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Group B Manta 400 4WD Prototype information

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RGBS
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Group B Manta 400 4WD Prototype information

Postby RGBS » 14 Feb 2017, 17:06

Greetings!

I am currently helping in research for a book author currently writing about the Ferguson Formula history.

As some of you may know, in 1983 existed a Group B Manta 4WD (Four Wheel Drive) prototype that used a Ferguson viscous center differential developed especially for the rally car by FF Developments.

The best and most complete info that I was able to compile can be found here: https://rallygroupbshrine.org/the-group-b-cars/group-b-prototypes/opel-manta-b-400-4x4-prototype/

However, a lot of details and questions still remain open. As such, if you are knowledgeable about this specific project then we would appreciate any kind of help that you can provide, be it more information, hyperlinks to more articles, or photos of the actual prototype, etc.

Thank you in advance for helping in preserving history!

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RGBS
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Country: Canada
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Group B Manta 4WD Prototype information

Postby RGBS » 21 Feb 2017, 14:26

Is there nobody that truly knows more about this car or am I on the wrong community forum to ask? :|

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Manta400R
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Group B Manta 4WD Prototype information

Postby Manta400R » 21 Feb 2017, 20:33

Hi Jay, welcome to the forum. The website is still very new as yet, but I have shared a link to your topic on social media. (Our Facebook, twitter and instagram pages.)
Jimmy McRae wrote:It is the best Group B, two wheel drive, normally aspirated car. There's no doubt about it.

RGBS
Posts: 12
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Real Name: Jay
Location: Other side of the pond!
Country: Canada
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Group B Manta 4WD Prototype information

Postby RGBS » 28 Feb 2017, 15:41

I recently got in contact with an engineer who was (and still is) employed at Opel Motorsport at the time that the 4WD prototype was built (1982-83). He sadly couldn't give me more information but did gave out an interesting statement: the first prototype was a road car. He wasn't aware of the rally prototype as shown in the picture. However, this brings up interesting questions since the prototype seen in the press picture has similarities to both the road and rally versions.

Image

In fact, when you look closely at the picture above, you can see that the car is equipped with a roll cage and that it does sport the squared arch extensions from Irmscher (as is the rally version). It also features the tall roof antennae (as is the rally version). However, it is equipped with the normal production hood (bonnet). The front bumper cover is different from both the road and rally version, it seems to be closer to the road version but with the lower air duct enlarged. The grille itself has only one horizontal slit instead of the two on the rally version. The auxiliary lamps are also placed differently than on the definitive rally version as well.

As such, I am trying to correctly identify some exterior features to fuel my suspicion that maybe the road car prototype mentioned was later converted into the rally version seen in the picture. From the information that I have, 245 road homologation cars of the rear wheel drive Manta B400 were produced but I have seen many differences in the exterior features. I know that the wide arch body kit was optional and fitted out of factory by Irmscher but that doesn't explain the other minutes differences. However, since I am not a Manta expert, can someone explain to me the differences between these:

Image

In this picture the car sports grille with only one slit. The headlight washers nozzles (I assume it is what the little dots are) are on the inboard side of the turn signals. It also seems to sport some sort of black protection strips on the front bumper cover lip, side skirts, rear arches, and rear spoiler.

Image

In this picture the car sports the same grille but the headlight washer nozzles are on the outboard side of the turn signals. The Opel logo is also different. This car is lacking the protection strips and also features a vinyl graphic on the rear part of the bonnet.

Image

In this picture the car sports a two slit grille. The headlight washer nozzles are gone. The protection strips return. The bonnet is of the rally version. This car also has a sunroof and small antennae.

Image

In this picture the car also has no headlight washer nozzles. The headlights themselves are different and with a mask (as is the rally version). The normal bonnet returns with the top graphic. The roof antennae is in the front instead of the rear on the sunroof car.

Now, were these simply different factory options? It seems odd to me that an homologation special produced in such little numbers could be custom ordered. Was the early homologation cars different? One other possibility is that some of these pictured above are not real B400 homologation specials?

I'm not sure why I'm going through all this trouble but I guess that the Group B nerd in me is fascinated with such details...

EDIT: I've just found some interesting details in the production run.

"The number of homologation vehicles produced in different years production is summarized below:

1981 - 23 units (before facelift)
1982 - 80 units (after facelift)
1983 - 140 units
1984 - 2 units"


This might explain a lot actually... Anyone can confirm which of the pictures above are PRE or AFTER facelift?

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Manta400R
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Group B Manta 4WD Prototype information

Postby Manta400R » 28 Feb 2017, 18:26

Very very interesting stuff Jay :thumb: I'm no expert either (Just love the Manta 400!) but from what I've heard before, it was Ari Vatanens actual rally car that was converted to 4wd, but then later returned to RWD for some reason which I can't remember now...

As for the early/late differences, there are a few I know of:

Early tends to be:
  • Actual metal Opel badge on front panel
  • Square/Oblong headlights
  • Single slat grille

Later tends to be:
  • Opel sticker on front panel rather than badge
  • Twin headlights
  • Twin slat grille

Oh, and the car pictured below is a Replica 400, I once saw it for sale after it was rebuilt after an accident. You can tell with the four stud wheels rather than being five stud as per the 400.
RGBS wrote:Image


There will be other small details that I'm really not sure on, including those you mention such as steel bonnets, graphics, headlight washers etc. Hopefully we get some more Manta enthusiasts here to help. :thumb:
Jimmy McRae wrote:It is the best Group B, two wheel drive, normally aspirated car. There's no doubt about it.

RGBS
Posts: 12
Joined: February 2017
Real Name: Jay
Location: Other side of the pond!
Country: Canada
Gender: Male

Group B Manta 4WD Prototype information

Postby RGBS » 28 Feb 2017, 19:21

Thanks for those precisions! ^^

In fact, all the meanwhile I have been very much busy continuing the research and have stumbled upon more articles about the car, which led me to modify my own article accordingly with extra details. You can read up upon these changes here:

https://rallygroupbshrine.org/the-group-b-cars/group-b-prototypes/opel-manta-b-400-4x4-prototype/

Image

Image

Image

If anyone has better resolution scans of these articles it would be much appreciated. Alternatively, if you can help identify the magazine or publishers of these articles it could give me even more leads! :thumb:

KevinBricknall
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Group B Manta 4WD Prototype information

Postby KevinBricknall » 01 Mar 2017, 09:20

Have this filed away which may also be of help.

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KevinBricknall
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Group B Manta 4WD Prototype information

Postby KevinBricknall » 01 Mar 2017, 09:26

This is the Manta 400 with out the body kit. Picture is date 1981.

25, 1981 Manta B 400 without bodykit.jpg
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KevinBricknall
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Real Name: Kevin Bricknall
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Group B Manta 4WD Prototype information

Postby KevinBricknall » 01 Mar 2017, 09:28

Here is a copy o the Manta 400 Homologation Paper Work. May be of interest.

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KevinBricknall
Posts: 11
Joined: January 2017
Real Name: Kevin Bricknall
Location: Milton Keynes
Country: UK
Gender: Male

Group B Manta 4WD Prototype information

Postby KevinBricknall » 01 Mar 2017, 09:29

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