It was in 1981 when the futuristic Manta 400 first débuted in the UK, driven by Tony Fall. It was at this time that Jimmy McRae was competing in the Opel Ascona 400. Fall was confident he could make the Manta competitive in a few months. It took until 1983 before the FIA gave the official stamp of approval, and the new rally car made its world début in Corsica, driven by Guy Fréquelin.
Unlike the Ascona 400, the Manta makes full use of Kevlar body panels; the front panel, front wings, hood, doors, rear arches, boot lid, spoiler and even headlight holders are all made from the lightweight material, saving a total of 80 kg. To further help distribute the weight, the engine was moved back six cm. With a number of improvements, the Manta 400 was ultimately more competitive than its predecessor. The Cosworth engine, unlike its 144 bhp baby brother, produces 275 bhp in phase 3, in Weber carburetted form.
This Opel Manta was converted by its previous owner in Switzerland with no expense spared a number of years ago and still presents itself in stunning overall condition. Fitted with the 2-litre OHC injected engine, and with authentic full rally gear, roll cage, fuel cell etc it would make the perfect entrant to the ever growing 1980’s international Historic Rally scene. A car for the cognoscenti.