Opel Manta – 2.0L XE

Simon’s Manta was featured in Total Vauxhall, May 2006, which they allowed us to reproduce.

Email from Simon in August, 2005:
Car Make & Model: 1975 A series Opel Manta. The car was featured in Retro cars march 2004.
Engine specification: Stock XE fitted with 208 kit lightened flywheel and 4‐2‐1 manifold. 2 1/2 system. I have also made and fitted a sandwich plate fitted between the inlet manifold and head to enable me to fit NOS fogger injectors.
Comments: Very simple kit to fit. I have had this setup in the car for 5 Years now and still running good.

His car was featured in Retro Cars, March 2004 issue in a Tech feature about ‘How to modify: Opel Manta Series A’ and included pictures of his car.

Retro Cars, March 2004
Retro Cars, March 2004

This One’s Mine

You have to agree – doesn’t this car give you a big dose of the hubba-hubbas? A sort of Dodge Charger Mini-Me. Yet, if it weren’t for the efforts of Simon Peckham, it would still be stuck in a field, doing nothing apart from providing the local birds with something to crap upon.  

“I tracked down the owner, struck a deal and then drove it home using an electric fuel pump off the washer bottle and the handbrake, while my friend drove behind me because the lights didn’t work. We had to drive the long way around through the countryside, just in case,’’ says Simon.  

“When my dad saw it he just said: ’What you bought now boy? You won’t make any money on that.’ I told him I didn’t want to make any money out of it, it was my next project.” Next project? Clearly this wasn’t Simon’s first rebuild, although it was the first one which was water-cooled because he was, and is, a bit of a Vee Dub addict.

The bodywork was a pain and the floor, doors, valance, sills, inner wings and bulkhead were looking a bit terminal.

One gander at the prices of parts from Germany wa enough to persuade him to make up his own panels/repair sections for the valance, sill, inner wings and bulkhead.

I won’t tell you what Simon does for a living, but I will tell you that he does have a talent for fabricating all sorts and there are plenty of opportunities to run things up at work.  

The finished shell was left more or less stock, and was painted by Simon’s mate, Terry White. Incredibly, this car lives outdoors and the paint was done three or four years ago.   In fact, Terry’s already talking stripping down ‘cos he reckons the Manta needs another coat. The man is clearly a perfectionist – I’m not a blind biffa and yet when I gave it the once over, it seemed hunky-dory to me.

The original engine is long gone, but open the bonnet and the mintiness of this car keeps getting stronger. Sitting in here is a 2-litre 16-valve from a 1989 Astra GTE with one or two mods – mainly a lightened flywheel and SBD throttle bodykit which takes levels up to 208bhp.

Oh and should Simon need a little more juice, there’s a bottle of laughing gas in the boot too. “The Nitrous puts power up to about 250bhp,” reveals Simon. Cogs, meanwhile, are sorted by a five-speed gearbox from a Manta B.

The highlight of this car is underneath and to be it you’ve gotta get down and dirty. Simon has designed and fabricated his own independent rear suspension set-up which gives a good ride, a 24-valve Carlton limited-slip differential, lowered coil spring and Koni coil-overs.

“I still think it’s a bit soft at the moment, but then it doesn’t spin, it just grips and goes like stink. I reckon 0 to 60 mph takes 6.5 seconds or just under 6 seconds with nitrous,” Simon explains, packing a cheeky grin.

Retro Cars, March 2004

Words & pictures reproduced with permission of Retro Cars Magazine