Even before its move to mid-engine, the Chevrolet Corvette was a desirable sports car. Although the new C8 is definitely the fastest, the other gens still have something to offer. The C5, for example, makes a great budget track car. And the C2 ‘Stingray’ and later C3 models still inspire the Corvette’s design. With the desirable design, though, comes higher prices. But there is a way to get the C3 Corvette’s design in a smaller, cheaper package: the Opel GT.
Opel GT specs and features
Although it’s now under the ownership of the PSA Group, Opel was once GM’s main European brand. While it’s mostly known for entry-level vehicles, it has made its fair share of sports cars. Of which the 1968 Opel GT was the first.
If the GT and C3 Corvette look similar, that’s not a coincidence. Both took inspiration from the 1965 Mako Shark II concept, Hagerty reports. In addition, it was under a former Chevrolet design chief, Hagerty explains, that the GT was designed. Even if, unlike the Corvette, it was based on the Kadett compact sedan. Though that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, Hemmings explains, considering the Kadett was a moderately-successful rally car.
In terms of horsepower, the Opel GT was more Austin-Healey Sprite than C3. Its most powerful engine was a 1.9-liter four-cylinder rated first at 90 hp, then later 102 hp. And just like the first Sprites, the GT doesn’t really have a trunk lid, to improve body rigidity. Though to be fair, so did the first Corvette Sting Ray coupes, Automobile reports.
Opel GT vs. the C3 Corvette
True, in a straight line the Opel GT couldn’t compete with the C3 Corvette. The early C3s, Petrolicious reports, offered 350-hp 5.3-liter V8s. 1969’s LT-1 made 430 hp in street-legal form. Even later, when emissions restrictions choked output, the Corvette made more than twice the horsepower of the GT, Motor Trend reports.
In addition, Hagerty reports, the C3 offers independent front and rear suspension, and 4-wheel disc brakes. The Opel GT, in contrast, only has independent suspension and disc brakes in front. However, the GT isn’t entirely without merit.
It’s small and light, weighing in at exactly 2000 lbs, Automobile reports. With a 4-speed manual, it could keep up with the MGB GT, which regularly competed on the racetrack with the Shelby GT350. A modified racing version, Hagerty reports, even took 9th place overall at the 1970 Targa Florio. It’s also significantly more fuel-efficient than the Corvette. Plus, the Opel GT’s small size and low ride height make 40 mph feel like 70.
If you still doubt the GT’s appeal, consider this. Ken Lingenfelter, founder, and CEO of the well-known tuning company owns and enjoys driving a 1973 Opel GT. He even had it restored a few years ago.
Pricing and availability
C3 Corvette prices have risen in the past few years, Hagerty reports. A Concours-level example will set you back around $33,000. Though on Bring a Trailer, the average price is closer to $20,000-$25,000.
But an Opel GT is noticeably cheaper. Roughly 70,000 were sold from 1968-1973, which makes them relatively plentiful. You can find examples on BaT for less than half what you would pay for a C3. And, if 102 hp isn’t enough, Hagerty reports it’s possible to transplant Opel’s later 2.5-liter fuel-injected four-cylinder.
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