Opel GSE ancestral gallery from 1970: Mazda, cool Commodore and powerful Stromer

In 1970, three letters whirled the car hierarchy upside down: With the abbreviation GS/E, the inexpensive Opel Commodore communicated as much power as was reserved for premium types from BMW or Mercedes.

Opel GSE ancestral gallery from 1970: Mazda, cool Commodore and powerful Stromer

In 1970, three letters whirled the car hierarchy upside down: With the abbreviation GS/E, the inexpensive Opel Commodore communicated as much power as was reserved for premium types from BMW or Mercedes. The Opel GS/E family became a cult; Today, electrified GSe types are supposed to revive the hype.

This lightning struck with force, disrespectfully poached faster BMWs and Mercedes in the area and broke with all conventions of the bourgeois middle class. Opel Commodore (A) GS/E was the name of the provocateur at a discount price, with which Germany's second largest carmaker presented a furious muscle car based on the US model in February 1970. As a luxury version of the popular Opel Rekord (C), the Commodore was also dressed in a sweeping Coke bottle design, but under the hood of the new top model Commodore GS/E (Grand Sport with electronic fuel injection) lurked a 110 kW/150 hp powerful 2.5-liter six-cylinder.

In fact, this "Opel 6 bomb" (advertising slogan for the Commodore GS) scratched the 200 km/h barrier, which even the Mercedes 280 SL, BMW 2800 CS or Porsche 911 T barely broke through at the time. However, these luxury athletes cost almost twice as much as the Opel GS/E, which was not only available as a smart coupé, but also as a two- and four-door sedan.

The rebellious GS/E differed from the brave 120 hp Commodore in Sierra beige, as driven by the university professor next door, with a cheeky front spoiler, auxiliary headlights, optional rally stripes and a black bonnet. Obtrusive sports insignia, which was also used in the new edition of the Commodore GS/E launched in 1972. In contrast, the elegant upper-class coupé Monza GSE from 1984 wore only subtle sports badges with the pinstripe suit. Then the GSE code was forgotten - until Opel created the sub-brand GSe with an electric Manta in RestoMod dress: GSe equals electric jokers, that's why it's called today.

Strictly speaking, GSe stands for Grand Sport electric and in fact it is performance attributes that separate the GSE fraction from the more civil types. Fully electric like the concept car Manta RestoMod presented in 2021 is not yet an Opel GSe, but with the two plug-in hybrid models Astra GSe and Grandland GSe Opel is already demonstrating where the fast journey leads: These GSe protagonists quote with black body parts and striking front the cool guys of the past. They are also speed heroes, because no other Opel currently tops 235 km/h top speed. Only two things are completely different than before: the quiet electric propulsion without a sonorous combustion engine sound - and the always five-door body concepts.

In fact, they briefly experimented with Commodore GS/E station wagons in Rüsselsheim in the early 1970s, but the tried and tested family sedans and hardtop coupés with the aggressive look that was fashionable at the time were still waiting in the showroom of the friendly Opel dealer. While Ford presented the 20 M RS with matt black make-up, Opel first launched the Commodore GS with 130 hp, then the GS/E with 20 extra hp thanks to injection.

If you wanted, you could also go undercover with the fast Commodore (that's what squadron commanders are called in the Navy and Air Force), because apart from the spoiler, the war paint on the GS/E cost extra. For example, Opel charged 89 marks for the rally stripes on the side and the item "additional black paintwork on the hood" cost 128 marks: almost symbolically small amounts. Opel attached great importance to the "swirl plate", as some media called a new measure against lift on the front end. "It's the first European car to have a 'spoiler' as standard," the press kit explained. However, some test reports emphasized that a very fast GS/E requires a lot of attention, especially in cross winds.

A gentle criticism that did not detract from the sales success of the Commodore (A), which was built until the end of 1971, because Opel marketing trumped with a self-confident statement: "Never before has a model with such performance been offered in this price range". The second Commodore GS/E arrived in 1972 based on the Rekord (D), this time with 118 kW/160 hp from a displacement of 2.8 liters. In just 9.3 seconds, the GS/E reached the country road speed limit of 100 km/h, which was newly introduced at the time.

