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Opel Manta: What Year Is It?


Manta: What Year Is It?

A brief guide to model-year changes of US Manta's. Article is reprinted from OMC Blitz newsletter 12/2002, as originally authored by Thomas H. and Charles G. This article attempts to list the differences between the various years and models (#57) of Manta's -- Most of the information applies to Ascona's (#51, 53, 54) as well, but was not as actively collected.

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The Early Years 1970-1973

General Features:

  • Chrome Steel Bumpers
  • Single windshield washer nozzle mounted centrally on the fresh air fan housing. The nozzle sticks out through a hole in the hood.
  • Round, door-mounted exterior rear-view mirror.
  • Rear license plate, mounted below the bumper. Illuminated by a lamp mounted in the bumper.
  • Opel Blitz emblem mounted on rear panel between trunk lock and rear bumper.
  • Hardtop body style, menaing the B pillar between the front and side windows only holds the window seals, but has no structural function.
  • Seat belts without auto-adjustable fit. The shoulder belt is mounted too low, due to a lack of a better attachment point.
  • The shifter know is identical to the GT type. It is made from black, hard plastic and has a characteristic mushroom shape.
  • Window cranks have a plastic knob.
  • The sheet metal shrouding of the intake air pre-heating encircles the #1 and #4 exhaust manifold tubes.
    Aluminum oil pans w/ cooling fins on front of pan.
  • Front seats have bolsters on sides, front leading edge and top. Similar to GT seat design.
  • Rear seat is "bucketed" to seat two people.
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The 1970 Model

Early versions (usually prototypes and/or display models). Less is know about these than the infamous 1968 Opel GT. They are known to exist and some were imported to US. Documentation is sketchy at best.

Chassis Starting Number -- ??

  • High compression engine with 3-bearing cam and solid lifters
  • Other known feature: Orange oil pressure light in dash.

1971 Model Year

Chassis Starting Number: 57-2273460 (Bochum plant) & 57-9361001 (Antwerp plant) This was the first complete model year for the US "1900" Coupe. U.S. Sales: 8378 (No separate numerical breakdown for the Rallye version)

  • Separate lap and shoulder seat belts with individual buckles.
  • Buckles are not solidly floor mounted, but are attached to a belt.
  • The center console has a small square opening with provisions to mount the lap belt buckle when not in use.
  • There is another storage spot for the shoulder belt buckle behind the door.
  • Chromed bumpers without rubber strip.
  • Chromed steel bumperettes with rubber inlets.
  • No emblem on the front fenders.
  • 1971: "Opel 1900" emblem on the right side of the trunk lid. Rallyes have an "Opel" emblem and the checkered Rallye emblem.
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1972 Model Year

Chassis Starting Number: 57-2560988 (Bochum plant) & 57-9543887 (Antwerp plant) U.S. Sales: 10, 647 (No separate numerical breakdown for the Rallye version)

  • Virtually identical to 1971 model
  • "Opel" emblem on the right side of the trunk lid.
  • The red flasher button on the steering column changes from "Flasher" to "Hazard"
  • Late in the 1972 model year, the cylinder head changed to the 12-hole design
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1973 Model Year

Lots of changes and beginning of the "Manta" era. U.S. Sales: Standard & Luxus 17,536; Rallye version 8360

