The above dealer video breaks down the entire 1973 Opel lineup for Buick dealers devoted to selling "intriguingly foreign" GM captives. Look at that Manta corner! When it hops around the S-turn, it's about two loosened bowel movements away from flipping—thereby replicating the legendary Bob Lutz pose (which involved an Opel not appearing in this film). The groovy stock music drowns out the deafening smack of the GT's flip-up headlights, which slam with the brutal finality of a lover on her way out. Corduroy velour upholstery! Red vinyl seats! Color-keyed vinyl tops for more elegance! "Precise" engineering, which, at the time, didn't involve disgruntled yokels leaving Coke bottles in the fenders! (Please. The Germans would have left Weihenstephaner.) The GT comes with an electric clock, transistorized radio, simulated wood-grain steering wheel and an undeniable coolness that only people like Elana of Hot Rod Magazine can fathom.
By the early '70s, Buick had been selling Opels in America for nearly 10 years, a tradition proudly started by the 1958 Rekord. 1973's lineup included the Manta, the GT, and the 1900 in coupe, sedan, and wagon guise. Just two years later, the Manta was deemed too expensive to sell Stateside, and Buick nixed the car for the globetrotting Isuzu Gemini—available in Europe as the Opel Kadett and brought here as the Buick-Opel by Isuzu. ("If you're looking for a great Japanese car with a great American name, you've found it!" read the brochure.)
"Watch it brake," narrates the lispy, narcoleptic announcer. We did watch it break: The Kadett was a car so brutally disdained by one American magazine that they photographed it in a junkyard. GM pulled out like the last helicopter leaving Saigon. Buick stopped selling Opel in 1979. But we still want an oh-so-pretty Manta.