Can The Ghost Still Remember Me?

By way of advertising its continued health and vitality – or even its renewed health and vitality –  Opel showed off its GT X Experimental the other day.

More genius from Mark Adams: source

It’s intended as a design for an electric car and that’s going to be Opel’s engineering task in future.

Nobody hates television and talking-head You Tube rubbish more than this correspondent. Despite my loathing of the glue tube, I have to say that a little documentary there showed what is not so clear in the static images which accompanied other articles about the GT X. After seeing the little video item I decided I absolutely had to write-up the GT X Experimental instead of ignoring it as more pointless eye-candy.

The pretty lengthy and very favourable video presentation of the car is most useful for showing a) Opel’s designers’ skills at subtle nuances** and b) that this car is rather petite and correspondingly pleasing.

2018-Opel-GT-X-Experimental: source

The exterior is in a way what some readers here have been pleading for ever since strakes, swages and feature lines broke out of their zoo in 2009 and infested the flanks of most cars. The GT-X has a smoothly curving bodyside and it not ashamed of it. To add something new to the mix, Opel’s utterly post-modern trim has lost its chrome finish and become yellow. Formally it has changed from being a residual bit of garnish for a hole in the bodyside to being the intimation of a new surface between the roof and body.

2016 Opel Speedster GT:

You can see the idea evolving here on the 2106 Speedster (above). I feel that on that car it is still more more akin to the late evolution of DLO trim, as it is on the Opel Adam.

I really don’t care if anyone else likes the GT-X or not but people should understand that that yellow strip is an unusual instance of formal innovation in what is a rather hide-bound industry.

Whoah Nelly! Source

(I can only use the space between these two images to remind readers that what might have been given a chromed surface has a paint coat instead. The possibilities for customisation are broadened and it is a new space for colour in a mostly monochrome world. I haven’t even got to the small-big wheels.)

Good grief: source

It doesn’t stop there. In the video linked above you can see the faceting of the yellow strip, there to catch the light. Nobody’s going to see that unless they see the car in the metal (probably no-one) but it’s there because evidently Mark Adams is going to do this on a real car very soon.

1965 Opel concept sports car: source

The other deeply intelligent thing about this car is that it also draws on Opel’s heritage. The GT-X is essentially today’s little sports car. If you see the car from the rear, the glass-house is really narrow in relation to the body, exactly as in the 1966 car car, above. The smooth flanks and the upkick of the DLO are also subtle references. Adams has not gone retro here though. The car also refers to very recent Opel styling tropes such as the black tabs over the wheel arch trims.

And notice how the trailing edge of the door meets the rear-bumper with no interevening fixed sheet metal. Is that possible in production?

Opel’s Mark Adams: source

Courage of convictions is a rare thing in car design. Opel, regardless of their new owner, are confident to refer to one of their recent polarising designs, the Adam in aspects of the GT-X. I salute that. I sit in the benches as a fan and consider the Adam to be a rare example of a joyful, finessed and jewel-like car.

Mark Adams has retained some of the Adam’s features and developed them – along with fusing the new, wider “visor” with the hockey-stick headlamp graphics front and back. He has done this despite some being a lot less than charitable about the same car.

Access denied: source

Turning to the front you can see the visor in this image. It is not a grille since it’s a smooth single piece of plastic. What this does is acknowledge the very long heritage of grilles but repurposes the form.

The one thing I think needs to be dropped is the odd cone right under the Opel Badge. It’s hard to explain what it is there to achieve.

2015 Opel Adam Rocks: the Truth About Cars

Boiled down, this concept car is serving the role once occupied by the small sportscar in the 1960s. What it is not is aggressive or loud. It’s also a rare instance of modern vernacular car design with some depth to it – which is pretty much what Opel have often done.


There’s a very interesting write-up of the 1965 Opel Speedster concept to be found here.


** Post-script: the way light is handled on the Opel shows the frankly wierd lengths Audi have gone to play with light and shade on their generally hideous CUV:

2017 Audi Q2: Photo by Agent D.

More later when I get my one detailed close-up images.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

18 thoughts on “Can The Ghost Still Remember Me?”

  1. The odd cone appears to connect the bonnet ridge to the front lower valance ridge which together makes the front appear narrower.
    Adding these ridges cause the viewer to see two halves instead of one large expanse which makes the car appear more compact, that’s my view.

  2. Richard, in the title of the email notification you wrote “moura entacada”. I suppose it should be “moura encantada” – enchanted moor ?

    Back to Opel. This post made me look at current Opels in a different light. I’ve never been a fan of Opel, partly because of brand prejudiçe, partly because a lot have been uninspiring to drive… However all current Opels are really nicely sculpted with thoughtful details, exuding Sobriety and Dignity

    Quite a difference from the current affairs with the premium-3 (the 3 stooges ?)

