It’s Not a Baby Corvette, It’s a Barn Find Opel GT
1968 was a good year for automotive design and performance, if not one of the greatest ever. In addition to all the carry-over performance car icons, ’68 saw the debut of the Plymouth Road Runner, AMC Javelin, Triumph TR5, and of course, the lovely third-generation Chevrolet Corvette. Interestingly, the year also spawned what is often referred to as the “Baby Corvette”—the Opel GT fastback. Built by General Motors’ German division Opel, the GT offered sports coupe styling for those uninterested in the machismo Corvette. And that was okay. Opel sold over 100,000 between 1968 and 1973, with the vast majority of them headed to North America. This is one of those Baby Corvettes, err… Opel GTs, and according to Barnfinds, it recently surfaced from a long 25-year slumber in storage. It may be a bit worse for wear, nevertheless the aging Opel is up for sale in Rochester, Minnesota.
To be mentioned in the same sentence as one of the early C3 Corvettes is certainly far from a bad mark. To happen to look like a pint-sized ‘Vette is just icing on the cake.
Development of the Opel GT began in the early 1960s, as Opel had hoped to leverage some of its existing designs for use in a sportier package, and that’s precisely what it did. The production Opel GT nicked its running gear and engines from the Opel Kadett B compact cars.
Its wonderful styling however was a bit less parts bin-y. The Opel Experimental GT concept first showcased its sultry shape in 1965 in both Frankfurt and Paris, but by the time it was ready for production, those fastback lines resembled the new-for-1968 Corvette even more so. Body manufacturing, which was expected to be rather low-volume production, was tasked to French engineering firm Brissonneau and Lotz.
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As one might expect, performance à la Opel Kadett was good, but not earth shattering. The budget conscious could opt for a frugal 1.1-liter four-cylinder engine (67 horsepower), though most would look to the larger 1.9-liter four with 102 horsepower. In the US, Opel GTs and Kadetts could be purchased through Buick dealerships.
This 1970 car, according to the listing, is one of the nippier 1.9-liter cars, and it also features the more preferable four-speed manual transmission (a three-speed auto was optional). It’s said to have been purchased by the current owner in 1990, before being put in storage, awaiting a restoration that just never materialized.
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Now that it’s out, it’s certainly showing its 46-years of age. An original Sunburst Yellow paint job pokes through the remnants of a later-in-life purple respray, while inside it’s a similar story. The tin worm hasn’t made a meal yet, but he’s definitely been snacking.
That said, the engine is said to run and its Baby Corvette physique still looks the part over four decades later. If only General Motors would build the latest Opel GT concept car…