The photo above was taken in the Alps in 1972, and features what certainly looks like an ordinary, unadulterated Opel Manta. But the reality of what’s lurking underneath the Opel body is a bit more exotic.
This Mk1 Opel Manta body sits atop the chassis of what will later become the Porsche 924 – the marque’s first front-engined car, which arguably saved Porsche from financial ruin.
Back in this time, the car was simply called “Project EA 425,” and it was being developed for sale under the “VW-Porsche” brand. An article from Classic Driver informs us that three Mk1 Opel Manta bodies were purchased and used to disguise the Porsche test mules, reportedly chosen for their packaging similarities to the VW-Porsche in development. Porsche also secured a BMW 1600 for the task.
With these Opel Manta-bodied test mules, Porsche was able to perform extensive testing of chassis components and suspension performance in plain sight, without tipping off the public – nor the competition – as to the look of their fresh new wedge-shaped 924. Of course, ultimately Volkswagen chose the Scirocco as its sole sportscar offering, but rather than canning Project EA 425 altogether, they allowed Porsche to purchase the plans and put it into production – minus the “VW” portion of the badge.
Whatever became of the three Opel Manta-bodied Project EA 425 test mules is unknown to us, but we certainly hope they survive still, in some corner of the world.