No limo or exotic as a wedding car for Gerlinda, but her own Opel Manta A

“Even before I even had a boyfriend, I wanted to get married and have an Opel Manta as a wedding car. I also demanded that when I met my friend Joost. He hesitantly agreed, partly helped by his disinterest in everything on four wheels,” says Gerlinda. That Manta came, and what kind! It is the oldest in the Netherlands, on which even Tatjana Šimić posed. Before the Manta could be used as a wedding car, Gerlinda and father Bert still had to tinker a lot. “Let me put it mildly: the car was a bit disappointing,” says 28-year-old Emmeloordse. “We are talking about the oldest surviving Manta in the Netherlands, aren’t we? It is from November 1970, so now 51 years old. It may even be called a miracle that he still exists.”

Gerlinda has refurbished the Opel Manta A together with her father.

Gerlina’s brothers have nothing to do with cars

Gerlinda Kroek started to love cars at an early age. Father Bert, an electrical engineer by trade, grows up among the Opels. “In my younger years I made one of three Opels with my father, so you learn to tinker,” he says. In this way he transfers his love for the brand to his daughter with the ‘Blitz’. “It is striking that among the three sons it is precisely the daughter who shows an interest in cars,” says Bert. “The boys have nothing to do with cars.”

Opel Manta A

Dad’s joke, a plaque with her name on the gear lever of the Opel Manta.

“My love for classic cars started at the campsite,” says Gerlinda. “There was a Fiat Spider for sale. We didn’t buy it, but the spark did fly. The Fiat has also defined my preference: I like cars from the 1970s the most. That is also due to the relatively simple technology, you know. I can tinker with such a car with the help of my father.”

Opel Manta

Once Gerlinda is ready for a classic, the hunt begins. She scours the internet with her dad. It soon becomes clear that the choice will fall on an Opel. Gerlinda likes the Manta A best. “Especially the sturdy front with its four round headlights appeals to me,” she says. “However, they are not widely spread and the prices were often above our budget. Moreover, we were not looking for a restored copy, but rather a project. After all, I had to learn how to tinker.”

The search has been going on for some time when Gerlinda comes across an orange-red Manta from the very first series in the autumn of 2015. It is for sale at a relatively low price from a private individual in Rotterdam.

Manta runs on LPG when they buy it

They quickly make an appointment and drive father and daughter to the port city. The Manta still drives – albeit on LPG – and even has MOT. Gerlinda falls head over heels for the Manta. Bert has to keep his head cool and under the car to discover whether the sills and bottom are still okay. “From the outside, the Manta was actually remarkably cool,” says Bert. “No crispy sills and even the inner screens still looked in good condition. The test drive went less smoothly, because the LPG froze in the pipes, causing it to stop every time. There were also backfire problems. Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, the LPG installation would go out immediately,” says Bert. Gerlinda is blind with love and so the sale is quickly closed. Miraculously, the ancient Manta reaches the finish line in Emmeloord.

Opel Manta A

Still a setback after disassembly

Enthusiastic, father and daughter start dismantling. They store wheels, bumpers, front fenders, bonnet, trunk lid, suspension and further demountable exterior parts, with Gerlinda’s first task being to number and describe the parts. Then comes the setback when they get to cutting the carpet after removing the seats and back seat. The outer sills may seem intact, but the inner sills are a real cheese with holes. They hadn’t counted on that. “Perhaps a bit naive”, says Bert now. “We should not have expected that a car delivered in the Netherlands, which was 45 years old at the time, would still be stainless, but that it was so rotten, we had not counted on that. Nevertheless, I assume that the seller has acted in good faith. It was up to us not to give up. The state of the Manta was not allowed to bring us to our knees. So keep your shoulders down and keep going.”

Nevertheless, father and daughter Kroek lose heart as the disassembly progresses. After half a year the car is as bald as a louse. Now the garage at home also appears to be too cramped to accommodate the bodywork including all loose parts. Fortunately, Bert can also report positive news: he has managed to get hold of a spacious unit including a lift bridge, notably within cycling distance of home. That’s good for the motivation to keep going.

Husband after the Manta found

Then Gerlinda gets to know her future husband Joost. “That was a blow to our Manta project, because from that very moment I spent almost all my free time with my friend and no longer with the Manta. The restoration of the Manta now came in second place, perhaps even third, because Joost also turned out to be the motivator to leave the parental home. “Some evenings we did search the internet for the necessary parts so as not to jeopardize progress, however slow it was.”

Once settled in Hattem, Gerlinda finds the motivation to breathe new life into the almost stagnant project: a marriage. “On Christmas Eve 2020, Joost got down on his knees to propose to me. We wanted to celebrate our wedding anniversary in style from the start, so we set the date in the middle of summer, July 30, 2021. And I only wanted one car to drive us to and from the church and town hall: the Manta.”

