Actually, the “Baby Corvette” from Opel was already a classic back in the 80s, and especially in the non-trendy scene it elicited prophecies of doom. Comic book artist Rötger Feldmann, aka “Brösel”, well known in Germany for his cult figure “Werner”, made fun of Opel GT drivers in one of his books. Apparently you can spot them by their powerful arms, he said. Lights up, lights down. Haha, got it? Arm. Lever. The drivers all had Popeye-like forearms because the headlights of the two-seater sports car were mechanically operated using muscle power. It wasn’t quite so bad and we’re now past the silly jokes – but the Opel GT has not lost its appeal, quite the opposite. Let’s get in one and raise and lower these great lights.
It’s tight, this coke-bottle sports car from the late 60s. Two seats that fit like swimming trunks, and behind it a parcel shelf that is only accessible from the inside. Your gaze rests on the sensuous curvy hood which doesn’t have a scoop because it wants to show off – but because otherwise the carburetor from the large Opel Rekord 1.9 liter engine wouldn’t fit underneath. The cylinder head also had to be chamfered at the front. All that for a slim line. This line is perched on the chassis and the floor pans of the Kadett B and swept everyone off their feet at IAA 1965, giving Opel not as much time to react as they’d have liked. The bodies for the initial series had to be manufactured, painted and equipped at partner companies in France; in Bochum they were then married with the engine and the chassis. Between 1968 and 1973 just over 100,000 cars of this racy specimen were produced.
The headlights don’t pop up but rotate around their longitudinal axis.
And no, the headlights don’t pop “up”, they pop “out”. Using a small lever on the transmission tunnel next to the driver’s seat, they are rotated around their longitudinal axis, which looks spectacular, to be honest. And which actually takes quite a bit of force. No wonder that a few posers kept doing it at traffic lights in the city center. With a deep *clunk* they appear and shine – well, as well as Bilux lights manage to shine. If they weren’t upgraded to H4 later on, that is. For support, the GT had its high beam under the narrow bumper in two small, round and permanently visible headlights. This face was ever present in the 70s, and thanks to the more popular large engine it could also be seen in the fast lane. With its headlights folded in and a tail wind, an Opel GT (with the large engine) could crack the 190 km/h mark, which at that time was almost rocket status.
And the four small, round rear lights above the double exhaust at the short rear still look sporty and sexy 50 years on. Today the car has a large and well organized fan base in the US and Germany committed to its preservation and the supply of spare parts. With the same clunking sound as when they came out, they’re now hidden again, these beautiful lights. Of course we didn’t miss out on the chance of taking a few sporty laps around the Opel factory in Rüsselsheim, but that’s another story. That’s thrown light on another bit of history. By the time it gets dark, this precious piece of craftsmanship will be back in its garage safe and sound …