  3. “the glass-house is really narrow in relation to the body”, which is exactly the opposite of what I’d want. The various Kube-type models don’t do that, and sell well.
    One other step backwards with all e-cars is that the batteries make the tailgate load height higher.

    1. It’s a kind of cat-walk car not a production car so it can be a bit unrealistic. I like its proportions. I also like VW’s Bora, an utterly rational car.

    2. Vic not “all” e-cars make tailgate load heights higher so this assumption is wrong. Battery placement for pure EVs will be found under floor between the wheelbase providing a low centre of gravity.
      BMWs i3 has a high rear platform not because of batteries but to accommodate the range extender. I’ve actually found due to advancing years this deck height to be ideal compared to my previous Ampera which was much lower. The original Leafs second mod had a very low boot floor level which goes to show EVs have a major advantage over conventional ice cars in space utilisation. Tesla is a prime example with storage in front and rear plus all wheel drive.

  4. Could we please have photograph of this car before it had its accident as it quite obviously has been T-boned in the right hand front door?
    Maybe in its before-accident form it is lacking the stupid hollow depth in the door skin…

    1. Presumably that´s a hint you don´t really like it. What is stupid about the concave area in the door? I can´t see anything very wrong with it it.

  5. The rear door / bumper direct interface would have to go, for production, but then so would much else – it’s a concept, as has been said.

    I’m not a great fan of its ‘wide-hipped’ look; on the other hand, the front (happily) reminds me of the original Opel Manta (A).

  6. The front end reminds me of something rather more recent, from 2010:

    The GM influence lives on…

    1. It does. The black bonnet is very ‘GTE’ / ‘GM Europe performance-brand’, too.

  7. On seeing the article, I liked the look straight away. Upon watching the video, my appreciation deepened, especially when Mark Adams eloquently revealed his intentions as using this concept for future Opels.
    Let’s hope they keep the selfie camera and print option and ignore you can’t charge your e-cigarette or leave sweet wrappers/phones/anything anywhere but the floor! Genius.

  8. I really like this new Opel design too.
    A concept car coming without chrome and wihout (too) big tyres – Chapeau !
    The glazed visor-front might be a good theme for the DS brand too…

  9. I guess they introduced the “cone” and the unfortunate little pinch in the tailgate to complete the “Opel compass”m (intersecting horizontal/vertical lines), but it’s excuted in a way that makes it very obvious that the bumper is made of plastic (steel sheets don’t bend this way), which takes away from the unity of the bodywork.
    Other than that I really like this concept, just as I liked the Speedster GT.
    However, looking at the Monza and what came of it (the bulbous, Americanesque Insignia) I doubt they will be able to translate this kind of purity in surfacing and stance to a production model.

  10. It is indeed a nice shape, and I love that slash of yellow. That’s a kind of “why didn’t I think of that” idea. Thankfully someone is addressing the totally boring hatchback look, whether normally stanced or raised on stilts and called a crossover like this somewhat overwheeled concept.

    Of course in this case, rollover roof strength is not really present due to the lack of a B-pillar, nor is side crush strength/protrusion resistance in the passenger cell helped by the huge “dent” and (again) lack of B-pillar. The rear door hinged so close to the back means that a goodly whomp from a following oblivious texter-driver’s vehicle might ruin the ability for it to be opened after the accident. There are reasons for many features found in all normal cars, and it is a bit self-indulgent to merely airily discard them, concept or not. Surely good design accommodates the obvious practicalities within its purview. Or it is rather useless.

    The takeaway from all this is the smooth shape and colour slash, which will no doubt surface in public shortly.

    The pimple on the front bumper cover might be a place to hide the forward-facing radar and camera. Some of the current solutions for the placement and the obviousness of these sensors are a bit tacky, so why not style them?

  11. I agree with Kajetan – under GM, the translation of the Monza to the latest Insignia got lost somewhere deep and dark. My fear is that all we get is a bunch of styling cues slapped onto an earlier design era inspired new Corsa.

    I was and am a big fan of the little speedster project. It would make a perfect MX-5 RF rival, but I doubt there’s much of a business case in that. What’s pleasing about the GT-X is the very clear association that it has with the earlier Speedster. It’s a much smoother looking design than the Adam, but I can see how Richard makes the connect; more obvious to me is that the Crossland X is meant to be the Adam’s bigger sister.

    I’ll find time to watch the video via the link, but already the portents are good if something close to this makes production. Do I detect that we’ll get different coloured feature lines for differently natured cars? i.e. red = sporting, yellow = lifestyle, blue = hybrid/ BEV?

    For some reason, I associate my sense of the GT-X with the recent XC-40 – as such, it could prove to be a real shot in the arm for Opel/ Vauxhall, because the Volvo is very much the car of the moment.

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