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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,
New member here in the US (NH). Not an owner yet, but I’ve been looking into classic cars that are cool but available relatively cheap that my 7-year-old son and I can restore together (we both love cars!). I think the GT might be the perfect choice for that.

So my question: it’s been awhile since I’ve had a car with a stick, and I miss driving them. So in my search, I’d been focusing on the 4-spd GTs. But someone near me just listed a ‘73 that looks to be in decent overall shape for cheap money. Only issue: it’s an auto. So looking for some opinions, not so much on auto vs manual in general (not looking to start a war!), but this car in particular. Is the 4-spd a “rewarding” transmission to shift yourself? What I mean is, I’ve driven a few vintage cars where the stick shift didn’t really contribute to the driving experience. Throws that are way too long, lots of slop in the gate, difficult to find gears properly. If I drive a GT with a stick that is working the way the engineers intended, is it “fun”?
 

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I've found driving the 4-speed stick in the GT to be a rewarding experience. Pedals are close enough for a little heel/toe action (at least with my size 12 feet). Throws are reasonably short. Feel is pretty good. I've never driven an Auto GT so can't comment on that directly.
 

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Opel Rallier since 1977
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Absolutely. Having rallied a Manta and Ascona for about 4k hot stage miles, the 4 speed is pretty decent IMHO. A tad tall between 2 and 3 but a good engine cam and compression upgrade will make that a lot better.
If the nearby auto trans car is otherwise good, the I'd strongly consider buying it and convert to the 4 speed.
 

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I enjoy the shifting of our 4 speeds personally.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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I think the 4sps are cheap noisy crapp. Long throw, too stiff clutch pedal, you gotta smack it to go in reverse, the synchros go pretty easy. There's a 5sp made by Getrag that a lot of people like, but that'll cost you another $1000+. I prefer the autos, they're indestructible. It'll never go bad or need servicing. There's no overdrive in either tranny, so driving at 70mph+ you'll be turning around 4000rpm. The 5sp have overdrive.

I suggest not getting too ambitious about upgrades until you have dealt with the basics of fixing/stabilizing/repairing/painting the body and getting the engine running reliably and all the gizmos working. Once it looks, runs, and works good, only then contemplate fancy wheels, stronger engines, tranny swaps, etc.

Opel GT's are considered The Best father/son restore project car, so you have chosen wisely. :)
 

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I have an automatic that will be converted to a manual transmission in time. With the right power additions, ie-upgrading the engine to 2.0 liter status, the automatic car will become very responsive, living up to it's sporty looks. But with the old low compression engine, it's okay off the line but just runs out of steam not long afterwards.

Fwiw, the road tests for the Opel GT back in real time by the various enthusiast car magazines found the 4 speed transmission to be a joy to operate. Brooklands has a book that has these road tests all compiled within one book.
 

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Opel Rallier since 1977
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IDK, Gordon....I never had the issues you describe... doing 50 shifts per mile in anger...shifters and clutch were fine. Of course, my stuff was 5-20 years old at the time, not 50! And I serviced it a lot to keep it in good shape for rallying.
 

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How difficult is the swap? I imagine you would need to compile alot of factory parts. Donor car, maybe... Differences in the interior will add up. I've seen some good ones where you couldn't tell, and some real hack jobs.
 

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You should take your time and find a nice car. He is looking at 1073 Opel gt - cars & trucks - by owner - vehicle automotive sale Same car I posted in the Rust thread. It needs to be thoroughly inspected for rust. Once the snow melts, more cars will come out of winter storage and will go up for sale when they don't start. It's New England.

I like manuals and have one in the Manta, RX-7, and Elantra. They are getting harder and harder to find but the manual forces you to be more involved in driving the car. Something I like to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Guys, thanks for all the replies. Lots of good info in here.

Brooklands has a book that has these road tests all compiled within one book.
Thanks for the heads up, just ordered this off Amazon.

You should take your time and find a nice car. He is looking at 1073 Opel gt - cars & trucks - by owner - vehicle automotive sale Same car I posted in the Rust thread. It needs to be thoroughly inspected for rust. Once the snow melts, more cars will come out of winter storage and will go up for sale when they don't start. It's New England.
Yep, that's the one! Guy just dropped the price from $3k to $1500. I haven't actually gone to see it in person yet, so I don't know the extent of the rust. But that's a good point about the time of year. I definitely noticed a sharp decline in the number of cars listed over the winter, and I'm guessing that will start to tick back up in the next month or so.
 

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A couple of points, beyond my earlier facetious suggestion that the slush gearbox is the bane of all that is holy. But I do agree that with the stick-shift one is driving the car, while with the automatic transmission one is merely operating it. For me, much more fun to drive the stick. Having said that, I recall the words of a long-forgotten up-and-coming European formula-class racer who, when asked what his daily ride was, said that he would only shift gears if he was paid to do it.

As for Gordon's comment, I would like to know what survey he has unearthed that reveals the Opel GT to be the best father-son restoration project? It would not be my first choice. First, it really is a terror to work on, starting with things like engine removal. Perhaps a son, an especially small son, would be useful for dealing with issues inside in the back, where the gas tank is located. But rust! I will not tell you what I went through with rust. Yes, some was visible, but the more insidious issues were inside, involving structure (the downside of unibody). You might find a vehicle that looks reasonably rust-free, but, first, metallurgy was not nearly so refined back then as today, especially in the field of rust prevention; and second, these cars had the habit of capturing water and mud in the inside spaces behind the wheels, so that the rust started from inside and worked its way out, destroying structural components as it went.

