The Opel Manta is a rear-wheel-drive sports coupé built by German manufacturer Opel in two generations from 1970 to 1988. The Manta was a mildly sporting coupé based on the Ascona family car, akin to the Ford Falcon-based Mustang and its various imitators such as the Ford Capri. The Manta remained rear-wheel drive for both generations and also saw certain competition success. Its name comes from the Manta ray.
The TE2800 was a totally different project that Opel refused to endorse. A Belgian company called Transeurop Engineering also wanted to increase the engine power of the Manta A and installed the 2.8-litre CIH inline-six from the Commodore in a Manta in 1971. Transeurop entered the car in the 1971 Tour of Belgium (part of the European Rally Championship; driver Chris Tuerlinx finished in seventh place). Opel had also tried the six-cylinder engine layout in 1971 and 1972 but with no success. The cars were deemed too expensive to build, and the market was overwhelmed at the time with big-engine cars.
Transeurop Engineering did not agree, and a Commodore 2.8GS engine was fitted into the engine bay of the Manta 1.9SR. The radiator, the bonnet, the front engine supports and part of the front section, the rear axle, and the transmission all needed to be changed. Transeurop Engineering turned to Opel’s best tuner of the time, Steinmetz, who supplied a new fibreglass bonnet with a large bulge on it to make room for the engine, a set of widened arches, and a special front bumper integrated with the lower front spoiler, all to make room for the changes that needed to be made to the car’s front end construction.
Much of the front was cut out and replaced with other parts being mounted further to the ground in order to give room for the radiator. A closed radiator system was installed so that the radiator had a water tank in the engine bay (like modern cars). Originally, Opel and General Motors Continental (GM’s Belgian subsidiary) was to supply the Manta bodies and engines for the conversion, but by the time the first production TE2800s were completed in 1973 the energy crisis had struck and the management of both Opel and General Motors Continental had changed.
Planned production levels had been five cars per day originally; in the end a total of 79 cars were made and sold through Steinmetz in Germany, branded not as Opels but as TE2800s. Opel did not want the Opel brand on the cars and all Opel badging was removed from the cars and replaced by the “TE” logo.
The Commodore GS engine was fitted with two Zenith carburettors; this version was chosen in preference to the fuel injected GS/E engine due to its lower cost and complexity, while being easier to tune to meet various emissions requirements.
The output was 142 PS (104 kW), and with the Commodore four-speed manual gearbox and a 3.18:1 rear axle the car went from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.6 seconds.
Top speed was quoted as 207 km/h (129 mph).
A five-speed ZF manual transmission was offered as an option. Transeurop/Steinmetz also offered a tune-up for rally and motorsport use. The tuning consisted of porting and flowing the head, a higher compression ratio, a race spec camshaft, and triple carburettors, giving the car up to 230 PS (169 kW). This was only offered in combination with the five-speed manual.
Some of the engine tuning parts were also available on the road car.
Although the TE2800 is the fastest Manta A ever made, it is not officially an Opel. It could outrun cars like the 911 Carrera of 1973 and the BMW 2002 turbo from 1973, even though those cars had more engine power and cost about twice as much. The low weight of the Manta bodyshell and the combination of the right gear ratios was what gave the car its success. However, the cars were very expensive, almost twice the price of a 105 PS (77 kW) GT/E in 1975. Very few still exist today, as most were used in rally and motorsport events.