Peckham - Opel Manta Series A
let us know that his Manta has been featured in Retro
Cars and Total Vauxhall, see below.
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.
Very simple kit to fit. I have had this setup in the car for 5
years now and still running good.
article has been reproduced by kind permission of Total Vauxhall.
old Manta never seems to lose popularity, and it's not hard to see why
looking at this black beauty.
Dougie, Photo: Michael Whitestone
and Opel in the '70s, before becoming fully integrated, produced some
of the best-styled cars of the era: the Firenza, Magnum, Reford and
Manta were A were all fantastic-looking 0 scaled down versions of
American '70s muscle cars. Unfortunately they were slightly overlooked
due to Ford's Escort and Capri escapades. That's not a measure of
how good he GM products were though, as proven by their competition
success and the fact people are still modifying them today. Take Simon
Peckham and his sleek black XE-powered Manta as a case in point.
The best word we can find to describe the way this car looks is 'sinister'.
With its shark nose, glowering twin headlights and low stance, Simon's
Manta doesn't need any bulging arches or big spoilers to single it
out. When you look this cool why attract attention to yourself? Sitting
squat on its 17s, there's definitely shades of Dodge Charger about
the original Manta. It looks like the bad guys' car from sone'70s
thriller, lurking menacingly in the corner of the disused factory
we're doing the photoshoot in.
story starts back in the late '80s, when he was just getting onto
seriously modifying cars with air cooled VWs and a notable 200
bhp Fiat 131 Miraflori which did 8 mpg (ouch). His first modified
Opel though was an Irish import Manta Luxus 2.0 which ended up
liveried with period Vauxhall rally stripes, headwork, an exhaust
and a set of twin 40s. Nice. The example you see here came into
Simon's possession in quite a sorry state. He and his mate Daniel
found it round the back of an industrial estate in 1997 with grass
growing through the floor. The owner was convinced to part with
the partially organic Opel for the sum of £250 and Simon
had himself a new project.
car was registered in 1975 on the P registration and Simon thinks
it's one of the last 30 sold in the UK. It wasn't in good condition.
"I had no idea how long it had been sitting for. Nothing
worked at all. I drove it home late one night down back roads
using a windscreen washer pump to supply fuel and only the handbrake
to stop it!" He'll never sell the car. As the £250
he used to buy it was loaned to him by his dad who passed away
shortly afterwards. His remarks upon seeing the car for the first
time, quite understandably, were:"Oh, what have you gone
and bought now son?"
or not, Simon had his new project and set about improving it. Obviously
there was lot of rot to cut out and replace. He fabricated a new floor,
inner wings, bootfloor and valance. He worked on the car for about two
years stop-start, generally getting quite frustrated, Thankfully his
mate Richard, was on had to lend encouragement and soon Simon really
started to get stuck in. Once the bodily restoration was complete he
got hold of a 2.0 CIH Manta engine and fitted that, which was a fine
performance upgrade. At least it was for the first 29 miles - it blew
up on the 30th. Handily though, there was a chap who at exactly the
same time, was stacking his Astra GTE 16-valve. The XE was quickly purchased
but didn't stay standard, even though this would have provided plenty
of grunt. It was rebuilt with ARP bolts, a SBD lightened flywheel and
a set of SBD 208 throttle bodies. "SBD were great, I got everything
I needed and did it all in one hit."
wasn't enough, a 50 bhp Nitrous kit has been added and Simon has made
a set of sandwich plates to fit the jets between the manifold and bodies
should he ever wish to remove the kit. It's a really smart feature.
He also made the exhaust system himself. The engine was mated to a half
Cavalier Turbo, half Manta clutch, then a Manta 1.8 five-speed Getrag
gearbox and modified Carlton Two-piece propshaft, which Simon reckons
in only a temporary solution. "The ratios on the box and crap for
what I want but it does the job at the moment. In the future I'm going
to fit a Ford Type". The engine was fitted at the same time as
the car was re-sprayed in its original black paint. Firing nigh on 200
bhp through a chassis originally designed for about 90 bhp probably
isn't a good idea long term, so Simon cam up with a new system designed
to reign in all the extra horses. The Manta runs a liver rear axle as
standard so Simon removed this and created a home-made independent set-up
for a 1991 ex-police Carlton. This car also provided a rear axle which
contained a limited slip diff. The Carlton front hubs were also used,
along with Carlton 2.2 brakes and a set of sliver 17 inch wheels for
the first year the car was on the road. These were then junked in favour
of big Carlton GSi 24-valves discs with Wilwood four-pot callipers and
a set of discs and tow pots on the back for good measure.
wheels were changed for the black Kosei Snipers items you see here
tucked tightly up under the arches thanks to modified Koni springs
and shocks on the front and Koni coil-overs on the rear. The servo
assistance was never up to scratch, so her made up system using
a VW Jetta servo and the suction pump form a Sierra diesel, which
runs off the pulley normally utilised on the XE for power steering.