There are many cars that are far easier to work on. Take, for instance, the Triumph Spitfire. I have one, restored fifteen years ago, that serves as a daily driver in the warm months. It is remarkably easy to work on, with almost everything readily accessible. One does not even need a lift to get at the clutch, because the gearbox comes up out of the floor. Rust is an issue with these cars as well, but replacement panels are readily available as are many other parts, which is my final point. With the Spitfire, as well as many other cars, if particular parts are no longer manufactured and available through vendors, used parts are far more available simply because many more Spitfires were sold, now occupying scrap yards, that was the case with the Opel.
 

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RunOpel
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First off, welcome aboard :) to the best place you will ever find answers to your questions reference Opel's. So many members with so much experience in Opel mechanics. I think that is awesome to have your son involved in a car project. What great memories you two will share in years to come. Make sure you document your progress with pictures and written comments. It will be like a story that you both can look back on and reminiscence for years to come.
I'm very partial to the manual, where I have a 1971 Opel GT 4-speed. There is nothing like going through the gears in that little sports car. Only an Opel owner knows what I mean :). Sure there are a lot of other sports cars out there that are certainly fun to drive, but as an Opel owner, its just one of those cars from our past that we just fell in love with. I have never driven an automatic GT and probably will never have an automatic in my GT, because I just have to much fun shifting through the gears. Now I will say, when I just want to relax and not feel like I need to work the car, driving my wife's Honda automatic is a nice ride :). So I do get where Gordo's coming from, a little (lol)
Anyway, good luck to your search of an Opel GT. That one you are looking at, might just be a good buy, if there is not a tremendous amount of rust. Keep us all posted on your progress.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
There are many cars that are far easier to work on. Take, for instance, the Triumph Spitfire.
More good info on the ease-of-restoration of the GT. One of the other cars I actually have been eyeballing as a candidate is the Triumph GT6. Sounds like, with similar mechanicals as the Spitfire you’d recommend this from an ease-of-restoration point of view.

I’ve also been looking at Karmann Ghias and Sprites (bugeye era), but I may have missed the window for finding an affordable example of those that aren’t complete rust buckets.
 

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The Triumph GT6 shares much of the design of the Spitfire, but parts are not so interchangeable. Salvage parts are not so findable as they are with the Spitfire. But, the GT6 does have the Spitfire's advantage of easier access for repairs and restoration.

We all missed the window for Bugeye Sprites fifty years ago.
 

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A couple of points, beyond my earlier facetious suggestion that the slush gearbox is the bane of all that is holy. But I do agree that with the stick-shift one is driving the car, while with the automatic transmission one is merely operating it. For me, much more fun to drive the stick. Having said that, I recall the words of a long-forgotten up-and-coming European formula-class racer who, when asked what his daily ride was, said that he would only shift gears if he was paid to do it.

As for Gordon's comment, I would like to know what survey he has unearthed that reveals the Opel GT to be the best father-son restoration project? It would not be my first choice. First, it really is a terror to work on, starting with things like engine removal. Perhaps a son, an especially small son, would be useful for dealing with issues inside in the back, where the gas tank is located. But rust! I will not tell you what I went through with rust. Yes, some was visible, but the more insidious issues were inside, involving structure (the downside of unibody). You might find a vehicle that looks reasonably rust-free, but, first, metallurgy was not nearly so refined back then as today, especially in the field of rust prevention; and second, these cars had the habit of capturing water and mud in the inside spaces behind the wheels, so that the rust started from inside and worked its way out, destroying structural components as it went.

There are many cars that are far easier to work on. Take, for instance, the Triumph Spitfire. I have one, restored fifteen years ago, that serves as a daily driver in the warm months. It is remarkably easy to work on, with almost everything readily accessible. One does not even need a lift to get at the clutch, because the gearbox comes up out of the floor. Rust is an issue with these cars as well, but replacement panels are readily available as are many other parts, which is my final point. With the Spitfire, as well as many other cars, if particular parts are no longer manufactured and available through vendors, used parts are far more available simply because many more Spitfires were sold, now occupying scrap yards, that was the case with the Opel.
Yeah, rust. I spent four months working on the front of my GT. Headlight wiring, mechanisms, repaired all rust and painted everything up to the firewall. Rebuilt front suspension with a lowering spring, new brakes, booster, master cylinder. I moved to the rear of the car and there's too much rust. The PO repaired everything with foam and rubber paint. The trailing arm brackets are barely attached to the car. Now I have a parts car. The car in Salisbury may be ok other than the surface rust but you have to look real close under the car. If you buy it I have new and used parts including a running engine and 4 speed tranny. I'm on Cape Cod.
 

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Hey guys,
New member here in the US (NH). Not an owner yet, but I’ve been looking into classic cars that are cool but available relatively cheap that my 7-year-old son and I can restore together (we both love cars!). I think the GT might be the perfect choice for that.

So my question: it’s been awhile since I’ve had a car with a stick, and I miss driving them. So in my search, I’d been focusing on the 4-spd GTs. But someone near me just listed a ‘73 that looks to be in decent overall shape for cheap money. Only issue: it’s an auto. So looking for some opinions, not so much on auto vs manual in general (not looking to start a war!), but this car in particular. Is the 4-spd a “rewarding” transmission to shift yourself? What I mean is, I’ve driven a few vintage cars where the stick shift didn’t really contribute to the driving experience. Throws that are way too long, lots of slop in the gate, difficult to find gears properly. If I drive a GT with a stick that is working the way the engineers intended, is it “fun”?
Before you start building a car with your son go to New England Dragway and watch Junior dragsters run. If I had a drag strip nearby like you do I'd build a dragster with him. Short money compared to a car and it's an experience the two of you will never forget. The junior cars are slow and safety is paramount. Check them out on youtube. Just a thought.
 
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