  • Frame and most features are like 1971 model
  • Official name changes from "1900" to "Manta"
  • "Manta" and "1900" emblems appear for the first time on the front fenders behind the wheel arc
  • "manta" emblem on the right side of the trunk lid
  • VIN changes format, from "57" to "OL77NC"
  • Early in 1973 the Opel logo insert in the horn pad in both styles of steering wheels changes from a black plastic piece to an aluminum plate
  • The seat belts have a warning buzzer and warning light installed on the instrument cluster behind the windshield wiper switch and the steering column
  • A dot painted on the fuel tank gauge next to the full marker
  • The passenger seat has a sensor to detect a passenger and trigger a warnign when the passenger has not put on the seat belts.
  • The seat belt changes to the "one buckle" type. The shoulder and lap belt need to be latched together before they can be inserted in the floor mounted belt buckle.
  • The lap belt has a retracting mechanism, but doesn't allow for movement once locked.
  • The glove compartment lock changes from a twist know to a lever
  • The storage hook for the shoulder belt buckle behind the door changes to a different design. The rectangular slot in the center console for storing the seat belt buckles still exists, but has no function and is missing the mount bracket for the buckle. The cigarette lighter adds a green translucent collar, which makes it visible at night. It is backlit by the same light bulb that illuminated the ashtray and lighter socket.
  • Rear vents behind rear side windows changed in February 1973. Early vents have a surrounding frame cast into the plastic piece. The later vents have the horizontal blades only.
  • Chromed bumpers with rubber strip and rubber bumperettes.
  • The carburetor changes from a water choke to an electric choke.
  • In the middle of 1973, the master cylinder and brake booster change from ATE to AC/Delco. (The replacement master cylinder from the German company "FAG" was aftermarket only).
  • Cylinder head has hardened seats for use with unleaded fuel.
  • EGR valve.
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The Later Years: 1974-1975

Generally, these are quickly identified by the addition of the "Big Bumpers," although one source claims the change occurred on Mantas as early as those produced in June 1973.

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1974 Model Year

U.S. Sales: Standard & Luxus 14, 026; Rallye version 7959

  • Heavy duty cast aluminum bumpers supported by a pair of shocks
  • Front turn signals are integrated into the bumper.
  • Two windshield washer nozzles mounted in the hood. The center hole was deleted.
  • Rectangular Door Mounted exterior rearview mirror.
  • Rear license plate mounted above the bumper. Illuminated by two separate lamps mounted to the rear panel at each side of the plate.
  • Opel Blitz emblem moved to the top of the trunk lid.
  • Blitz emblem on top of trunk lid smaller in size.
  • Structural member behind the B pillar, between the side windows to help make the frame stronger.
  • The seat belts are of the three-point style, which is standard today. The shoulder belt is mounted much higher and is attached to the B pillar.
  • The shifter knob is of a somewhat softer, two-piece design and is ball-shaped (except Luxus). Standard models have a light brown or wood grain texture; Rallye models are black.
  • The window cranks have a rubber knob.
  • The dashboard has two extra air nozzles added to direct air to the side windows. The nozzles are identical to the round butterfly type used in the center of the dashboard.
  • The instrument panel on standard models is black instead of imitation wood grain.
  • A dimmer rheostat for the instrument illumination, mounted under the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign on the instrument panel, is located.
  • The left position of the lower ventilation control lever on the instrument panel is labelled "HTR" instead of "O"
  • The center position of that lever has a left and right facing arrow, instead of an upward pointing arrow.
  • The right position is labelled "OFF" instead of a downward pointing arrow.
  • The shifter console is different. Ashtray is directly behind the shifter and pops backward. Instead of the ashtray in the center of the console, next to the handbrake with a sliding top as previously.
  • Seats lose the side bolsters and have a "flat" look.
  • Additional shock mount holes below the standard ones in the A-arms.
  • The Sport wheels are the only wheels available.
  • The sheet metal shrouding of the intake air pre-heating only encircles the #1 exhaust manifold tube.
  • Change from cast aluminum oil pan to steel oil pan.

