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Opel GT 1900

A great design

the Opel GT is a great design

You have guessed it, the Opel GT is my favourite car! I would rank this beautiful little car amongst the greatest car designs ever, like the Lamborghini Miura, Jaguar type E, Ford GT40 etc. Sheer beauty, from every angle!

Nur fliegen ist schöner

GM used the slogan "nur fliegen ist schöner" (only flying is more beautiful) to advertise the Opel GT in Germany, making the car very popular with pilots. Many adverts showed the Opel GT with an aeroplane in the background. These are a few similar photographs together with a special paint Sea King belonging to the 40 Sqn Heli of the Belgian Air Force and based at Koksijde, Belgium.

nur fliegen ist schöner 1
nur fliegen ist schöner 2
nur fliegen ist schöner 3
Good looking red american...

I owned my first Opel GT from 1978 till 1981. I was still in pilot training (flying Fouga Magisters) when I found this second hand car for sale. Being young and inexperienced, I bought this GT which looked very nice at first sight but appeared to be a problem car. It was a USA reimport or perhaps it was a USA car which had never been exported... It had been repainted in red (Standox Fiat red) on the outside only. The rear side markers were overpainted in black.

my first Opel GT was repainted red when I bought the car
 it had additional aftermarket mirrors installed...
...but the chrome wheel rings were missing
...with lots of problems

These were the problems I can recall: waterpump (typical), head light revolving mechanism, steering rack and pinion, broken front leaf spring, throttle linkage, erratic running, troublesome emission control system, battery charging and the nightmare of all GT owners: lots of rust... As if that was not enough, another car crashed into the right hand side. I had to find and buy another door, install it and repaint it all within the same weekend. I did the complete repair including the paint job out of doors with snow on the floor...

that's how I came home after the crash
Original colour

I eventually repainted the car in its original metallic blue colour, trying as best as I could to repair the rusted areas. The initial aftermarket mirrors were replaced by a pair of nicer looking examples which received the same colour as the body. The original wheels were replaced by Borranni wheel rims with wider tyres. I don't recall the exact size but I believe I had 205's at the rear and 195's at the front. I managed to install the original chrome center hubs on the Borranni and that looked quite good.

repainted in the original colour and equipped with...
...nice looking aftermarket mirrors and wider rims and tyres

I was forced to sell the car in the months preceding the birth of my daughter. I was flying F-104G Starfighters at that time. I always regretted I hadn't kept the car in storage. Now that I own a GT again, I'm glad I didn't keep the first one. My current GT is indeed a much, much better car!

History of my current GT
Build date and first owner

My current GT is a 1900 GT-A-L model kept in a 99% original state. An inquiry with the Opel history centre in Germany revealed that the exact build date was 09 September 1969 and that the car was delivered to an Opel dealer in The Netherlands. It was subsequently bought by a Belgian who lived close to the Dutch border. Perhaps the Opel GT was cheaper accross the border? Anyway, it was registered for the first time in Belgium on 15 September 1970, so a bit over a year later. The first owner took great care of his car and I'm very gratefull for that! He had the car treated for corrosion prevention ("Dinitrol") probably right after purchase and that has proven to be of utmost value on this otherwise rust sensitive car. Also the interior is extremely well maintained!

Second owner

The second owner bought the car towards the end of 2002 with around 122000 km on the odometer. He had the car professionally repainted in the original colour again (DD Sahara Gold). The factory paint had suffered from minor blemishes and scratches as a result of driving the car regularly over a period of 32 years. The new paint job is very well done indeed even though only the exterior was done. The interior parts did not require any repaint as everything was still in excellent shape (thanks to the "Dinitrol").

for the last time at the previous owners home...
Now mine!

I purchased the car in this state from the second owner on 19 April 2006 with 124400 km on the odometer. I was very suspicious for hidden corrosion but having owned the car for a few months now, I have yet to find the first spot of rust! The previous owner did however not possess all the mechanical and electrical knowledge and skills required to maintain a car 100% operational, so I had to fix a couple of issues when I took delivery of the car.

