Nur Fliegen ist schöner ... (Just flying is more fun). These four words were enough to generate dreams and passions. Like the slogan of its advertising, the car has become a classic: the sports car Opel GT, which first rolled off the production lines 50 years ago.
To be exact, the history of this model did not begin five decades ago, but 53 years ago when, to the surprise of everyone, the brand presented an aerodynamic two-seater sports car in the Frankfurt International Show en 1965.
With its tapered bodywork, long hood with retractable headlights that rotated around its longitudinal axis, bulging wheel arches and a vertical rear, the car was something never seen before in a European manufacturer. The curvy exterior was soon dubbed the "Coca-Cola bottle shape."
Opel initially described the “Experimental GT”(The first concept car from a German manufacturer) as a high-performance design study. It had been designed by Erhard schnell and his team at the new Rüsselsheim Design Studio, the first of its kind from a European manufacturer. Six years after the first sketches and three years since the management gave the project a “green light”, the GT became a production car.
The first Opel GT rolled off the production lines in 1968, a prime example of Franco-German cooperation. Thanks to some previous joint projects, the bodybuilders of Chausson and Brissoneau & Lotz It was already a reliable partner for Opel and the French company carried out the stamping, welding, painting and interior fitting work on the GT, before sending the cars back to Rüsselsheim to finally fit the suspensions, brakes, engine and transmission.
? There were two engines available: a 1.1-liter displacement and 60 hp from the Kadett and a 1.9-liter 90 hp from the Rekord. The GT 1900 was very popular from the beginning. The top speed of 185 km / h and acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h in 11,5 seconds was exactly what customers wanted. Power was delivered to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox. European customers rarely went for the three-speed automatic transmission option, but across the Atlantic this transmission was very popular.
The body of the production GT was quite different from the original car, looking even more athletic. The hood was longer with the shorter front overhang. The muscular bulges for the intake system allowed for a lower hood, the square headlights of the Experimental GT were replaced by seductive "eyes", which gave the car an even more unmistakable image.
Sleek, powerful lines lowered drag without reducing load for good high-speed stability. However, this was the cause of another unexpected problem: according to press reports from September 1968, the GT prototypes were never able to circulate hidden from the press, as their exciting silhouette “made any camouflage useless”.
Like the exterior design, the interior of the GT, with its bucket seats, three-spoke steering wheel and round instrumentation gauges, exuded a style that continues to delight fans today. But, despite wanting to awaken the emotions, GT designers also paid great attention to safety, endowing his creation with, for example, three-point seat belts, an integrated roll-over arch and side protection bars on the doors, as well as a safety steering column.
With its low center of gravity, rigid body and dynamic chassis, the GT was an ideal base for racing. For example, the GTs prepared by the Italian specialist Conrero had multiple wins in endurance racing in the early 70s. Later, in 1971, the Dr. Georg Von Opel, grandson of the brand's founder, turned the GT into a electric car, reaching a top speed of 189 km / h and setting several world records. And, in June 1972, Opel built a GT with diesel engine which achieved two world records and 18 international records at the Dudenhofen test track. The top speed of 197 km / h over one kilometer was a sensational figure for a diesel car of the time.
In 1969 it seemed as if the dream of convertible car lovers had come true, when Opel presented at the Frankfurt International Motor Show the Aero GT convertible with the electrically retractable rear glass and removable Targa roof. Unfortunately the car was left in a design studio.
Nonetheless, the production GT wowed customers until its end in 1973. Thanks to its unique design, performance, and attractive price, the popularity of the GT exceeded all expectations.
Total production reached the not inconsiderable figure of 103.463 units in just five years. Not only European customers, but also North Americans fell in love with the radical Opel sports car, which still has a huge following on both sides of the Atlantic.