Fitting a twin-cam engine, exhaust system and associated ancillaries into the diminutive bay of this early ‘70s sports car tested our packaging skills as far as they’d go, and getting everything sitting in a suitable position involved a fair bit of head scratching – not to mention the odd skinned knuckle and muttered expletive.
The owner of this example actually only came to us for a re-spray on his old GT, a home-built car. The majority of the parts had already been amassed and the car booked into Retropower for just under a years time, when a member of his family managed to crash it! Another GT was therefore sought, bought and dropped off at our workshop, the brief now being a complete, ground-up restomod project.
Our task wasn’t helped by the GT’s shell being decidedly suspect, a legacy of its somewhat checkered existence up to that point in time. Rot was a given, we were more concerned by the bent sills and stress-fractured structural points, all clear evidence that the car had been involved in a serious accident at some point or another. The good news was that we were at least well equipped to right the GT’s wrongs. The better news was that we could cannibalise the owner’s previous, crashed damaged car, and this eventually donated its doors, roof and a number of other pieces to the cause.
The GT’s diminutive scale also had a direct impact on how we set about upgrading its engine, in this case a C20XE ‘Redtop.’ Getting the block and head into position wasn’t too tough an undertaking, far trickier were essential ancillaries like the exhaust manifold (a bespoke item) and 2.5in system (a challenge to route), Individual Throttle Bodies and cam breather. The former necessitated some fairly drastic modifications to the drivers’ side footwell (all GT’s being left-hand drive), while the latter pair mandated some mild sculpting of the scuttle panel.
Not all the bodywork revisions we carried out were needed to package the engine, many more were undertaken for aesthetic reasons and aesthetic reasons alone. Both front and rear bumpers were deleted, the former requiring extensive work to remove the unsightly ‘mounting ridge’ deemed suitable by Opel. The shell was then resprayed in a stunning shade of Ferrari Scuderia Red.
Packaging aside, one of the key aspects of this particular project centred upon improving the GT’s handling by re-engineering its suspension, which as standard consisted of lower wishbones and transverse leaf-springs at the front. We added a compression strut into the mix in order to add more fore and aft location, plus coilovers (front), custom springs (rear) and polybushes. It’s a good example of our willingness to work within (and improve upon) the systems put in place by the manufacturer in question.
Last but not least, we managed to imbue the baby Opel with a smattering of one-offs and engineering flourishes. These include the electronically controlled ‘rollover’ headlights, a self-illuminating numberplate and, thanks to the owner’s ingenuity, a one-off, Raspberry Pi run Power Distribution Module.
Scroll down to check out a selection of images from the build, or get in touch if you’d like us to build you something similar.