Opel Manta Owners Club UK

THE STORY OF MY A SIRIES


Translation for 140 languages by ALS


I suppose that when I look back it really all started way back when I was a mere child at the tender age of 9. 1970 saw the arrival of the all new Opel Manta in to the Vauxhall showrooms and on to the streets of Britain. I feel in love with the shape of the A series and can remember thinking " I what one of those when I can drive". Well it took a bit longer, but in 1984 a friend came home from the car auction in a lovely red A, and on seeing it all my old emotions came flooding back. So you can imagine my mood when a fortnight later the same friend offered to sell me the car as his wife didn't like the driving position. 250 and its yours seemed like an unreachable challenge, I was on the dole with only 65 a week to my name, but I had to have that car. And so it was that through fair and fowl means I came the owner of SAT 350 N.
The car was used (and abused) as everyday transport for the next 5 years with very little trouble. Then in 89 it failed its MOT on welding to the chasie leg, so I decide to take the car of the road and restore it.
The shell was striped, all rot cut out and new metal put in its place, then sprayed in Polar white. I made a new wiring harness, adding in wiring for the alarm, replaced all suspension bushes and added up-rated springs and shocks. All the brake and fuel lines where replaced, the front brakes upgraded to manta B callipers. A 5 speed GTE gearbox along with an i200 engine finished the job of nicely and she left the garage five years later.
During the next three years the car was only used as a show car covering only 3000 miles while I continued the restoration. It was the interior that got the attention this time, the seats where re-covered in leather with material inserts and white piping. Carlton mrk.3 door panels where fitted to the front doors along with electric window winders then all door panels and dash where covered in leather, a new carpet and the job was done.
In March 1997 disaster struck! I crashed the car and did irreparable damage; the car was a write off. I lost the back end on a roundabout, under a fly over, and hit the concrete bridge support with both the front and back of the car. The front end was reparable but the back.... It needed a new rear quarter, back panel, boot floor...I could get all the parts but it was just too much work.
I contacted the insurance and two weeks later a cheque for 2275 dropped on my mat as full payment + the crashed car. And so the newborn began.

YDF 760 K was purchased from down near Standstead Airport for 350. Once in my garage, the challenge began; Billing was only 7 weeks away. The first three weeks were spent sorting the body out, the rear end was fine but the front needed extensive work. A week prepping the body and another week in the paint shop meant that I only had two weeks left to build it all back together again. SAT 350 N was getting a new body, everything apart from the shell its self was transferred onto the new body and on the Friday of the 7th week she past the MOT and was road legal
On the Sunday I took her to Billing and won 1st in class
Over the next year I continued to finish the rebuild of, added a polished plenum, fitted braided hose, new 16" wheels etc. Again I won my class at Billing, only this time I also heard about a V6 engine for sale "mmmm I thought that would be different"!
Once the seed as sawn there was no turning back. I took possession of a 2.5 V6 Vectra engine at the end of 1998. I was going to keep the A running the i200 engine while I sorted the parts needed out but then someone offered me 550 for it so out it came and I was once more Manta less.
And so began the engine transplant.

The first job was to offer it up, nice fit. But far to tall even without the carbs that had come with it.
As I didn't what a bonnet bulge the front cross member was remove, had 2" chopped out of it and then strengthened. New engine mounting brackets were fabricated using chopped down A ones welded to new plate on the engine, and the mounts repositioned on the cross member. A custom sump and the engine were in and the bonnet closed.
A trip to the scrap yard for varies shaped hoses; an expansion tank from a Volvo and a length of chrome pipe sorted out the water plumbing.
So far so good I thought too early. On fitting the intake system I found that the heater box fowled, this was solved by having 1" chopped out of the heater matrix and reshaping the plastic casing with a soldering iron. But it all so fowled the brake servo; this meant moving the servo up to the front of the engine bay behind the headlights.
The real problem was the electrics. I had a complete set of wiring dig. and was able to work out what was needed and what I could ditch, i.e. I don't have ABS so all that could go. There where only four wires I needed to connect to the main car loom, Rev counter, Fuel pump, Switched live and non switched live, this done I was ready to try and start her up.

The engine fired but cut out within a few seconds, Ok back to basics, fuel pressure-OK, Spark-OK, Electric's-OK. Now my heads spinning. I know I'll call Mick- after many hours Mick's heads spinning, I talk to many other people and still it will not run. In desperation I go down to my local Vauxhall dealer and talk to the auto electron, one problem solved another found. The Vetra ECU is fitted with an immobiliser and the sender unit is around the ignition barrel, with a transponder in the key. When you start the engine the ECU looks for a code on the key if the code does not match that stored in the ECU the ECU shuts the whole engine down. Very nice but I don't have the keys from the car that the ECU came from !*$**"$!!%**** lots of. OK a sender unit is 65 a new blank key is 10 but I still don't know the code in the ECU. You can find that out from Vauxhall says the mechanic, you will need the chaises no, ECU no and proof of owner ship. But I don't know the chaise no of the car. Oh dear says the mechanic then your suck.
On investigating the problem further I was getting conflicting info, some people said that you could not reprogram the ECU and yet others said you could, as I had no other choice the car was trailed down to the Vauxhall dealers and put on the diagnostics machine. A new code was put in to the ECU and key and with fingers crossed I tried to start her. There were already a few people around the car but when she fired and ran the workshop emptied as I blipped the gas. It was load, no exhaust system at all not even manifolds, the flames shot a good foot out of the ports and into the inner wing, by lord did she growl.
I had already mist Billing 99 and Billing 2000 was drawing ever nearer. The car was shipped out to have a complete exhaust system made for it from 2" stainless and then MOT'ed and Taxed once again two days before Billing. It's first real run was down to Billing Aquadrome for the 2000 national meet where I won first in class.
Two weeks later the cam belt jumped 3 teeth and wiped the engine out:

10 inlet valves, 6 ex. Valves all 6 pistons and block.

Only one thing for it, a second hand engine was sorted for 750 and dropped in two days before Trax 2000. Having faith in my work I took her down the 0 - 60 strip in 6.3 seconds." Cossie's eat your heart out." and have never looked back.

The torque and power are amazing; she just keeps on pulling in all gears. If you floor it in 5th at 60, she will still pin you to the seat and go for it. The only problems I'm having are she wheel spins in first very easily, I need much stronger springs in the front (400lb front springs for an A anybody?) and Iv trashed the gearbox.

What's to come? Who knows? I what to play with the engine a bit as I know there still lots more power to come and I'd like a LSD, as it's a sure licence loser on the road (you can't help but put your foot down) I am going to do more RWYB weekend and enter in the Street Machine drag challenge.
I'll keep you posted.