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Readers familiar with our weekly Prime Find feature will know that our regular format is to discuss an individual car that we’ve found while scouring the classic classifieds, with perhaps some added background about that car’s history to give the chosen vehicle some broader context.

This week, however, we are going to blatantly use our Prime Find slot to help solve a dilemma for none other than our own International Editor.

So what is this little difficulty in which our esteemed colleague finds himself? Well, he’s spotted a car that he thinks he simply must have (not in itself an unusual occurrence) but he really, really, wants this one, and in order to make this acquisition possible, it’s necessary for him to reluctantly give up one of his existing stable of classics…but which one?

Before we get into that, let’s take a look at the car which has driven him to this state of desperation in the first place – it’s a 1979 Opel Monza 2.8S in metallic gold with golden brown velour upholstery; basically, Anders’ idea of heaven. This Monza is being sold privately by a vendor in Lünen, in the German state of Nord-Rhein Westfalen, and is left-hand drive. It is however especially this last factor which particularly suits Anders as he is currently located in Luxembourg, about 300km south of Lünen following a job change. Indeed, this relocation is the reason why we haven’t seen much of him lately, but rest assured he’ll be back to haunt us fairly soon.

“His” Monza has a modest 103,000km under its 40-year-old wheels, and looks to be in superb condition both inside and out – a late ‘70’s time-warp. This example is a relatively early one, an A1, with the proven 140 bhp, in-line 6-cylinder engine from the Opel Commodore which can propel this big coupé to a top speed of 195kmh or 121mph, and being a 2.8S means it comes with a smart set of 15-inch Ronal alloy wheels, as well as a 45% limited slip differential. The vendor claims this to be an entirely original, unmolested car.

Introduced in 1978 to replace the Opel Commodore Coupé (a car I’ve always liked, by the way) the stylish Monza and it’s Vauxhall equivalent, the Royale Coupé, was intended  to compete with the likes of the E24 6-series BMW and Mercedes-Benz W126 coupé, though it clearly didn’t have the brand cachet of either of those two marques. As a result, it wasn’t a great sales success, despite receiving excellent press reviews, and the A1 was fairly quickly succeeded by the updated, more streamlined A2 in 1982.

Nevertheless, being based on the Opel Senator saloon meant it was a roomy, fast and comfortable express for four adults and their luggage – a thoroughly practical car, which is among the reasons Anders wants to buy it to use as his daily driver, to replace his current, equally practical classic daily – his treasured 1978 Reliant Scimitar GTE in metallic aubergine (not its original colour, which was Celtic Brown, or brown), which, much as he loves it, is proving to be increasingly impractical in his new left-hand drive world; the Monza is of course built for driving on the right hand side of the road (otherwise known as the wrong side).

However, to find the €7,990 or thereabouts that the seller of the Monza is asking for, the Scimitar needs to go, and with an asking price for the GTE of £6,000 or €7,000 and if our man can negotiate a little, we’re talking about an almost like-for-like replacement both financially and conceptually.

Originally launched in 1968, the three-door Scimitar GTE was a trend-setting design from the pen of Tom Ogle, a sporting estate or shooting brake that became the template for others such as the Lancia Beta HPE and the Volvo 1800ES to follow, although it has to be said that few other manufacturers went down this particular road and the shooting brake remained a niche market.

Best known for the notoriously unsporting three-wheeled Robin and Regal, the GTE lifted Reliant into an elevated market sector, raising the Tamworth-based company’s profile significantly, and it was further enhanced by being effectively endorsed by Princess Anne, who ran several Scimitar GTEs through the years and was frequently photographed with it too.

For such a small manufacturer, the Scimitar was a definite success, enjoying a production run lasting eighteen years and 14,283 examples built in total, with a little under a thousand still on British roads – in part at least due to its rust-proof fibreglass body. Unsurprisingly, the Opel Monza is a much rarer sight on our roads, with only 60 still running – it will of course be more plentiful in its home country. Remarkably, there are even fewer of Vauxhall’s version left, with a mere dozen Royales on the roads and it’s not known how many of these are coupés.