...and delivered to my door
Opel GT forums

I found a lot of information on specialised Opel GT internet forums in Germany and USA. This helped me a lot to do the proper repairs on several issues I had: turn signals, fuel indication, battery charging, headlight switching, instrument panel lighting etc. These forums are a wealth of info and I do recommend them without hesitation! As such, I was aware of safety issues with possible chafing on the revolving head light wiring, so I added relays for circuit protection. I also replaced the brake lines which had swollen, this had been suggested on the forums as well.

I can say that I know a hundred times more about Opel GT's now than I did back in the time I owned my first GT.

revolving head lights still work perfectly
Cosmetic repairs

Some cosmetic repairs were then carried out: new taillight housings and lenses, new rear turn signal housings and lenses, new licence plate lighting lenses, new reverse light housing and lens, new front turn signal lenses, new H4 headlights, new door seals, new windshield wipers and a few other things. I also replaced the dented carb air filter adapter with a second hand one and I installed chromed valve cover and radiator caps. Finally I replaced the rear bumpers with freshly rechromed ones. There was a dent in one of the old ones. They were perhaps still good enough for a daily driver but I wanted them to look as new...

all new rear lighting housings and lenses
Sources for spares

I bought most spare parts from the stands of Splendid Parts (Germany) and Wil Beister (The Netherlands) while visiting the 2006 Euro GT Treffen in Kevelaer (Germany). Some other parts were mail ordered from both Suselbeek (The Netherlands) and again from Splendid Parts (Germany). All these companies delivered first class parts and service! I also wish to thank OTAK, a local car parts company from Veurne, Belgium for the excellent help they offered me in quickly finding specialised parts and for helping me in rebuilding the broken fuel sending unit.

Radio restoration

Quite a rewarding job was to restore the Philips radio which was probably installed by the Dutch dealer when the car was new. As the internals of the radio seemed still OK, the restoration only involved turning new knobs out of aluminium and making a new face plate. I did the latter by CNC cutting a new clear acrylic front plate and printing the matching waterslide decals. The result is shown below.

repaired face plate with original broken one in foreground

the restored radio installed in the car with the new aluminium knobs

A new door sticker

I made a new sticker to go on the inside of the door. The ink on the original had been wiped away steadily after 37 years of beauty care... It's made by placing the laserprinted waterslide decal on a piece of self adhesive chrome effect plastic film. Here's the result.

now we can read the tyre pressure again!
New tyres and she's ready to go!

Finally the old and dried out tyres were replaced with new YOKOHAMA S306 tyres. I chose for the 185/70 R13 size which look nice on the original rims. That's also what I had seen on most GT's with original wheel rims at the 2006 Euro GT Treffen in Germany. They are a touch wider than the original 165 size tyres but the diameter is identical so it does not have any influence on tachometer readings. I now hope the original freaks will not consider this as a sin... Incidentally, the thread on the Yokohama tyre is a quite good match to the GT style and era.

these 185/70 R13 size tyres fit the original rims perfectly

The result is a car that almost looks like new, with everything working as it should and of which I'm indeed very proud.

Close to original state

As said before, I try to keep my Opel GT as much original as possible. It still has the original wheel rims, even the spare tyre has never been run. The original Solex carb is far from perfect but I like the way the car runs. The center console had the sticky back wood imitation but it was so badly wrinkled I chose to remove it alltogether. Frankly, I prefer an all black interior anyway. The previous owner installed a chrome strip at the back, something many Opel GT owners tend to do but unfortunately it is not original. However, I like the looks and rather than spend a fortune on finding an original strip, doing a decent installation and having it painted in the body colour again, I'll just leave it as it is. I try to use original parts only but obviously, when only reproduction parts are available, I will use them.

all black interior
chrome strip at the back looks quite nice
More cosmetic improvements

Just when you think you are settled, you slowly start to wonder what else you can improve. Small imperfections suddenly become major flaws in your eyes and there's nothing else to do than take care of them...

