Opel’s one-off electric Manta restomod boasts rear-wheel drive—and a manual gearbox

That’s not something you see every day
by Craig Jamieson | May 20, 2021
PHOTO: Opel

Welcome to Opel’s fantastic new creation. Or old restoration. Or whichever blurring of those lines resulted in what you see before you. As you might be able to tell by the vintage-approved styling, this is designed to catch the tidal wave of popularity for restomods. It’s also electric. Gosh, if there was only a way to sum up all this information in a willfully capitalized portmanteau for maximum nouveau-hipster cred. Ah, Opel already has: Meet the Manta GSe ElektroMOD.

Now, this being a full EV, you’ll need a gearbox about as often as you’ll need to fill up with gasoline. But this is the Manta, man, and if you think it’s going to be anywhere near as entertaining to fling around a rear-wheel-drive EV without rowing through a vintage-correct four-speed manual, we’re going to need to start up that Top Gear Re-Education Camp our old editor suggested back when crossovers started becoming a thing.

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And we actually think that a manual gearbox in an electric car is one of those ideas that sounds really dumb, but actually works really well. Want to cruise? Slot it into fourth and loll about the place. Want to drive it like a Manta of days past? Easy—make full use of the vintage-correct 147hp and 255Nm by blasting through the gears. Whether your driving style is more Ari Vatanen or Til Schweiger is entirely up to your talents and...um, aspirations.

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In good news, you’ll get about 193km of range from the 31kWh battery if you don’t drive like Vatanen, but it’ll take only four hours to replenish your charge from a regular wall socket. The Manta will also recover power from the brakes.

In less good news, the solid black front grille is apparently a billboard for such corporate-approved wit as “My German heart has been ELEKTRified.” But at least you’ll be inside, listening to the Manta’s Marshall-made stereo, sitting in a brand-new sports seat and in view of a pair of 10- and 12-inch digital widescreens, rather than reading such think-tank emetics as “I am on a zero e-mission.”

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Given the concept-car flights of fancy, you might well be wondering if this is actually going to be a thing that makes series production. It feels pretty unlikely at this stage, considering how the modern car market is these days. Man, if only it were like it used to be...

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NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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PHOTO: Opel
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