But there was more to it than that, as rally legend Walter Röhrl proved: On the Monte Carlo in 1973, Röhrl achieved a class win in a team with Jochen Berger in a toxic yellow Commodore tuned by Irmscher (affectionately called "The Commode" by Röhrl). Tuner Steinmetz even equipped a GS/E with a 510 hp 6.0 liter V8 monster for the Interseries.

Opel was a force in motorsport and on the heels of Volkswagen in the registration charts, so it made sense in 1973 to sharpen the affordable dream car of young fathers. Today this would probably be a raised crossover type, back then coupés like the Manta (A) were popular. Beneath the long bonnet of the athlete, named after a wing ray, were harmless four-cylinder engines with power ratings between 50 kW/68 hp and 66 kW/90 hp. Too little in a duel with the Ford Capri. Therefore, the Opel coupe had to incorporate additional attributes of a hardcore man's car.

The Manta was shown in autumn 1973 as a 185 km/h faster GT/E with Opel's first four-cylinder injection engine, shortly before the oil crisis. This 77 kW/105 hp rally strip racer was therefore not granted a long career. But this rare two-door has burned itself into the hearts of the Opel community. No wonder that the electric Manta GSe RestoMod was based on a 1973 Manta and took up features of the Manta GT/E.

The RestoMod Manta succeeded in reviving the GS/E idea. Opel's last luxury coupé didn't make it in the 1980s. With the perfect Monza, the Hessians showed that Gran Turismo with beautiful and fast lines did not only come from Italian design studios. A 132 kW/180 hp 3.0-liter six-cylinder made the Opel Monza 215 km/h fast. But neither the successful design nor the low prices gave enough boost for the sales figures. That's why the Opel strategists launched a Monza GSE in 1983. In vain, there was no GSE effect. Maybe because this time the GSE was just an overpriced trim line, with no extra power.

Expert Nicolas Ziegler from the classic car rating organization Classic Analytics explains the importance of early Opel GS/E models for the classic car scene: "When you hear the abbreviation GS/E, you automatically think of black rally stripes, deep steering wheels and clearly visible rev counters. This became the middle-class Commodore Limousines and coupés optically trimmed for sportiness. Combined with a powerful engine for the time, decent performance is still possible, which, however, has its limits due to the chassis concept. Today, the top models are among the most sought-after variants. For a Commodore A Today, a GS/E Coupé in good condition costs at least 28,000 euros."

Chronicle from the Opel GS/E to the GSe

1967: In the spring, Opel presents the Commodore (A) as a luxurious six-cylinder version of the Rekord (C)

1970: As early as January there was press information about the forthcoming premiere of the Commodore GS with electronic fuel injection. At the end of February, the new sporty top model of the Opel Commodore (A) series will be presented at the Geneva Motor Show. This Commodore GS/E is equipped with a 2.5-liter engine with Bosch D-Jetronic electronic fuel injection, the engine has an output of 110 kW/150 hp and is coupled to a four-speed gearbox, with a three-speed automatic available as an option. The Commodore GS/E is available as a two-door sedan (from 13,092 marks) or as a four-door sedan (from 13,409 marks) and as a coupé (from 13,564 marks). In terms of equipment, the GS/E largely corresponds to the Commodore GS with 130 hp, but there is the option of "black double stripes on the side" for 89 marks and "additional black paintwork on the hood" for 128 marks. Opel also emphasizes that "the GS/E can be recognized by the wheel rims with matt black spokes and silver-colored rim bodies. It is the first European car to have a 'spoiler' as standard, mounted on the underside of the front of the car." Opel announces homologation of the Commodore GS/E for motorsport in Group 2 and Group 1 (production touring cars), after the Commodore GS has already achieved many rally victories since 1968

1971: In the second and last year of production, the Commodore GS/E costs as a two-door sedan from 14,397 marks, as a four-door sedan from 14,737 marks and as a coupé from 15,007 marks; the surcharge compared to the Commodore GS without injection is up to 1300 marks depending on the body shape. Production of the Opel Commodore (A) ends in December

