The venerable Opel "cam in head" (c.i.h.) engine, was first introduced in the 1960s as a work horse engine for farmer's cars and taxis, but it evolved over the following two decades to become a very solid and reliable performance engine, especially for rallying.

Ray Baugh asked me recently if I had an old c.i.h. cylinder head that could be used as the basis for an unleaded engine conversion and of course I did have just such a cylinder head in my loft. First it was necessary to find out what size of c.i.h. engine this particular cylinder head originally belonged to.

I remember being told that there was a code relating to the number of fins on the front of the casting long ago by UK Manta guru William Blankley, so I settled down with the Opel Factory Manual for the Opel Manta A series to see if I could find out the answer.

After about 15 minutes I found what I was looking for, the number of fins, follows the following pattern:

0 fins = 1.6N engine
1 fin = 2.0S engine
2 fins = 1.9S engine
3 fins = 1.6S engine

The following illustration shows the location of the fins.

C.I.H. engine capacity code - 2 fins = 1.9s engine

As a double check, the capacity is also stamped into the surface near the side inspection cover, however you should note that it is quite a faint marking and on a used engine is likely to be covered under oily dirt.

This illustration shows the location of the capacity markings, please note that it isn't necessary to remove the inspection cover to view them.

Capacity markings should be visible once you've cleaned the surface

On offer is a set of shell bearings bought for the rebuild of the 2.0e version of the cam in head engine used in the Opel Manta GT/e, as luck would have it, they weren't needed. Made by Federal-Mogul under the AE brand of aftermarket engine parts, they are marked up as follows "S 2096.SA STD T78 KA" and the blister pack insert contains 8 shell half bearings.

Sensibly priced at £20 plus delivery.

Vauxhall Opel - bearing kit

AE branding - part of Federal Mogul

Vauxhall Opel big end bearing kit

Lastly here's what Federal-Mogul have to say about their products:

The AE brand was established in 1968. Since its inception more than 35 years ago, AE has developed the widest range of engine components available from any single source.

AE provides absolute excellence in advanced engine components, which meet and often exceed the exacting high standards set by vehicle and engine manufacturers. AE is recognized throughout the world as a leading brand of quality engine replacement parts.
The AE Engine Solution product line includes pistons, piston rings, bearings, valves, camtrain and ancillary products, and belts and timing kits.
Our aftermarket customers benefit from our proven expertise in engineering and manufacturing original equipment (OE) components and sub-systems for the world’s major automotive manufacturers. We’re a global producer of engine and sealing products, so we understand the importance of OE fit and form replacement parts. We know our parts adhere to the industry’s toughest standards — and to yours.

Paul Evans mailed me via my website and was curious to find out more about the "painted manifold" listed for the Opel Manta GT/e. I think he might have been expecting some fancy 4 branch manifold rather than the stock GT/e item.
It has been brush painted in matt grey finish and there are specks of white on the surface, which I think are rubbing compound, they started to come off with a sponge, but the pitted nature of the cast iron finish makes it difficult to get out completely..

On the plus side, although these cast manifolds aren't pretty, the design, apparently, is highly efficient and adding fancy tubular manifolds does little to boost the performance of the Manta GT/e engine, even for tuned or large capacity examples.

Should this take your fancy, it is available for £15 plus delivery, which should be £10 within mainland UK.

Opel Manta GT/e manifold - grey painted finish

Opel Manta GT/e manifold - not pretty, but surprisingly efficient

The demand for Classic Opel Spares is always completely at odds with their location and ease of access in my loft! Usually by the time I have recovered them and sorted out the good from the bad, nobody is interested any more.
That was definitely the case, with a huge pile of salvaged Opel Manta A series door seals sitting in an unruly mess. By the way, these are the trims than run from the A post round the door aperture, all the way to the rear side window and back to the B post. During Autumn 2011 I carefully went through them all, separated them into nearside and offside types and disposed of any that had broken up into small sections.

They are in reasonable condition, but not perfect. If you look carefully, you will probably find the odd bit of the original vehicles paint as evidence of less than meticulous masking techniques in the past. Furthermore they all seem to have the odd small nick where the leading edge of the door window glass rubs against them.Otherwise they are fine, still are supple and have not been affected by sun or the elements.

The price is £10 each, the best ones will go first.

