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The hottest Volks-Coupés of the 70s from Ford, Opel and VW

Hardy Mutschler
Ford Capri, Opel Manta and VW Scirocco
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D he timing was as perfect as in a Monty Python sketch - completely wrong. The Yom Kippur War had just prompted the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to cut back their oil production and thus to push the price of a barrel of crude oil from around three to five dollars, when the VW dealers pushed the Scirocco into theirs Store window. The new Ford Capri II also celebrated its premiere. In 1974, in the year of the first oil crisis with barrel prices rising to twelve dollars, Germany was banned from driving on Sundays and had rigid speed limits: 100 km /h on motorways, 80 km /h on country roads. How would it go on?

Sins of youth with flokati carpet and psychedelic patterns

Well, it went on. And driving fun was still allowed. That is why the VW Scirocco and Ford Capri II sports coupés, which appeared at the supposedly wrong time, as well as the Opel Manta B, which was launched in autumn 1975, experienced wild youth and, with their high level of expertise in ice cream parlors, enabled their drivers to experience many a youthful sin> Today, the three in caring fan hands are reminiscent of this time of flokati fluff carpets, psychedelic patterned wallpapers, bonanza wheels, lava lamps or bucket seats and lead to the question of where the successors are. Where are you? Opel? Well, there is a two-door Astra. Ford? Complete nil. VW? Yes, the Scirocco has been back since 2008, as it was 40 years ago as a technical offshoot of the Golf.

Lightweight construction, injection, Tempo

Introduced shortly before the compact with the practical tailgate, the VW Scirocco and the Golf were created with the help of the Italian designer Giugiaro. He eagerly planted the message of the light coupé in the hearts of the fans, who initially had to be content with rather low horsepower figures. The sale of the Karmann Ghia successor developed in Osnabrück started with 50, 70 and 85 hp. The 110 PS injection version that Hans-Dieter Bühler brings to the coupé meeting only came as GTI and GLI in 1976.

The dark paint of the VW Scirocco GLI, which was first registered in May 1980, shines humming-green green and the soft velor upholstery also shines in hummingbird green, which - like the bronze shade of the windows - distinguishes the luxurious top model from the cheaper versions. TheThe dashboard with the round instruments housed in deep caves is made of hard plastic that tends to vibrate when the carburettor engines are struggling to keep idling at too low a level.

Digital idle control from 1980

But the VW Scirocco GLI, which Bühler has been in second-hand since 2012, does not have these problems with the digital idle control only installed in 1980. The mechanical Bosch K-Jetronic works perfectly, there are also no hot start problems, such as those that can occur with ailing fuel pressure accumulators. The little 1.6-liter revs up lively, hangs awake on the gas, animated to turn and rob with its 110 hp and 140 Newton meters, which are only applied at 5000 revolutions.

That helps him here short-stage five-speed sports transmission that was only available in late models from August 1979. The gear lever with the golf ball is not particularly precisely guided, but the gears slide into position without resistance. The low weight of the VW Scirocco naturally also contributes to the ease of driving: the narrow-cut coupé weighs just 800 kg. It is accordingly light in the hand and follows the exact rack and pinion steering into every curve without being asked for long. Power steering? Superfluous. Beyond five km /h, the effort is moderate.

Despite the modern transverse engine, front-wheel drive construction, there is not much space left: the petite VW Scirocco is an intimate 2 + 2-seater with two-point lap belts on the back seat should not be misused to secure living passengers. They sit there in an unworthy manner.

Ford Capri - a powerboat for the road

The bad weather, that drove us to this abandoned production hall of Opel in Rüsselsheim for photo production, allows another exit. The Ford Capri II from Gerhard Weinfurter rises its bassy voice after a short starter organs. 'Once with everything' was probably the motto of the first orderer, because the coupé, which was registered in May 1977, lacks nothing. Even the three-speed automatic for 904 marks is on board - and of course the thickest engine, the three-liter Essex V6. 'He is considered capricious,' says Weinfurter. 'But if you warm it up carefully and don't demand high continuous revs, it won't bother you.' A good cruising speed is 130 km /h.

