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Holden-built Opel GT wows Geneva


It’s been dubbed the ‘mini Monaro’. Despite its tough looks, this pint-sized Holden sports car has a tiny 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine.

Holden could soon have a budget-priced sports car in its showrooms for the first time ever.

The Opel GT concept due to be unveiled tonight Australian time at the Geneva Auto Salon, one of Europe’s biggest motor shows, is set to become Holden’s rival to the top-selling Toyota 86 coupe -- a car with a cult-like following, in part due to its $29,990 starting price.

Dubbed the “mini Monaro”, it’s part of Holden’s plan to break its traditional Australian image as it prepares to close its Adelaide car assembly line in 2017 and become solely an importer of vehicles.

Holden has previously never considered a car like the Opel GT, which is powered by a tiny 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine. But the company says Australian buyer tastes are changing.

Although a German design, there is a strong Australian link to the lightweight and pint-sized sports-car, which is about as big as a Mazda MX-5.

The Opel GT concept car was hand-made by Holden designers in Port Melbourne before being airfreighted to Switzerland for the motor show.

The photos might look European but that’s the Melbourne skyline in the background; they were taken on top of Holden’s employee car park.

It is just one of many concept cars and future models Holden is working on behind closed doors for other General Motors brands around the world.

Holden was given the assignment to build the show car on behalf of General Motors’ European division Opel.

It is just one of many concept cars and future models Holden is working on behind closed doors for other General Motors brands around the world.

Holden will retain 140 designers at its Port Melbourne head office after the company closes its car assembly line in Adelaide in 2017.

“We’re extremely proud that General Motors in Detroit has recognised the amazing design talent we have in Australia, and that we will still be very much involved in developing new cars for the rest of the world,” said Holden design director Richard Ferlazzo.

While the design of the Opel GT was completed by GM’s styling studio in Frankfurt, the Australian team brought the concept car to life, building it from scratch based on computer images of the car sent from Germany.

Some of the technology, however, may not make it to showrooms, such as the cameras instead of door mirrors, and the opaque side glass that blends into the colour of the doors. The red front tyres are also just motor show tease.

If the Opel GT wins enough fans at the show and gets the green light for production, insiders say it would be about three years away from showrooms.

Would you like to see the Opel GT wearing a Holden badge on Australian roads? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.