Opel Manta A series door seals - the big sort out of 2011

I had a very unusual mail from Tina via Rick Shearer, after I picked myself up off the floor I double checked that it wasn't sent on the 1st of April. She wanted my opinion on the value of the following original, German made, replacement panels for an Opel GT; fenders (front wings), nose cone and bellypan.

This was the best advice I could offer:

I would anticipate that the parts would be worth more in the USA than in mainland Europe and given the rarity of GT parts, I would expect that these items should be worth quite a lot.

As a benchmark, at the bottom of this page there are prices for fibreglass copies listed.
I haven't heard anything since, but if you're in the USA and are looking for Opel GT parts, drop me a line and I'll see if I can help to arrange a trade.

Opel GT - prettiest Opel ever? - source Wikipedia

Paul Houston mailed me because he was looking for a throttle body for a Mk2 1985 Vauxhall Cavalier SRi 1.8 with the 18E engine. He was also searching for the idle control valve for the same car. Apparently it is becoming a real job to find parts for these cars now.

There was not at I could do to help, most of the parts I have stocked have been from before the front wheel drive era of the mid 1980s on. Things may have changed in the last few years, but parts for this type of vehicle used to be plentiful on the MigWeb forum, the Opel Manta Owners Club forum and the Irish Opel Owners Club forum. From memory, the 1.8E engine was used in the Vauxhall Astra Mk1 and Mk2 along with other common place GM vehicles. I also discovered the Mk2 Cavalier club recently, which should be just the place for Paul to find those parts.

Although not a car that has ever excited me, I believe that the Mk2 Cavalier was a ground breaking vehicle for GM and heralded a new era of comfort and control without being heavy and bloated in the way so many modern vehicles are.

Vauxhall Cavalier SRi - source

Up for sale is this Haynes manual for the Vauxhall Astra Mk2 as well as the Vauxhall Belmont. This particular manual covers the very popular 2.0 litre 16 valve C20XE engine installed in the Vauxhall Astra GT/e which is a very popular retro-fit into the Opel Manta A and B series, Opel GT and Opel Kadett C series as well as numerous kit cars, such as the Caterham 7 and many customs.

For Sale -  Vauxhall Astra Mk2 Haynes Manual - £15

It is priced at £15, which includes delivery to a UK address. I can send to some European locations too, but please ask for a quote first as this could be quite a high sum.

Original service manuals for classic GM vehicles are not exactly plentiful in the UK, stocks are very limited and I will not be replacing them, so don't hang about if this is what you need for your project.


25/11/17 - Now sold

The Internet is a marvelous place, I had never heard of pre-war Opels existing outside of a few museums and then I get 2 e-mails in as many months.

Derek Ryan from John Kelly (Waterford) Limited in Ireland needed advice on where to find Brakes and cylinders for a 1937 Opel Kadett and Devinda S. Senanayake who, I would guess from his e-mail, is based in Sri Lanka, was in urgent need of two dashboard  meters- ie speedometer/odometer and fuel/temp meter for his 1938 Opel Kadett.

I have never stocked parts for Opels from this period and the Opel brand was only introduced to the UK in the 1960s, the best I could do was to suggest contacting the Vintage Vauxhall Opel Bedford Association who should be able to provide some links to parts suppliers in Germany.

It also occured to me that it's a long shot, but I think that Kadett was cloned in Russia post WWII as a Moskvitch.

If any readers of the Classic Opel Spares Blog know of a better source for such vintage parts please contact me

Meanwhile, here's what Wikipedia has to say on the subject:
The first Opel car to carry the Kadett name was presented to the public in December 1936 by Opel's Commercial-Technical director, Heinrich Nordhoff, who would in later decades become known for his leadership role in building up the Volkswagen company.
The new Kadett followed the innovative Opel Olympia in adopting a chassis-less monocoque construction, suggesting that like the Vauxhall 10 introduced in 1937 by Opel's English sister-company, the Opel Kadett was designed for high volume low cost production. Competitive pricing led to commercial success, and Kadetts continued to be produced during the early months of the war: by the time production was interrupted in 1940 following intensification of hostilities, 107,608 of these Opel Kadetts had come off the assembly line at Opel's Rüsselsheim plant, which had been the first major car plant in Germany to apply the assembly-line production techniques pioneered by Henry Ford.
After the war, Opel production facilities from Brandenburg an der Havel (trucks) were crated up and transported to the Soviet Union as part of a larger reparations package agreed upon by the victorious powers. From 1948 the prewar Kadett was manufactured as the Moskvitch 400/420: it continued to be produced on the edge of Moscow as a Moskvitch until 1956.