Door claws

The door claws on my car just cried out to be replaced. I bought a set of polished stainless steel reproduction claw plates. I removed the old plates (they were riveted onto the claw body) and brushed the claw body and bolts for a clean look. I then installed the claws including the new polished claw plates on the car.

polished stainless steel door claw plate on brushed claw body
Rechromed door handles

The chrome on the door handles was pitted and had traces from sanding. To avoid immobilising the car for the time it would take to rechrome, I bought a pair of used door handles on eBay. I had them rechromed at Belcroom in Roeselare, Belgium. Although it was expensive, I'm very happy with the quality of the chrome, it is definitely superior to the factory new chrome.

rechromed door handle
Door step trim

The original door step trim was full of dents and scratches, so I replaced them with the excellent reproduction trim parts from Splendid Parts (Germany). These are polished stainless steel and although not 100% identical in cross section, they do fit rather well.

new door step trim
Right rear view mirror

The chrome on the left rear view mirror was heavily pitted and the glass was showing signs of aging, so a replacement was due. When Splendid Parts (Germany) released their new all chrome reproduction mirrors, I decided to take a pair and equip the right hand side with a rear view mirror as well. One can argue this is not original but the Swedish Opel GT's were factory equipped with the right mirror to comply with their stringent safety requirements. Anyway, I reasoned that safety was more important than the quest for the ultimate original car, so I installed the right mirror as well.

right hand side chrome rear view mirror
Rear emblems

The chrome on the rear emblems also suffered from pitting, so I bought replacements. The chrome reproduction "O P E L" letters were OK but the "1900" emblem was a cheapish looking self adhesive plastic affair. It looked so horrible I trashed it rightaway. Instead I decided to restore the existing emblem where the paint had chipped off in several places. The best match for the red colour I could find was RAL3001. I sprayed the emblem and after the paint dried, I carefully sanded the high points with 1500 grit sandpaper and lots of water to reveal the chrome edge and the "1900" numerics again. Unfortunately, the chrome is not perfect, so I hope to find an original new "1900" emblem some day!

"O P E L" emblem replaced and "1900" emblem partly restored
Belgian Opel GT Club

I joined the Belgian Opel GT Club in April 2006. It is quite alive with a website, a published newsletter and a very active members core. Now that my car is running reliably, I will definitely participate at events hosted or supported by the club.

4de Oud Opel Treffen Oudenburg 2006

This is the first event we drove to in the GT. The event was open for all old Opel cars but at the same time, a dedicated GT get together between the Belgian and the Dutch GT Club was held. It was well organised and we had a good time, despite the rain. We will certainly go back next year! Here are some photographs.

old Opels gathered on the Oudenburg market place...
...with the majority being Opel GT's
Belgian Opel GT Club Spring 2007 meeting in Ostend

This event was the opening of the 2007 Belgian Opel GT Club season kindly organised by Rudy Marlein from Ostend. A total of 23 Opel GT cars participated, all from Belgium. The weather was exceptionally fine, so we enjoyed this meeting which was held in a very relaxed atmosphere. I wish to thank Rudy for his effort. I also wish to thank him and the other club members for their spontaneous help during my coolant spill problem...

I joined in at the first stop of the tour with my son Bert. He made the following photographs.

First stop at Domein Walrave in Raversijde
Still at Domein Walrave
Second stop in Ostend City
Line up of GT's shot from another angle
 
Opel GT Eurotreffen Slagharen (NL) 2007

Over 200 GT's attended the event during the course of the weekend. I drove my GT to Slagharen in the company of my son Bert. We could only stay for one day and that was: saturday. The weather was poor at the start of our 400 km onward trip with quite some rain but improved as we progressed north. The trip went very well indeed. The car received a well deserved tune up by a local Opel GT expert just a few weeks before and it did really pay off: the engine now ran like a Swiss watch with excellent fuel economy. Thanks a lot Geert!

Upon arrival, it was clear that the terrain had seen lots of rain during the night before but it turned out to be of no concern. We parked the car and spent some time looking at the line up of other GT's. Of course, we also strolled through the trade stands looking for parts to improve our own GT.

 
 
 
part of the line up of GT's on saturday
 

I prefer the Opel GT in its original state but some of the customized examples are really interesting.

 
customized front end
 

Some of the engine compartments have to be seen to be believed. Absolutely speckless with lots of chromed parts. Quite some devoted owners!

 
 
some examples of extremely neat engine compartments
 
my own Gold GT parked between some other fine examples
 

We spent some more time at the attraction park and drove back to a Hotel some 30 km on the way home. We drove the remaining 370 km home on sunday morning. In all, the event was well organised and we enjoyed our trip!

 

 


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