The plan was to give the sports coupé a mighty V8 engine from a Corvette. “With a lot of growling and rumbling under the bonnet,” says Daniel Haun as he plugs the charging cable into the socket. Instead, the heart that beats under the bodywork of his Opel Monza is powered by electricity. What happened? “The zeitgeist happened. The desire to break new ground. The idea of making a classic sustainable,” lists the Thuringian. These are the reasons that also prompted Opel to equip a Manta with an electric drive. The result is the Manta GSe RestoMOD – an e-classic that inspires people.
First home: Barcelona
When Daniel Haun was electrified by the idea of adding an electric motor to a classic car, ElektroMOD from Rüsselsheim did not yet exist. It was in 2018 that he had the opportunity to acquire the Opel Monza. It is a special model. “A kind of intermediate model, still with a lot of the chrome of the original model on the outside, but already fitted with the plush interior of the facelift on the inside,” the 45-year-old tells us. And for such a rarity, the journey to Barcelona was not too far for the tinkerer. That’s where the sports coupé, built in 1982, had spent nearly the past 40 years. The bodywork: rust-free. The 3-litre engine with 180 hp, however, was largely a goner.
At first, Haun sold the engine and other parts he didn’t need. In this way, he recouped the 1,400 euros he had paid for the complete Monza. That was a good start. He couldn’t shake the idea of installing an electric drive, even if the implementation was still vague. “Where the role model is missing, you have to create it.” This is the text in the Monza sales brochure from 1978, a sentence that Daniel Haun also took to heart.
Support with help and advice
The electric power unit he acquired next came from Heiko Fleck. The Bavarian entrepreneur specialises in selling electric conversion kits. The electric pioneer has been selling such kits for a good ten years. And demand is increasing; he currently sells around five kits a week. Fleck supports his customers with help and advice; he guides hobbyists through the process in detailed YouTube tutorials.
01 Originally, the Monza was light grey. Daniel Haun had the body repainted “a little darker” in anthracite – incidentally, it was the only step in the conversion process that he did not do himself.
02 Down to the last detail: To ensure that the front spoiler and sills are flush, the trained coachbuilder extended the front by five centimetres.
03 A specially milled adapter plate was needed to connect the electric motor and the gearbox.
04 The electric power-steering pump comes from an Opel Astra, as does the air-conditioning compressor to the left.
05 From the electric heater to the LCD display: The cockpit had to be rebuilt from scratch.
There is a reason for this. In the beginning, Daniel Haun also thought the effort was manageable. Install the electric motor, batteries and a few controllers – that’s it. But it’s not that simple, the “battery management system” is complex. The power steering in the electric car needs an electrically operated pump, the heating has to work electrically and the TÜV requires a charge indicator and an emergency stop switch, which are unknown in combustion cars. The list grew longer and longer. Daniel Haun was not deterred. The Thuringian learned car body and vehicle construction in an Opel workshop in the 1990s. In his spare time, he has been restoring classic cars with the Blitz emblem with dedication ever since.
Preserve the spirit of the times
His second project next to the Monza is the restoration of a 1971 Opel Commodore, but this project has been put on hold for the time being. Instead, he devoted every spare minute to making progress with his E-project for a year. He took a similar approach to the Opel team that created the Manta GSe ElektroMOD. “On the one hand, I wanted to preserve the spirit of a classic. But on the other hand, to bring in something new,” explains Haun. So the Thuringian installed an LCD display. The computer cockpit, which was installed in the Monza GSE from 1983 onwards, “seemed like a fitting addition to me,” he says. So does the solar system on the roof of the family home, which now generates the electricity for charging.
Fancy a little tour? Sure, yes. The Opel classic with the huge tailgate – the battery is installed in the luggage compartment – rolls out of the yard almost silently. Haun gives power, the plush seat cover feels good, while the mini display runs the km/h strip. “150 is tops, but until then – pure driving fun,” says Daniel Haun. The e-unit has significantly more torque than the original 180 hp petrol engine. The lower centre of gravity optimises cornering. The range is 100 kilometres. More batteries for 50 additional kilometres are to be added soon.
Ready for project number 2
All told, the conversion and restoration cost him about 17,000 euros, the 45-year-old calculates. “And it was worth every cent.” He can’t part with it anymore. Instead of driving it at the weekend as planned, he now drives his classic with the electric heart every day. To work. To go shopping. To run errands.
And it looks like the Monza won’t remain Daniel Haun’s only electric vehicle. His son, who will soon be getting his driving licence, dreams of a Calibra Turbo – with electric drive. The search for a suitable car body has already begun.