1936 Opel Kadett

This is the first time that I've been asked for one of these, this throttle damper is fitted to the automatic gearbox variant of the Opel Manta A series.
It is located adjacent to the throttle quadrant (which translates the pull of the accelerator cable into the twisting of the carburettor butterfly). I presume that the function of the throttle damper is to moderate sudden changes of throttle opening and give the automatic transmission a chance to engage kick down.
It was covered in engine grime, but 10 minutes work with a toothbrush and some white spirit, revealed what was lurking underneath.

For sale - Throttle damper for Opel Manta automatic


08/12/2012 - Now sold

The Opel Manta A series parts are flooding out of the attic. By special request, here is one of those parts that normally lasts forever, an interior rear view mirror. I have a box with around 6 salvaged examples left inside, they vary from good to fair condition, if you need one, you know who to ask.

Opel Manta A series rear view mirror

Opel Manta A series rear view mirror

It's a busy week for mirrors, Bruno from Portugal needs one for his Opel Manta A series drivers door, this being the passenger side on UK cars.
I had a shelf load of sparkling brand new ones just a couple of years ago, but they have now all gone and all that is left is this salvaged example. The brightwork is still in very reasonable condition, but the mirroring is losing its finish with rusty spots appearing.
It might fill a gap till something better came along, or someone handier than I could try replacing the mirrored section.

Manta A series passenger door mirror - nice finish

Manta A series passenger door mirror - rusty spots behind the glass

Poor Ray has been asking me about chrome door mirrors for an eternity, at last I have found one for him. Sadly it is salvaged and not new, but it is still the most presentable I've seen in a long while, in fact it makes the ones on my car look a bit shabby by comparison.
The round section is very shiny, the stem has got some pitting, for the most part it is tiny starfish shaped patterns in the chrome. The glass is excellent but does have a couple of very small chips on the circumference, the rubber sealant is missing in a few spots.

Manta A series round door mirror - 60s style

Nice glass on this mirror, you can see forever!

As far as I know this style of mirror was fitted to the Opel Rekord C series, Opel Commodore A series, Opel GT, Opel Manta A series and Opel Ascona A series.
I think that around the middle of 1973 this style was replaced by oblong mirrors on most models, no doubt the curvaceous style was too dated in the era when everything turned angular and edges had to be ruler straight.

Update - I was more than surprised to hear that Ray had to bite the bullet and recently paid "over £100" for a pair from Germany, so this one is on offer for a measly £20 plus p&p.

This Haynes Manual is for the Vauxhall Carlton Mk1 (pre-facelift) and I would assume the Opel Rekord E series too. In true Haynes style, it has a rather fine cutaway drawing by Terry Davey of the Vauxhall Carlton Mk1 4 door saloon the cover.

This particular version is a later version of the manual and covers the period from October 1978 to October 1986. There are supplementary sections which cover later additions to the model range, such as; the 1.8 litre O.H.C. engine, 5 speed gearbox, overdrive unit, fuel injection system, electronic ignition and floating brake calipers. There is plenty of information regarding the 2.2 litre capacity version of the cam-in-head (C.I.H.) engine. A unit that was a popular upgrade for Opel Mantas and Asconas and an easy swap with the smaller capacity C.I.H. engines used on so many Vauxhalls and Opels from the late 1960s on.

For Sale - Vauxhall Carlton Mk1 Haynes Manual - £12.50

Although only slightly more powerful than the 2.0 litre version, the 2.2 litre C.I.H. engine has a much greater torque output, even in standard guise. It was also a good engine for tuning which could generate around 200 bhp, not bad for the period. Today there are no doubt engines of much smaller capacity that can generate these sorts of power levels, but I'll wager they don't have the instant response or low down grunt of the 2.2 litre C.I.H. engine fitted to the top end versions of the Vauxhall Carlton Mk1 which was a re-badged version of the Opel Rekord E series.

It is in really good condition, just the odd oily fingerprint here and there, otherwise it is as clean as a whistle.

It is priced at £12.50, which includes delivery to a UK address.