1975 Model Year

Fuel Injection Arrives, but not for long...The final US model year. US Sales: 15, 118

  • Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injected engine, with 80bhp @5000 rpm, instead of 78bhp DIN @4800 rpm's.
  • "Fuel Injection" emblem on left side of trunk lid.
  • Computer mounted in passenger side footwell compartment area
  • Electric fuel pump
  • Timing cover is cast without hole for the earlier mechanical fuel pump
  • Valve cover has a bracket for the throttle cable. The port for the small crankcase ventilation hose is missing.
  • The VIN number plate moves from the passenger side frame to the passenger side radiator mount wall.
  • Distributor vacuum can only provides a retard function, no advance. Can is mounted inverted and pulls to retard timing.
  • Breaker points mounted in a different location.
  • Engine block has "19E" stamped on the number plate, instead of the previous "19S."
  • Connecting rods are cast, not forged.
  • "Big brakes" Larger calipers, bigger brake booster, larger rotors and different hub.
  • New rim, similar to earlier Sport wheels, but 5.5" wide with the same 37mm offset. The rectangular openign between the spokes is bridged by a steel strip on these wheels, creating 8 holes.
  • Head rests change to a thicker design.
  • The steering wheel is of the Rallye type.
  • "Unleaded Fuel Only" sticker on the multi-function instrument panel gauge.
  • Wide stripes running along the side of the car comprising the word "Opel" were available as a dealer-installed option.
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Special Models

Manta Rallye Model 57R (1971-1974)

  • The dashboard contains a tachometer
  • A separate instrument panel is mouted under the radio, containing an ammeter, a clock, and an oil pressure gauge. In some 1973 models with ARA installed air conditioning, there is a special pod for the three gauges that sits to the left of the speedometer, next to the driver's door window.
  • The steering wheel is rubber/foam rimmed and has a large round horm pad. Also in early 1973, the Opel logo insert in the horn pad in both styles of steering wheels changes from a black plastic piece to an aluminum plate.
  • There is a pedal switch that activates the windshield wipers on top of the windshield squirt button on the left of the driver's foot compartment.
  • The hood and part ofthe fenders are painted matte black.
  • There is a wide stripe running along the side of the car and connecting over the trunk.
  • "Rallye" emblem with checkered flag on the right side of the trunk lid.
  • Dual chrome exhaust tips.
  • The 1971-1972 models do not have the horizontal silver-painted stripes on the radiator grille.
  • Wheels: The early 1971-January 1973 models had 15 holes, with chrome outer and inner ring covers. Later models of January 1973 through 1974 had the 4-spoke Sport wheel design, These appear similar to the 1973 GT wheels, but with 37mm offset instead of 27mm offset for the GT.
  • Dealer installed fog lamps mounted under the front bumper for 1971-1973, activated by green switch on the left of the instrument panel. The circuit relay is mounted next to the ignition coil with exposed fuse.
  • The rear axle on manual transmission Rallye Mantas is 3.67:1 instead of the 3.44:1 on the standard model. Automatics have the standard 3.44:1 ratio. Cars with the 3.67:1 ration have a speedometer with W=1122 on face.
  • Stiffer Rear Shocks

Manta Luxus Model 57L (1973-1974)

  • A large clock is mounted in the instrument cluster to the right of the speedometer.
  • Thre arm rest has an integrated handle.
  • Initration wood trim on the door panels.
  • The shifter know is unique to this model. It is larger in diameter and appears as a flat disk.
  • Steering wheel is of the Rallye type.
  • Glove box is lighted.
  • The trunk in some models is carpeted.
  • Four spoke Sport Wheels, dimension 5 x 13 ET37.
  • Chrome exhaust tip extension.
  • "Luxus" badge on front fenders, instead of "1900."
  • "Luxus" emblem on right side of trunk lid, next to "Manta" emblem.
  • Convenience light in the engine compartment.
  • In 1974 models, center console matched blue or maroon interior (only colors available).

Manta 1973 "Blue Max" Model

Somewhat rare model, reportedly promoted and sold only in Midwest and Eastern US. Has all features of a 1973 Luxus, with additional features.

  • 3 Speed Automatic
  • Blue corduroy interior, with wood trim
  • Blue metallic exterior
  • Build date between February and May 1973
  • Factory-installed Sun Roof
  • Blue vinyl top
  • Dealer installed air-conditioning
  • Possibly a "Blue Max" badge or decal (unconfirmed)
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