Vauxhall and Opel reveal their vision of the future sports car with the GT Concept at this year’s Geneva International Motorshow, 3-13 March 2016.
Purebred, pared-down, yet unashamedly avant-garde, the GT Concept is even shorn of door handles and door mirrors. Its breathtaking form clothes a classic front mid-engined, rear-wheel drive chassis that will appeal to driving enthusiasts.
While the GT Concept is forward-thinking – encapsulating Brit designer Mark Adams’ philosophy of ‘Sculptural Artistry meets Technical Precision’ – its name mirrors that of the 1964 GT Concept, the first styling model to be produced by the nascent Vauxhall Design & Engineering Centre in Luton, which opened the same year.
Importantly, it also pays homage to two significant motor show cars: the 1966 Vauxhall XVR and the 1965 Opel Experimental GT. The 2016 GT Concept is also a logical step on from the innovative and beautiful Monza concept from 2013.
‘GT Concept’ was the name given to a remarkably prescient and rakish, full-sized styling model, the first of its kind from Vauxhall’s new-for-1964, £2.25m Design & Engineering Centre in Luton, which became the leading centre of its kind in the UK for the next two decades. But two years later it was a radical show-car that really put the Centre on the map.
Built to showcase Vauxhall’s design innovation and autonomy in the mid-Sixties, the XVR (Xperimental Vauxhall Research) had a simple purity of line, gull-wing doors forming a unique split windscreen, a clam-shell bonnet and pop-up headlights.
Three cars were built, including a 100mph driveable vehicle with a pre-production 2.0-litre engine producing 100bhp. And while the car never reached production, design cues like the ultra-slim rear lights could later be seen in Vauxhall’s Viva HC and Firenza models.
Opel’s Experimental GT, however, did become a production reality. First shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1965, it broke the mould for European concept cars. A sleek and low-slung coupe, the Experimental GT was the product of Opel’s new-for-1964 design centre in Rüsselsheim.
Fifty years later, the GT Concept once again showcases Vauxhall and Opel’s pioneering spirits. Reinforcing its appeal to driving enthusiasts, the car has a red signature line that splits the vehicle body horizontally and proportions it. The distinctive red tyres are a reference to an iconic Opel motorbike from the 1920s – the Motoclub 500 – which sported red-coloured rubber.
The GT Concept’s front-mid engine configuration keeps the car’s centre of gravity low and central for excellent dynamics. Beneath its stretched bonnet is a powerful 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine, based on the all-aluminium unit used in the ADAM, Corsa and Astra. The engine delivers drive to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential transmission operated by steering-wheel mounted paddle shift. Weighing under 1000kg, the GT Concept accelerates from 0-62mph in less than eight seconds has a maximum speed of 134mph.
Another unique feature of the GT Concept is its integrated headlamp/indicator units. The lights have a three-dimensional beam which allows glare-free high-beam driving. Based on Vauxhall/Opel’s award-winning IntelliLux LED matrix lighting, the GT Concept sees the intelligent lighting system’s next stage of development.