I can send to Europe or even Worldwide too, but please ask for a quote first as rates vary greatly between countries and are prone to rapid price fluctuations. Due to PayPal terms and conditions an item has to be sent by a tracked service to your registered PayPal address.

Original service manuals for classic GM vehicles are not exactly plentiful in the UK, stocks are very limited and I will not be replacing them, so don't hang about if this is what you need for your project.


None so far

Making its debut on the Classic Opel Spares Blog is this humble fuel tank strap, probably one of the least "sexy" items you might need, but essential if yours has fallen prey to rust.
The position of the fuel tank on the Opel Manta A series might help with the centre of gravity and certainly gives the car a lot more boot space than the later Opel Manta B series, but you couldn't invent a better rust trap. Any muddy road spray from the rear wheels has a myriad of nooks and crannies to settle and get the corrosion process under way.

Fuel Tank Strap - Opel Manta A series

This particular tank strap had its fair share of rust, about an hours work with a wire brush on an angle grinder had it clean and shiny. It then received a coat of red oxide primer, followed by two coats of hard wearing silk finish black enamel paint. That was at least 10 years ago, so it has had plenty of time to cure!
There is some pitting visible under the paint, if you are that fussy about detailing, find a better example somewhere else. This one is ready for service and available for just £15, but postage outside of the UK is likely to be expensive due to size.

I have been asked if I have any spare gear levers for the 4 speed gearbox used on the Manta / Ascona A series a unit that was also installed in the Manta / Ascona B series, Vauxhall Cavalier Mk1, Opel Rekord C and D series.

Early Manta A series from 1970-73 used the gear lever with the petite black knob, but at some point around 1974 they began installing the larger style of gear knob in a faux blond wood effect and maintained this style through to the early Manta B series.

I have 3 gear levers, 2 work properly the other has a faulty reverse selector. They have all seen a fair amount of use and could do with a lick of paint, but are a long way from being rusty ancient relics! They have been dry stored indoors for the last 20 years.
The early and late types are interchangeable, the later type is easier on the hands as you have a bit more to grab hold of, in my opinion the earlier type is the more elegant design. I would be looking for £10 per item, plus postage charges.

Opel Manta A gear lever early

Opel Manta A gear lever late

3 gear levers for Opel Manta A series and other models

I was contacted by Bruno from Portugal, who has a very nice Opel Manta A series that he has restored. He got a bit carried away sand blasting the rocker cover though and has managed to blast right through some pin holes!

As luck would have it, I saved a few rocker covers in earlier years when they were still common place. They are made from pressed steel and were produced in a silk finish in one coat (no primer) enamel paint; typically the front section gets a lot of blasting from the elements and rusts badly. The sides and rear often fare better as these engines tend to breath a lot of oil vapour which covers the sides and back, saving them from corrosion.

All 3 rocker covers are from the Opel Manta A series, these earlier designs have the brand name Opel embossed in the top section. This design element was removed from later models and the top was plain. I imagine this was because although the engines were all produced at the same plant, some were destined for Opels, whilst others went into Vauxhalls and possibly even Bedford vehicles too.

In the 90's it was a popular upgrade to fit this style of early rocker to the later Opel Manta B series right through to the last 1987 models. Previously, here on the Classic Opel Spares Blog, there was even a chrome plated example of this rocker cover available for sale (sorry now sold).

The 3 examples listed below have been thoroughly wire brushed, primed in cellulose paint, then over painted with a semi-gloss black finish enamel paint. This job was completed at least 10 years ago, the finish, by now, will be rock hard and should prove to be very durable. Please note this type of finish is not suitable for compounding or cutting back, it has an attractive sheen, similar to the original finish.

Opel rocker cover #1, this was originally fitted to my 1973 Opel Manta A series, it is in great unmolested condition and takes the later gasket with 2 tags. Available for £25, including a brand new cork gasket.

Opel rocker cover #2, this has come from an earlier vehicle, my best guess would be around 1971-2, someone has welded a pipe to the front to enable a better location for the smaller breather pipe. This will take the earlier gasket with 9 tags. Available for £20, including a brand new cork gasket.


Opel rocker cover #3, this has come from a later vehicle, my best guess would be around 1973-5, someone has welded a pipe to the rear to enable a better location for the larger breather pipe. This will take the later gasket with 2 tags. Available for £20, including a brand new cork gasket.

