Just imagine you’re a kid in 1979. What sounds more exciting: Vauxhall Senator Coupé or Opel Monza? There’s no competition; the Opel is more likely to make your mouth water.
The Opel badge was like a forbidden fruit; infinitely more exotic than anything Vauxhall was doing. Monza, Manta and Ascona: names that stirred my young imagination as much as watching Kate Bush prancing about in front of a disinterested Top of the Pops audience.
I wasn’t quite sure why I liked Kate’s leotard, but I knew why I fancied the Opel Monza. It had everything: the name, the badge, the styling and the option of a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine.
I’m certain that the Ford Capri 2.8i that passed me every day on my walk to school shaped my love of cars; I’ve owned six Capris. Had my schoolboy crush been a Monza, I might bought a Opel Manta.
The Monza was a remarkable car. Quick enough in 3.0 form to keep up with the West German plutocrats on the outside lane of the autobahn, yet comfortable enough to rival a contemporary Mercedes.
Rarer, too, because Opel struggled to shift the pre-facelift Monza, even in its domestic market. German businessmen preferred to be seen in something with a BMW or Mercedes badge, while the Brits tended to prefer a Jag.
There were other problems. Though intriguingly exotic to a prepubescent British schoolboy, the Opel name was a bit too mainstream to tempt Germans away from the Monza’s Stuttgart and Bavaria rivals.
Then there was the interior, which looked and felt too much like a Rekord or Senator. Comfortable, well-equipped and built to a high quality, but not up to the lofty standards of its more expensive rivals.
There was a marked improvement when Opel launched the Monza GSE. Based on the facelifted Monza A2 of 1982, the styling propelled the Monza into the new decade, while the interior and mechanical upgrades edged the car closer to the BMW 6 Series. A digital dashboard, Recaro seats and limited-slip differential were just some of the highlights.
The 1979 Opel Monza 3.0 E for sale via a Car & Classic auction is from a different era. It’s the ‘Mick Hucknall’ of the coupé world, with the original owner seemingly hell-bent on coating every available surface simply red.
Only a smattering of wood veneer breaks up the sea of red paint, vinyl, plastic and velour. Yes, red velour. Vanessa Carlton’s cup will runneth over with the news that the seats are swathed in red velour. Get Ms Carlton on the blower, because she’d walk a thousand miles for a Vauxhall saloon, so goodness knows how far she’d travel for an Opel Monza.
Tell her the Monza is being offered with no reserve.
Chris Pollitt, head of editorial of Car & Classic, said: “This Opel Monza’s got such character, from the paint and interior colour, which has been refurbished and resprayed.
“We’re pleased to offer it without reserve and hope to see the new owner use it as is, or fully restore it. Also, kudos to the original owner that specified Opel’s ‘C’ package, which along with the amazing red velour, also included a voltmeter and oil pressure gauge. Future new owner, if you’re reading this, please promise us you’ll keep the red interior.”
You can place a bid by visiting the Car & Classic website. Be sure to get in before Vanessa wakes up. As Chris says: keep the red velour.
Oh, and they’ll always be Opal Fruits to me. None of that Starburst nonsense, thank you.