To Opel’s fans who think that it’s impossible to transform the body lines of a GT to make it look well, Ricky’s here to prove to you that you’re all wrong. After widening the Opel 6 inches in the back then adding 4 more inches in length, he wrapped it all around on custom tube chassis replete with a twin A-arm suspension up front and a four-link in the back. Its power was provided by an all-aluminum Buick 215 small-block bolted to a Tremec T5 stick.
In fact, theearly Corvette was a product of Opel. For over 100 years, German subsidiary of GM has been in the car manufacturing business. In 1920s, GM took control of the company. After World War II, Soviets looted Opel’s assembly plants. They used the looted tooling and fixtures to set their own unique communist twist on the Opel Kadett. GM and Opel made up their minds to light up their production line one more time.
They designed a car called Kadette A to compete with the VW Bug. Eventually, Kadette A developed into Kadette B which later became the origin for the Opel GT. Kadette B was characterized as being a small economy car that Opel dressed up to build a concept car in 1965 that was to be manufactured in 1968.
Rumor says that the engineers who designed the C3 Corvette were the ones who also worked on the Opel GT. Thus, that’s the reason why they somehow looked the same.
Ricky Slade thought that his car may look better if he turn the proportions up a bit. Though modifying the sheet-metal may spell catastrophe for his car, Ricky still gave it a try. Putting some 315mm-wide meats in the back required tubing both wheel-wells and widening each sides of the quarter-panels by three inches. As a result of cutting the quarters, it gave Ricky plenty of material to widen the tubs while retaining factory contours. He flanged the original quarters. Then, he welded support rods underneath them before welding the parts together to attach the quarter off the parts car. After that, a series of hammering, forming and shaping happened.
Ricky wasn’t satisfied to Opel GT’s four-cylinder so he decided to make room for the engine of his choice. He used the same procedure that he applied on the quarter-panels to stretch the Opel 4 inches but there’s some sort of problem regarding with the driver-side fender, passenger side fender and nose section on an Opel GT because they are all in one piece. Luckily, he found someone who sells NOS fenders from South California. Ricky recalls that he’s been cutting and welding for a number of times but he still couldn’t achieve the outcome he wanted. He wants the body modifications to look common.
Modifying the sheet metal turns out to be great but the reconstruction comes with its own problems. GT has an exceptional structure of chassis, Opel used monocoque construction and it means that the body panels serve as structural support for the chassis. Unlike any unibody car, it doesn’t have full frame and sub frames. This further explains that the stock suspensions are attached directly to the body. Since Ricky already cut out the floorboard, he thought that he better build a full frame. Ricky bought a front clip Fatman Fabrications Mustang II and rear clip Quarter Max. He then connects it together by using a custom square-tube frame rails. His son helped him in doing the chassis in their garage. Then, Ricky builds a custom floorpans to put the frame into the body.
Ricky’s effort made his Opel GT look bigger. Thus, he doesn’t want to ruin its good balance by mounting a small-block Chevy since it would give his car a heavy weight upon its hood. Since Opel are initially sold through Buick and Buick 215 only weighs 280 pounds, he decided to put a Buick V-8 into his car.
To bring out the best of his engine, Ricky shipped it to McMurty’s Engines for a complete rebuild. The Buick was bored .030 over, fitted with a fresh set of pistons. Then, it was finished off with factory cylinder heads, an EdelBrock 500-cfm carb and a Crower 214/218-at-0.50 hydraulic flat-tappet. Ricky never strapped the engine to a dyno before. He estimated an output of around 300 HP and that’s more than enough for the 2,800-pound Opel. It was tied to a Tremec T5 five-speed manual transmission, which feeds torque back to a Ford 0-inch rear end.
It’s pretty inspiring to know Ricky’s story. The fact that how the destructive wave of saltwater somehow became the reason to materialize his almost near-impossible idea for his GT. Besides, he got nothing to lose.