1972: In March, a new generation of the Commodore (B) is introduced. The Commodore GS/E once again offers the top engine, this time as a 2.8-liter in-line six-cylinder with Bosch D-Jetronic electronic injection and 118 kW/160 hp and a prestigious Vmax of 200 km/h. A four-door sedan and a coupe are again available as body versions. In the Commodore range, only the GS/E is equipped with power steering and a laminated glass windscreen as standard, and the spoiler is also characteristic of the GS/E. A five-door Commodore GS/E Caravan and a three-door Commodore GS/E Caravan delivery van were created as individual pieces and prototypes

1973: One attraction at the IAA in Frankfurt in September is the new top model of the Manta (A) sports coupé that has been in production for three years, the Opel Manta GT/E with electronically controlled Bosch L-Jetronic injection and an output of 77 kW/105 hp

1974: In March, after the end of the oil crisis and the motorway speed limit (100 km/h), the Manta GT/E is introduced at prices starting at 12,526 marks. The 1.9 liter engine delivers 77 kW/105 hp, enough for 188 km/h. Visual hallmarks of the Manta GT/E are standard, wide black side stripes, black window surrounds, a matt black bonnet and a distinctive front spoiler. Prices for the four-door Commodore GS/E start at 18,223 marks, for the GS/E Coupé at 18,588 marks

1975: The Manta GT/E costs from 13,957 marks in the 1975 model year. The Manta GT/E (A) will be discontinued after only 5,252 units, the newly presented second generation of the Manta (B) is not available in GT/E specification. The Opel Commodore GS/E (B) only delivers 114 kW/155 hp

1977: In the summer, production of the Commodore (B) ends, with the successor Commodore (C) introduced in 1978, Opel dispenses with fast GS/E versions and the Coupé body variant. In the future, sports coupe fans will be served by the Opel Monza (A), which made its debut as a near-series study at the IAA in September 1977

1978: In May, production start of the Opel Monza (A) with up to 180 hp 3.0-liter six-cylinder

1983: After a facelift for the Opel Monza (A2), the new top model is the Monza GSE with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder and 132 kW/180 hp. "GSE" is only one equipment line, the engine can also be combined with other, simpler equipment

1984: A new four-speed automatic transmission is available as an option for the Monza GSE for a surcharge of 2,175 marks. Compared to the earlier three-speed automatic transmission, Opel promises a consumption advantage of one liter of petrol per 100 kilometers

1985: The Monza GSE costs from 45,940 marks, with the same 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, the basic version of the Monza costs only 39,335 marks. Characteristics of the GSE equipment include the standard features of a four-spoke steering wheel, anthracite-colored alloy wheels, halogen high-beam headlights, Recaro seats at the front, electrically operated and heated exterior mirrors and a rear spoiler in body color. All positions can also be booked as an option for other Monzas. The unique selling point for the GSE is that the rear spoiler is supplied in the vehicle colour

1986: End of production for the Opel Monza after 27,218 Series A units and 16,594 Series A2 units

2016: The end of production of the Opel Monza GSE is 30 years ago, so all Opel GS/E or GSE models are now candidates for an H license plate

2021: Opel presents the Manta GSe prototype as a modernized, electrified version of the classic sports coupé Manta (A) from 1970. The Manta GSe ElektroMod, which is built as a so-called RestoMod (the base vehicle is a Manta from 1973), shows how timeless the sporty lines of the past are today still is. However, the Manta GSe does not have a classic four-cylinder engine, but rather an all-electric powertrain that delivers power to the rear wheels and is coupled to a four-speed gearbox with automatic mode. The Manta GSe is intended to point to the electric future for all Opel models, and it is the first model from the Rüsselsheim brand to bear the newly conceived GSe logo

2022: Opel announces a return of the type abbreviation GS/E, but now with the spelling GSe. While the abbreviation GS/E once meant Grand Sport with electronic injection, today GSe stands for Grand Sport electric and a new sporty sub-brand from Opel

2023: At the Brussels Motor Show, Opel presented the all-electric Astra as well as the new sub-brand GSe with the plug-in hybrid models Astra GSe and Grandland GSe. Further GSe models have been announced. The most powerful representative of the GSe family is the Grandland GSe with a system output of 221 kW/300 hp