Opel Manta

Wedding date as a sword of Damocles

However, it is still completely apart, but father and daughter take up the gauntlet again. Now they have the wedding date hanging over them like a sword of Damocles and so it’s serious. They can’t go back now.

Pa Kroek spends many evenings cycling back and forth to the unit to do as much work as possible on the car, under the motto: ‘we do what is feasible for us ourselves, we outsource what we have not mastered’. On Saturday he has help from Gerlinda. Then he acts as a supervisor cum teacher: “In this way, for example, I fitted a door with its window mechanism and lock and assembled the center console,” she says. Then you notice that cars from this period are still built honestly. They are clear. I left the larger and safety-relevant jobs to my father. I think it’s quite something that I even know how to use ring and wrenches.”

They outsource the welding and sheet metal work to a company around the corner, in order to guarantee progress. That company finds much more rottenness in the bare bodywork, but there is no turning back. In the meantime, they have the engine overhauled, whereby the company that is called in for this finds out that a lot has been tinkered with the Manta over the years. It turns out that the original 1.6 has made way for a 2.0. “Despite the loss of originality, we had it overhauled, because the Manta could use that extra horsepower,” says Gerlinda.

Bert and Gerlinda have got the hang of it so much that the restoration is going more smoothly than they had imagined. Fortunately, the sheet metal worker or sprayer keeps to the agreements and the engine also returns on time. Construction can begin. Again Bert paternally oversees daughter Gerlinda’s activities. “He is strict but fair in his directions,” she says. “I’m just not an accomplished mechanic. It’s nice that he directs me and gives directions. We get in each other’s way as little as possible. Still, I often have to wait when he is working under the car and I have to be inside to assemble interior parts.”

They start in good spirits with the assembly of the headliner – which is still hanging from the roof with ribs – but even Bert oversteps here. “I was wrong about that,” he says. “We are good at hanging up those ribs, but tensioning and gluing the parts to the C-pillar is a job for experts.

Once the heavens are in place, Gerlinda can continue at full speed with the installation of insulation material, carpet and the center console. Bert concentrates on the brake and fuel lines, calipers and the most difficult job: lowering the engine and gearbox without damaging the paint on the inner wings. Slowly but surely the unit becomes a bit emptier again when the loose parts take their familiar place in the Manta, which in turn takes shape again.

Opel Manta

Fine-tuning engine took four months

Then it’s time to start the engine, bringing the restoration project closer to completion. “Our tireless efforts paid off,” says Gerlinda. “Well before the wedding date – four months exactly – we were able to schedule the appointment for the RDW inspection. We had to do that because the LPG installation did not return. The RDW inspection became another exciting affair when the official in question scanned the chassis number, but luckily everything turned out to be okay. We then had four months to perfect the Manta.”

For example, Bert can adjust the carburetors, which turns out to be quite an exercise, and Gerlinda interferes with the perfect hanging of the doors. “We needed almost all of those four months for the fine-tuning, but it was finished before the wedding date,” says Bert.

The big day itself went smoothly, partly thanks to the relaxed corona measures. “We kept it largely dry in terms of weather,” says the bride. “It was precisely during the ride to the reception location, however, that it burst loose from heaven for a moment. In the middle of the downpour, the wiper motor turned out not to be completely stuck, so that was a bit of a struggle. Other than that, the Manta performed perfectly. Just look at the pictures. They say it all, don’t they?”

Opel Manta

The Opel Manta A with Tatjana on the hood. Also note the modern Opel wheels from the 1990s. Then it is now a lot nicer and nice and original.

Tatjana has been sitting on the hood of this Manta

Gerlinda has now reported to the Manta Club Netherlands. She is only a little happy with her membership, because suddenly the club has the oldest Manta in its ranks. The history is also largely above water. In November 1970 it was bought by an elderly lady, but it was not registered until later. “According to the club, it is even a pre-series copy, built before the factory holidays and used, for example, for brochure photography. Through the club we came across an edition of the club magazine in which Tatjana Šimić poses on the boot lid and on the hood. That makes it even more fun. For example, despite the many setbacks, we still bought the best Manta related to the history of this copy,” says Gerlinda. Father Bert has acquired such a taste that he is once again on the hunt for a new old car. “The blood creeps where it can’t go, doesn’t it”, he says with a laugh. “Preferably another Manta, but one in a better basic condition than this one,” he hastens to say. Gerlinda sticks to this oldest Manta in the Netherlands.

Opel Manta

And the actress who became known for Flodder also posed on the trunk lid…

This story was previously published in AutoWeek Classics 13 2022


Read original article here

Denial of responsibility! Bulletin Reporter is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – admin@ . The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More