2018 is a year of car anniversaries, ranging from the Morris Minor to the Land Rover. Another motor that’s celebrating an important milestone is the Opel GT, as it was made 50 years ago. Made by German manufacturer Opel, the car became recognised for its stylish appearance. Often compared to the Chevrolet Corvette, the GT was designed by Clare MacKichan, who was known for creating the Chevrolet Corvair and Camaro. To commemorate the GT’s 50th anniversary, we’re looking into the history of the motor.
Opel wanted to create something that was fast and stylish, so the company relied on MacKichan’s expertise. The car came with a front-engined, rear-wheel drive layout, with the engine being mounted at the back of the chassis to improve balance. The 1.1 L OHV straight-4 engine produced 67 hp. Buyers could also choose a 1.9-litre engine and tests clocked the GT as reaching a top speed of 120 mph.
The GT also featured pop-up headlights that were activated manually via a lever near the main console. The interior of the car was spacious, providing plenty of legroom for tall people. Compared to other sports cars, it was relatively small, though this didn’t stop it from being well-received when it debuted in 1968.
The GT proved to be popular enough that it made several media appearances. In 1969, Road & Track magazine reviewed the GT, finding it had a comfortable driving experience. The GT’s most famous appearance was in the comedy show Get Smart. Maxwell Smart chose a gold 1969 version to drive around in for the final season, with it featuring in the opening credits.
By 1973, production of the original GT ceased, with around 103,463 being sold in total.
Modern day revival
In 2006, Opel announced they were resurrecting the GT. The new version shared similarities with the original, but also came with its own features, which included a bespoke front grille and customised tail lights. The 2016 concept featured a new compact rear-wheel-drive system and turbocharged 1-litre three-cylinder engine. This car made its debut at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, combining historical and contemporary elements to provide the best of both worlds.
It’ll be interesting to see if Opel create a new concept to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the GT. The original model is still popular among classic car collectors, ensuring there will always be a market for the car.