Beautiful to behold: The golden GT in front of the Colosseum – each a testimony to the art of engineering of its time.

The Dream of Rome

A beautiful dream leads us to Rome. Three o’clock in the morning. Italy’s heart beats slower, recovering from the hectic day. Only a few taxis scurry across the wide streets, the last dancers stagger home. In the shadow of the Colosseum, couples are chattering. The famous amphitheatre is illuminated by a sea of lights – making it appear even larger. At this moment the world stands still for Jens. He parks his golden Opel GT in front of the Colosseum, as he has dreamed of doing umpteen times. And holds his breath.

His dream goes back to the point when he realized that an Opel GT was missing from his life. The low-slung sports car that first took hearts by storm 55 years ago. Like no other Opel before. The success story is connected with Opel’s first design studio, which started work in the early 1960s. Erhard Schnell’s team wanted to show what they were capable of. They gratefully accepted the idea of a small, inexpensive sports car. The resulting “Experimental GT” study thrilled almost every visitor at the 1965 Frankfurt Motor Show. However, nobody believed that Opel would actually build it.

Genuine to the very last detail: A roadmap shows the way.
The Stelvio Pass is a popular route.
In Metallic Gold the GT is just gorgeous.
Travel more beautifully: Every kilometre a pleasure.
Spectacular mountain scenery on the Silvretta High Alpine Road.

From Frankfurt via Basel to Lake Constance – and over the Stelvio Pass: Some tasty curves for the GT

Jens Cooper, Project Manager at Opel Classic, also had little hope when he searched through the early 2000s and couldn’t find a suitable Opel GT. Either the oldies were too worn out, too botched or simply too expensive. Then in 2015 he got a tip – a Belgian GT connoisseur had spotted an advert in Italy. A GT from 1969 was offered on the classifieds portal. A 1900 in gold. In the ad, the car was at an Opel dealership in Rome. The pictures looked promising; the price was fair. Jens knew he couldn’t wait long. So he took vacation the next day – and set off for Rome.

Joy or sorrow decided by bodywork

As fans know, the technology is never a problem with the Opel GT, as it shares the DNA of the Opel Kadett B. Joy or sorrow is often decided by the bodywork – at that time mostly manufactured by the French coachbuilder Brissonneau & Lotz. Rust or poorly repaired accident damage can be the ruin of a nice relationship with a used GT.

Way to go: The two-seater mastered the trip without problems.
“Bella macchina”: The GT is adored at the toll booth.  
Tuscany’s most famous backdrop: Early in the morning the GT parks in Pisa.
“Nur fliegen ist schöner” – no wonder the slogan was so popular.
The original documents still exist. The GT must have looked great with its black Roman number plates.

A thorough polish, some TLC for the mechanicals – and the GT is just as Jens wanted

Back to the golden specimen that Jens finally marveled at after a long drive. After years of searching, his eye is trained, so he quickly notices that the car has been repainted. He assumes it’s because of a “fender bender” but can’t find any tell-tale signs. Nevertheless, his joy at the visually tired specimen is restrained. So he says goodbye to the salesman, drinks another “Espresso doppio” and sets off for home. After more than 1,000 kilometres he falls into bed – and broods. Should I have bought it after all? A golden GT with only two previous owners that looks acceptable except for the paint job?

How proud the sigmore must have been!

The next morning the feeling is still there. And two days later he calls the dealer in Rome and buys the car. When the GT is finally in his garage, the doubts are gone. At second glance, it’s really in good condition. A thorough polish, some TLC (tender loving care) for the mechanicals – and the GT is just how Jens wanted it to be. Piece by piece, he works his way through the folder of papers that came with the Opel. And he notices that the first buyer was 60 years old when he ordered the golden GT in Rome. How proud he must have been when he cruised through the streets of the Eternal City in 1970. Jens is fascinated by this thought. And gradually the dream grows in him of one day motoring through Rome in the golden GT.

Ahoy there: The GT in the harbour of Santo Stefano.
Light repairs: Replacing a bulb.
The route passes Florence with its Renaissance masterpieces.
Through the beautiful avenues of Tuscany.
Nine days, 3,500 kilometres: This road trip will remain unforgotten.

Jens steers his GT to the brightly lit Colosseum. It’s like in his dream. Only better

Seven years later, the time has come. We meet at a filling station at dawn, drink coffee and smile. Jens drew a nice route on an old map. It leads from Frankfurt via Basel to Lake Constance – and over the Stelvio Pass. To serve up some delicious curves to the GT. The last stage towards the capital awaits behind Lake Garda. When we reach the city limits of Rome, it is just before midnight. The GT sounds healthy, Jens‘ eyes light up. The hotel bed? Let it wait. The two are now taking a big tour of the City of Seven Hills. Eventually Jens steers his GT to the brightly lit Colosseum. It’s like in his dream. Only better.

Back in Rome: Like a dream. Only better. The GT was first registered here in 1970.
Tricolore plus coupé: The GT in front of a building illuminated in the colours of the Italian flag.

July 2023

Text und Photos: Dani Heyne