WE MIGHT be a far-flung nation many miles from General Motors’ Detroit headquarters, but Holden’s design centre in Australia is the only other facility in the world capable of taking a concept from the drawing board to a full-size rolling prototype.
And that ability was most recently demonstrated in spectacular style with last year’s Opel GT concept that debuted at the Geneva Motor Show.
Its design had been conceived in Germany and lead by GM vice president of Design Europe Mark Adams, but when the two-dimensional work was done, the team handed it over to Australia to breathe life and substance into the GT.
The Opel’s birthplace was hammered home by the first official photos released ahead of its public appearance in Switzerland, which proudly used the Melbourne city skyline as its backdrop and even featured parts of the old Holden factory on Fishermans Bend.
Initially, muscle car fans were hopeful that the GT might offer the first glimpse at the rear-drive V8-powered car that GM president Stefan Jacoby had promised but on closer inspection, the GT turned out to be a bantamweight sportscar that would be a fairer match against Alfa Romeo’s 4C.
Rather than a monstrous eight-cylinder under its bonnet, the GT has five fewer cylinders and just 1.0 litres at its disposal. Output from the three-cylinder is a diminutive 107kW and 205Nm of torque, but thanks to a sub-1000kg mass, the little Opel can get to 100km/h in less than 8.0 seconds.
Transmission is also tailored to the driving purist, with a sequential six-speed gearbox that sends power from the front to the back axle via a mechanical LSD.
Mechanicals, figures and facts aside, the Opel really excels in its styling with a true elegant coupe profile but outlandish features.
For a start, its red front tyres courtesy of Hankook are unapologetically conspicuous and tie into the flash from tail-lights, through the window profile to the front wheel arches. The signature is not just a blatant show floor head-turner and actually pays homage to the company’s 1928 MotoClub 500 motorbike, which also wore red rubber.
Its GT moniker is woven into the bespoke tyre tread and the space between the pair of centrally mounted exhaust tail pipes, as well as the leading edge of the doors and the ends of the dashboard to proudly display the Opel’s model name when boarding.
Opel’s design team crafted the GT into a largely seamless body, with its smooth curves broken only by its red stripes and a barely visible door shut-line. Its door skin blends unbroken into the window pane, which is transparent from the inside but appears almost completely opaque to people outside the car.
Okay – so the Opel GT might not have been penned on Australian turf, but it was Holden’s prototype team that gave it form, and we can’t help thinking that there is just a little red dirt in those fabulous front tyres.