Cool Cruising at The E-Cannonball

PROLOGUE 4th E-Cannonball 2021. On the afternoon of September 24, 73 e-cars and two-wheelers together with fans and owners fill the parking lot of a large hotel south of Berlin. The parc fermé of the quietest race of the year. The participants are exhilarated, exchange ideas, talk shop – and are looking forward to being on the grid at around six o’clock the next morning. To take on the unique comparison drive one after the other. It goes from Berlin to Munich. The 73 vehicles have been divided into three classes, depending on the performance of their e-mobiles. Drivers can choose the route they take, but there are tests to pass along the way. So the winner is not necessarily the one who arrives first.

WHAT GOAL HAVE YOU SET YOURSELVES? Each team is introduced before the start and interviewed by the organisers. Opel Brand Manager Peter Junghanns, who accompanied the conversion of the conventional Manta into an ElektroMOD in Rüsselsheim, takes this over for us. And is still thrilled to bits with the car. It’s a point of honour that we share the cockpit. A great moment for Peter: “The GSe hasn’t covered this many kilometres in one go since its conversion. But I’m sure the Manta will easily manage it.”

AND WE’RE OFF! Saturday, September 25. At 6:30 a.m. the Manta GSe is on the grid. It’s everybody’s darling here, a hero from the 1970s, wonderfully restored and optimised. With an electric heart, manual transmission, full Vizor grille and classic rear-wheel drive. Most people here celebrate the Opel because it’s a show car – that really runs. And even gets to be in a competition like this. Even though it wasn’t built for it. That’s why it has neither a fast-charging system (DC charger with max. 9kW) on board, nor excess battery power (31kWh). “So what” murmurs come from the crowd. “It’ll be the winner of hearts here.”

STYLISH Since Peter is clearly wearing the better outfit, he gets to get behind the wheel first. If everything goes smoothly, the Manta will charge for the first time in Dessau. Oh yes, the jacket … Peter bought it on ebay. After being washed four times, the intense smell of cigarettes was finally history …

ROADMOVIE Of course the sun doesn’t want to miss such a sight. Our start is accompanied by a wonderful sunrise. We steer the ElektroMOD towards the A9 – and let it glide along at 105 km/h. Which is a piece of cake for the 255 Nm synchronous motor. Once again it becomes clear how well the electric drive suits the oldtimer. Stably and quietly, we approach Dessau – and even overtake the 1965 E-Mustang that started ahead of us. Obviously, its team is following a different strategy and surfing in the slipstream of a truck.

ART MEETS HANDCRAFT In Dessau we pass the Bauhaus Museum. Thanks to the early hour, the streets here are still empty, we take a photo – and head straight for the Böttche car dealership. A friendly Opel dealer whose team is already waiting for us. The Manta gets electricity. We get delicious coffee. Thanks, guys!

RANCH 330 KM We knew that the charging phases would be about twice as long as our sprints. Meaning: one hour of driving, two hours of charging. As mentioned, this is not because of the Manta GSe, but because of its mission. It is a show car with TÜV approval. Not a fast charger. Not a range monster. And it is welcomed everywhere. We experience this wherever we show up with the coupé. And when we get bored while recharging, we play a game of e-car quartet. Peter still wins for now …

RELAXED TRAVELLING On we go. Further and further south. Alternately on the motorway and country roads – depending on what gets us to Munich faster. The ElektroMOD whizzes quietly and flawlessly through the country, earning smiles and thumbs-up. The second charging stop goes as smoothly as the first. The batteries don’t seem to have a problem with the mission. Neither do we.

WE CHARGE, MOKKA-E REACHES THE DESTINATION The friendly Opel dealer Exner in Hof has actually long since finished work when we reach him late on Saturday afternoon. But there’s an exception for the Manta GSe. Team Opel sticks together. We get electricity and cool drinks. Meanwhile, at the finish line in Munich, the driver of the Opel Mokka-e, which started later, is already being interviewed. And we send – via live link – congratulations to Jan Gleitsmann and Fabian Mechtel. The two crossed the finish line first of the entire field in the Mokka-e provided by Opel. Just behind them, an Opel Corsa-e. Going well for Opel!

HEADING SOUTH Peter confidently steers the GSe. What he does not yet know? That the Manta will still need two charging stops after all – and that there is a spectator “Wave” ready to greet him shortly before midnight. The other drivers pay their respects to Team Manta GSe. “You brought the baby safely over the finish line”. Oh yes! We did.

BEAUTIFUL VIEWS The sun is setting. There are only three teams left on the route. The rest are already looking forward to the victory celebration. We cruise towards Munich at 105 km/h. If everything goes well, the Manta will only need one more charging stop…

EPILOG And while we are still on the road, the Mokka-e team is already celebrating. Jan Gleitsmann, the creator of Ausfahrt-TV, sends his greetings to the Opel team: “Many thanks to the Opel team for getting the Mokka-e ready for us so quickly. We had fun! And we were able to do our thing.”

October 2021

Text und Photos: Dani Heyne