The shiny selector lever clicks in position D, when you accelerate the long hood with the power dome lifts, the Ford Capri puts down a quiet bubbling. Compared to the VW, this Ford looks like it has been milled from one piece, but the 350 kilograms more weight does not make it appear sedate, but rather sovereign in an ancient way. The power steering takes its task far too seriously and filters every contact with the roadaway with their one-finger-enough attitude.

Seats like living room armchairs

And the seats of the Ford Capri, large in size and as softly padded as living room armchairs, do the rest with the high torque so that the Capri is understood as a glider for connoisseurs. Sure, it also showed dynamic talents on the racing slopes, but the street version has a more decelerating effect, despite the low seating position, where the Scirocco has an animating effect.

The hatchback coupé was and is without a doubt practical, because the rear seat backrest can be folded in half, the front seat backrests can be tilted horizontally if desired. 'You can even sleep in there for two if you pack your luggage in the footwell in front of the back seat bench,' asserts Weinfurter, remembering traveling to Yugoslavia with his first wife in his first Ford Capri II, which he drove from 1977 to 1984.

Many parts are only available from clubs

This car, which is as eye-catching with its gold paintwork as it is Orange-colored interior (Weinfurter: 'This combination was only built 500 times, 400 times for England'), bought by Hesse in 2004. Like Hans-Dieter Bühler, he emphasizes that it is best to buy a complete Ford Capri and have a functioning network and a good workshop. Autopark Bihn & Bittmann in Ingelheim takes care of his Capri.

Many spare parts for the Ford Capri are only available through clubs or relationships. And that doesn't just apply to seat covers or door panels in this bright orange, which makes Weinfurters Capri a rather weird appearance.

Reliable coupé -Fun

The owner of the sapphire blue Opel Manta 1900 S from 1977 has it a little easier than private individuals when it comes to obtaining spare parts, because this coupé comes from the Opel Classic collection. Vinyl roof, chrome wheel arch, soft velor upholstery: the Berlinetta top equipment flatters itself with the unobtrusive luxury of a car that its buyers in the bourgeois camp knew and left the loud appearance to the rally machines, which emphasized the sporty side of the Manta B.

The carburettor engine produces just 90 hp, which, like all Opel engines of the time, sends this incredibly comfortable running noise into the interior that sounds like unconditional reliability. Imitation wood veneer here and there and chrome-plated frames add to the feeling of security, which is emphasized by clear instruments and comfortable seats. The proximity to Ascona, with which the Opel Manta shares engines, transmissions and chassis components, is palpable, the focus of the Opel makers on what is really important is present.

Three characters, how beautiful

Compared to the Opel Manta A it isB aerodynamically optimized with its narrow cooling air inlet. Just as Uwe Bahnsen smoothed the Ford Capri II in Ford service, George Gaillon tightened the hips of the Manta B, giving it a more functional design in which the Opel Monza from 1977 can already be guessed. The filigree roof pillars make the interior light and cozy, and at the same time bring a lot of clarity. The trunk with its many unclad sheet metal is large, the practical tailgate only followed in 1978 with the CC hatchback model.

With the gentle force of the large centrifugal masses, the four-cylinder carburettor hangs on the gas. The long gear lever is guided very precisely, and the four forward gears easily engage. Strolling along the country roads around Rüsselsheim, the Opel Manta is less lively than the VW Scirocco and less sedate than the Ford Capri. It is agile, but not pointed, relaxed but not fussy. 40 years ago there was not only a choice of brands for coupé fans, but also of characters. Why is it different today? Hm, maybe too many people just want to drive an SUV.

That's how much the Ford Capri, Opel Manta and VW Scirocco cost

The Ford Capri 3.0 is currently the cheapest from this trio. Classic Analytics notes a condition 2 copy at around 9,500 euros, while an Opel Manta 1900 costs around 10,000 euros. VW Scirocco in condition 2 are even higher: you have to plan around 12,000 euros for a good one. In the moderate condition the difference is even clearer. Condition 4 Scirocco cost around 4,000 euros, Ford Capri and Opel Manta are slightly more than half at 2,100 and 2,300 euros, respectively.


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