with ‘400’ stickers (there are a few grey ones, but they don’t look as good), the bulked-up arches for wider tracks, the incredible Irmscher interior and four foglights all look just as good now as they did in the 1980s. Some say the Manta remains the best-looking Vauxhall/Opel two-door ever made, and you won’t find us disagreeing.

This is an early 400 with the two-slot front grille, much rarer than the four-slot cars as they were only made in 1981; one or two online sources suggest that as few as 23 of the 245 have the original look. It also benefits from the black-backed Opel Blitz interior, which might be one of the best upholstery options ever, where later cars went to grey. All 400s are awesome, of course, but an early white car is especially so.

Bar a stainless steel exhaust, this stunning example is completely original: wheels, seats, engine – everything as it would have been in 1982. Some achievement given how many were carb swapped for more power. Furthermore, it’s been obsessively cared for over four decades, first in Europe and then in the UK since 1995. The first owner here, in fact, merely drove it into their collection and left it there for 14 years. But then they did have ‘many other Opel Mantas’, says the advert, including other 400s (!), so you can perhaps understand them keeping a good one at its best. What a life it must be to have many Opel Mantas.

Having been sold by the selling dealer to its previous owner in 2015, the magnificent Manta is now available once more, still just 37,000 miles old and not a blemish to its name. There are new cars in showrooms with less tidy engine bays than this. There’s plenty more glorious detail in the ad, too, which is well worth a few minutes of your time. There surely can’t be a better 400 left than this one.

Which means it’ll cost, of course. Think of the great homologation heroes and what they cost – Delta Integrale, E30 M3, Sierra RS500 – and you’ll be in the Manta’s ballpark. It’s currently offered at £115,000; nobody needs reminding that the really successful Group B cars are hundreds of thousands more. For Opel obsessives or Manta maniacs, the holy grail seldom gets seen like this. Though maybe sideways isn’t the way to drive it any longer…

Next Post

Rivian pricing and demand, Honda compact EV, Ford hydrogen fuel-cell test: Today’s Car News

Rivian supply and demand brings a much shorter wait time for its electric trucks. Honda reveals a new EV for Europe. And Ford tests hydrogen fuel-cell tech. This and more, here at Green Car Reports.  As Rivian continues to ramp up production, it confirmed last week that the wait time […]
Rivian pricing and demand, Honda compact EV, Ford hydrogen fuel-cell test: Today’s Car News