Opel Manta was presented to the media in September 1970 at the Hotel Maritim in Timmendorfer Strand, near Lübeck at the Baltic Sea in Germany. The sleek coupe carried a manta ray emblem that was based on photos taken by the French marine biologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Modeled on the pony cars that were popular in the US at the time, the sporty Opel Manta was positioned as a vehicle that met a new demand – somewhere between a conventional coupe and a traditional sedan. Like the pony cars, the Manta was stylish yet suitable for everyday family use.
By the end of the 1960s more and more young and young-at-heart car buyers were opting for attractive coupes. Individualism was in; and the self-contained line of the Manta fit the bill. In the first half year of sales in 1971, Opel sold 55,399 Manta models.
The Opel Manta shared the floor assembly and a chassis modified for a dynamic drive with the Opel Ascona. As in the Ascona, the 1.6-liter engines with 68 and 80 hp were a new feature. The 1.9-liter S engine offered for the sporty Manta SR model came from the Opel Rekord, had 90 hp and was initially reserved for the Manta. The entry-level model in the Manta range was the 1.2-liter version with 60 hp launched in 1972.
The Opel Manta GT/E premiered in 1973 with a 1.9-liter injection engine and Bosch L-Jetronic. It had an output of 105 hp. The Manta A was the first Opel with electronic injection. Thus equipped, the GT/E had 15 hp more than the 1.9-liter S engine. Matching the style of the times, the Manta GT/E largely dispensed with chrome decor in favor of black matt. In April 1975, shortly before the debut of the Manta B, the last special model was launched: The Manta Black Magic was completely black with red-orange decorative stripes on the flanks. Opel built 498,553 units of the Manta A.