That's a meaty set-up for a car that weighs only a tonne and Simon
reckons they works very well, which is probably a bit of an understatement.
It also gives much more clearance for throttle bodies! The standard
Manta interior has been lift mostly intact, but Simon has made a
few changes. In order to remove all switches from the dash he has
fitted an Alfa 33 steering column - a mod he first did on a VW Beetle.
This means that the lights and wiper controls are now all on the
column as opposed to the dash. The seats are Cobra Suzukas using
three-points harnesses which were a presents from wife Natalie one
Christmas after they were spotted at the Autosport Show.
from the seats and the six-point Safety Devices cage that's about
it for the inside, the car doesn't even have heater as it's only
used in summer. You don't want to mess too much with such magnificent
'70s minimalism anyway. Gotta love the steeply angled dash and
the time 2004 had rolled around the car was effectively complete but
a twist of fate saw Simon move from working on his own cars in his spare
time, to actually working on Mantas full time for a living. After working
as an agricultural engineer for 15 years he was made redundant in March
2004, at the same time people were asking him if he could carry out
some work on another A-series Manta. Simon took the plunge and went
self employed, working on Mantas. Current projects include a 'street-rod'
Manta with massive V8 engine and what is believed to be the first Ecotec-powered
Manta. Next on the agenda for his own Manta is respray to fisher it
ups again, and possibly removal of the vinyl roof, but he's not sure.
A somewhat more extravagant job could possibly be a 4x4 conversion using
parts from a Sierra but at present Simon is very pleased with car and
the way it drives, reckoning it to be easily on a par with the local
Jap stuff. It'll be out at Billling this year on the Opel Manta Owners'
Club stand - Simon is an area rep for East Anglia region - and taking
to the strip at the Retro Cars show at the Pod. Oh, and possibly in
a film involving dodgy deals on disused airfield and chases with Rover
SD1s. Just need to get the funding sorted out and we're away. Donations
to the usual address.
SHORT HISTORY OF THE MANTA A
lot of people don't even know there was a Manta before the B-series
so here are a few details, courtesy of www.mantaclub.org. Check the
site out for information on all variants of Manta.
Manta was previewed at the Paris Show in September 1970, initially in
three variations: base, Deluxe (L) and Rallye (SR). Only the last two
were sold in the UK. There were three engine options, two 1.6-litre
units of 68 and 80 bp and a 1.9-litre engine with 90 bhp. Later, in
Europe, the 1.2-litre OHV Kadett engine was also available but it wasn't
sold in the UK. Most of the driveline components were derived from contemporary
Opel cars such as the Rekord. Front suspension was new, using double
wishbones and coil springs and they had rack-and-pinion steering. At
the rear was a live axle, trailing arms and a panhard rod and progressive
rate coil springs.
wheelbase is only slightly longer than the Kadett and 5 inches less
than a Capri , yet the front and rear track is increased by nearly 3
inches, matching the Capri very closely. It is an inch longer, an inch
narrower and 2 inches higher. A total of 498553 A-series Mantas were
Suffolk County Mantas, Unit 9 Shepards Grove Ind Est, Stanton, Bury
St Edmunds. Suffolk. IP31 2AR 07720288928
Richard, Pete, Dave and Henryk at V-Tuning, Simon at SFS, all at Vauxhall
Sports Car Club and Cavalier Turbo Owners' Register. Mum, Dad and Terri
Rebuilt 1989 20XE, SBD 208 throttle body kit, MBE programmable
management, SBD 4-2-1 exhaust manifold, 50 bhp NOS fogger kit
Getrag five-speed Manta 1.8 box hybrid clutch using Cavalier turbo
and Manta parts, modified Carlton propshaft, Carlton 24-valve
rear axle with LSD
Koni adjustable front shocks and modified springs, Koni rear coil-overs.
Front:Carlton 24-valve 300mm discs, Wilwood four-pot callipers.
Rear: Carlton 24-valve discs, Wilwood twin-pot callipers
WHEELS AND TYRES
7x17 inch Kosei Sniper wheels, 205/40 Toyo Proxes tyres
Factory bodywork, vinyl roof, resprayed original black.
Cobra Suzuka seats, six-point Safety Devices cage, six-point Saftey
Devices 3 inch harnesses, Alfa 33 steering column, dash switches
Vauxhall Kits & Components
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