Back to Anders’ GTE SE6A, which is one of just 3,877 made and has featured in our virtual pages before – he’s been using it as his daily driver for the past year, covering about 8,000 of the car’s total of 55,000 warranted miles – and he has the documentation to prove it. He’s used it to transport his family of four to Denmark and back, and the Ford 3-litre Essex V6 powering the car has been trouble-free during his ownership. The car came with a number of upgrades such as an auxiliary cooling fan, electronic ignition, stainless steel fuel tank, stainless steel exhaust (which omits a deliciously deep burble) while Anders has furthermore added a coil-over suspension as well as a new Motolita leather steering wheel to that list (the standard steering wheel is still with the car). The Scimitar has also benefitted from some additional and rather expanded servicing while in his custody and even four new 3-point inertia seatbelts by Quickfit.

The GTE currently sits on a set of smart Dunlop alloys but the original Wolfrace wheels will come with the car, as does a thick document file, two sets of keys and a few spares.

We’ve borrowed the photos of the Monza from the advert – there are more on the www.mobile.de website. The photos of the Scimitar are of course Anders’ own.

So – is there a ViaRETRO reader out there who will help our International Editor to fulfil his wish – no, his need – to own this gold Opel Monza? Anyone? If so, Anders can be reached through ab@viaretro.co.uk.

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

5 Responses

  1. Anders Bilidt

    Thx Tony for this excellent write-up addressing my needs… ;-)

    It’s really not that I have any desire what so ever to rid myself of my lovely Scimitar. It has proven itself worthy in so many ways over this past year. It’s a proper GT and a charming one at that. Of course, money no object, who wouldn’t chose a Gordon Keeble or Maserati Mexico before the Scimitar? But I still maintain that bang for buck, nothing beats a Scimitar. However, there is this slight issue of RHD in a LHD country. That is proving much more of a hassle than I had anticipated. I have of course driven my Scimitar on mainland Europe before, just as I’ve driven my LHD 02’s in the UK. It’s never been an issue for me previously, but then I’ve also never used the cars as a daily before. So while the Scimitar is a great daily classic, a RHD car just isn’t such a great daily in a LHD country…

    That’s where the fabulously gold Monza comes into play. Finding a worthy successor to my Scimitar was always going to be a tough nut to crack, but I think this Monza might just be up for it. Just look at that velour paradise… :-)

    So if any of our loyal readers might be interested in adding a Scimitar to their garage, please do drop me a line on ab@viaretro.co.uk

    Reply
  2. yrhmblhst

    Hmmm… everyone here knows that Im a fan of Opels, and this car [other than that interior colour…] looks absolutely the business. Certainly a better looking car than the Mercedes shown, tho maybe not quite as slick as the BMW. Of course, it will be MUCH lower maintenance and cost than the Bavarian also.
    But that Scimitar is just SO cool! Whats one more car in the garage between friends?!? :)

    Reply
  3. Dave Leadbetter

    I must say the Scimitar looks so much classier on the Dunlop alloys compared to the Wolfrace. Not quite enough to persuade me to open my wallet, but it’s a great look.

    So how rare are Monzas on the continent? Back here on the mainland, they’re pretty scarce. Does it make a viable daily over there?

    Reply
  4. Anders Bilidt

    @yrhmblhst, if only I had enough spare cash to retire the Scimitar from daily use, leave it in the garage for the odd crosscountry blast on a sunny weekend and then still manage to buy the Monza as my ‘new’ daily classic. That would indeed be a treat. Reality however looks somewhat different…

    @Dave, Monzas are indeed quite rare here in Germany as well, if not quite as rare as they are in Blighty. Viable daily?? Dunno… probably as much as people would rate the Scimitar a daily driver in the UK… ;-)

    Reply
  5. Anders Bilidt

    What a shame, that Golden Velour paradise got snapped up by another enthusiast before I could get to the Monza. Oh well, the search continues…

    Reply

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