One issue that can drive an Opel owner to distraction is oil leaks from the rocker cover, it can be difficult to get a good oil seal from older rocker covers especially if they have been over tightened which causes them to warp, the material is thin an quite malleable, if you over tighten the cover the metal distorts and oil leaks out. The more you over tighten the rocker cover the worse the situation becomes!

It will always be a potential problem, but I found that the following technique will make the best of a bad design:

  1. Discard the original cork rocker cover gasket and buy a new cork rocker cover gasket available here on the Classic Opel Spares Blog for a nominal fee.
  2. Thoroughly clean the mating flange of your rocker cover to remove any traces of old cork, oil, grease and dirt. This may require a wire brush on a small power drill, Dremel tool or just plenty of good old "elbow grease".
  3. Wipe the mating flange with degreasing fluid on a clean cloth, specialised products are not required, methylated spirits are ideal and cost little.
  4. Fit the rocker cover gasket to the rocker cover using a silicon sealer / adhesive, I found that Blue Hylomar worked excellently. Allow the product some time to set.
  5. Wipe some clean engine oil to the bottom surface of the rocker cover gasket and re-fit.
  6. Tighten the mounting bolts in a criss-cross sequence to spread the load and use the minimum of force.
  7. Run the engine and allow it to warm up.
  8. Re-tighten the mounting bolts a second time. If the rocker cover shows any signs of bending, go no further.
One final thought on the matter is that the original hex head bolts can be awkward to fit with a normal socket set due to the restricted space, especially on the right hand side where water pipes run so close by. I changed the bolts for stainless steel hex socket cap (Allen) headed bolts which were much more easily tightened with a long Allen key, never seized up and looked prettier too.


01/12/16 - All stock now sold

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that The Classic Opel Spares Blog is a fantastic activity level monitor of Opel and Vauxhall restorers and old car enthusiasts.
For much of the year, at least according to my blog stats, visitors are few and far between and the e-mail enquiries about spares come through at a trickle, but twice a year there are two distinct activity hot spots.

The first arrives at the very start of the year, usually immediately after the New Years Day hangover must have worn off. I can but assume these enquiries are driven either by a nagging partner, or a New Year's resolution to finally getting that old heap back on the road.
The second peak comes later, around Easter, as longer days and warmer temperatures make working on the car less of a chore and more of a pleasure.
Of course the successful amateur car restorers, get the majority of the unpleasant jobs done working through the long nights of those cold winter months. I for one always failed at such good intentions and ended up wasting pleasant summer days under the car instead of being out and enjoying driving it.

So for those of you who are thinking about getting started on jobs on your old Opel and need some hard to find Classic Opel Spares, hurry up, the first classic car shows are in just a few short weeks time and the Classic Opel Spares Blog is brimming with recently unearthed Opel spares.

Brimming with recently unearthed Opel spares

I have received a message from Matija, who hails from Slovenia who is the owner of an Opel Rekord 2100d, he was looking for a parts catalogue or any service literature for this particular model.

Service literature I don't have, but I do have the Factory Parts Book for this model, the exploded diagrams are a work of art and can help with re-assembly, especially when it comes to all the fiddly chrome trim that Opel embellished the bodywork with. The illustrations also refer to the part number tabulations, so with patience you can find exactly the right part number, this can make identifying objects found at the back of the shed or at the autojumble a much easier experience.

All of this usefulness will cost just £25 plus postage.

Opel Rekord D and Commodore B Factory Parts Book

Parts Book Introduction

Model Identification

Exploded Diagrams - so useful

UPDATE 18/04/2012

Matija needed a few points clarified about this book.

This is the real deal, not a photocopy and you get what you pay for.

The pages aren't numbered in total, but each section is numbered, there are 23 sections, the thinner sections have 4-10 pages, the thicker sections up to 40 pages.

Here is a list:

1 Body
2 Frame
3 Front Wheel Suspension
4 Rear Wheel Suspension
5 Brakes
6 Engine and Clutch
7 Transmission
8 Fuel and Exhaust System
9 Steering
10 Wheels
11 Sheet Metal Parts
12 Electrical Equipment
13 Cooling
14 Equipment
15 Paints and Sealing Compound Material
16 Repair Kits
17 Accessories
18 Airflow Heater
19 Oils and Greases
20 Blank
21 Upholstery Material
22/23 Interior Trim

The weight is 3kg.

Opel Rekord D - nothing a lick of paint won't fix!

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