2016 Geneva Motor Show: As It Happened

Here's a longer piece from

Andrew English, who was given an exclusive preview of the pretty Vauxhall GT:

In 1965 Opel produced its Experimental GT concept, a marker for its new design ethos as well as a test of the staff of its then-new design studio in Russelheim, Germany. Discounting the Aston Martin Atom, this sleek coupé design study was Europe’s first concept car predating the first Mercedes-Benz concept by four years and BMW’s by seven.

And 51 years later, out of the same design studio comes this charming little coupe GT for the Geneva motor show. And while the path to small, agile GT sports cars is paved with good intentions and cancelled projects, one can't help thinking that this GT concept deserves an even chance of being built.

Briton Mark Adams is the 11th design head at Russelheim and he has over seen the current Corsa, new Astra and Insignia models as well as this GT. He's cagey about whether this little two-seater will be built, but sure that it could be built.

"Once we'd nailed the proportions, we had to make it fun to drive," he says. "So we picked the smallest, lightest engine we built, the 145bhp, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo, driving the rear wheels.  It weighs less than a tonne so it'll go well."

In fact it was only the second sketch that Adams saw that cinched the design of the GT Concept. "We were looking at going back to the size of the GT, small, simple but not retro," he says. "It was the second sketch in the first sketch review and as soon as I saw it, I thought that's the car for me."

At 3,850mm long and 1,680mm wide, the car is shorter than a Corsa and narrower than an Adam, so any production car would thread through gaps well. The doors with their special hinges are already patented by Opel and are part of the design that Adams says makes it a practical car. He also points to the silver gradated side windows as having an important effect on the proportions, since most sports coupés have tiny side windows.

"We didn't have to define the shape from the outside," he says, "so the inside can be light and airy and the doors cut into the roof to make it easier to get into and out of, just like the 1965 GT."

They built the GT from 1968 to 1973 and it was enormously influential. Yet in more recent times this General Motors owned company has had a less-than stellar history of producing small sports cars for the British car buyer. The 2003 Vauxhall Lightening Concept, set the tone for the Saturn Sky, the Opel Speedster and the Pontiac Solstice, yet never came to Britain as the company said it couldn't be economically engineered for pedestrian impact legislation and right-hand drive.

Let's hope if the GT Concept does get the go ahead, it's be made in right hand drive as well.

Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/news/2016-geneva-motor-show/

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